An Italian toddler has been found "alive and in good condition" almost 36 hours after disappearing, with a local journalist covering the story credited with finding the boy.

A major search operation began after 21-month-old Nicola Tanturli went missing in a remote mountainous area in northern Tuscany.

Italian news agency ANSA quoted officials from Florence saying the toddler was found by journalist Giuseppe Di Tommaso, who heard "groans and noises on his way home".

The boy went missing on Monday night from his family farmhouse in Campanara, where he lived with his parents and four-year-old brother.

The Italian National Fire Corps said some 200 rescuers, accompanied by local volunteers, firefighters, drones and sniffing dogs were searching for the child.

The search zone covered an area of about 10sq/km in Palazzuolo sul Senio, some 45km northeast of Florence.

Divers had already searched a nearby artificial lake and a helicopter with thermal and infrared scanning equipment was dispatched by the army to join search operations.

Parents of the missing toddler told local media that they put their two sons to bed on Monday evening only to discover Nicola's bed empty a few hours later.

The family lives in a community where organic farming has been practiced for decades. Their farmhouse is located in an area that is only reachable via a dirt track.

The Italian Interior Ministry said the rescue of Nicola "is a great joy for the family and for all of us".

Videos released by Italian firefighters showed rescue operations last night and the early hours of this morning.