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Italy (Italian : Italia), officially the Italian Republic, (Italian : Repubblica Italiana), is located on the Italian Peninsula in Southern Europe , and on the two largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea , Sicily and Sardinia . Italy shares its northern Alpine boundary with France , Switzerland , Austria and Slovenia . The independent states of San Marino and the Vatican City are enclaves within the Italian Peninsula, while Campione d'Italia is an Italian exclave in Switzerland.

Italy has been the home of many European cultures , such as the Etruscans and the Romans , and later was the birthplace of the movement of the Renaissance , that began in Tuscany and spread all over Europe. Italy's capital Rome has been the center of Western civilization , and is the center of the Catholic Church .