A recent report from Italy’s national institute of statistics, ISTAT, indicates a 4.4 per cent increase in tourist numbers since the last record was set in 2016.

This figure is well above the European average.

According to the report, most of Italy’s international tourists (14.1 per cent) come from Germany, followed by France, the UK and the US, which had around three per cent each.

Rome remains the most popular destination, with almost 27 million (6.4 per cent) of visitors flocking to the Eternal City.

The capital is followed by Milan, Venice (both 2.8 per cent), Florence (2.4 per cent) and Rimini (1.8 per cent.)

More than 275 million people stayed in hotels in Italy in 2017 – representing a 2.8 per cent increase – with tourists staying an average of 2.9 nights.

Non-hotel accommodation, including agriturismi (farm stays) and Airbnb, experienced a 7.5 per cent increase in visitors, with an average stay of 4.9 nights.

For the first time ever, the number of international tourists exceeded that of Italian residents, who regularly travel within their own country.

The report indicated steady growth in the country’s southern regions, with the number of visitors to Sicily growing by 7.3 per cent and Basilicata by 6.5 per cent.

Despite this finding, the south continues to make fewer profits from tourism than Italy’s central and northern regions.