Gran Paradiso ( photo courtesy of Marco Klüber), under a Creative Commons License 

Italy (Italia in Italian) is situated in southern Europe, and has a total area of about 301,340 square kilometres.  Mainland Italy, which occupies all of the Italian (also called Apennine) Peninsula, is bordered to the north-west by France, to the north by Switzerland and Austria and to the north-east by Slovenia.  To the west is the Tyrrhenian Sea, to the south the Ionian Sea and to the east the Adriatic Sea – all parts of the Mediterranean Sea.  In addition, the major Mediterranean islands of Sardinia to the west and Sicily to the south are part of the Italian Republic.  There are also many smaller islands, the largest of which is Elba, off the western coast of the Italian peninsula. 


For further details on the country, see the Wikipedia article at  For information on the geography of Italy, see the Wikipedia article at


The principle mountain ranges in the country are:

·        The Italian Alps.  These form most of the northern border of the country, stretching in an arc from Sanremo in the west to Trieste in the east.  Along the frontier ridge with France and Switzerland, Italy shares the summits of some of the highest mountains in the Alps.

·        The Apennines.  This mountain chain, running from the north-west to the south-east, forms the backbone of the Italian peninsula.  It links with the Ligurian Alps in the north-west at the col of the Bochetta di Altare (436m).  The Apennines are principally composed of sedimentary rocks (e.g. limestones), but with some volcanic extrusions.  The highest mountain in the range is Corno Grande (2912m), which has 2476m of prominence.

Apart from mainland Italy, the following main islands form part of the country:

·        Sardinia, with a total area of about 24,090 square kilometres, lying in the Tyrrhenian Sea.  The highest mountain on the island is Punta La Marmora (1834m).

·        Sicily, with a total area of about 25,700 square kilometres, lying in the Ionian Sea.  The highest mountain on the island is Mount Etna (3323m – though the height varies) which is an active volcano.

·        Elba, with a total area of 224 square kilometres, lying in the Tyrrhenian Sea.  The highest mountain on the island is Monte Capanne (1019m).

The highest point in Italy is Mont Blanc de Courmayeur (4748m), a southern spur of Monte Bianco (Mont Blanc) in the Graian Alps.  However, this only has a prominence of about 25 metres.    Some Italian sources claim that the border runs through the summit of Mont Blanc (4808m) itself.  The highest mountain wholly in Italy is Gran Paradiso, also in the Graian Alps.  This has a height of 4061 metres and prominence of 1888 metres.  The most prominent mountain, excluding Monte Bianco/Mont Blanc, is Mount Etna, with a prominence of 3323 metres. 


There are eight mountains in Italy of at least 4000 metres in height and 150 metres of prominence.  All of these are in the Graian and Pennine Alps.  The list is as follows:


Metres     Feet     Name                                          25k Map      Co-ordinates          Prominence

                                                                                     North           East

4527   14852 Lyskamm                1348 LdS 45:55:20 07:50:08   376
4478   14691 Monte Cervino          1347 Lds 45:58:35 07:39:31  1031
4228   13871 Castore                1348 LdS 45:55:15 07:47:36   165
4208   13806 Grandes Jorasses       3630 OT  45:52:09 06:59:18   843
4171   13684 Dent d’Hérens          1347 LdS 45:58:12 07:36:19   692
4164   13661 Breithorn              1348 LdS 46:21:24 08:08:19   433
4092   13425 Pollux                 1348 LdS 45:55:40 07:47:07   247
4061   13323 Gran Paradiso           101 IGC 45:31:05 07:16:07  1888
Maps quoted are: LdS: Landeskarte der Schweiz;  OT: East section in French IGN series;  IGC: Italian Instituto Geografico Centrale Alpine series.
There are twenty-one mountains in Italy and its islands with a prominence of at least 1500 metres (Ultras).  These can be found in the table of European Ultra mountains on, which can be accessed here. 
Many of the mountains on the frontier with France can be found on the French Alpine page on this website.
Lists uploaded here:
  • Gran Paradiso & Monte Emilius ranges to 150m of drop/prominence - see attachment below
  • Rutor and Sassiere ranges to 150m of drop/prominence - see attachment below
Further lists will follow in due course.
Mark Trengove,
13 Feb 2009, 14:32
Mark Trengove,
13 Feb 2009, 14:32