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Italian Republic

Repubblica Italiana

CAPITAL: Rome (Roma)

FLAG: The national flag is a tricolor of green, white, and red vertical stripes.

ANTHEM: Fratelli d'Italia (Brothers of Italy).

MONETARY UNIT: The euro replaced the lira as the official currency in 2002. The euro is divided into 100 cents. There are coins in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents and 1 euro and 2 euros. There are notes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 euros. 1 = $1.25475 (or $1 = 0.79697) as of 2005.

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is the legal standard.

HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; Epiphany, 6 January; Liberation Day, 25 April; Labor Day, 1 May; Assumption, 15 August; All Saints' Day, 1 November; National Unity Day, 5 November; Immaculate Conception, 8 December; Christmas, 25 December; St. Stephen's Day, 26 December. Easter Monday is a movable holiday. In addition, each town has a holiday on its Saint's Day.

TIME: 1 pm = noon GMT.


Situated in southern Europe, the Italian Republic, including the major islands of Sicily (Sicilia) and Sardinia (Sardegna), covers a land area of 301,230 sq km (116,306 sq mi). Comparatively, the area occupied by Italy is slightly larger than the state of Arizona. The boot-shaped Italian mainland extends into the Mediterranean Sea with a length of 1,185 km (736 mi) senw and a width of 381 km (237 mi) nesw. It is bordered on the n by Switzerland and Austria, on the ne by Slovenia, on the e by the Adriatic and Ionian seas, on the w by the Tyrrhenian and Ligurian seas, and on the nw by France, with a total land boundary length of 1,932 km (1,200 mi) and a coastline of 7,600 km (4,712 mi).

Situated off the toe of the Italian boot, Sicily has a surface area of 25,708 sq km (9,926 sq mi). Sardinia, which is about 320 km (200 mi) nw of Sicily, covers an area of some 24,090 sq km (9,300 sq mi). Within the frontiers of Italy are the sovereign Republic of San Marino, with an area of 61.2 sq km (23.6 sq mi), and the sovereign state of Vatican City, which covers 44 hectares (108.7 acres).

The long-disputed problem of Trieste, a 518 sq km (200 sq mi) area situated at the head of the Adriatic Sea, between Italy and Yugoslavia, was resolved in 1954, when Italy assumed the administration of Zone A, the city and harbor of Trieste, and Yugoslavia of Zone B, the rural hinterlands of the Istrian Peninsula. A treaty of October 1975 made the partition permanent.

Italy's capital city, Rome, is located in the west-central part of the country.


Except for the fertile Po River Valley in the north and the narrow coastal belts farther south, Italy's mainland is generally mountainous, with considerable seismic activity. During Roman times, the city of Pompeii, near present-day Naples (Napoli), was devastated first by an earthquake in ad 63 and then by the famed eruption of Mt. Vesuvius (1,277 m/4,190 ft) in ad 79. In the last century, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in the Calabrian-Sicilian region occurred in December 1908 that leveled the cities of Reggio di Calabria and Messina and left about 100,000 dead. A quake in the south on 23 November 1980 (and subsequent aftershocks) claimed at least 4,500 lives.

The Alpine mountain area in the north along the French and Swiss borders includes three famous lakesComo, Maggiore, and Gardaand gives rise to six small rivers that flow southward into the Po. Italy's highest peaks are found in the northwest in the Savoy Alps, the Pennines, and the Graian chain. They include Mont Blanc (4,807 m/15,771 ft), on the French border; Monte Rosa (Dufourspitze, 4,634 m/15,203 ft) and the Matterhorn (Monte Cervino, 4,478 m/14,692 ft), on the Swiss border; and Gran Paradiso (4,061 m/13,323 ft). Marmolada (3,342 m/10,965 ft), in northeast Italy, is the highest peak in the Dolomites.

At the foot of the Alps, the Po River, the only large river in Italy, flows from west to east, draining plains covering about 17% of Italy's total area and forming the agricultural and industrial heartland. The Apennines, the rugged backbone of peninsular Italy, rise to form the southern border of the Po Plain. Numerous streams and a few small rivers, including the Arno and the Tiber (Tevere), flow from the Apennines to the west coast. The highest peak on the peninsula is Corvo Grande (2,912 m/9,554 ft). Vesuvius is the only active volcano on the European mainland.

While altitudes are lower in southern Italy, the Calabrian coast is still rugged. Among the narrow, fertile coastal plains, the Plain of Foggia in northern Apulia, which starts along the Adriatic, and the more extensive lowland areas near Naples, Rome, and Livorno (Leghorn) are the most important. The mountainous western coastline forms natural harbors at Naples, Livorno, La Spezia, Genoa (Genova), and Savona, and the low Adriatic coast permits natural ports at Venice (Venezia), Bari, Brindisi, and Taranto.

Sicily, separated from the mainland by the narrow Strait of Messina, has the Madonie Mountains, a continuation of the Apennines, and the Plain of Catania, the largest plain on the island. Mount Etna (3,369 m/11,053 ft) is an isolated and active volcano in the northeast.

Sardinia, in the Tyrrhenian Sea, is generally mountainous and culminates in the peak of Gennargentu (1,834 m/6,017 ft). The largest and most fertile plains are the Campidano in the south and the Ozieri in the north. The principal bay is Porto Torres in the Gulf of Asinara.


Climate varies with elevation and region. Generally, however, Italy is included between the annual isotherms of 11°c and 19°c (52°f and 66°f). The coldest period occurs in December and January, the hottest in July and August. In the Po Plain, the average annual temperature is about 13°c (55°f); in Sicily, about 18°c (64°f); and in the coastal lowlands, about 14°c (57°f). The climate of the Po Valley and the Alps is characterized by cold winters, warm summers, and considerable rain, falling mostly in spring and autumn, with snow accumulating heavily in the mountains. The climate of the peninsula and of the islands is Mediterranean, with cool, rainy winters and hot, dry summers. Mean annual rainfall varies from about 50 cm (20 in) per year, on the southeast coast and in Sicily and Sardinia, to over 200 cm (80 in), in the Alps and on some westerly slopes of the Apennines. Frosts are rare in the sheltered western coastal areas, but severe winters are common in the Apennine and Alpine uplands.


Plants and animals vary with area and altitude. Mountain flora is found above 1,980 m (6,500 ft) in the Alps and above 2,290 m (7,500 ft) in the Apennines. The highest forest belt consists of conifers; beech, oak, and chestnut trees grow on lower mountain slopes. Poplar and willow thrive in the Po Plain. On the peninsula and on the larger islands, Mediterranean vegetation predominates: evergreens, holm oak, cork, juniper, bramble, laurel, myrtle, and dwarf palm.

Although larger mammals are scarce, chamois, ibex, and roe deer are found in the Alps, and bears, chamois, and otters inhabit the Apennines. Ravens and swallows are characteristic birds of Italy. Abundant marine life inhabits the surrounding seas.

As of 2002, there were at least 90 species of mammals, 250 species of birds, and over 5,900 species of plants throughout the country.


Italy has been slow to confront its environmental problems. Central government agencies concerned with the environment are the Ministry for Ecology (established in 1983), the Ministry of Culture and Environmental Quality, the National Council for Research, and the Ministry for Coordination of Scientific and Technological Research. Localities also have responsibility for environmental protection, but most of the burden of planning and enforcement falls on regional authorities. The principal antipollution statute is Law No. 319 of 1976 (the Merli Law), which controls the disposal of organic and chemical wastes; enforcement, however, has proved difficult.

Air pollution is a significant problem in Italy. United Nations sources estimate that carbon monoxide emissions increased by 12% in the period between 1985 and 1989. In the 1990s Italy had the world's 10th highest level of industrial carbon dioxide emissions, which totaled 407.7 million metric tons per year, a per capita level of 7.03 metric tons. In 2000, the total of carbon dioxide emissions was at 428.2 million metric tons.

Water pollution is another important environmental issue in Italy. The nation's rivers and coasts have been polluted by industrial and agricultural contaminants and its lakes contaminated by acid rain. In 2001 the nation had 160 cu km of renewable water resources with 53% used in farming activity and 33% used for industrial purposes. Facilities for the treatment and disposal of industrial wastes are inadequate.

In July 1976, the city of Seveso, north of Milan (Milano), gained international attention after an explosion at a small Swiss-owned chemical plant released a cloud of debris contaminated by a toxic by-product, dioxin. More than 1,000 residents were evacuated, and pregnant women were advised to have abortions.

The long-term threat posed by flooding, pollution, erosion, and sinkage to the island city of Venice was highlighted by a disastrous flood in November 1966, which damaged priceless art treasures and manuscripts in Florence (Firenze). The digging of artesian wells in the nearby mainland cities of Mestre and Marghera so lowered the water table that the Venetian islands sank at many times the normal annual rate of 4 mm (0.16 in) a year between 1900 and 1975; with the wells capped as a protective measure, Venice's normal sinkage rate was restored. As of the mid-1980s, however, little effort had been made to control the number and speed of powerboats on the Grand Canal (the churning of whose waters causes buildings to erode), nor had the national government begun to implement a master plan for Venice approved in principle three years earlier. Rome has implemented a project designed, in part, to protect the Roman Forum and other ancient monuments from the vibration and pollution of motor vehicles.

