Italy and Greece


Map of Italy
Map of Italy

Italy shares land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, and the enclaved microstates of Vatican City and San Marino. Italy has a territorial exclave in Switzerland (Campione) and a maritime exclave in the Tunisian Sea (Lampedusa).

Vatican City is an independent city-state enclaved within Rome, Italy.  It is the smallest sovereign state in the world by both area and population.
Vatican City is an independent city-state enclaved within Rome, Italy. It is the smallest sovereign state in the world by both area and population.
San Marino is an enclave microstate completely surrounded by Italy.
San Marino is an enclave microstate completely surrounded by Italy.

Campione is a part of Italy that is completely surrounded by Switzerland. Watch the video to see what’s it’s all about:

Half as Interesting: The Italian Town That’s Not in Italy (or the EU… kind of)
Lampedusa is the largest island of the Italian Pelagie Islands in the Mediterranean Sea. Tunisia, in Africa, is the closest landfall.

Since the early 2000s, Lampedusa, the European territory closest to Libya, has become a prime transit point for irregular migrants from Africa, the Middle East and Asia wanting to enter Europe. By 2006, many African immigrants were paying people smugglers in Libya to help get them to Lampedusa by boat.

Due to its central geographic location in Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, Italy has historically been home to myriad peoples and cultures and has a very interesting and rich history.

The Colosseum in Rome, built c. 70–80 AD, is considered one of the greatest works of architecture and engineering of ancient history.

Take a look at the following two videos to travel through time from the founding of Rome to modern-day Italy’s switch to the Euro.

Over 35% of the Italian territory is mountainous. The Apennine Mountains form the peninsula’s backbone, and the Alps form most of its northern boundary

Italy's mountains
Italy’s mountains
A view of the Apennine landscape
A view of the Apennine landscape
RealLifeLore: How Italy’s Geography got Badly Nerfed

The Po is Italy’s longest river, and the Po Valley is the largest plain in Italy. The yellow area in the map below represents the valley. Notice how it’s south of the Alps, in the North of Italy.

Po Valley

Milan is a famous Italian city in the Po River Valley that is the 2nd most populous in Italy, after Rome. It used to be the capital of the Western Roman Empire.

Milan skyline
Milan skyline

Italy has quite a few active volcanoes and many of the small islands and archipelagos in the south are volcanic. One of the most famous volcanoes is Vesuvius, the volcano that destroyed the ancient Roman city of Pompeii.

Geography Lesson: Pompeii Volcano Eruption | TWIG

The climate of Italy is very diverse. The Po Valley area has harsh winters and hot summers, while coastal areas like Tuscany fit the Mediterranean climate stereotype. Higher interior areas are often snowy. Italy is the largest wine producer and one of the leading producers of olive oil, fruits, and vegetables (especially artichokes and tomatoes).

Vineyards in the Italian wine region of Piedmont
Vineyards in the Italian wine region of Piedmont

Italy has the highest level of animal biodiversity in all of Europe, with over 57,000 species recorded!

Marsican bear
Marsican bear
Alpine Ibex

Some things Italy is famous for:

The city of Venice, which is situated on a group of 118 islands that are separated by canals and linked by over 400 bridges.

Rio Priuli o de Santa Sofia (Venice)
The Leaning Tower of Pisa
Famous artists and paintings, such as the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci
Famous artists and paintings, such as the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci
Italy is considered the birthplace of opera.
Italy is considered the birthplace of opera.
Italian automobiles like Lamborghini, Ferrari, Fiat, Maserati, etc.
Italian automobiles like Lamborghini, Ferrari, Fiat, Maserati, etc.
Famous fashion brands such as Prada, Gucci, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana and Versace
Pinocchio was written by the Italian author Carlo Collodi.

There are also many famous Italian composers, such as Vivaldi, Corelli, Scarlatti, Rossini, and more.

