There is a great deal of variety in the landscape of Italy, although it is characterised predominantly by two mountain chains: the Alps and the Apennines.
The former extends over 1,000 km in a latitudinal direction. It consists of great massifs in the western sector, with peaks rising to over 4,000 m, including Monte Bianco 4,810m, Monte Rosa 4,635m and Cervino (the Matterhorn) 4,478m.
The height of the chain is lower in the eastern sector, although the mountains are still of an extraordinary beauty (the Dolomites). At the foot of the Alpine arc stretches the vast Po Valley plain, cut down the middle by the course of the Po river, the longest in Italy (652 km), which has its source in the Pian di Re (Monviso Mountain) and flows into the Adriatic Sea through a magnificent delta.
The Alpine foothills are characterised by large lakes: Lake Maggiore and the lakes of Como, Iseo and Garda.
The Corno Grande (Gran Sasso d’Italia), at 2,912m, is the highest peak.
A large part of central Italy is characterised by a green hilly landscape, through which the rivers Arno and Tiber run.
The southern section of the chain pushes out to the east forming the Gargano peninsula and, sloping down further south, the Salentine peninsula. It then proceeds to the west with the Calabrian and Peloritano massif stretching across the Strait of Messina into Sicily.
The main islands are Sicily, rising up to the great volcanic cone of Etna (3,342m), and Sardinia.
The main archipelagos are the Tremiti Islands in the Adriatic Sea, the Tuscan Archipelago, the Pontini Islands, the Aeolian Islands and the Egadi Islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea.
The 7,500 km of coastline is predominantly rocky, although shaped into numerous bays and wide gulfs. A low coastline is found alongside the plains of Tuscany, Latium, Campania and, especially, in the upper Adriatic.