Italy 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.
Travelling in Italy means discovering an unparalleled artistic and cultural heritage, from the iconic landmarks of Florence - Brunelleschi's Dome, Giotto's Campanile, Ponte Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria and Palazzo Vecchio - to the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa and the picturesque Piazza del Campo in the centre of Siena.
Not far from Siena are some of the region's most characteristic sites: the ancient village of Monteriggioni, perched on a hill, has preserved its beautiful medieval walls, and in Chiusdino, the Abbey of San Galgano is a ruined hermitage that houses a mysterious sword carved into the rock.
Predominantly Mediterranean; alpine in far north; hot, dry in south
Italian (includes small clusters of German-, French-, and Slovene-Italians in the north and Albanian-Italians and Greek-Italians in the south)
Chrysanthemums are used at funerals, red flowers indicate secrecy, and yellow flowers indicate jealousy. All make poor gifts.
Pasta dishes; pizza
Core EU economy; strong services, manufacturing, and tourism sectors; hard hit by COVID-19 disruptions but starting to recover; large EU exporter but data skews due to inflated port entry valuation; corruption somewhat stymies foreign direct investment