In 2003, only about 7.9% of the total land area was protected. According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included 12 types of mammals, 15 species of birds, 4 types of reptiles, 5 species of amphibians, 17 species of fish, 16 types of mollusks, 42 species of other invertebrates, and 3 species of plants. Threatened species include the Sicilian fir, the black vulture, the spotted eagle, the wild goat, the great white shark, and the red-breasted goose. The Sardinian pika is extinct.


The population of Italy in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 58,742,000, which placed it at number 23 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 19% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 14% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 94 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 200510 was expected to be stagnant at 0.0%, a rate the government viewed as too low. The projected population for the year 2025 was 57,630,000. The population density was 195 per sq km (505 per sq mi), with the Po Valley being one of the most densely populated areas of the country.

The UN estimated that 90% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that population in urban areas was declining at an annual rate of -0.04%. The capital city, Rome (Roma), had a population of 2,665,000 in that year. Other major cities and their estimated populations include Milan, 4,007,000; Naples, 2,905,000; Turin (Torino), 1,182,000; Genoa, 803,000; Florence, 778,000; Palermo, 721,164; and Bologna, 369,955.


Emigration, which traditionally provided relief from overpopulation and unemployment, now represents only a fraction of the millions of Italians who emigrated during the two decades prior to 1914. From 1900 to 1914, 16 of every 1,000 Italians left their homeland each year; by the late 1970s, that proportion had declined to about 1.5 per 1,000. Of the 65,647 Italians who emigrated in 1989, some 26,098 went to Germany; 16,347 to Switzerland; 5,277 to France; 4,076 to the United States; and 23,849 to other countries. Immigration in 1989 totaled approximately 81,201 people, of whom West Germans accounted for 13,198. In 1990, 781,100 immigrants lived in Italy. This figure did not include some 600,000 who were believed to be illegal immigrants.

The overall impetus to emigrate has been greatly reduced by economic expansion within Italy itself and by the shrinking job market in other countries, especially Germany. Nevertheless, Germany had 560,100 Italian residents at the end of 1991, and France had 253,679 in 1990. Particularly significant in the first two decades after World War II was the considerable migration from the rural south to the industrial north, but by the mid-1980s, this flow had become insignificant.

In 1998, Italy received a total of 7,112 asylum applications, an increase of over 380% over the 1,858 applications lodged in 1997. The main countries of origin were Serbia and Montenegro, Iraq, and Turkey. Refugee status was granted in 29.6% of decisions on the applications made in 1998. Italy also hosted 5,816 people who arrived in 1999 from Macedonia under the UNHCR/IOM Humanitarian Evacuation Programme. However, in 2004 there were no asylum seekers in Italy, but 15,604 refugees and 886 stateless persons of concern to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). In 2005, the net migration rate was estimated as 2.07 migrants per 1,000 population.


Italy has been the home of various peoples: Lombards and Goths in the north; Greeks, Saracens, and Spaniards in Sicily and the south; Latins in and around Rome; and Etruscans and others in central Italy. For centuries, however, Italy has enjoyed a high degree of ethnic homogeneity. The chief minority groups are the German-speaking people in the Alto Adige (South Tyrol) region and the Slavs of the Trieste area.


Italian, the official language, is spoken by the vast majority of people. While each region has its own dialect, Tuscan, the dialect of Tuscany, is the standard dialect for Italian. French is spoken in parts of Piedmonte and in Valle d'Aosta, where it is the second official language; Slovene is spoken in the Trieste-Gorizia area. German is widely used in Bolzano Province, or South Tyrol (part of the Trentino-Alto Adige region), which was ceded by Austria in 1919; under agreements reached between Italy and Austria in 1946 and 1969, the latter oversees the treatment of these German-speakers, who continue to call for greater linguistic and cultural autonomy.


Roman Catholicism, affirmed as the state religion under the Lateran Treaty of 1929, lost that distinction under a concordat with the Vatican ratified in 1985. However, the Catholic Church continues to hold a privileged status with the state. An estimated 87% of native-born Italian citizens claim to be members of the Roman Catholic faith; however, only about 20% are active participants. Jehovah's Witnesses form the second-largest denomination among native-born Italian citizens, with about 400,000 adherents. However, if immigrants are counted, the second-largest religion is Islam, with an estimated one million followers. About 100,000 people are Scientologists, 60,000 are Buddhists, 30,000 are Waldensians (a Calvinist sect), 30,000 are Jewish, and 20,000 are Mormons. The Orthodox and Protestant churches have small communities. Hinduism and Bahaism are also represented. About 14% of the population claim to be atheists or agnostics.


Italy's highway system, one of the world's best, in 2002 totaled 479,688 km (298,366 mi), all of which were paved, and included 6,620 km (4,117 mi) of expressways. These expressways carry heavy traffic along such routes as Milan-Como-Varese, Venice-Padua, Naples-Salerno, and Milan-Bologna-Florence-Rome-Naples. A major highway runs through the Mont Blanc Tunnel, connecting France and Italy. In 2003, there were an estimated 34,310,446 passenger cars and 4,166,033 commercial vehicles.

In 2004, Italy maintained a total of 19,319 km (12,016 mi) of standard and narrow gauge rail lines. Of that total, standard gauge accounts for 18,001 km (11,196 mi) of which 11,333 km (7,049 mi) are electrified, while 280 km (174 mi) of narrow gauge lines are electrified. The government owns and operates 80% of the rail system, the Italian State Railway (Ferrovie dello Stato-FS), including the principal lines. Connections with French railways are made at Ventimiglia, Tenda, and Mont Cenis; with the Swiss, through the Simplon and St. Gotthard passes; with the Austrian, at the Brenner Pass and Tarvisio; and with the Slovenian, through Gorizia.

The navigable inland waterway system, totaling about 2,400 km (1,490 mi), is mainly in the north and consists of the Po River, the Italian lakes, and the network of Venetian and Po River Valley canals. There is regular train-ferry and automobile-ferry service between Messina and other Sicilian ports. Freight and passengers are carried by ship from Palermo to Naples. Sardinia and the smaller islands are served by regular shipping. Regular passenger service is provided by hydrofoil between Calabria and Sicily, and between Naples, Ischia, and Capri.

As of 2005, Italy had 565 merchant vessels of 1,000 GRT or more, totaling 8,970,017 GRT. Genoa and Savona on the northwest coast and Venice on the Adriatic handle the major share of traffic to and from the northern industrial centers. Naples, second only to Genoa, is the principal port for central and southern Italy, while Livorno is the natural outlet for Florence, Bologna, and Perugia. Messina, Palermo, and Catania are the chief Sicilian ports, and Cagliari handles most Sardinian exports.

In 2004 there were an estimated 134 airports. As of 2005, a total of 98 had paved runways, and there were also three heliports. Italy's one national airline, Alitalia, which is almost entirely government-owned, maintains an extensive domestic and international network of air routes. Rome's Fiumicino and Milan's Malpensa and Linate are among the most important airports, being served by nearly every major international air carrier. In 2003, Italian civil aviation performed a total of 1,359 million freight ton-km and carried about 34.953 million passengers on scheduled domestic and international airline flights.


The Italian patrimony, based on Roman antecedentswith a tradition that extends over 2,500 yearsis the oldest in Europe, next to Greece's. The Ligurians, Sabines, and Umbrians were among the earliest-known inhabitants of Italy, but in the 9th century bc they were largely displaced in central Italy by the Etruscans, a seafaring people, probably from Asia Minor. Shortly thereafter there followed conquests in Sicily and southern Italy by the Phoenicians and the Greeks. By 650 bc, Italy was divided into ethnic areas: the Umbrians in the north, the Ligurians in the northwest, the Latins and Etruscans in the central regions, and the Greeks and Phoenicians in the south and Sicily. The Etruscan civilization, a great maritime, commercial, and artistic culture, reached its peak about the 7th century, but by 509 bc, when the Romans overthrew their Etruscan monarchs, its control in Italy was on the wane. By 350 bc, after a series of wars with both Greeks and Etruscans, the Latins, with Rome as their capital, gained the ascendancy, and by 272 bc, they managed to unite the entire Italian peninsula.