Optional video to listen to while you are studying: The Best Italian Composers | Classical Music

Italian cuisine is one of the most popular in the world and has influences from the ancient Greeks and Romans. The Mediterranean diet forms the basis of Italian cuisine, rich in pasta, fish, fruits, and vegetables and characterized by its extreme simplicity and variety, with many dishes having only four to eight ingredients. Tomatoes are a typical part of Italian foods but only became common around the late 18th century. Olive oil is the most commonly used vegetable fat in Italian cooking.

Balsamic vinegar is a very dark, concentrated, and intensely flavored vinegar originating in Italy made wholly or partially from grape must. Grape must is freshly crushed grape juice with all the skins, seeds and stems.
Parmigiano Reggiano
Parmigiano Reggiano – You can read about this famous Italian cheese in the book: Real Food Fake Food: Why You Don’t Know What You’re Eating and What You Can Do About It, by Larry Olmsted
Spaghetti alla carbonara


Map of Greece
Map of Greece

Greece is located at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa.  Greece has the longest coastline on the Mediterranean Basin, many islands – as many as 1,200 and 6,000 depending on how you define an island (227 of which are inhabited).

Santorini is a Greek island in the Aegean Sea and home to one of the largest volcanic eruptions in history, which led to the collapse of the ancient Minoan civilization.
Santorini is a Greek island in the Aegean Sea and home to one of the largest volcanic eruptions in history, which led to the collapse of the ancient Minoan civilization.

80% of Greece consists of mountains or hills, making the country one of the most mountainous in Europe.

Greece is 80% mountainous.
Greece is 80% mountainous.
Aspropotamos valley in the Pindos Mountains of Greece

The climate is mostly Mediterranean with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. The Pindus mountain range strongly affects the climate of the country by creating a rain shadow to the east. The plains in Greece constitute key economic regions as they are among the few arable places in the country. Greece is one of the European Union’s biggest producers of cotton, and also grows other crops such as rice, olives, figs, almonds, and more.

Olives and grapes growing on the peninsula Peloponnese, Greece
Olives and grapes growing on the peninsula Peloponnese, Greece

Greece is considered the cradle of Western civilization, being the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, and literature, political science, Western drama, and the Olympic Games. Ancient Greek history has left its impact, even on the modern world.

Ancient Greece 101 | National Geographic

On the island of Crete (the big yellow island in the map higher up on the page), the bronze age civilization of the Minoans flourished.

Optional video: TopTenz: 10 Compelling Reasons to Know the Minoans
Note: This video is 16 min. long.

Rare marine species such as the pinniped seals and the loggerhead sea turtle live in the seas surrounding mainland Greece, while its dense forests are home to the endangered brown bear, the Eurasian lynx, the roe deer, and the wild goat.

Greece has many marine animals such as these common dolphins.
Tiny but Mighty: This Ancient Greek Horse Still Exists Today | National Geographic

Greek cuisine is characteristic of the healthy Mediterranean diet that incorporates fresh ingredients into a variety of local dishes. Important ingredients include olives, pasta, cheese, lemon juice, herbs, bread, and yogurt. Wine and olive oil have always been a central part of it and the spread of grapes and olive trees in the Mediterranean and further afield is correlated with Greek colonization.

Feta cheese is made from sheep milk (or a mixture of sheep and goat milk).
A gyro is made from lamb in a pita with tzatziki sauce.
A gyro is made from lamb in a pita with tzatziki sauce.
Thyme, one of the most traditional Greek herbs, was mentioned in the Odyssey.
Baklava is a Greek dessert made of layers of filo filled with chopped nuts with honey.
Optional video: Rick Steves’ Europe: Greece’s Peloponnese
Note: This video is 25 min. long.

Key Takeaways:

✎ Both Italy and Greece have rich histories which have affected the modern world.
✎ Both areas have a Mediterranean climate and their cusines often use olives, which are grown in the region.

