Geography and Climate
Italy is located in Southern Europe and comprises the long, boot-shaped Italian Peninsula, the land between the peninsula and the Alps, and a number of islands including Sicily and Sardinia. Its total area is 301,230 km², of which 294,020 km² is land and 7,210 km² is water.
Including islands, Italy has a coastline and border of 7,600 km on the Adriatic, Ionian, Tyrrhenian seas, and borders shared with France, Austria, Slovenia and Switzerland; San Marino and the Vatican City, both entirely surrounded by Italy, account for the remainder.
The Apennine Mountains form the peninsula's backbone; the Alps form its northern boundary. The largest of its northern lakes is Garda; in the centre is Trasimeno Lake. The Po, Italy's principal river, flows from the Alps on the western border and crosses the great Padan plain to the Adriatic Sea. Several islands form part of Italy; the largest are Sicily and Sardinia.
The climate in Italy is highly diverse and can be far from the stereotypical Mediterranean climate depending on the location. Most of the inland northern areas of Italy, for example Turin, Milan and Bologna, have a continental climate often classified as humid subtropical. The coastal areas of Liguria and most of the peninsula south of Florence generally fit the Mediterranean stereotype. The coastal areas of the peninsula can be very different from the interior higher altitudes and valleys, particularly during the winter months when the higher altitudes tend to be cold, wet, and often snowy. The coastal regions have mild winters and warm and generally dry summers, although lowland valleys can be quite hot in summer.