This period of unification was followed by one of conquest in the Mediterranean, beginning with the First Punic War against Carthage (264241 bc). In the course of the century-long struggle against Carthage, the Romans conquered Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica. Finally, in 146 bc, at the conclusion of the Third Punic War, with Carthage completely destroyed and its inhabitants enslaved, Rome became the dominant power in the Mediterranean. From its inception, Rome was a republican city-state, but four famous civil conflicts destroyed the republic: Sulla against Marius and his son (8882 bc), Julius Caesar against Pompey (4945 bc), Brutus and Cassius against Mark Antony and Octavian (43 bc), and Mark Antony against Octavian. Octavian, the final victor (31 bc), was accorded the title of Augustus ("exalted") by the Senate and thereby became the first Roman emperor. Under imperial rule, Rome undertook a series of conquests that brought Roman law, Roman administration, and Pax Romana ("Roman peace") to an area extending from the Atlantic to the Rhine, to the British Isles, to the Iberian Peninsula and large parts of North Africa, and to the Middle East as far as the Euphrates.

After two centuries of successful rule, in the 3rd century ad, Rome was threatened by internal discord and menaced by Germanic and Asian invaders, commonly called barbarians (from the Latin word barbari, "foreigners"). Emperor Diocletian's administrative division of the empire into two parts in 285 provided only temporary relief; it became permanent in 395. In 313, Emperor Constantine accepted Christianity, and churches thereafter rose throughout the empire. However, he also moved his capital from Rome to Constantinople, greatly reducing the importance of the former. From the 4th to the 5th century, the Western Roman Empire disintegrated under the blows of barbarian invasions, finally falling in 476, and the unity of Italy came to an end. For a time, Italy was protected by the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Empire, but a continuing conflict between the bishop of Rome, or pope, and the Byzantine emperor culminated in a schism during the first half of the 8th century.

After the fall of the Roman Empire and the reorganization of the peninsula, from the 6th to the 13th century, Italy suffered a variety of invaders and rulers: the Lombards in the 6th century, the Franks in the 8th century, the Saracens in the 9th, and the Germans in the 10th. The German emperors (of the Holy Roman Empire), the popes, and the rising Italian city-states vied for power from the 10th to the 14th century, and Italy was divided into several, often hostile, territories: in the south, the Kingdom of Naples, under Norman and Angevin rule; in the central area, the Papal States; and in the north, a welter of large and small city-states, such as Venice, Milan, Florence, and Bologna.

By the 13th century, the city-states had emerged as centers of commerce and of the arts and sciences. Venice, in particular, had become a major maritime power, and the city-states as a group acted as a conduit for goods and learning from the Byzantine and Islamic empires. In this capacity, they provided great impetus to the developing Renaissance, which between the 13th and 16th centuries led to an unparalleled flourishing of the arts, literature, music, and science. However, the emergence of Portugal and Spain as great seagoing nations at the end of the 15th century undercut Italian prosperity. After the Italian Wars (14941559), in which France tried unsuccessfully to extend its influence in Italy, Spain emerged as the dominant force in the region. Venice, Milan, and other city-states retained at least some of their former greatness during this period, as did Savoy-Piedmont, protected by the Alps and well defended by its vigorous rulers.

Economic hardship, waves of the plague, and religious unrest tormented the region throughout the 17th century and into the 18th. The French Revolution was brought to the Italian peninsula by Napoleon, and the concepts of nationalism and liberalism infiltrated everywhere. Short-lived republics and even a Kingdom of Italy (under Napoleon's stepson Eugene) were formed. But reaction set in with the Congress of Vienna (1815), and many of the old rulers and systems were restored under Austrian domination. The concept of nationalism continued strong, however, and sporadic outbreaks led by such inveterate reformers as Giuseppe Mazzini occurred in several parts of the peninsula down to 184849. This Risorgimento ("resurgence") movement was brought to a successful conclusion under the able guidance of Count Camillo Cavour, prime minister of Piedmont. Cavour managed to unite most of Italy under the headship of Victor Emmanuel II of the house of Savoy, and on 17 March 1861, the Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed with Victor Emmanuel II as king. Giuseppe Garibaldi, the popular republican hero of Italy, contributed much to this achievement and to the subsequent incorporation of the Papal States under the Italian monarch. Italian troops occupied Rome in 1870, and in July 1871, it formally became the capital of the kingdom. Pope Pius IX, a longtime rival of Italian kings, considered himself a "prisoner" of the Vatican and refused to cooperate with the royal administration.

The 20th Century

The new monarchy aspired to great-power status but was severely handicapped by domestic social and economic conditions, particularly in the south. Political and social reforms introduced by Premier Giovanni Giolitti in the first decade of the 20th century improved Italy's status among Western powers but failed to overcome such basic problems as poverty and illiteracy. Giolitti resigned in March 1914 and was succeeded by Antonia Salandra. During World War I, Italy, previously an ally of the Central Powers, declared itself neutral in 1914 and a year later, in April 1915, joined the British and French in exchange for advantages offered by the secret Treaty of London. At the Versailles Peace Conference, Italy, which had suffered heavy losses on the Alpine front and felt slighted by its Western allies, failed to obtain all of the territories that it claimed.

This disappointment, coupled with the severe economic depression of the postwar period, created great social unrest and led eventually to the rise of Benito Mussolini, who, after leading his Fascist followers in a mass march on Rome, became premier in 1922. He established a Fascist dictatorship, a corporate state, which scored early successes in social welfare, employment, and transportation; in 1929, he negotiated the Lateran Treaties, under which the Holy See became sovereign within the newly constituted Vatican City State and Roman Catholicism was reaffirmed as Italy's official religion (the latter provision was abolished in 1984). The military conquest of Ethiopia (193536) added to Italy's colonial strength and exposed the inability of the League of Nations to punish aggression or keep the peace.

Italy joined Germany in World War II, but defeats in Greece and North Africa and the Allied invasion of Sicily toppled Mussolini's regime on 25 July 1943. Soon Italy was divided into two warring zones, one controlled by the Allies in the south and the other (including Rome) held by the Germans, who had quickly moved in, rescued Mussolini, and established him as head of the puppet "Italian Social Republic." When German power collapsed, Mussolini was captured and executed by Italian partisans.

The conclusion of the war left Italy poverty-stricken and politically disunited. In 1946, Italy became a republic by plebiscite; in the following year, a new constitution was drafted, which went into effect in 1948. Under the peace treaty of 10 February 1947, Italy was required to pay $360 million in reparations to the USSR, Yugoslavia, Greece, Ethiopia, and Albania. By this time, the Italian economy, initially disorganized by Mussolini's dream of national self-sufficiency and later physically devastated by the war, was in a state of near collapse. By the early 1950s, however, with foreign assistance (including $1,516.7 million from the United States under the Marshall Plan), Italy managed to restore its economy to the prewar level. From this point, the Italian economy experienced unprecedented development through the 1960s and 1970s.

Politically, postwar Italy has been marked by a pattern of accelerating instability, with 48 different coalition governments through 15 March 1988. In May 1981, the coalition of Prime Minister Arnaldo Forlani was brought down after it was learned that many government officials, including three cabinet ministers, were members of a secret Masonic lodge, Propaganda Due (P-2), that had reportedly been involved in illegal right-wing activities. Left-wing terrorism, notably by the Red Brigades (Brigate Rosse), also plagued Italy in the 1970s and early 1980s. In January 1983, 23 Red Brigade members were sentenced to life imprisonment in connection with the kidnapping and murder of Prime Minister Aldo Moro in 1978; another 36 members received sentences of varying lengths for other crimes, including 11 murders and 11 attempted murders, committed between 1976 and 1980. By the mid-1980s, the Mafia actively engaged in extortion, government corruption, and violent crime, as well as a central role in global heroin trafficking.

By 1986, however, internal security had improved. A major effort against organized crime was under way in the mid-1980s; over 1,000 suspects were tried and the majority convicted in trials that took place in Naples beginning in February 1985 and in Sicily beginning in February 1986.

Revelations of corruption and scandals involving senior politicians, members of the government administration, and business leaders rocked Italy in the early 1990s. Hundreds of politicians, party leaders, and industrialists were either under arrest or under investigation. The scandals discredited the major parties that had governed Italy since 1948, and the instability gave impetus to new reformist groups.

In August 1993, Italy made significant changes in its electoral system. Three-fourths of the seats in both the Chamber and the Senate would be filled by simple majority voting. The remainder would be allocated by proportional representation to those parties securing at least 4% of the vote. The first elections under the new system in March 1994 resulted in a simplification of electoral alliances and brought a center-right government to power. Silvio Berlusconi, founder of the "Go Italy" (Forza Italia) movement, emerged as prime minister. Berlusconi, a successful Italian businessman, was a newcomer to Italian politics. He was supported by the Alliance for Freedom coalition, which had received over 42% of the vote and 366 seats.

Berlusconi's government, however, became victim to charges of government corruption and on 22 December 1994 he was forced to resign in the face of a revolt by the Northern League, one of the parties in his ruling coalition. Three weeks after Berlusconi's resignation, his treasury minister, Lamberto Dini was named prime minister. He formed a government of technocrats and set about to enact fiscal and electoral reforms. Pragmatism and a lack of viable alternatives kept him in power until supporters of his main political rival, Silvio Berlusconi, presented a motion that he step down. When Dini learned that two splinter groups in his center-left coalition (the Greens and the Communist Refounding party) would not vote in his favor, he resigned on 11 January 1996 rather than face a no-confidence vote.

