Italy has been, since antiquity, the centre of
history, culture and art. The Italian museums, collections and archaeological
sites reveal countless tokens of the past and the many civilizations
that have passed across this country, evidence of which is still
inextricably woven into the present day landscape.
Artistic wonders can be found everywhere, and every corner of the country holds countless and wonderful surprises. The Italian artistic and cultural heritage is one of the most valuable in the world. Italy has more cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any other country. Rome, Florence, Assisi, Venice, Siena, Pisa, and Naples are its most renowned cities of art, but the whole country can boast towns of breathtaking beauty, as these numbers demonstrate: 95,000 monumental churches, 40,000 forts and castles, 30,000 historical residences with 4,000 gardens, 36,000 archives and libraries, 20,000 historical cities and towns, 5,600 museums and archaeological sites, and 1,500 convents.
Tourists can explore and discover the private residences of ancient and noble families; visit world famous museums such as the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the Capitoline Museums in Rome, or the Brera Art Gallery in Milan; explore impressive archaeological sites, such as Pompei and Herculaneum, to immerse themselves in an exciting, grandiose past. That is by no means all - there are numerous cultural, artistic, and musical events that animate Italian life.
Italy offers a rich combination of masterpieces from different areas, blending landscape and culture, history and art, architecture and city planning - it offers an exciting journey through time, from the Ancient Greeks and Romans to the present day, which is also filled by a wealth of art and culture.
The climate varies considerably from the north
to the south of Italy.
In the north of the country - the area between the Alps and the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines - the climate is harsh, with very cold winters and very hot, particularly humid summers. In central Italy the climate is milder, with a smaller difference in temperature between summer and winter and a shorter and less intense cold season than in the north; summers are longer, but the sultriness of the northern cities is mitigated by the sea. In southern Italy and the islands winters are never particularly harsh, and spring and autumn temperatures are similar to those reached in the summer in other areas of Italy.
Italy is in the Central European Time (CET) Zone,
1 hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and observes Daylight
Saving Time: at the beginning of spring the clocks go forward an
hour in order to take advantage of an extra hour of sunlight in
the late afternoon/evening. At the beginning of autumn the clocks
are shifted back an order to standard Central European Time.
Shop opening hours
Shops generally open at 09:00 in the morning and close at 13:00 hours, then after lunch Shops open again at 15:30 in the afternoon and close at 19:30 from Monday to Saturday.
Since 2001, the currency used in Italy is the
euro. Bank opening hours are
Monday to Friday 08:30 -13:30 and 15:00 -16:00.
Italian is the official language of the country, although accents
and dialects may vary widely from one region to another. A large
number of local dialects are spoken in Italy.
There are two regions, however, which have a second official language: the Aosta Valley, where French is also spoken, and Trentino Alto Adige, where German is also spoken. In these regions, road signs, as well as place names, for example, appear in both languages. There are also a number of small areas in which languages other than Italian are used, although these languages do not have official status: in Friuli-Venezia Giulia there is a Slovenian-speaking area, and in Calabria (in the Bovesìa area) and in Apulia (in the Grecia Salentina zone), Greek is spoken in some areas. In Sicily, in Piana degli Albanesi, you will find the largest Albanian community in Italy, where the Albanian language is widely used, even in official documents and on road signs.
Documents required to drive in Italy
Driving licences issued by any of the EU member states are valid throughout the European Union, including Italy. Drivers in possession of a licence issued by any EU country do not require an international driving permit or a sworn translation of their own licence.
In Italy the electrical current is 220 volts AC (50 Hz). Electrical sockets comply with European regulations. In most hotels you will find adaptors for different types of plugs.
The supply of drinking water is guaranteed throughout Italy. The water from taps and fountains is checked regularly, and is perfectly safe to drink, unless there is a notice indicating otherwise.
Rome, Italy’s capital, is a sprawling, cosmopolitan city with nearly 3,000 years of globally influential art, architecture and culture on display. Ancient ruins such as the Forum and the Colosseum evoke the power of the former Roman Empire. Vatican City, headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, has St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums, which house masterpieces such as Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel frescoes.
- Founded: April 21, 753 BC
- Area: 1,285 km²
- Weather: 26°C, Wind W at 11 km/h, 55% Humidity
- Population: 2.868 million (2014) United Nations