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Italy has the characteristic shape of a riding boot, of which the top is represented by the Alps, the seam by the Apennines, and the toe, the heel, and the spur, respectively, by the peninsulas of Calabria, Salento, and Gargano.The country consists of a continental portion that terminates at almost the forty-fourth parallel, between Spezia and Rimini, of peninsular, and of insular portions.It is customary to divide the peninsular portions into two parts: Central Italy and Southern Italy, of which the former is contained between the forty-fourth parallel and a straight line that connects the mouth of the Trigno River with that of the Garigliano, marking the narrowest part of the peninsula between the Adriatic and the Tyrrhenian Seas.Southern Italy is the part of the peninsula which lies south of this line.Gothard, 1884; Simplon, 1906), which brought Central and North-western Europe into easy communication with Italian ports, and especially with Genoa, have restored to the Mediterranean much of its former importance and made of Italy a mighty bridge between Europe and the Levant.Of the three great peninsulas of Southern Europe, Italy is that whose adjoining seas penetrate deepest into the European Continent, while its frontiers border on the greatest number of other states (France, Switzerland, Austria) and are in contact with a greater number of races: French, German, Slav.
Insular Italy will be found treated of under the articles SICILY; SARDINIA.Within historical times, the coast of Pozzuoli, near Naples, has undergone a slow depression that caused the columns of the temple of Serapis to sink into the sea, from which they emerged later through a rising movement of the ground.In consequence of the earthquake that destroyed Messina and Reggio (28 December, 1908), the ground has undergone alteration, and telluric movements show no tendency to cease.In ancient times Italy had several other names: it was called Saturnia, in honour of Saturn; Œnotria, wine-producing land; Ausonia, land of the Ausonians; Hesperia, land to the west (of Greece); Tyrrhenia, etc. Italia ), which seems to have been taken from vitulus, to signify a land abounding in cattle, was applied at first to a very limited territory.According to Nissen and to others, it served to designate the southernmost portion of the peninsula of Calabria; but some authorities, as Cocchia and Gentile, hold that the name was given originally to that country between the Sele and the Lao which later was called Lucania.
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The tides of this sea vary by only eight or twelve inches; it abounds in coral banks, and anchovy, sardine, and tunny fishing is remunerative along the coasts of Sicily and Sardinia.