Geography in Italy
The Italian national territory, including the islands, covers an area of over 300,000 km². The Italian peninsula, which extends in the shape of a boot from the Alps in the northwest to Sicily in the southeast into the Mediterranean Sea, has a length of approximately 2000 km and is around 230 km wide between Rome and Ankona. Italy borders Austria and Slovenia to the north and northeast and Switzerland and France to the northeast. The mountain range of the Apennines runs through the Italian peninsula along the longitudinal axis and reaches its greatest height in the Gran Sasso in Abruzzo at 2,912 m. In the north, a large part of the Alps with the highest Alpine peak, the 4,810 m high Mont Blanc, belongs to Italy, which is also the highest peak in Italy and is located directly on the border with France. The highest,
Between the Alpine belt and the Apennines, the Po Valley extends in northern Italy with the longest river in Italy, which gives it its name and which drains the southern Alps into the Adriatic. The second longest river in Italy, the Tiber, carries the precipitation from the Apenin over 400 km to the western Mediterranean.
In the transition from the Po Valley to the Alpine mountains that rise abruptly to the north, Lake Garda, Lake Maggiore and Lake Como, Italy’s largest lakes, are located in protected Alpine valleys that open to the south.
Italy includes the large Mediterranean islands of Sicily and Sardinia as well as a large number of smaller islands off the Italian coast, of which Elba Capri and Ischia are probably the best known.
Due to the geological conditions in the subsurface, Italy belongs to an earthquake-active zone, which repeatedly leads to violent earthquakes and is expressed, among other things, by the activities of the three important volcanoes Etna, Stromboli and Vesuvius in southern Italy.
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Flora and fauna in Italy
In northern Italy and in the mountains, the vegetation is largely coniferous and deciduous forest. In the south of the country the world of plants is much more Mediterranean. Olive trees, laurel trees, palm trees, oleanders and wild vines grow here. Typical trees for Mediterranean Italy are also pines and cork oaks, and chestnuts and holm oaks on the slopes of the Apennines. Cypress avenues determine the landscape in Tuscany. Figs, almond trees, pomegranates and dates thrive further south. The oleanders and bougainvilleas, which are often used as ornamental plants in the garden, bloom particularly beautifully here. The coasts of southern Italy are partly lined with impenetrable maquis.
In the mountainous alpine regions we can observe marmots, rabbits, ermines and mountain partridges on our adventure trips over the passes, and larger mammals such as deer, chamois and ibex can be seen, mainly in the nature parks. Foxes and lynxes can be found both in the Alps and in the more remote regions of the Apennines in central Italy. In the highest part of the Apennines, in the so-called Abruzzo, there are even some brown bears that you rarely come across, and certainly not when you are on a motorcycle tour. Bears seem to have no sense of the sonorous sound of an enduro going by. Sardinia is home to mouflons, fallow deer and wild boar, among other things. In the Mediterranean, a colorful world of fish is revealed, including squid, tuna and swordfish.
National parks and nature conservation in Italy
24 national parks and a further 134 regional parks with a total area of around 18,000 km² are intended to protect Italy’s nature from overexploitation and poaching. The Gran Paradiso National Park in the Aosta Valley and Piedmont, known for its Alpine ibex population, was the first to be established in 1922. The largest national parks are the Pollino National Park, which extends over 1925 km² in the regions of Calabria and Basilicata and is home to the Italian wolf, the Cilento and Vallo di Diano National Park with over 1810 km² in Campania and the Gran Sasso and Monti della Laga National Park with over 1413 km² in Abruzzo, on whose territory the Corno Grande is the highest peak of the Apennines. One of the largest regional parks is the Parco dei Nebrodi in Sicily with around 860 km².
Climate in Italy
Although the climate for Italy as a whole can be described as subtropical – Mediterranean, there are differences due to both the relatively large north-south expansion of the country and the morphological conditions. The extreme north of Italy, which belongs to the Alpine region, has a cold mountain climate, which, however, is tempered by the frequent hairdryers from the Po Valley. In the Po Valley, which is shielded from the Mediterranean by the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, there are still relatively cool winters with possible snowfall, light periods of frost and, in particular, prolonged dense fog. The summers, on the other hand, are already long and hot, with a relatively high level of humidity and annual rainfall of 780 mm, with the maximum rainfall of around 130 mm being reached in May.
Central Italy, south of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines, already has mild, humid winters with precipitation peaks of 150 mm in October and hot, dry summers due to the influence of the warm sea, while southern Italy and the Italian islands have a warm, Mediterranean climate almost all year round also characterized by very hot and dry summers.