Fast Facts About Italy

Rome and the Peninsula of Italy

Map of Modern Italy. Map courtesy of CIA World Factbook

Geography of Ancient Italy | Fast Facts About Italy

The following information provides background for reading ancient Roman history.

Name of Italy

The name Italy comes from the Latin word Italia that referred to a territory owned by Rome but was later applied to the Italic peninsula. It is possible that etymologically the name comes from Oscan Viteliu, referring to cattle. [See Etymology of Italia (Italy).]

Location of Italy

42 50 N, 12 50 E
Italy is a peninsula extending from southern Europe into the Mediterranean Sea. The Ligurian Sea, the Sardinian Sea, and the Tyrrhenian Sea surround Italy on the west, the Sicilian Sea and the Ionian Sea in the south, and the Adriatic Sea in the east.


  • Po - the largest river running from west to east across Italy, from the Alps to the Adriatic Sea. 405 mi (652 km) and 1,650 ft (503 m) at its widest.
  • Tiber River - runs for 252 mi (406 km), from Mount Fumaiolo through Rome and into the Tyrrhenian Sea at Ostia.


  • Lake Garda
  • Northern Italy
  • Lake Como
  • Lake Iseo
  • Lake Maggiore
  • Central Italy
  • Lake Bolsena
  • Lake Bracciano
  • Lake Trasimeno

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Mountains of Italy

There are two main chains of mountains in Italy, the Alps, running east-west, and the Apennines. The Apennines form an arc running down Italy. Highest mountain: Mont Blanc (Monte Bianco) de Courmayeur 4,748 m., in the Alps.


  • Mount Vesuvius (1,281 m) (near Naples)
  • Mount Etna or Aetna (3,326 m) (Sicily

Land Boundaries:

Total: 1,899.2 km

Coastline: 7,600 km

Border countries:

  • Austria 430 km
  • France 488 km
  • Holy See (Vatican City) 3.2 km
  • San Marino 39 km
  • Slovenia 199 km
  • Switzerland 740 km

Divisions of Italy

During the Augustan Age, Italy was divided into the following regions:

  • Regio I Latium et Campania
  • Regio II Apulia et Calabria
  • Regio III Lucania et Brutii
  • Regio IV Samnium
  • Regio V Picenum
  • Regio VI Umbria et Ager Gallicus
  • Regio VII Etruria
  • Regio VIII Aemilia
  • Regio IX Liguria
  • Regio X Venetia et Histria
  • Regio XI Transpadana

Here are the names of the modern regions followed by the name of the main city in the region

  1. Piedmont - Turin
  2. Aosta Valley - Aosta
  3. Lombardy - Milan
  4. Trentino Alto Adige - Trento Bolzano
  5. Veneto - Venice
  6. Friuli-Venezia Giulia - Trieste
  7. Liguria - Genoa
  8. Emilia-Romagna - Bologna
  9. Tuscany - Florence
  10. Umbria - Perugia
  11. Marches - Ancona
  12. Latium - Rome
  13. Abruzzo - L'Aquila
  14. Molise - Campobasso
  15. Campania - Naples
  16. Apulia - Bari
  17. Basilicata - Potenza
  18. Calabria - Catanzaro
  19. Sicily - Palermo
  20. Sardinia - Cagliari
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Your Citation
Gill, N.S. "Fast Facts About Italy." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Gill, N.S. (2021, February 16). Fast Facts About Italy. Retrieved from Gill, N.S. "Fast Facts About Italy." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 4, 2023).