Living in Italy
The 'boot' that makes up mainland Italy has its toe in the Mediterranean, the Adriatic on its eastern flank and the Tyrrhenian on the west. The coast, including the islands of Sardinia and Sicily, is 7,420 km long; mountains make up 35.2 per cent of the country, while gently folding hills cover just over 40 per cent of the rest. All of this makes for a very scenic country, with each region having its own character and landscape.
For purposes of administration Italy is divided into 20 regions: Piedmont, Aosta, Lombardy, Trentino-Alto Adige, Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Liguria, Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, Umbria, Marche, Lazio, Abruzzo, Molise, Puglia, Campania, Basilicata, Calabria, Sicily and Sardinia . The regions are further subdivided, and comprise 95 provinces with over 8,000 municipalities, each of which has a strong sense of identity thanks to the Italians' inherent campanilismo, parochialism, and sense of local pride.
Pride in all things Italian and a love of life have been little dampened by the continuing economic recession, and Italy continues to be one of the biggest markets for French champagne, Scotch whisky and Rolls Royce cars. Many Italians spend their summer holidays in exotic destinations as well as taking a settimana bianca ski holiday during the winter. The close-knit structure of the family helps finance these luxuries as old-age pensions are pooled into the household fund.