Italy is filled with natural and artistic wonders that can take a lifetime to explore. Some of the most famous are the Alpine ski center of Courmayeur, the canals and palazzi of Venice,  the Renaissance art and architecture of Florence,  the monuments of Rome and Vatican City,  the  stunning Amalfi Coast, and  the  Greek temples of Agrigento, Segesta, and Selinunte, Sicily.

The population of Italy is under 60 million, smaller than that of the United Kingdom, and yet Italy is physically a bigger country than ours. This means that, if you want to explore by yourself, there is plenty of space to do so. If you want to walk in the countryside or the mountains and be alone with nature, this is easy to achieve. On the other hand, if you want vibrant urban entertainment, there is plenty of that too!

Every schoolboy knows that the Middle Ages arose on the ruins of the Roman Empire. The decline of Rome preceded and in some ways prepared the rise of the kingdoms and cultures which composed the medieval system and -later- Europe we know today.

Italy offers many treasures, but particular highlights would have to include Naples (Napoli), Florence and Venice. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is located in the city of Pisa, approximately 1 hour from Florence by train and involving a journey through the countryside of Tuscany.

Italy as we know it today became a nation-state in 1861 when the regional states of the peninsula, along with Sardinia and Sicily, were united under King Victor EMMANUEL II. An era of parliamentary government came to a close in the early 1920s when Benito MUSSOLINI established a Fascist dictatorship. His disastrous alliance with Nazi Germany led to Italy’s defeat in World War II. A democratic republic replaced the monarchy in 1946 and economic revival followed.

Italy was a charter member of NATO and the European Economic Community (EEC). It has been at the forefront of European economic and political unification, joining the Economic and Monetary Union in 1999. Persistent problems include illegal immigration from Africa, organized crime, corruption, high unemployment, sluggish economic growth, and the low incomes and technical standards of southern Italy compared with the prosperous north.

Italy has a diversified industrial economy with roughly the same total and per capita output as France and the UK. This capitalistic economy remains divided into a developed industrial north, dominated by private companies, and a less-developed, welfare-dependent, agricultural south, with 20% unemployment. Most raw materials needed by industry and more than 75% of energy requirements are imported.

Over the past decade, Italy has pursued a tight fiscal policy in order to meet the requirements of the Economic and Monetary Unions and has benefited from lower interest and inflation rates. The government has enacted numerous short-term reforms aimed at improving competitiveness and long-term growth. Italy has moved slowly, however, on implementing needed structural reforms, such as lightening the high tax burden and overhauling Italy’s rigid labor market and over-generous pension system, because of the current economic slowdown and opposition from labor unions. But the leadership faces a severe economic constraint: the budget deficit has breached the 3% EU ceiling. The economy experienced low growth in 2006, and unemployment remained at a high level.

Although the above does not sound promising for a holiday trip, the reality is different. The country has many cultural and natural gems. Italy has the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world. Major art attractions are Rome (including the Vatican), Venice and Florence. These city’s are world famous for centuries. not only the city’s of Italy are woth visiting. You should visit also the beautiful coasts, alpine lakes and mountains as over 40 million foreign tourists do every year

More information:

  • Amore Travel Guide – On-line community with travel reviews of hotels and places to visit in Italy. Includes tips from travelers, videos, pictures and maps.
  • Art Trav – Authored by an art historian, ArtTrav provides information about art, culture and local living in Italy.
  • Bella Italia – Provides articles, travel tips and accommodation reviews from around Italy.
  • Cultural Travel: Italy – Informational site focused on discovery and enjoyment of the Italian lifestyle
  • Delicious Italy – Food and travel portal for independent visitors to Italy. Includes accommodations, food, recipes, handicrafts and events.
  • ENIT – The official Italian State Tourist Board site, with history, photographs, suggested excursions, hotel and accommodation listings.
  • Escape Artists – A journal style website about Italian travel and culture. Includes information on the Italian people and their history, art, food and wine.
  • Explore Italian Culture – Describes the Italian culture plus places to visit, Italian food, history and basic facts.
  • Foreign Remarks – Cultural-political comments on living in Italy including personal opinions about the experience of living near Rome
  • Geobeats Italy – Video travel guide that provides information about places, food, activities and culture in Italy.
  • Idyllic Italy – Offering some basic advice and tips for trip-planning, with more detailed information available upon payment.
  • Il Lago d’Orta (Lake Orta) – A guide to Lake Orta, one of the smallest and least-known of northern Italy’s sub-Alpine lakes
  • In Italy – Regional information, message board, links and accommodation from this US agency.
  • Italian Notes – Tips, tricks, wonders, experiences and reflections on Italy and Italians.
  • Italofile – A blog about travel in Italy which includes: current events and festivals, recipes, travel tips and Italian products.
  • Italy from the Inside – Describes real life in Italy for travelers who don’t want to feel like tourists.
  • Italy Guides – Offers panoramic and regular photographs of ten popular tourist locations in Italy. [English, Italian]
  • Italy Heaven – Advice and suggestions for planning a holiday or weekend break. Includes accommodation, travel information, history, events and activities.
  • Italy Travel – Italy travel and tourism information including maps, pictures and vacation planning information for visitors to Italy.
  • Journeymart – Italian section of this global site. Regional and historical background, political and economic details, plus general tourist information.
  • Sapori & Saperi – A guide to artisan food and wine tours in Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna, Piedmont, Lombardy and Liguria as well as other parts of undiscovered Italy.
  • Sperlonga and Southern Lazio – A travel guide focused on the coastal town of Sperlonga and the southern region of Lazio.
  • Themaremmaguide – A guide to the Maremma region, which includes areas of south-western and coastal Tuscany, plus northern Lazio
  • U.S. State Department Information Sheet: Italy – Offers travel information including general description of Italy, entry and exit requirements, crime/safety and security notices, plus health and medical information.
  • The Vespa Diaries – A video-oriented guide to travel in Italy. Includes video tours of small towns, articles, links and cultural information.
  • Virtual Tourist: Italy – Italian section of a global site. Includes travel tips, lodging suggestions, reviews and photos, posted by real travelers.
  • World Travel Guide – Italy – Tourist and business travel information with facts on climate, visa, health, passport, currency and customs requirements
  • Your Guide to Italy – Overview of Italian customs and culture, including region-specific information
  • Zero Delta – News, general information about the cities and a directory featuring shops, accommodation and entertainment.

– CIA World Factbook

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