Central Italy
Italia centrale (Italian)
Centro Italia (Italian)
Map of Italy, highlighting Central Italy
 • Total58,052 km2 (22,414 sq mi)
 • Estimate 
(2023 est.)
 – Official languageItalian
 – Other common languages

Central Italy (Italian: Italia centrale or Centro Italia) is one of the five official statistical regions of Italy used by the National Institute of Statistics (ISTAT), a first-level NUTS region, and a European Parliament constituency.


Central Italy encompasses four of the country's 20 regions:

The easternmost and southernmost parts of Lazio (Cittaducale, Amatrice, Sora, Cassino, Isola del Liri, Sperlonga, Fondi, Gaeta and Formia districts, as well as the islands of Ponza and Ventotene) are sometimes connected to southern Italy (the so-called Mezzogiorno) for cultural and historical reasons, since they were once part of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and southern Italian dialects are spoken.

As a geographical region, however, central Italy may also include the regions of Abruzzo and Molise,[2][3][4] which are otherwise considered part of southern Italy for socio-cultural, linguistic and historical reasons.


It is crossed by the northern and central Apennines and is washed by the Adriatic Sea to the east, by the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Ligurian Sea to the west. The main rivers of this portion of the territory are the Arno and the Tiber with their tributaries (e.g. Aniene), and the Liri-Garigliano. The most important lakes are Lake Trasimeno, Lake Montedoglio, Lake Bolsena, Lake Bracciano, Lake Vico, Lake Albano and Lake Nemi. From an altimetric point of view, central Italy has a predominantly hilly territory (68.9%). The mountainous and flat areas are equivalent to 26.9% and 4.2% of the territorial distribution respectively.


Map of the Italian Peninsula in 1796, showing the Papal States and the Grand Duchy of Tuscany

For centuries, before the unification of Italy, which occurred in 1861, central Italy was divided into two states, the Papal States and the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.

Papal States

Papal Zouaves pose in 1869.

The Papal States, officially the State of the Church, were a series of territories in the Italian Peninsula under the direct sovereign rule of the pope from 756 until 1870.[5] They were among the major states of Italy from the 8th century until the unification of Italy, between 1859 and 1870.

The state had its origins in the rise of Christianity throughout Italy, and with it the rising influence of the Christian Church. By the mid-8th century, with the decline of the Byzantine Empire in Italy, the Papacy became effectively sovereign. Several Christian rulers, including the Frankish kings Charlemagne and Pepin the Short, further donated lands to be governed by the Church.[6] During the Renaissance, the papal territory expanded greatly and the pope became one of Italy's most important secular rulers as well as the head of the Church. At their zenith, the Papal States covered most of the modern Italian regions of Lazio (which includes Rome), Marche, Umbria and Romagna, and portions of Emilia. These holdings were considered to be a manifestation of the temporal power of the pope, as opposed to his ecclesiastical primacy.

By 1861, much of the Papal States' territory had been conquered by the Kingdom of Italy. Only Lazio, including Rome, remained under the pope's temporal control. In 1870, the pope lost Lazio and Rome and had no physical territory at all, except the Leonine City of Rome, which the new Italian state did not occupy militarily, despite annexation of Lazio. In 1929, the Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini, the head of the Italian government, ended the "Prisoner in the Vatican" problem involving a unified Italy and the Holy See by negotiating the Lateran Treaty, signed by the two parties. This treaty recognized the sovereignty of the Holy See over a newly created international territorial entity, a city-state within Rome limited to a token territory which became the Vatican City.

Grand Duchy of Tuscany

Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany

The Grand Duchy of Tuscany was an Italian monarchy that existed, with interruptions, from 1569 to 1860, replacing the Republic of Florence.[7] The grand duchy's capital was Florence. In the 19th century the population of the Grand Duchy was about 1,815,000 inhabitants.[8]

Having brought nearly all Tuscany under his control after conquering the Republic of Siena, Cosimo I de' Medici, was elevated by a papal bull of Pope Pius V to Grand Duke of Tuscany on August 27, 1569.[9][10] The Grand Duchy was ruled by the House of Medici until the extinction of its senior branch in 1737. While not as internationally renowned as the old republic, the grand duchy thrived under the Medici and it bore witness to unprecedented economic and military success under Cosimo I and his sons, until the reign of Ferdinando II, which saw the beginning of the state's long economic decline. It peaked under Cosimo III.[11]

Francis Stephen of Lorraine, a cognatic descendant of the Medici, succeeded the family and ascended the throne of his Medicean ancestors. Tuscany was governed by a viceroy, Marc de Beauvau-Craon, for his entire rule. His descendants ruled, and resided in, the grand duchy until its end in 1859, barring one interruption, when Napoleon Bonaparte gave Tuscany to the House of Bourbon-Parma (Kingdom of Etruria, 1801–1807), then annexed it directly to the First French Empire. Following the collapse of the Napoleonic system in 1814, the grand duchy was restored. The United Provinces of Central Italy, a client state of the Kingdom of Sardinia, annexed Tuscany in 1859. Tuscany was formally annexed to Sardinia in 1860, as a part of the unification of Italy, following a landslide referendum, in which 95% of voters approved.[12][13]


