Italy, according to ENIT, the Italian National Tourist Board, ranks as one of the top two or three tourist destinations of the world. About fifteen million foreign visitors arrive each year. Germans are the most numerous. The French are the second largest group of visitors. Visitors from the United States rank third. The province of Venetia with its crown jewel, Venice, attracts the most visitors. The ancient cities of Verona and Padua are part of the province. Rome and the province of Latium are number two. Then comes Tuscany, which boasts Florence, Pisa, and Siena. Figure 5.12 shows Venice sitting on the Adriatic Sea in Northeast Italy. Rome, where all roads lead to, is seen in Central Italy. Florence is almost directly north of Rome.

The Romans built the super-highways of the ancient world. Roads followed the conquering legions and formed a network that laced together the Roman Empire. Slaves, convicts and legionnaires cut roadbeds and laid stone to form roads which by decree were built to last forever. Some are still being used today. The most famous is the Appian Way, running south from Rome and then across Italy to the Adriatic Sea and eventually to Brindisi.

Huge volcanic paving blocks topped the road, fitted together without mortar. Where possible the road runs straight as an arrow. Started in 312 B.C. it begins near the Colosseum in Rome and runs 360 miles. It took ten to fifteen days to travel, but the emperors were transported by carriers working in relays in six days.

Which side of the road did Romans use, the right or the left? Looking at the ruts left by the iron-rimmed wheels, the ancient Romans did the same as modern-day Romans they used the middle.

Americans usually reach Italy by flying first to Rome or arriving from Switzerland or France by train or road.

ITALY Photo Gallery

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