Italy lies in the south of central Europe and covers over 300,000 sq. kms, including the islands of Sicily, Sardinia and 70 other small islands. Italy stretches from the northern fertile plains 800 kms south-east into the Mediterranean Sea. Along the northern frontier, the Alps arch east-west and continue as a spine southwards. Over half the land area is cultivated and a further 22% forest. Southern Italy and Sicily are subject to volcanic activity and earthquakes.

The climate is warm temperate and Mediterranean in the south with mild winters and hot summers. The north is cool temperate, especially on the drier Adriatic coast, which is subject to cold winds. Temperatures on Sicily and Sardinia are generally warmer than the mainland. Temperatures in Rome vary between 7°C in January and 25°C in July