04.06.2017 | Mugello - Circuito del Mugello
Location: Western Europe.
Area: 301,340 sq km (116,348 sq miles).
Population: 61,482,297 (2013).
Population Density: 204 per sq km.
Government: Independent kingdom of Italy declared in 1861. Republic since 1946.
Geography: Italy is situated in Europe, with a long coastline of approx 7,600km (4,720 miles) stretching into the Mediterranean Sea and a mountainous northern border adjoining France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia. This northern Alpine region contains some of the highest peaks in Europe and is a good area for winter sports. In central Italy, Tuscany has a diverse landscape composed of fertile rolling hills, lush river valleys, minor mountain ranges and a long sandy coastline. To the east is Umbria, known as the ‘green heart of Italy'; hilly with broad plains, olive groves and pines, and Le Marche - a region of gentle mountains, rivers and small fertile plains. Further south lies Rome, Italy's capital city. Within its precincts is the Vatican City. The south of the country is hotter, wilder and much, much drier than the north, characterised by dry sierras, rocky mountain ranges and volcanic outcrops, including three of Europe’s most active volcanoes: Vesuvius, Etna and Stromboli. Puglia, the ‘heel of the boot', is a mixed landscape of fertile plateaus, expansive olive groves and flat, ochre-coloured plains. The islands of Sicily and Sardinia lie offshore to the south-west and west respectively.
Language: Italian is the official language. Dialects are spoken in different regions. German is spoken in the South Tyrol region (bordering Austria). French is spoken in all the border areas from the Riviera to the area north of Milan (border with France and Switzerland). English, French and German are also spoken in the biggest cities and in tourism and business circles.
Religion: 87.8% Roman Catholic with Muslim and Protestant minorities.
Time: GMT + 1 (GMT + 2 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October).
Social Conventions: The social structure is heavily influenced by the Roman Catholic Church and, generally speaking, family ties are stronger than in most other countries in Western Europe. Normal social courtesies should be observed. Dress is casual but smart in most places, and beachwear should be confined to the beach. Conservative clothes are expected when visiting religious buildings and smaller, traditional communities. Formal wear is usually indicated on invitations. Smoking is prohibited in public buildings, transport and cinemas.
When visiting an Italian home for dinner, bring a small gift of sweets or chocolate, and dress well. Let your host lead when sitting and starting the meal. Take a small portion of what’s on offer as you will surely be cajoled into having another helping. If you do not want more wine, leave your glass full so it can’t be refilled.
Electricity: 230 volts AC, 50Hz. Plugs are of the two round-pin type.
Head of Government: Enrico Letta since 2013.
Head of State: Giorgio Napolitano since 2006.
Recent History: Romano Prodi and his government resigned in January 2008 after losing a confidence vote in the Senate. Elections in April 2008 were won by media magnate Silvio Berlusconi, securing a third term as premier after two years in opposition.