The elections, held on 21 April 1996, saw a center-left coalition, dominated by the former communists (DS), take control of the country for the first time in 50 years. Romano Prodi, an economics professor with little political experience, was chosen to serve as prime minister on 16 May. His coalition government collapsed after it failed to win a vote of no-confidence over the budget. President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro asked Massimo D'Alema, the leader of the DS and of the largest party in the Olive Tree, to form a new administration. His cabinet retained the same members from the left and center as before. This government also continued to pursue fiscal consolidation to join European economic and monetary union in 1999. Prodi left for Brussels to take up the presidency of the European Commission in May 1999. D'Alema reshuffl ed his cabinet in 1999 but it finally fell in April 2000. The immediate cause was the dismal performance in regional elections. The center-left won 7 out of 15 regions while the right, under the leadership of Silvio Berlusconi, took 8 regions.

The coalition of 12 discordant political blocs backed the Treasury Minister, Giuliano Amato, to become the new prime minister (appointed by President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, in office since May 1999). Prior to the fall of the D'Alema administration, the government had scheduled an important referendum to scrap the last remaining vestiges of direct proportional representation in the electoral system. Only one-third of the electorate bothered to vote on 21 May 2000, not enough to validate the referendum outcome.

Berlusconi's House of Liberties coalition, led by Go Italy, secured 368 seats in the Chamber of Deputies in the May 2001 parliamentary elections, to the Olive Tree coalition's 242 seats. (The House of Liberties coalition also won a majority in the Senate.) After becoming Italy's 59th postwar prime minister, Berlusconi faced long-standing charges of criminal wrongdoing, including bribery; he became the first sitting Italian prime minister to appear at his own trial. It was not until December 2004 that Berlusconi was cleared of all charges.

Italy offered the use of its airspace and military bases to the US-led coalition in its war with Iraq, which began on 19 March 2003, although Italy did not send troops to the region and did not allow coalition forces to launch a direct attack on Iraq from Italy. Some 75% of Italians opposed the use of military force against the Saddam Hussein regime, but Berlusconi adopted a position of solidarity with the US-led coalition.


In a plebiscite on 2 June 1946, the Italian people voted (12,700,000 to 10,700,000) to end the constitutional monarchy, which had existed since 1861, and establish a republic. At the same time, a constituent assembly was elected, which proceeded to draft and approve a new constitution; it came into force on 2 January 1948. Under this constitution, as amended, the head of the Italian Republic is the president, who is elected for a seven-year term by an electoral college consisting of both houses of parliament and 58 regional representatives. Elections for a new president must be held 30 days before the end of the presidential term. Presidential powers and duties include nomination of the prime minister (referred to as president of the Council of Ministers) who, in turn, chooses a Council of Ministers (cabinet) with the approval of the president; the power to dissolve parliament, except during the last six months of the presidential term of office; representation of the state on important occasions; ratification of treaties after parliamentary authorization; and the power to grant pardons and commute penalties. Although the constitution limits presidential powers, a strong president can play an important political as well as ceremonial role.

Legislative power is vested in the bicameral parliament, consisting of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. Members of the 630-seat lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, must be at least 25 years old and are elected for five-year terms. The 315 elective members of the Senate must be at least 40 years old and are elected for five-year terms. Former presidents of the republic are automatically life senators, and the president may also appoint as life senators persons who have performed meritorious service. Citizens must be at least 25 years of age to vote for senators; otherwise, those over the age of 18 may vote in all other elections.

In August 1993, Italy made significant changes in its electoral system. Three-fourths of the seats in both the Chamber and the Senate would be filled by simple majority voting. The remainder would be allocated by proportional representation to those parties securing at least 4% of the vote. The first elections under the new system in March 1994 resulted in a simplification of electoral alliances and brought a center-right government to power. Silvio Berlusconi, founder of the "Go Italy" (Forza Italia) movement, emerged as prime minister.

The constitution gives the people the right to hold referenda to abrogate laws passed by the parliament; a referendum requires at least 500,000 signatures. Four referenda had been held by 1987 (against the legalization of divorce in 1974, against increased police powers and state financing of the political parties in 1978, and against government cuts in wage indexation in 1985), and in all of them, the voters approved the parliamentary decisions.

In May 1999, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi was elected by the parliament as president of the Republic of Italy.

On 21 May 2000, Italian voters were asked to decide on electoral reform by increasing the number of lower house seats filled on the basis of a nonproportional system to 100%, effectively scrapping the last remaining element of pure proportional representation. The referendum needed to secure a quorum of 50% of the electorate to gain validity. The final turnout of 32% was much lower than expected and was an alarming sign of voter fatigue and popular disaffection.

On 13 May 2001, Silvio Berlusconi was again elected as head of state, this time as the leader of the five-party "Freedom House" political coalition of Forza Italia, the National Alliance, the Northern League, the Christian Democratic Center, and the United Christian Democrats. Although this coalition government was the longest running in Italy's postwar history, after a low showing in regional elections, Berlusconi was forced to resign and form a new government in April 2005. Italy's 60th government since liberation was formed on 23 April 2005.


Italy has a complex system of political alignments in which the parties, their congresses, and their leaders often appear to wield more power than parliament or the other constitutional branches of government.

Basic party policy is decided at the party congressesgenerally held every second yearwhich are attended by locally elected party leaders. At the same time, the national party leadership is selected.

The most important political party traditionally had been the Christian Democratic Party (Partito Democrazia CristianaDC), which stood about midway in the political spectrum. In the 1983 national elections, the DC commanded 32.9% of the vote and won 225 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, down from 38.3% and 262 seats in 1979; in 1987, however, its electoral strength increased again, to 34.3% and 234 seats. From 1948 until 1981, the prime minister of Italy was consistently drawn from the ranks of the DC, whose religious and anti-class base constitutes both its strength and its weakness. Its relationship with the Church gave it added strength but also opened it to criticism, as did its popular association with the Mafia. In 1992, massive investigations uncovered widespread corruption, leading to many arrests and resignations of senior government officials. As a result of these scandals and corruption charges, the DC disbanded in 1994.

To the right and the left of the DC stood a wide range of parties, the most prominent of which was the Italian Communist Party (Partito Comunista ItalianoPCI), the largest Communist party in Western Europe at the time. The PCI had been second in power and influence only to the DC, but in the 1980s, its electoral base declined, despite the fact that it effectively severed its ties with both the former USSR and Marxism-Leninism.

Of all the parties of the mid to late 20th century, the most powerful were, in addition to the DC and PCI, were Italian Socialist Party (Partito Socialista ItalianoPSI), the Italian Socialist Democratic Party (Partito Socialista Democratico ItalianoPSDI), the Italiant Republican Party (Partito Repubblicano ItalianoPRI), the Italian Liberal Party (Partito Liberale ItalianoPLI), the Radical Party (Partito Radicale), the Italian Social Movement, (Movimento Sociale ItalianoMSI), the Proletarian Democracy (Democrazia ProletariaDP), and the enviornmentalist Greens party. However, the 1990s saw the demise, creation, and restructuring of many Italian political parties. As of 2005, only the PRI and the Greens parties exist. Partly due to the end of the Cold War, in part due to the Mafia crackdown in the 1990s, and primarily due to the related corruption scandals that involved most of the major parties, the overhaul of the political party system was so significant that, although there has been little actual constitutional change, the post-1992 period is often referred to as the "Second Republic."

With the rise in political parties, government functioning was dominated by coalition party formations. The April 1996 election saw a resurgence of the left as the Olive Tree coalition, anchored by former communists calling themselves the Party of the Democratic Left (PDS), gained 284 seats in the 630-seat Chamber of Deputies and 157 seats in the 315-seat Senate. The Refounded Communists won 35 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, the separatist Northern League 59, the center-right Freedom Alliance 246, and others 6. The elections of April 1992 failed to resolve Italy's political and economic problems. The election of March 1994 under new voting rules resulted in the following distribution of seats in the Chamber (lower house): Alliance for Freedom, 42.9% (Forza Italia, Northern League, National Alliance366 seats); Progressive Alliance, 32.2% (Democratic Party of the Left, Communist Refounding, Democratic Alliance, Greens, Reformers213 seats); and Pact for Italy, 15.7% (Popular Party, others46 seats).

The domination of the center-left came to an end in the May 2001 election when Berlusconi's right-leaning coalition, Freedom House (formerly the House of Liberties), was comprised of his Forza Italia (Go Italy) party; the National Alliance, Northern League, Christian-Democratic Center Party; United Christian Democrats; and the New Italian Socialist Party. This coalition won 368 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, and 177 in the Senate. The Olive Tree coalitioncomposed of the Democrats of the Left, the Daisy Alliance (including the Italian Popular Party, Italian Renewal, Union of Democrats for Europe, and the Democrats), the Sunflower Alliance (including the Greens and the Italian Democratic Socialists), and the Italian Communist Partycame in second with 242 seats in the lower house (128 in the Senate). The Communist Refounding took 11 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, and the Olive-Southern Tyrols People's Party of German speakers secured 5 seats in the lower house.


