Mainland Italy extends southward into the Mediterranean Sea as a large boot-shaped peninsula. This meeting of earth plates has created a unique landscape for multiple micro climates. The extension of land has also created several individual bodies of water, namely the Adriatic Sea, Ionian Sea, Ligurian Sea and Tyrrhenian Sea.
The northern reaches of the country are dominated by varied ranges of the Alps, a massive stretch of mountains that extends from France to Austria, and then south along the Adriatic Sea. Italy's highest point near the summit of Mont Blanc (or Monte Bianco), a mountain it shares with France, rises to 4,748 m.
With the Alps are two other mountain ranges. First is the oldest mountains the Dolomites. Much of the Dolomites has been made into a national park. There are 12 mountain groups that make up the range. The second group is the Pre-alp mountains, that sit above the north edge of the Po Valley. These mountains range up to 2000 meters and offer some great early season hikes and bike activities.
The beautiful and rugged Lake District of northern Italy includes many mountain lakes, with the major ones being Lago Como and Lago Maggiore. Too the east you find the largest lake in Italy, Lago del Garda. Though out the mountain groups you can find small alpine lakes that offer varied sports like windsurfing or paddle sports.
The Po River Valley is positioned directly south of Alps, and runs from Turin too Venice. Rising in the Alps, the Po River is Italy's longest and the valley it dissects is the country's most fertile farmland.
The Apennine Mountains (a range of the Alps) form the backbone of the Italian peninsula, and they extend south through Italy, then directly beneath the narrow Strait of Messina to cover much of Sicily. These mountains consist of several chains and they form the peninsula's watershed, as several rivers rise in the upper elevations, including the Arno and the Tiber.
About 30% of Italy's land area consists of plains with some low, marshy areas, especially along the Adriatic Sea, from Ancona north too Venice. The coastline of the country features numerous large and small bays, as well as gulfs.
The Amalfi Coast south of Naples, and the Cinque Terra to the north of Pisa offer some of the most spectacular coastal scenery imaginable as steep rocky slopes rush down to the sea, and tiny villages with colorful houses pack much of the cliffs
Italy is renowned for its many rugged islands, most volcanic in origin. Significant ones include the large islands of Sardinia and Sicily and the smaller islands of Capri, Elba, Ischia, and the Aeolian Island group.
Much of Italy is volcanic in origin, and today a few of its many volcanoes are active, including Sicily's Mt. Etna, Stomboli in the Aeolian Islands, and volcanologists are constantly monitoring Mt. Vesuvius near Naples, as it has the potential to erupt at anytime.
Italy is one of the most diverse places in the world to visit but there is more to the country then Venice, Florence, Roma, Cinque Terre and a couple of other top attractions. If you plan you days well and understand how to move around within the country you can a great cost effective vacation full of activity, history, culture, and great food and wine. Contact us to get the insights to travel in Italy. We offer: