Italy Ľ Profile


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THERE IS A GREAT DEAL OF VARIETY in the landscape in Italy, although it is characterized predominantly by two mountain chains: the Alps and the Apennines. The former extends over 600 miles from east to west. It consists of great massifs in the western sector, with peaks rising to over 14,000 feet, including Monte Bianco (Monte Blanc), Monte Rosa and Cervino (the Matterhorn). The chain is lower in the eastern sector, although the mountains, the Dolomites, are still of extraordinary beauty. At the foot of the Alpine arc stretches the vast Po Valley plain, cut down the middle by the course of the river Po, the longest in Italy (390 miles), which has its source in the Pian de Re (Monviso) and flows into the Adriatic through a magnificent delta. The Alpine foothills are characterized by large lakes: Lake Maggiore and the lakes of Como, Iseo and Garda. The Apennines form the backbone of the peninsula, stretching in a wide concave arc to the Tyrrhenian Sea. A large part of central Italy is characterized by green hilly landscapes, through which the rivers Arno and Tevere (Tiber) run. The southern section of the chain pushes out to the east forming the Gargano promontory and, sloping down further south, the Salentine peninsula. It proceeds to the west with the Calabrian and Peloritano massif stretching across the Strait of Messina into Sicily. The principal islands are Sicily, rising up to the great volcanic cone of Etna (10,860 feet) and Sardegna. The main Archipelago, the Pontine Islands, the Aeolian Islands and the Egadi Islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the coast of Sicily.

CLIMATE

THE MODERATING INFLUENCE OF THE SEA and the protection given by the alpine barrier from the cold north winds join to bless Italy with a temperate climate. Nevertheless, the weather varies considerably according to how far one is from the sea or the mountains. The winter is very cold in the Alps, cold and foggy in the Po Plain and the central Apennines; mild and even warm on the Ligurian coast, the Neapolitan coast and in Sicily. The summer is hot and dry, but the temperature is mitigated on the coast by sea breezes and in the Apennines and Alps it is pleasantly cool. In mountain areas, winter is ideal for skiing, and summer for excursions, hiking, etc. Seaside and lake resorts, with their excellent hotel facilities, have an intense tourist season during the summer, while the cities that are rich in art treasures, like Siena, are ideal in spring and autumn.
 
 


 


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