Italy: From Revolution to Republic, 1700 to the Present

By Spencer M. Di Scala | Go to book overview
Save to active project

The Setting

A cursory glance at a map of Italy reveals important geographical features that profoundly influenced the boot-shaped peninsula’s history. The most striking aspect is the mountainous and hilly terrain. To the north, the Alps—cited by the poet Dante as being the natural border of Italy—crown the peninsula and form Italy’s boundaries with France, Switzerland, Austria, and Slovenia. Pockmarked by more than a thousand glaciers and with peaks over 13,000 feet in height, the Alps give a picture of rugged beauty. The most famous peaks include Monte Blanco (15,771 feet), Monte Rosa (15,203 feet), and the Matterhorn (14,692 feet). The Alps affect the country’s climate by serving as a barrier to winds coming from the north and west and have been an important factor in the area’s military history. In modern times, the starkly beautiful terrain accounts for the importance of the area’s skiing and tourist industries. Besides the Alps, a long mountain range runs down the entire length of the peninsula into Sicily, the island at the toe of the Italian boot. With their highest peak at 9,560 feet, the Apennines are lower than the Alps but are 745 miles long and extend practically to the sea. A recent geological formation, the Italian Peninsula is subject to earthquakes, and a great deal of volcanic activity still exists. The country includes Europe’s three active volcanoes ( Vesuvius, Etna, and Stromboli), and various forms of volcanic action are visible in areas such as the Campi Flegrei and Pozzuoli, outside Naples, and islands such as Ischia in the Bay of Naples. Depending on location, these volcanic phenomena produce thermal springs—a source of revenue because of their supposed therapeutic effects—gas emissions, and unpleasantly abrupt alterations in ground levels.

Mountains and hilly areas represent 77 percent of the peninsula’s territory, while plains make up 23 percent. Arable land is thus strictly limited, which has contributed to a high population density in the cities and towns and to vast emigration. The peninsula has also had an abundance of unhealthful marshlands, especially in the Veneto, Tuscany, and Lazio. Drained relatively recently, they were hotbeds of malaria and other diseases and hampered the peninsula’s economic development. Fertile plains are practically restricted to the Po River Valley in the North, while small fertile areas exist around Naples, Catania, and other areas. The climate, which is cool and wet in the North and hot and dry


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Italy: From Revolution to Republic, 1700 to the Present


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 426

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?