Italy is in large a peninsula situated on the Mediterranean Sea. It is one of Europe’s bigger countries and has a population of around 60 mills. Italy has a very diverse landscape, but can be primarily described as mountainous with the Alps in the northern part and the Apennines mountain ranges that run through the vast majority of the western part. Italy has two major islands as part of its country: Sardinia, which is an island off the west coast of Italy, and Sicily, which is at the southern tip. The country has a very distinct shape looking like a boot and has a long coastline, being surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea on three sides, and landlocked only to the north.
Together with Greece, it is acknowledged as the birthplace of Western culture. Before the Romans, the Etruscan Civilization dominated the center and the north of Italy. The Etruscans had an advanced culture for its time, and many remains can still be seen from this period. The southern part of Italy as well as Sicily was strongly influenced by the Greeks before the Romans took over. Sicily was also influenced by North Africa (Cartago) and was controlled by Cartago for longer periods. Sicily has many sights from this period. When the Romans took power they were by far the strongest and the Roman culture dominated the whole of Italy from around 200 BC to 300 AD and some will argue until the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD. Roman remains can be seen in many parts of Europe and as far away as the Middle East, but nowhere else are as many ruins and structures remaining as in Italy.
Italy is also the birthplace of the Renaissance and a leading factor within music, arts and construction works. In the Renaissance, Italy consisted of many city states, among the most famous are Venice, Florence, Sienna and Naples. A visit to any of these cities is as if going back in time, and is for many a main reason to visit Italy.
But Italy has a lot more to offer the tourist. Italy has one of the world’s most renowned cuisines; it is also famous for its wines and olive oils. Italian design is admired all over the world and if you like the opera, Italy is the place to go to. The relaxed way of life is also a part of Italy and its culture as well as partying and having fun.
Due to the long coastline and the Mediterranean climate, Italy has many seaside resorts where you can enjoy all kinds of watersports. For the more adventurous, mountaineering and skiing in the Alps can be a challenge. Italy is also ideal for cycling or hiking, which is a good way to discover the beautiful country side. Many people go to Italy for a cultural holiday, nowhere else in the world are as many UNESCO World Heritage Sites as in Italy, especially in the capital Rome, you can walk for hours to see some of the many sights. Rome is also home to the Vatican State.