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Italy - Known for its rich cultural heritage and natural beauty, Italy's cities have spectacular churches and large central plazas. Their museums contain some of the world's best-known art. The countryside has warm, sandy beaches; high, glacier-topped mountain peaks; and rolling hills covered with green fields and vineyards.

The country also includes two large islands, Sicily and Sardinia. Two independent countries actually lie within Italy's borders: the tiny Republic of San Marino, in north-central Italy, and Vatican City, which is located completely within the city of Rome.

Italy's landscape is dominated by two mountain ranges - the Alps and the Apennines. The Alps tower across the northernmost part of Italy, while the Apennines form a backbone that runs nearly the length of the peninsula.

Destination Guides

The country boasts several world-famous cities. Rome, the capital and largest city of Italy, was the center of the Roman Empire 2,000 years ago. Florence was the home of many artists of the Renaissance, a period of great achievements in the arts. Venice, with its intricate canal system, attracts tourists from all over the world.

Italians are strongly attached to their towns, neighborhoods, and families. Many who leave their home in search of greater opportunities hope to return eventually to their old communities.

For detailed highlights of Italy, see our Featured Destination Guides.

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