About Italy

Official Name: Italian Republic (Repubblica Italiana)

Location: Italy is located in southern Europe (around the 40th parallel, North). It is bordered on the west by the Tyrrhenian Sea, on the east by the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, and on the south by the Mediterranean Sea. It touches France to the west, Switzerland and Austria to the north, and Slovenia to the east.

Land Area: 294,020 sq km (113,492 sq mi).

Coast: 7,600 km (4,720 mi) of coastline on the Tyrrhenian, Adriatic, Ionian, and Mediterranean Seas.

Climate: All but Alpine Italy has a Mediterranean climate, with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers.

Population: Almost 58 million inhabitants, of which 14% are younger than 15, and 68% are between 15 and 64 years old.

Language: Italian is the official language of Italy. German is spoken widely in parts of the Trentino-Alto Adige region, and French and Slovenian are spoken by minority populations in other border regions. English is often spoken by residents of urban and tourist areas.

Religion: The majority of Italians are Roman Catholic. There are Protestant, Jewish and Muslim minority commuities as well.

Government: Italy is a republic, with a constitution in effect since 1948. The Executive Branch consists of a president, prime minister, and Council of Ministers. The Legislative Branch consists of the Parliament (Parlamento) which is divided into the 315-member Senate (Senato della Repubblica) and the 630-member Chamber of Deputies (Camera dei Deputati). The Judicial Branch consists of the 15-judge Constitutional Court (Corte Costituzionale); 5 judges are appointed by the president, 5 are elected by Parliament, and 5 are elected by lower courts. The president is elected by an electoral college. The prime minister is appointed by the president. The Council of Ministers is nominated by the prime minister and approved by the president. Most Senate members (232) are popularly elected, with most of the remaining seats filled by regional proportional representation. There are 11 appointed senators-for-life. In the Chamber of Deputies, 475 members are directly elected and the remainder are elected by regional proportional representation.

Executive (President or King): President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi; Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi

Capital: Rome (Roma)

Flag: Italian flag

Currency: On January 1, 2002, the sole currency of most member countries of the European Union, including Italy, became the euro (€), available in notes worth 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euro, and coins worth 1 and 2 euros, and 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents (100 cents equal to one euro). Italy's previous currency was the the Italian lira (Lit), divided into 100 centesimi. There are 1000, 2000, 5000, 10,000, 50,000, and 100,000 lire notes, as well as 50, 100, 200, and 500 lire coins. The exchange rate was approximately 1,568 Italian Lira (Lit) for every $1 in January of 1997 (the time of the BikeAbout journey).
arrowClick to Use Currency Converter Find out how many Italian lira there are in your local currency!

Resources and Industry: The Italian economy is one of the largest in the world, although it has suffered some in the 90s and there is disparity between the north and south. Tourism is very important to Italy's economic health, and it is famous for its agricultural products, particularly its wines. Agricultural production centers on fruits, vegetables, and grapes, and a significant annual fish catch. Italy exports metals, textiles, transportation equipment, and machinery, among others.

Transport: 654,676 km (406,554 mi) of road; 19,394 km (12,044 mi) of train tracks.

Electric current: 220 volts, but 125 volts is still used in some places.

Time Zone: GMT +1 hour; GMT +2 hours in the summer

Sources: CIA World Factbook 2000, Mediterranean Europe on a shoestring (Lonely Planet), Lonely Planet

Web Links

Note: The opinions expressed in these sites do not necessarily reflect the opinions of BikeAbout. If you have seen a Web site that you think BikeAbout participants would be interested in, please send the URL to We'll review the site and consider adding it to our resource library.