In 2023, the population resident in central Italy amounts to 11,680,843 inhabitants.[1]


Region Capital Inhabitants
 Lazio Rome 5,703,289
 Marche Ancona 1,478,881
 Toscana Florence 3,647,054
 Umbria Perugia 851,619

Most populous municipalities


Below is the list of the population residing in 2023 in municipalities with more than 50,000 inhabitants.[1]

# Municipality Region Inhabitants
1 Rome  Lazio 2,746,639
2 Florence  Toscana 360,444
3 Prato  Toscana 195,906
4 Perugia  Umbria 161,375
5 Livorno  Toscana 152,138
6 Latina  Lazio 127,321
7 Terni  Umbria 106,121
8 Ancona  Marche 98,292
9 Arezzo  Toscana 96,176
10 Pesaro  Marche 95,352
11 Guidonia Montecelio  Lazio 89,191
12 Pistoia  Toscana 89,000
13 Pisa  Toscana 88,726
14 Lucca  Toscana 88,724
15 Fiumicino  Lazio 81,855
16 Grosseto  Toscana 81,154
17 Aprilia  Lazio 74,240
18 Massa  Toscana 65,933
19 Viterbo  Lazio 65,927
20 Pomezia  Lazio 64,246
21 Viareggio  Toscana 60,416
22 Carrara  Toscana 59,786
23 Fano  Marche 59,732
24 Anzio  Lazio 58,946
25 Foligno  Umbria 55,068
26 Tivoli  Lazio 54,908
27 Siena  Toscana 52,657
28 Velletri  Lazio 52,542
29 Civitavecchia  Lazio 51,678


Languages and regional varieties in Italy

Central Italy is dominated by Central Italian and Tuscan dialect. Other languages spoken are Gallo-Piceno ("Gallo-Italic Marche" or "Gaul-Marche"), a Gallo-Italic language spoken in the province of Pesaro and Urbino and in the northern part of the province of Ancona, Marche region,[14] and Neapolitan, spoken in southern Lazio and in southern Marche as well as eastern fringes of Umbria.

Central Italian refers to the dialects of Italo-Romance spoken in the so-called Area Mediana, which covers a swathe of the central Italian peninsula. Area Mediana is also used in a narrower sense to describe the southern part, in which case the northern one may be referred to as the Area Perimediana, a distinction that will be made throughout this article. The two areas are split along a line running approximately from Rome in the southwest to Ancona in the northeast.[15] In the early Middle Ages, central Italian extended north into Romagna and covered all of modern-day Lazio, Abruzzo, and Molise. Since then, however, the dialects spoken in those areas have been assimilated into Gallo-Italic and southern Italo-Romance respectively.[16] In addition, the dialect of Rome has undergone considerable Tuscanization from the fifteenth century onwards, such that it has lost many of its central Italian features.[17][18]

Tuscan dialect is a set of Italo-Dalmatian varieties of Romance spoken in Tuscany, Corsica, and Sardinia. Standard Italian is based on Tuscan, specifically on its Florentine dialect, and it became the language of culture throughout Italy[19] due to the prestige of the works by Dante Alighieri, Petrarch, Giovanni Boccaccio, Niccolò Machiavelli, and Francesco Guicciardini. It would later become the official language of all the Italian states and of the Kingdom of Italy when it was formed. Corsican on the island of Corsica and the Corso-Sardinian transitional varieties spoken in northern Sardinia (Gallurese and Sassarese) are classified by scholars as a direct offshoot from medieval Tuscan,[20] even though they now constitute a distinct linguistic group.


Marche, Tuscany, and Umbria, together with Emilia-Romagna, are considered to be the most left-leaning regions in Italy, and together are also referred to as the "Red Belt".[21][22][23][24]


The gross domestic product (GDP) of the region was 380.9 billion euro in 2018, accounting for 21.6% of Italy's economic output. The GDP per capita adjusted for purchasing power was 31,500 euro, or 105% of the EU27 average the same year.[25]


The Colosseum in Rome, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world
Pecorino romano cheese

The regions of central Italy were exposed to different historical influences, which were due to the peoples that settled there, such as the Celts, the Etruscans, the North Picenes, the South Picene, the Umbri, the Latins, the Romans, the Byzantines and the Lombards. Some of its woodlands and mountains are preserved in several National Parks; a major example is the Abruzzo, Lazio and Molise National Park, located in the Abruzzo region, with smaller parts in Lazio and Molise. It is the oldest in the Apennine Mountains, and the second oldest in Italy, with an important role in the preservation of endemic species such as the Italian wolf, Abruzzo chamois and Marsican brown bear.