Under the terms of the 1948 constitution, Italy is divided into 20 regions. Five of these regions (Sicily, Sardinia, TrentinoAlto Adige, FriuliVenezia Giulia, and the Valle d'Aosta) have been granted semiautonomous status, although the powers of self-government delegated from Rome have not been sufficient to satisfy the militant separatists, especially in Alto Adige. Legislation passed in 1968 granted the remaining 15 regions an even more limited degree of autonomy. All the regions elect a regional council. The councils and president are elected by universal franchise under a proportional system analogous to that of the parliament at Rome.

The regions are subdivided into a total of 94 provinces, which elect their own council and president, and each region is in turn subdivided into communestownships, cities, and townsthat constitute the basic units of local administration. Communes are governed by councils elected by universal suffrage for a four-year term. The council elects a mayor and a board of aldermen to administer the commune. A commissioner in each region represents the federal government.


Minor legal matters may be brought before conciliators, while civil cases and lesser criminal cases are tried before judges called pretori. There are 159 tribunals, each with jurisdiction over its own district; 90 assize courts, where cases are heard by juries; and 26 assize courts of appeal. The Court of Cassation in Rome acts as the last instance of appeal in all cases except those involving constitutional matters, which are brought before the special Constitutional Court (consisting of 15 judges). For many years, the number of civil and criminal cases has been increasing more rapidly than the judicial resources to deal with them.

The Italian legal system is based on Roman law, although much is also derived from the French Napoleonic model. The law assuring criminal defendants a fair and public trial is largely observed in practice. The 1989 amendments to the criminal procedure law both streamlined the process and provide for a more adversarial (as opposed to inquisitorial) system along the American model.

By law the judiciary is autonomous and independent of the executive branch. In practice, there has been a perception that magistrates were subject to political pressures and that political bias of individual magistrates could affect outcomes. Since the start of "clean hands" investigations of the government, including the judiciary, in 1992 for kickbacks and corruption, magistrates have taken steps to distance themselves from political parties and other pressure groups.


Since 1949 Italy, as a member of NATO, has maintained large and balanced modern forces. The total strength in 2005 was 191,875 active personnel, with reserves numbering 56,500. Army personnel numbered 112,000, and whose equipment included 320 main battle tanks, 300 reconnaissance vehicles, 122 armored infantry fighting vehicles, 2,036 armored personnel carriers, 14 amphibious assault vehicles, and 1,562 artillery pieces. Navy personnel in 2005 totaled 33,100, including 2,000 Marines. Major Italian naval vessels included 1 aircraft carrier, 2 destroyers, 12 frigates, 8 corvettes, 14 patrol/coastal vessels, 13 mine warfare ships, 3 amphibious ships, and 94 logistics/support vessels. The navy also operated six tactical submarines. The air force had a total strength of 44,743 personnel with 199 combat capable aircraft, in addition to various electronic warfare, antiair defense, transport and training aircraft. In 2005, Italy also had a paramilitary force of 254,300 active personnel, of which 111,367 were Carabinieri. Italian armed forces were deployed among 19 countries or regions in various peacekeeping, training or active military missions. Italy's military budget for 2005 was $17.2 billion.


Italy has been a member of the United Nations since 14 December 1955 and participates in the ECE and several UN nonregional specialized agencies, such as FAO, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNHCR, IFC, WHO, and the World Bank. It is a member of the Council of Europe, the European Union, NATO, and the OECD. Italy held the EU presidency from July to December 2003. Italy also participates in the Asian, African, Caribbean, European, and the Inter-American development banks, and is a part of G-7, G-8, and G-10. The country holds observer status in the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Zone, the OAS, and the Latin American Integration Association (LAIA).

Italy is a guest in the Nonaligned Movement. The country has supplied troops for UN operations and missions in Kosovo (est. 1999), Lebanon (est. 1978), India and Pakistan (est. 1949), and Ethiopia and Eritrea (est. 2000), among others. Italy belongs to the Australia Group, the Zangger Committee, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (London Group), the Nuclear Energy Agency, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).

In environmental cooperation, Italy is part of the Antarctic Treaty; the Basel Convention; Conventions on Biological Diversity, Whaling, and Air Pollution; Ramsar; CITES; the London Convention; International Tropical Timber Agreements; the Kyoto Protocol; the Montréal Protocol; MARPOL; the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty; and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change and Desertification.


As the Italian economy, the world's sixth-largest, has expanded since the 1950s, its structure has changed markedly. Agriculture, which in 1953 contributed 25% of the GNP and employed 35% of the labor force, contributed in 1968 only 11% of the GNP and employed only 22% of the active labor forcedespite continued increases in the value of agricultural production. Agriculture's contribution to the GDP further declined to 8.4% in 1974, 5% in 2001, and 2.3% in 2004. Conversely, the importance of industry has increased dramatically. Industrial output almost tripled between 1953 and 1968 and generally showed steady growth during the 1970s; in 2004, industry (including fuel, power, and construction) contributed 28.8% to the GDP. Precision machinery and motor vehicles have led the growth in manufacturing, and Italy has generally been a leader in European industrial design and fashion. Services in 2004 accounted for 68.9% of the economy. However, apart from tourism and design, Italy is not internationally competitive in most service sectors.

Despite this economic achievement, a number of basic problems remain. Natural resources are limited, landholdings often are poor and invariably too small, industrial enterprises are of minimal size and productivity, and industrial growth has not been translated into general prosperity. The rise in petroleum prices during the mid-1970s found Italy especially vulnerable, since the country is almost totally dependent on energy imports. In addition, because economic activity is centered predominately in the north, Italians living in the northern part of the country enjoy a substantially higher standard of living than those living in the south.

Partly because of increased energy costs, inflation increased from an annual rate of about 5% in the early 1970s to an annual average of 16.6% during 197581, well above the OECD average. Inflation was brought down to 14.6% in 1983 and to between 4 and 6% during most of the 1990s. In 1997 it was reduced to under 2%, its lowest level in 30 years. The inflation rate was estimated at 2.3% in 2004.

From 1981 through 1983, Italy endured a period of recession, with rising budget deficits, interest rates above 20%, virtually no real GDP growth, and an unemployment rate approaching 10%. Unemployment hovered around the 10 to 12% range for most of the 1990s and at 9% into the 2000s. Between 1985 and 1995, GDP growth averaged 1.9% a year. It was quite low in 2003, at 0.7%. The GDP growth rate stood at an estimated 1.3% in 2004, and was flat in 2005. Economic growth was expected to pick up to a still disappointing 11.2% in 200607.

Italy's large public debt, public sector deficit, low productivity growth, and burdensome and complex tax system, are generally blamed for the poor state of the economy. A rigid labor market and generous pension system are also seen as responsible for a sluggish economy. The Silvio Berlusconi administration by 2002 had abolished an inheritance tax, a move which was popular among affluent Italians. The 2005 budget included substantial tax cuts and a reduction in the number of tax rates from five to four. The corporate tax rate was reduced from 36% to 33% in 2004. Berlusconi also attempted to loosen labor laws to increase temporary work contracts and to ease hiring and firing practices. The government in the early 2000s was geared toward implementing spending cuts to spur consumer spending and corporate research and development. Pension reform, called a "financial time bomb" by economists, was proposed by the government and resulted in strikes in parts of Italy in mid-2003. Italy spends a massive 14% of GDP on pensions. In 2004, Italy raised the minimum age for state pensions from 57 to 60, but only beginning in 2008.

One of Italy's strengths is the thriving state of its small firms, which are often family owned. In 2003, the average number of workers per enterprise was just over four, the second-lowest figure in the EU. These small businesses are able to succeed in niche markets. However, the high proportion of small businesses has meant that Italy spends less on research and development than other European countries: in 2003, Italian spending on R&D as a share of GDP was barely half of the EU average. This causes Italy to experience a loss of competitiveness, and sluggish growth. In 2004, the economy grew by less than the euro-area average for the eighth time in nine years. Many Italian firms are still in traditional manufacturing areas that should have been abandoned when competition from Southeast Asia and China grew in the 1990s.

Italians spend more than other Europeans on clothes and shoes, and are second only to Spaniards in spending in bars, restaurants, and hotels. Because many Italians rent their living spaces, expenditure on housing is low.


The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Italy's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $1.6 trillion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $28,300. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 0%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 1.9%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 2.1% of GDP, industry 28.8%, and services 69.1%.

According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $2.137 billion or about $37 per capita and accounted for approximately 0.1% of GDP.

The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Italy totaled $887.34 billion or about $15,405 per capita based on a GDP of $1.5 trillion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 1.6%. In 2001 it was estimated that approximately 23% of household consumption was spent on food, 12% on fuel, 3% on health care, and 17% on education.


