Italy

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 on Italy on our website:

More information on other websites:

  • 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
  • Idyllic Italy – Offering some basic advice and tips for trip-planning, with more detailed information available upon payment.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Welcome to Italia This site is run by the Italian State Tourism Board of North America. It is very well done with many beautiful pictures. The “Italy by Regions” section has brief descriptions of each region including a section on museums and a “to be visited” paragraph that mentions just a few highlights. The Art and Culture section has some interesting links including “Language and Culture Schools in Italy,” “Major Music Festivals,” and “Gastronomy, Food and Wine.” This last section has some great links to be explored.
  • The United Nations World Heritage Sites UNESCO has designated more than thirty sites in Italy as World Heritage Sites. This website has brief descriptions of each of them, and many of the descriptions have links to sites with more detailed information. This list alone could be the starting point for some wonderful trips to Italy. To access the Italian World Heritage sites, choose Europe from the map. You will find an alphabetical list by country; scroll down to Italy.
  • Italian State Tourism Board This is the site of ENIT the Italian State Tourism Board [Ente Nazionale Italiano per il Turismo]. It has an English button on the home page to start off in English but as you navigate the site it launches into Italian very quickly. We have included it here because you will see references to it on many other sites.
  • Discover Italia Discover Italia offers maps of more than 250 towns in Italy, three-day itineraries for 15 major art cities, and itineraries with a wine and food theme or a nature theme. You can also get directions from one destination to another, which includes the total distance in kilometers. In the Destination section, you can obtain a brief description with photographs of 100 tourist areas. You can search for hotels, agriturism accommodations, and restaurants by town. This is an excellent site for an overview of particular cities. It also provides an events listing, which seems very promising, but, at time of writing, the listings are scanty.
  • Odyssei Adventure Travel Odyssei Adventure Travel provides excellent descriptions of some of the most important museums, piazzas, and churches of Venice, Rome, and other destinations and summaries of some of the most noteworthy cities and towns.  It includes  travel stories from other travelers and  provides a way for you to contact the authors directly.  The Links section includes links to the Alpine Touring Club and to the Touring Club of Italy.
  • In Italy Online This site is filled with excellent articles about many locations in Italy.  The site has a page for every region in Italy, with information on some of the more interesting places to visit as well as a listing of the festivals and pageants for the region and a page of useful links. Many fine hotels are described and reviews of many of the hotels are available. A variety of other information is provided, from on-line shopping to Italian language schools. You will also find useful travel information, with links to web sites of the major airports and the Italian railway, the Ferrovie dello Stato, as well as bus lines. (You can also find such information on this website in the “Transportation” section.)
  • Travel-Library.Com This site has an interesting variety of information. It has links to a variety of articles on Italy and links to other sites with information on Italy. The coverage is irregular, but there are some treasures here.
  • Italy Cyberguide This site has excellent geographical and statistical information on Italy. It includes capsules of historical data and  topographical maps for every region.

Sources:
– CIA World Factbook

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