Next: 6.5: Eastern Europe

Image and additional info credits:

Italy map
By Eric Gaba (Sting – fr:Sting) and NordNordWest – Background relief map (relief, lakes and rivers): own work by uploaderSources of data: SRTM30 Plus and NGDC World Data Bank IIAll other data (shorelines and boundaries) taken from File:Italy_location_map.svg created by NordNordWest under GFDL/CC-BY-SA-3.0Sources: United States National Imagery and Mapping Agency dataItalian Official Gazette, CC BY-SA 3.0,
italy locations map
By OCHA, CC BY 3.0,
Vatican City location map
By TUBS – Own workThis W3C-unspecified vector image was created with Adobe Illustrator.This file was uploaded with Commonist.This vector image includes elements that have been taken or adapted from this file:  Serbia in Europe (claimed hatched).svg (by TUBS)., CC BY-SA 3.0,
Vatican City info
Italy info
St. Peter’s Square
By Diliff – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
San Marino
By OCHA, CC BY 3.0,
San Marino photo
By Mx. Granger – Own work, CC0,
By Diliff – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5,
Topographic Italy
By Eric Gaba (Sting – fr:Sting) – Own workSources of data:SRTM30 Plus;NGDC World Data Bank II;UN Cartographic section;Regions boundaries: created from File:Italy_location_map.svg created by NordNordWest under GFDL/CC-BY-SA.Italian Official Gazette, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Apennine mountain photo
By Mariano Pallottini –, CC BY 2.0,
Pelagie Islands
CC BY-SA 3.0,
By Sara Prestianni / Noborder Network, CC BY 2.0,
Po Valley
By NordNordWest – Own work using:GTOPO-30 Elevation Data by USGS, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Marsican bear
By Marco Tersigni – Flickr, CC BY 2.0,
By Martouf – Own work, Public Domain,
By Megan Mallen – Flickr: Piemonte, Italy, CC BY 2.0,
By Didier Descouens – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,
Venice info
Learning Tower of Pisa
By Saffron Blaze – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
By SpielvogelFor a gallery of some more of my uploaded pictures see: here. – Own work, CC0,
By Pavel Gromov (Pagan) – Own work, CC BY 3.0,
Mona Lisa
By Leonardo da Vinci – Cropped and relevelled from File:Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci, from C2RMF.jpg. Originally C2RMF: Galerie de tableaux en très haute définition: image page, Public Domain,
By Enrico Mazzanti (1852-1910) –, Public Domain,
Public Domain,
By stu_spivack –, CC BY-SA 2.0,
Italian cuisine
By Isiwal/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA-3.0-at, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Balsamic vinegar
By 1hnmr – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Spaghetti alla carbonara
By Popo le Chien – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
By Peterfitzgerald (Peter Fitzgerald) – Own work based on Greece map blank.svg by Future Perfect at Sunrise, the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection – University of Texas Libraries, and GreeceRegionsEnglish.png by Lemonc., CC BY-SA 4.0,
Greece topographic
By Greece_location_map.svg: Lencerderivative work: Uwe Dedering (talk) – Greece_location_map.svg, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Greece info
Aspropotamus Valley
By The original uploader was Ident at Greek Wikipedia. – Transferred from el.wikipedia to Commons by Alaniaris using CommonsHelper., Attribution,
By Malene Thyssen – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
By Jessica Redfern (according to photo caption) – Source:, Public Domain,
By User: Bgabel at wikivoyage shared, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Santorini info
By Daniel Case – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,
Olive trees and grapevines in Greece
By ulrichstill – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0 de,
Greek cuisine
Feta cheese
CC BY-SA 3.0,
CC BY-SA 3.0,
By jeffreyw – Mmm… gyrosUploaded by Fæ, CC BY 2.0,
CC BY-SA 3.0,

2 thoughts on “Italy and Greece

  1. l would recommend adding a travel video of some sort to at least the Italy segment!:)

    1. Thank you so much for your suggestion!! 🙂 I’ll put this on my list of things to take a look at!

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