The Italian Constitution defines three levels of local government:
Regions: At present 5 of them (Valle d'Aosta, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Trentino-Alto Adige, Sardinia and Sicily) have a
special status and are given more power than the others. The constitutional reform of 2001 gave more power to regions.
Provinces: They mostly care to roads, forests, and education. They had more power in the past.
Communes: The Mayor and staff, caring for the needs of a single town or of a village and neighbouring minor towns or villages.
Major cities also have an extra tier of local government named Circoscrizione di Decentramento Comunale or, in some cities (e.g. Rome) Municipio.
The country’s main economic sectors are tourism, fashion, engineering, chemicals, motor vehicles and food. Italy's northern regions are per capita amongst the richest in Europe.
Italy is mainly mountainous, except for the Po plain in the north, and runs from the Alps to the central Mediterranean Sea. It includes the islands of Sicily, Sardinia, Elba and about 70 other smaller ones. There are two small independent states within peninsular Italy: the Vatican City in Rome, and the Republic of San Marino.
The centre of the vast Roman Empire which left a huge archaeological, cultural and literary heritage, the Italian peninsula saw the birth of medieval humanism and the Renaissance. This further helped to shape European political thought, philosophy and art via figures like Machiavelli, Dante, Leonardo da Vinci and Galileo.
Italy has a two-chamber parliament, consisting of the Senate (Senato della Repubblica) or upper house and the Chamber of Deputies (Camera dei Deputati). Elections take place every five years.
The list of famous Italian artists is long and includes Giotto, Botticelli, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Tintoretto and Caravaggio. The country has also produced opera composers such as Verdi and Puccini and film-maker Federico Fellini.
Italian cuisine is one of the most refined and varied in Europe, from the piquant flavours of Naples and Calabria to the pesto dishes of Liguria and the cheese and risotto dishes of the Italian Alps.
This weather map is meant to give you an understanding of the difficult conditions under which many abandoned, homeless and neglected animals are forced to live in - many die of heat stroke, dehydration or freezing temperatures in Europe.