Italy occupies a long, boot-shaped peninsula, surrounded on the west by the Tyrrhenian Sea and on the east by the Adriatic Sea. It is bounded by France, Switzerland, Austria, and Slovenia to the north. The Apennine Mountains form the peninsula's backbone; the Alps form its northern boundary. The largest of its northern lakes is Garda . The Po, its principal river, flows from the Alps on Italy's western border and crosses the Padan plain to the Adriatic Sea. Several islands form part of Italy; the largest are Sicily and Sardinia.
Italy has been the home of many European cultures, such as the Etruscans and the Romans, and later was the birthplace of the movement of the Renaissance, that began in Tuscany and spread all over Europe. Italy's capital Rome has been the center of Western civilization, and is the center of the Catholic Church.
The Aosta Valley has outstanding scenery consisting of huge Alpine glaciers, from the Gran Paradiso to the Matter-horn, and from Mont Blanc, to Monte Rosa. There are many cross-country skiing circuits and in summer there are lots of itineraries for walking and trekking. A dominant and majestic scene of the South Tryolean Alps is constituted by the Dolomites, mostly in the province of Alto-Adige. A third of the territory is protected, which is guaranty and a promise of interesting walks across the lots of parks: Sciliar/Schelern, Puez/Odle/Puez-Geisher, Monte Corno/Trudner Horn, Dolomites of Sesto/Sextner Dolomites, Vedrette di Rics/Riesen-femer, Sarentine Alps/Santaler Alps and the National Stelvio/Stilfser Park.
The province Veneto, has an alpine area of great natural beauty: Cime di Lavaredo and Cortina d'Ampezzo in the Dolomites. Trentino offers cultural and natural resources. To mention a few: Adamello-Presanella, Cevedale, the Brenta Dolomites, the Val di Fassa Dolomites and Lagorai Also the Friulian Dolomites of Valcellina are quite interesting. In the winter, downhill and cross-country skiing, and in the summer hikes and walks in very well preserved natural areas, as well as many slopes for climbers, while an organized series of shelters and refuge huts makes it possible to continue climbing even for several days.
The Apennine Mountains is a mountain range stretching 1000 km from the north to the south of Italy. These mountains are mostly green and wooded, although one side of the highest peak, Corno Grande (2,912 m), is partially covered by the southernmost glacier in Europe.