Italy's labor force in 2005 was estimated at 24.49 million. In 2003 the occupational breakdown had 4.9% in agriculture, 32.2% in industry, 62.8% in the services sector, and 0.1% in undefined occupations. The estimated unemployment rate in 2005 was 7.9%.

The law provides the right to form and join unions, and many workers exercise this right. According to union claims, between 35% and 40% of the nation's workforce was unionized as of 2005. About 35% of the labor force was covered by collective bargaining agreements, which also included nonunion employees. The right to strike is constitutionally protected, and workers engage in collective bargaining. Employers may not discriminate against those engaged in union activity.

As of 2005, the legal workweek was set at 40 hours, with overtime not to exceed two hours per day or an average of 12 hours per week. However, in the industrial sector, maximum overtime was set at no more than 80 hours per quarter and 250 hours annually, unless limited by a collective bargaining agreement. Minimum wages in Italy are not set by law, but through collective labor contracts, which establish wages and salaries in every major field. In most industries these minimum rates offered a worker and family a decent standard of living. Labor contracts may also call for additional compulsory bonuses, and basic wages and salaries are adjusted quarterly to compensate for increases in the cost of living. With some limited exceptions, children under age 15 are prohibited by law from employment.


Of Italy's total land area of 29.4 million hectares (72.6 million acres), 10.7 million hectares (26.4 million acres), or 36.4% of the land, were under annual or permanent crops in 2003. Small, individually owned farms predominate, with the majority three hectares (7.4 acres) or less. In 2001, about 5% (1.4 million persons) of the economically active population was in the agricultural sector.

Despite government efforts, the agricultural sector has shown little growth in recent decades. The imports of agricultural products increased from $19.6 billion in 1987 to $31.6 billion in 2004. Italy has to import about half of its meat. The land is well suited for raising fruits and vegetables, both early and late crops, and these are the principal agricultural exports. Although yields per hectare in sugar beets, tomatoes, and other vegetable crops have increased significantly, both plantings and production of wheat declined between 1974 and 1981. Thus, although Italy remains a major cereal-producing country, wheat must be imported. The government controls the supply of domestic wheat and the import of foreign wheat.

Production of major agricultural products in 2004 (in thousands of tons) included sugar beets, 10,100; wheat, 8,628; corn, 10,983; tomatoes, 7,497; oranges, 2,064; potatoes, 1,809; apples, 2,069; barley, 1,167; and rice, 1,496. In 2004, Italy produced 8,692,000 tons of grapes, and 4,531,000 tons of olives, and 879,000 tons of olive oil. In 2003, Italy had 1,680,000 tractors (third in the world) and 37,500 harvester-threshers.


Some 4,377,000 hectares (10,816,000 acres) are meadows and pastures. Both a growing need for fodder and insufficient domestic production compel Italy to import large amounts of corn. In 2005, the country had 6,314,000 head of cattle, 9,272,000 hogs, 8,020,000 sheep, 1,985,000 goats, 300,000 horses, and an estimated 100 million chickens. That year, total meat production from hogs, cattle, sheep, and goats was 4,099,000 tons. Of the meat produced, 38% was pork, 29% was beef, 24% was poultry, 2% was mutton, and 7% was from other sources. Meat production falls short of domestic requirements, and about half of all meat consumed must be imported. Although Italy produced 10.5 million tons of cow milk in 2005, dairy farming remains comparatively undeveloped. Both dairy and beef cattle are raised mainly in the north. The value of animal output in 2003 exceeded 14.3 billion, third highest in the EU after France and Germany.


Italy's geography provides abundant access to marine fishing. Peninsular Italy and the islands of Sicily and Sardinia together have over 8,000 km (4,900 mi) of coastline and over 800 landing ports equipped for fishing boats. There are also 1,500 sq km (580 sq mi) of lagoons and 1,700 sq km (650 sq mi) of marine ponds. Although coastal and deep-sea fishing in the Mediterranean engage over 50,000 fishermen, the fishing industry is unable to meet domestic needs. As of 2003 there were 15,915 Italian fishing vessels with a fishing capacity (gross tonnage) of 178,334 tons. Since the extension of the 200-mile limit zones and the consequent drop in the total catch, Italy's fishing industry has declined because their deep-sea vessels were not suited to Mediterranean fishing. Also, about 1,700 vessels (10% of the fleet) went out of service during 200002 as a result of EU-funded policies for the reduction of fishing in the Mediterranean. The total catch in 2003 was 314,807 tons, 98% from marine fishing, with a value of about 1.4 billion. Anchovies, sardines, hake, mullets, and swordfish together accounted for 44% of the volume in 2003. In 2003, Italy produced 89,000 tons of canned tuna and 20,000 tons of canned anchovies. The majority of the Italian fish harvest (up to 50%) is not officially recorded but sold directly to restaurants, wholesalers, and fish-mongers. Anchovy, rainbow trout, sardine, and European hake are the main finfish species caught. Sponges and coral are also commercially important. The main commercial fishing ports are Mazara del Vallo, Palermo, San Benedetto del Tronto, Chioggia-Venezia, and Genoa.

There are over a thousand intensive production fish farms that belong to the Italian Fish Farming Association, with 60% located in northern Italy. Total Italian aquaculture production in 2003 was 244,000 tons, valued at 250 million.


The major portion of the 10 million hectares (24.7 million acres) of forest is in the Alpine areas of northern Italy; few extensive forests grow in central or southern Italy or on the islands. Italy has more softwood than hardwood growth and extensive coppice (thicket and small shrub) stands. The overall forest structure consists of 42% coppice stands, 26% softwoods, and 25% hardwood high stands. The only species that are commercially important are chestnut, beech, oak, and poplar. Chestnut and beech stands account for 31% of the hardwood forest and for over 40% of Italian wood production; oak comprises 8% of wood production. Poplar is the only species grown using managed forestry practices. Poplar plantations account for only 1% of the total forest area but for 50% of domestic wood output. Forest resources are stable and meet about 19% of annual demand. Italian wood output in 2003 consisted of 9 million cu m (318 million cu ft). Approximately 90% of Italian forest product exports consist of wooden furniture, semifinished wood products, and other finished wood products. The Italian furniture industry accounted for 37,987 firms with 229,054 employees in 2002, with an industry turnover of almost 22.8 billion. The diversity in species composition, ownership patterns, topographic constraints, and conflicting resource management strategies have all contributed to limiting the productivity of Italian forest resources. Italy is a major importer of hardwood and softwood lumber, since its rugged terrain and disjointed forestland restrict domestic production. In 2002, the Italian wood and wood product sectors employed 412,815 workers in 87,906 companies with a total turnover of about $36 billion. Some 80% of the raw materials used for manufacturing furnished wooden products are imported. Imports of forest products in 2004 were valued at $9.5 billion, while exports totaled $4.3 billion.


Although Italy was relatively poor in mineral resources, it was, nevertheless, a major producer of feldspar, pumice and related materials, as well as of crude steel, cement (second-largest in the EU), and a leading producer of dimension stone and marble. The country also continued to supply a significant portion of its own need for some minerals. Industrial mineral production in 2003, including construction materials, was the most important sector of the economy. Italy has been a significant processor of imported raw materials, and a significant consumer and exporter of mineral and metal semi-manufactured and finished products.

Production totals for the leading minerals in 2003 were: feldspar, estimated at 2,500 metric tons; barite, estimated at 30,000 metric tons, unchanged from 1999; fluorspar (acid-grade and metallurgical-grade), estimated at 45,000 tons; hydraulic cement, estimated at 40 million tons; pumice and pumiceous lapilli, estimated at 600,000 tons (from Lipari Island, off the northern coast of Sicily); and pozzolan, estimated at 4 million tons (from Lipari). Alumina production (calcined basis) in 2003 was estimated at 925,000 metric tons. In addition, Italy produced antimony oxides, gold (from Sardinia), mine lead, mine manganese, bromine, crude clays (including bentonite, refractory, fuller's earth, kaolin, and kaolinitic earth), diatomite, gypsum, lime, nitrogen, perlite, mineral pigments, salt (marine, rock, and brine), sand and gravel (including volcanic and silica sands), soda ash, sodium sulfate, stone (alabaster, dolomite, granite, limestone, marble, marl, quartz, quartzite, sandstone, serpentine, and slate), sulfur, and talc and related materials.

Marble and travertine quarrying from the famous mines in the Massa and Carrara areas was still significant. Marble was quarried at hundreds of locations from the Alps to Sicily. The most important white-marble-producing area was in the Apuan Alps, near Carrara, and accounted for one-third of the country's 100,000 tons of white marble. Important colored-marble-producing areas included the Lazio region, Lombardy, the Po Valley, Puglia, Sicily, Venice, and Verona-Vincenza. Reserves of several types were considered to be unlimited; half of the country's output was in block form and half was exported.


Italy's proven oil and natural gas reserves are each the fourth-largest in the European Union (EU). The country has completely stopped the production of coal. Still, Italy must rely heavily on foreign sources to meet its energy needs.