Castel del Monte (UNESCO World Heritage Site) [also available in French]
City.Net Italy
From the folks at Excite, this site has cultural, historical, and travel information, including weather reports and maps. Also includes links to other major sources of information about Italy.
Comune di Roma
Culture, tourism and events. [Italian]
Destination: Italy
Historical overview, maps, travel facts, culture, environment, attractions. The "Off the Beaten Track" feature is especially interesting. Brought to you be Lonely Planet.
Destination Rome
Attractions and entertainment from Lonely Planet, publishers of Italy -- a travel survival kit.
Early Christian Monuments and Mosaics of Ravenna (UNESCO World Heritage Site) [also available in French]
Embassy of Italy in Brasilia
Official Web site of the Embassy of Italy in Brasilia, Brazil. General information, city guides, business, history, culture, universities, museums, government, and news online.
Europa in Tour
The Infobus is on its way around Italy! "C'est un projet national (italien) qui regroupe 2 reseaux de centres d'informations aux citoyens sur les politiques europeennes (InfoPoint Europa et Carrefours ruraux). L'idee est de relier tous ces centres (28 au total) au moyen d'un minibus qui transportera du materiel informatif, sera en mesure d'animer les places, de repondre aux demandes du public." [In Italian and French]
Ferrara, City of Renaissance (UNESCO World Heritage Site) [also available in French]
Ferrara [also available in French]
Historic Centre of Naples (UNESCO World Heritage Site) [also available in French]
Historic Centre of Rome, the properties of the Holy See in that city enjoying extraterritorial rights, and San Paolo fuori le Mura (UNESCO World Heritage Site) [also available in French]
I Love Rome
Current travel and tourism information, including a searchable databases of hotels, streets, movie listings and bus routes. Produced by Alfanet. [English, Italian]
Italy Schools
School directory, general country information. Compiled by WorldWide Classroom.
Let's Roam Italy
A student-produced site, submitted for the ThinkQuest Competition. General information on sites, history and the arts. Online form to become an E-mail Partner.
Map of Italy
From DeLorme Mapping (1991). Used by permission.
Naples [French]
Index of Web sites related to Naples, compiled by Istituto Internazionale di Genetica e Biofisica.
Naples (Napoli)
General information about Naples and the Campania region. (From Windows On Italy.)
Picture and audio clip library.
Napoli Net
What's happening in Napoli. [Italian]
Napoli What Where When
Events, arts, and cultural information [English, Italian]
Neapolitan Tourist Network Project (Guida ipertestuale di Napoli)
"Un progetto di ricerca per la valorizzazione dei Beni Culturali, Ambientali e Turistici di Napoli via Internet." Information about museums and historical sites in Naples (Napoli). Produced by Instituto di Cibernetica. [Italian]
Piazza del Duomo, Pisa (UNESCO World Heritage Site) [also available in French]
Rome [French]
Relief Map of Italy (large)
From the University of Texas online map collection. [1036x1291 pixels]
Historical and cultural information about Venice. [Spanish]
Venice and its Lagoon (UNESCO World Heritage Site) [also available in French]
Venizia Net
Culture and tourism information for Venice (Venezia). [English, Italian]
Venice Italy Index
Comprehensive searchable index of links to history, culture, current events, arts, food & wine, maps and other information about Venice. List includes Italian, English and multilingual sites. Winners of the Best of the Net, LookSmart Editor's ChoiceFamily Friendly Site And Anarchy Best of the Net awards and a 5-Star rating from Webnet.
Venice (Venezia)
General information about Venice and the Veneto region. (From Windows On Italy.)
Venise (Venice) [French]
Vox Neapolis
Arts, music, and culture of Naples. [English, Italian]
Weather-Naples, Italy
Weather in Naples. Source: USAToday.
Weather-Venice, Italy
Weather in Venice. Source: USAToday.
WeatherLabs, Bari
Weather forecast for Bari.
WeatherLabs, Trieste
Weather forecast for Trieste.
Welcome to Venice
A wealth of information for those traveling or moving to Venice.
Windows On Italy
Background information produced by Istituto Geografico De Agostini, news reports from A.N.S.A., cultural information from the Italian Embassy in Ottawa, Canada.

Cycling List [BikeAbout resource, includes listings for cycling organizations in Italy]
Club Sport & Tempo Libero [in Italian]
Trento Bike Pages--Italy
Associazione Amici della bicicletta
Federazione Italiana Amici della Bicicletta

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ITNet Internet access in Italy was provided by ITNet. Internet access in the Trieste region of Italy and hosting have been provided by Spin. Spin

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