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    Slovakia: Tatra Mountains. Go Now!

    Slovakia
    The Tatra Mountains (pictured) form the backdrop of this rural country, whose culture is rooted in this beautiful landscape. Go Now!

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    Bulgaria: An old Turkish bridge. Go Now!

    Bulgaria
    The isolated mountains of Bulgaria hide cultural gems around every corner, including this old Turkish bridge in the Rhodopi Mountains. Explore Bulgaria!

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    Italy: Rome' historic buildings. Go Now!

    Italy
    Crumbling buildings in Rome (pictured) only add to the atmosphere in a country where old is redefined and western civilization begins. Explore Italy!

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    Portugal: Palace of Pena. Go Now!

    Portugal
    Although next to the seas and made famous by trade, Portugal boasts dynamic landscapes and architecture, including the Palace of Pena (pictured) near the town of Sintra. Go to Portugal!

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    Denmark: Landscape. Go Now!

    Denmark
    From cities like Copenhagen to islands, beaches, and vast fields (pictured), Denmark offers incredible history, architecture, scenery, and more. Begin Your Journey!

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    Armenia: Noravank Monastery. Go Now!

    Armenia
    With a unique language, foods, architecture, and identity, Armenia is a fascinating country and culture unlike no other in the world. Begin Your Journey!

Geography, Weather, & Wildlife of Italy

Geography

Italian Geography - Muhlwald in the Alps
Muhlwald in the Alps

Italy is a peninsula that juts south into the Mediterranean Sea. Beyond the mainland peninsula, Italy also owns a few islands off its shores, including Sardinia to its west and Sicily to its southwest. Italy is bordered by France (west), Slovenia (east), Austria (northeast), and Switzerland (north).

Geographically, Italy is a very mountainous country with an extremely long coastline. In the north of the country are the Alps, which are very tall and many parts are inaccessible. From these mountains a number of large rivers flow south and east, many of which drain into the Adriatic Sea. This northern area is also very flat and very densely populated. From here moving north-south along the peninsula there is a "spine-like" mountain chain dividing the country. These mountains gradually rise and fall, making them fairly accessible as they slope down to the coasts, which are flat. Likewise, both Sardinia and Sicily are fairly mountainous, but accessible.

Weather

Italian Geography - Tuscany
Tuscany

Italy is a fairly large country, but doesn't typically experience the extreme colds and snow outside the Alps. Although most of the country doesn't receive snow, the country's weather still varies due to the length of the country running north-south and due to the country's mountains. Winters (December-February) are cold and snowy in the Alps, with temperatures regularly below freezing, but in nearby Milan, snow is rare as the temperature averages about 40˚ F (5˚ C). The further south one travels the warmer the weather gets except in the mountains running the length of the country, which are always cooler. Although many cities, including Rome, get snow, only towns and cities surrounded by mountains tend to get cold enough to sustain snow for weeks at a time. The island of Sicily and the southern part of the country tends to be warm year round, with the coldest days of winter still averaging 55˚ F (13˚ C).

Italy in the summer outside the Alps is extremely hot; the Alps averages about 65-70˚ F (20˚ C) during this time. The western and southern parts of the country can receive heat waves from the sea and North Africa making these areas, including Rome nearly unbearable as daily highs average 90˚ F (22˚ C).

The late spring and early fall (autumn) are a bit cooler and can fall dramatically as these seasons near winter. Rome, for example has daily highs of about 72˚ F (22˚ C) during these seasons.

Wildlife

Italian Geography - Sardinia coast
Sardinia coast

Much of Italy's native wildlife is now confined to the mountains, forests, and the lakes or rivers. In the mountains marmots, ibex, rabbits, and deer are still fairly common, while other mammals, like the bear are nearly extinct in the region. The rivers, lakes, and Mediterranean Sea are still home to significant numbers of wildlife though. Trout, sturgeon, and other fish are found in lakes and rivers, while the Mediterranean is home to tuna, swordfish, and other sea life, both large and small.

There a hundreds of bird species that travel through Italy as they migrate, while others find the peninsula nation a permanent home. There are also a fair number of amphibians and reptiles in certain areas depending on the particular species and season.

This page was last updated: March, 2013