According to the Oil and Gas Journal, Italy has proven oil reserves estimated at 622 million barrels, as of 1 January 2005. Estimated production in 2004 averaged 147,000 barrels daily, of which crude oil accounted for 104,000 barrels per day, of which about 89% was accounted for by the National Hydrocarbon Agency (Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi), or ENI, Italy's largest oil and natural gas company of which the Italian government holds a controlling 35% stake. However, domestic demand far outstrips production, with consumption in 2004 estimated at 1.90 million barrels per day. Net imports for that year are estimated at 1.75 million barrels per day. In 2004, the former Soviet Union was Italy's largest supplier at 28%, followed by Libya (24%), Saudi Arabia (13%), and Iran (10%).

More than 70% of ENI's production comes from the Val d'Agri project in the south of Italy, the Villafortuna project in the north, and from the Aquila project off the Adriatic coast in the southeast. Development of the Tempa Rossa field, with an estimated 200 million barrels of oil, is being led by France's Total, and is expected to enter production by 2007 with a peak output of 50,000 barrels per day.

Oil has been partly replaced by natural gas, whose consumption is expected to continue rising in the future, driven largely by the construction of combined-cycle, gas-fired turbines. Italy has proven natural gas reserves of 8.0 trillion cu ft, as of 1 January 2005, according to the Oil and Gas Journal. Natural gas production in 2004, according to Eurostat totaled 440 billion cu ft. Combined with declining field output, Italy's reliance on natural gas imports has increased. In 2004, imported natural gas accounted 84% of the country's demand vs. 59% in 1985, according to Eurostat. Algeria (38%), Russia (32%), and the Netherlands (14%) were Italy's largest natural gas suppliers in 2004.

In 2001, Italy completely closed down its domestic coal production industry, when it shuttered its last production facility. In 2002, coal met only 6.8% of Italy's energy needs. In that year, demand for coal amounted to 21.8 million short tons, of which most was used to provide electricity. In the first half of 2004, South Africa supplied 26% of the coal consumed by Italy, followed by Colombia (12%) and the United States (11%).

Italy's total electric generating capacity was estimated at 69.1 GW in 2002, with thermal accounting for 78% of capacity, hydropower at 19% and other renewable sources at 3%. In 2002, it was estimated that output totaled 262 billion kWh, with consumption totaling an estimated 294 billion kWh, and net imports totaling an estimated 32 billion kWh.


Characterized both by a few large industrial concerns controlling the greater part of industrial output and by thousands of small shops engaged in artisan-type production, Italian industry expanded rapidly in the postwar period. Industrial production almost tripled between 1955 and 1968 and has generally showed continued growth, although the global recession that began in 2001 slowed industrial production and the economy as a whole. The lack of domestic raw materials and fuels represents a serious drag on industrial expansion. Industry accounted for 28.8% of GDP in 2004, and employed 32% of the labor force. Manufacturing accounts for approximately 90% of total merchandise exports.

Three state-holding companies have played a large role in industry: ENI (National Hydrocarbon Agency), IRI (Industrial Reconstruction Institute), and EFIM (Agency for Participation and Financing of Manufacturing Industry). IRI was the 16th-largest industrial company in the world in 1993, with sales of $50.5 billion; it had shareholdings in over 100 companies (including banks, electronics, engineering, and shipbuilding) and 333,600 employees in 1992. EFIM controlled armaments and metallurgy industries. Debt-ridden EFIM was liquidated, IRI became dismantled through sell-offs, and as of 2005, the state had reduced its stake in ENI and Enel (Ente Nazionale per l'Energia Elettrica), the national electricity company. Major private companies are the Fiat automobile company; the Olivetti company (office computers and telecommunications); the Montedison chemical firm; and the Pirelli rubber company. The bulk of heavy industry is concentrated in the northwest, in the Milan-Turin-Genoa industrial triangle. The government has made concerted efforts to attract industry to the underdeveloped southeast.

With the drive toward greater European integration in full gear, Italy, along with its fellow EU member-states, is liberalizing its economic and commercial legislation. These promise a marked change in the Italian business scene as mergers and foreign investment increase. In early 1999, Olivetti mounted a successful hostile takeover for Telecom Italia.

Italy has become known for niche products, including fashion eye-wear, specialized machine tools, packaging, stylish furniture, kitchen equipment, and other products featuring high design. The "made in Italy" stamp is associated with quality and style. Traditional industries are iron and steel, machinery, chemicals, food processing (including olive oil, wine, and cheese), textiles, clothing, footwear, motor vehicles, and ceramics. The construction industry stands to gain in importance in the early 2000s, as Italy's less-developed regions are slated for infrastructure development.

Foreign competition has cut into the Italian textile industry. Following the expiration of the World Trade Organization's longstanding system of textile quotas at the beginning of 2005, the EU signed an agreement with China in June 2005, imposing new quotas on 10 categories of textile goods, limiting growth in those categories to between 8% and 12.5% a year. The agreement runs until 2007, and was designed to give European textile manufacturers time to adjust to a world of unfettered competition. Nevertheless, barely a month after the EU-China agreement was signed, China reached its quotas for sweaters, followed soon after by blouses, bras, T-shirts, and flax yarn. Tens of millions of garments piled up in warehouses and customs checkpoints, which affected both retailers and consumers.


The still-standing aqueducts, bathhouses, and other public works of both ancient republic and empire testify to the engineering and architectural skills of the Romans. The rebirth of science during the Renaissance brought the daring speculations of Leonardo da Vinci (including discoveries in anatomy, meteorology, geology, and hydrology, as well as a series of fascinating though ultimately impractical designs for a "flying machine"), advances in physics and astronomy by Galileo Galilei, and the development of the barometer by Evangelista Torricelli. To later Italian scientists and inventors the world owes the electric battery (1800), the electroplating process (1805), and the radiotelegraph (1895).

In 2001, Italy had 1,156 scientists and engineers per million people engaged in research and development (R&D). In that same year, expenditures on R&D totaled $16.7 trillion or 1.11% of GDP. High technology exports in 2002 totaled $19.730 billion, or 9% of the country's manufactured exports.

The National Research Council (Consiglio Nazionale delle RicercheCNR), founded in 1923, is the country's principal research organization. CNR institutes and associated private and university research centers conduct scientific work in mathematics, physics, chemistry, geology, technology, engineering, medicine, biology, and agriculture. Especially noteworthy are the National Institute of Nuclear Physics, in Rome, and the Enrico Fermi Center for Nuclear Studies, in Milan.

Italy has 47 universities offering courses in basic and applied sciences. The Instituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza di Firenzo, founded in 1930, is located in Florence. In 198797, science and engineering students accounted for 30% of university enrollment. In 2002, of all bachelor's degrees awarded, 25.8% were in the sciences (natural, mathematics and computers, and engineering)


Milan is the principal commercial center, followed by Turin, Genoa, Naples, and Rome. Genoa, the chief port of entry for Milan and Turin, handles about one-third of Italy's trade; Naples is the principal entrepôt for central and southern Italy. Adriatic as well as Middle Eastern trade is carried through Ancona, Bari, and Brindisi. Although small retail units predominate, department stores and supermarkets are playing an increasingly important role. In 2000, Italy ranked second in Europe in franchise business operations with about 562 companies and over 31,400 franchises.

Advertising in all forms is well developed, and the usual mass media (billboards, neon signs, newspapers and magazines, radio, cinema, and television) are used extensively. Market research is handled by over 100 firms.

Usual business hours in northern Italy are from 8:30 am until 12:30 pm and from 3:30 to 6:30 pm. In central and southern Italy, customary hours are 8:30 am to 12:45 pm and 4:30 or 5 to 7:30 or 8 pm. Most firms are closed in August. In general, banking hours are 8:30 am to 1:30 pm and 3 pm to 4 pm, Monday through Friday. Retail establishments are generally closed on Sundays.


Industrial products, textiles and apparel, shoes, and foodstuffs are Italy's most important exports. However, the textile industry has been hit hard by foreign competition in recent years, especially from China. Fuels, meat, grain products, and various raw materials are among the major imports. Trade deficits were substantial between the end of World War II and 1955, but between 1956 and 1968 the deficit gradually declined, and Italy's trade balance continued in relative equilibrium through 1972. Then, as prices of crude oil and other raw-material imports rose, Italy again began registering growing trade deficits. In 1993, however, a large surplus was recorded because of an export boom that followed the devaluation of the lira in September 1992, and Italy has had a trade surplus ever since. In 2004, the value of exports of goods was $352.2 billion, and imports were $341.3 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of $10.9 billion.

The bulk of manufactured imports come from EU countries and the United States, which are also the leading customers for Italian exports. The big commodity exports from Italy in 2004 included industrial and automobile machinery and parts (40.3%), textiles, clothing, and leather (13.5%), chemicals (9.6%), and metal products (9.5%). The major imports included machinery and transportation equipment (34.5%), chemicals (13.4%), energy minerals (10.3%), and metals and metal products (10.3%). Italy's leading markets in 2004 were Germany (14.1% of all exports), France (12.5%), the United States (8.3%), and the United Kingdom (7.1%). Italy's leading suppliers in 2004 were Germany (18.1% of all imports), France (11.4%), the Netherlands (5.8%), and the United Kingdom (4.8%).