Central Italy has many major tourist attractions, many of which are protected by UNESCO. Central Italy is possibly the most visited in Italy and contains many popular attractions as well as sought-after landscapes. Rome boasts the remaining wonders of the Roman Empire and some of the world's best-known landmarks, such as the Colosseum. Florence, regarded as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, is Tuscany's most visited city, whereas nearby cities like Siena, Pisa, Arezzo and Lucca also have rich cultural heritage. Umbria's population is small, but it has many important cities such as Perugia and Assisi. For similar reasons, Lazio and Tuscany are some of Italy's most visited regions and the main targets for Ecotourism. This area is known for its picturesque landscapes and attracts tourists from all over the world, including Italy itself. Pristine landscapes serve as one of the primary motivators for tourists to visit central Italy, although there are others, such as a rich history of art.

Roman cuisine comes from the Italian city of Rome. It features fresh, seasonal and simply-prepared ingredients from the Roman Campagna.[26] These include peas, globe artichokes and fava beans, shellfish, milk-fed lamb and goat, and cheeses such as pecorino romano and ricotta.[27] Olive oil is used mostly to dress raw vegetables, while strutto (pork lard) and fat from prosciutto are preferred for frying.[26] The most popular sweets in Rome are small individual pastries called pasticcini, gelato and handmade chocolates and candies.[28] Special dishes are often reserved for different days of the week; for example, gnocchi is eaten on Thursdays, baccalà (salted cod) on Fridays, and trippa on Saturdays.

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Bilancio demografico e popolazione residente per sesso al 30 giugno 2023" (in Italian). Retrieved 25 September 2023.
  2. ^ Source: Touring Club Italiano (TCI), "Atlante stradale d'Italia". 1999–2000 TCI Atlas. ISBN 88-365-1115-5 (Northern Italy volume) – ISBN 88-365-1116-3 (Central Italy volume) – ISBN 88-365-1117-1 (Southern Italy volume)
  3. ^ Source: De Agostini, "Atlante Geografico Metodico". ISBN 88-415-6753-8
  4. ^ Source: Enciclopedia Italiana "Treccani"
  5. ^ "Papal States". Encyclopædia Britannica. 30 April 2020. Archived from the original on 5 October 2021. Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  6. ^ "Papal States | historical region, Italy | Britannica". www.britannica.com. Archived from the original on 15 November 2021. Retrieved 21 November 2021.
  7. ^ Strathern, Paul (2003). The Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance. London: Vintage. ISBN 978-0-09-952297-3. pp. 315–321
  8. ^ Ministry of Agriculture, Industry and Commerce (1862). Popolazione censimento degli antichi Stati sardi (1. gennaio 1858) e censimenti di Lombardia, di Parma e di Modena (1857–1858) pubblicati per cura del Ministero d'agricoltura, industria e commercio: Relazione generale con una introduzione storica sopra i censimenti delle popolazioni italiane dai tempi antichi sino all'anno 1860. 1.1 (in Italian). Stamperia Reale.
  9. ^ "bolla papale di Pio V". archeologiavocidalpassato (in Italian). Retrieved 10 February 2021.
  10. ^ "Cosimo I | duke of Florence and Tuscany [1519–1574]". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
  11. ^ "COSIMO III de' Medici, granduca di Toscana". Dizionario Biografico (in Italian). Retrieved 25 April 2020.
  12. ^ François Velde (4 July 2005). "The Grand-Duchy of Tuscany". heraldica.org. Retrieved 19 August 2009.
  13. ^ Acton, p. 254
  14. ^ Francesco Avolio, Dialetti, in Enciclopedia Treccani, 2010.
  15. ^ Loporcaro, Michele & Paciaroni, Tania. 2016. The dialects of central Italy. In Ledgeway, Adam & Maiden, Martin (eds.), The Oxford guide to the Romance languages, 228–245. Oxford University Press, p. 228
  16. ^ Loporcaro & Panciani 2016: 229–230
  17. ^ Vignuzzi, Ugo. 1997. Lazio, Umbria, and the Marche. In Maiden, Martin & Parry, Mair (eds.), The dialects of Italy, London: Routledge, pp. 312-317
  18. ^ Loporcaro & Panciani 2016, pp. 229-233
  19. ^ "storia della lingua in "Enciclopedia dell'Italiano"". www.treccani.it.
  20. ^ Harris, Martin; Vincent, Nigel (1997). Romance Languages. London: Routlegde. ISBN 0-415-16417-6.
  21. ^ "'Italians first': how the populist right became Italy's dominant force". The Guardian. 1 December 2018.
  22. ^ Roy Palmer Domenico (2002). The Regions of Italy: A Reference Guide to History and Culture. Bloomsbury Academic. p. 313. ISBN 9780313307331.
  23. ^ "Italy's EU election results by region: Who won where?". The Local. 27 May 2019.
  24. ^ Publications, Europa Europa (2002). Western Europe 2003. Psychology Press. p. 362. ISBN 9781857431520.
  25. ^ "Regional GDP per capita ranged from 30% to 263% of the EU average in 2018". Eurostat.
  26. ^ a b Boni (1930), pg. 13.
  27. ^ Boni (1930), pg. 14
  28. ^ Eats, Serious. "Gina DePalma's Guide To Rome Sweets". sweets.seriouseats.com. Retrieved 14 November 2017.

42°18′35″N 13°14′58″E / 42.3097°N 13.2494°E / 42.3097; 13.2494