Italy did not have serious balance of payments problems after the mid-1970s. Exports soared after 1992, turning Italy's balance of payments positive. The growth in exports was extremely strong in the northeast, where small and medium-sized companies produce high-quality and low-cost productsranging from industrial machinery to ski bootsfor French, German, Japanese, and Indian customers.

Italy had current account surpluses from 1993 to 1999, but in 2000 the country registered a $5.6 billion deficit, after an $8.2 billion surplus in 1999. Italy experienced weak economic growth in the period 200105. In 2004, the current account balance showed a deficit estimated at $15.1 billion (0.9% of GDP).

Current Account-21.9
   Balance on goods9.7
   Balance on services-1.4
   Balance on income-22.1
   Current transfers-8.2
Capital Account3.1
Financial Account19.4
   Direct investment abroad-9.9
   Direct investment in Italy17.3
   Portfolio investment assets-58.5
   Portfolio investment liabilities61.4
   Financial derivatives-5.4
   Other investment assets-29.8
   Other investment liabilities44.3
Net Errors and Omissions0.6
Reserves and Related Items-1.1
() data not available or not significant.


The Banca d'Italia, the central bank, was the sole bank of issue and exercised credit control functions until Italy's accession to the European Central Bank, which now controls monetary policy and the euro, the EU's common currency (excepting the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Sweden). La Banca d'Italia is still responsible for controlling domestic inflation and balance of payments pressures.

In March 1979, Italy became a founder member of the European Monetary System (EMS) and its Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM). During the first 10 years of its membership, the lira was allowed to diverge by up to 6% against other member currencies before action had to be taken, compared with 2.25% for other ERM currencies. Uncertainty about Italy's ability to meet the convergence targets of the 1992 Treaty for European Union (Merastricht) for inflation, interest rates, and participation to stabilize the rate, the lira was withdrawn from the ERM in September 1992, after which the lira declined to just under DM1:L1,000. At the beginning of 1996 it began to appreciate again, and immediately after the April election it rose to L1,021:DM1. The introduction of the euro in 2002, however, made all that irrelevant.

In 2002, five banks are of nationwide standing: Intesa-Bci, San Paolo-IMI, the Banca di Roma, Unicredito Italiano, and the Banca Nazionale del Lavoro. There are many major international banks with branches in Italy. Among the more important are Chase, Citibank, Bank of America, HSBC, and others. The Istituto Mobiliare Italiano is the leading industrial credit institution; it also administers important government industrial investments. In 1987, the government privatized Mediobanca, another major industrial credit institution.

Two major banks, formally part of the Instituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale (IRI) group, were privatized in 199394: Unicredito Italiano (CREDIT) and Banca Commerciale Italiana (COMIT). The privatization of another IRI bank specializing in medium- and long-term lending, the Instituto Mobiliare Italiano (IMI), was completed in 1996.

A new banking law was passed in 1993, to bring Italy into conformity with the EU's Second Banking directive, and to introduce two major innovations which aim to move Italy toward a model of universal banking. It allows banks to hold shares in industrial concerns; and it eliminates the distinction between banks (aziende di credito) and special credit institutions (aziende di credito speciale), thus allowing all banks to perform operations previously limited to specific types of intermediary.

On 30 January 1997, the government drafted legislation to promote restructuring and consolidation in Italy's largely inefficient and highly fragmented banking sector. The bill is the latest in a series of attempts since 1990 to rationalize the sector. However, it comes just as Italy's two biggest banks, CARIPLO and what is now San Paolo-IMI, announced plans to begin privatization by the end of 1997, and other banks in the private sector begin to negotiate strategic alliances, notably between: the private sector bank Ambroveneto and CARIPLO; Cassa di Resparmia di Torino and the Cassa di Risparmio di Verona. Mergers are also changing the face of the Italian banking industry. In early 1999, four of the five largest Italian banks were involved in such deals. Unicredito Italiano and Banca Commerciale Italiana merged to form Eurobanca, while San Paolo-IMI and Banca di Roma also planned to combine their operations. The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $458.4 billion. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $628.9 billion. The money market rate, the rate at which financial institutions lend to one another in the short term, was 4.26%.

There are 10 stock exchanges in operation. The most important is that in Milan (established in 1808). The others, in order of importance, are Rome (1812), Turin (1850), Genoa (1855), Bologna (1861), Florence (1859), Naples (1813), Venice (1600), Trieste (1755), and Palermo (1876). Since 1974, the markets have been regulated by the National Commission for Companies and the Stock Exchange.

Radical reforms have been introduced in recent years in order to vitalize the stock market, which is greatly undercapitalized considering the size of the Italian economy. At the end of 1995, the capitalization of the Milan bourse was the equivalent of just 18% of GDP, compared with 32% in France and 122% in the United Kingdom. However, by 2002 market capitalization had increased to 41% of GDP.

In September 1991, stock market intermediation companies (SIM), a new form of stock broking and fund management firm, were introduced to accompany the shift from the open-outcry call auction system to a screen-based continuous auction market, which was completed in July 1994. In order to stimulate the demand for shares, in 1994 shareholders were given the option of paying a 12.5% flat tax rate instead of declaring dividends as part of taxable income. At the beginning of 1996, proposed Services Directive included the privatization of the stock market and the administrative bodies that run it as one of its main objectives.

Despite a certain amount of volatility, the Milan stock exchange index (MIB) has risen by 10.6% on 26 March 1997 since the end of 1996 and daily volume of transactions were up substantially. In early-mid-2000, the MIB index hovered between 31,70031,800. However, since the onset of the global recession, the index has dropped significantly. From January 2002 to January 2003, the MIB dropped 4.4%, down to 16,208, slightly more than half of its peak value. In 2004, the MIB-30 Index rose 16.9% from the previous year to 31,220. On the Borsa Italiana, a total of 269 companies were listed as of 2004, which had a market capitalization of $789.563 billion.


The insurance industry is government-supervised, and insurers must be authorized to do business. Automobile insurance was made compulsory in 1971, and coverage is also required for aircraft, powerboats, hunters, auditors, yachts, nuclear facilities, and insurance brokers. Among the most important nonlife insurance companies in Italy as of 2003 were Ras, Generali, Sai, and Assitalia. Leading life insurance companies as of 2003 included Alleanza, Creitras, Generali, and Sanpaolo. In 2003, the value of direct premiums written totaled $111.761 billion, with life premiums accounting for $71.694 billion. Italy's top nonlife insurer in 2003 was Fondiaria-SAI, with total written nonlife premiums (including personal accident and healthcare) of $4,272.6 million. In that same year, the country's leading life insurer was Creditras, with gross written life premiums of $5,977.6 million.

The insurance regulatory body is the Instituto per Viglanza sulle Assicurazioni Private di Interesse Collettivo (ISVAP-the Institute for Control of Private Insurance Companies). European Union reporting and other insurance directives are being implemented. A unique and helpful feature of Italian insurance company reports is the inclusion of financial statements of major subsidiary or affiliated companies.

The Italian insurance market was traditionally characterized by a relatively large number of insurers with no one organization dominating the industry, although there were some very large, old insurance organizations which date back to the early 19th century. There are a number of foreign insurance companies operating through subsidiaries in Italy: these are primarily French and German companies. Italy's market indicates moderately low penetration when compared to North America and Northern Europe, especially for life products. In recent years, the volume of life products has increased quite rapidly as the consumer has become aware that the Italian Social Security System benefits will have to be supplemented by individual savings and as insurance awareness has increased through advertising campaigns and the distribution of insurance products through the extensive branch banking system of the country. Foreign influence and industry consolidation in the Italian insurance industry is expected to rise due to the adoption of the euro and the emerging willingness of Italian companies to mount hostile takeover bids. Much of the new merger-mania expected to sweep Italian insurance is projected to come from the banking sector as banks continue to expand their interests in insurance sales.


Reflecting both increasing economic activity and the pressures of inflation, the Italian budget has expanded continually since 1950. The Italian economy has traditionally run a high government

Revenue and Grants444.5100.0%
   Tax revenue278.4762.6%
   Social contributions147.5133.2%
   Other revenue18.064.1%
   General public services
   Public order and safety
   Economic affairs
   Environmental protection
   Housing and community amenities
   Recreational, culture, and religion
   Social protection
() data not available or not significant.

debt, but in recent years it has been quelled somewhat, despite lackluster growth. In 1995, the debt stood at 124% of GDP, but declined to 110.6% in 2000 and 109.4% in 2001. At that point the Italian government still had a long way to go to get down to the EU-imposed debt-to-GDP ration of 60%. Since 1996, Italy has maintained a primary budget surplus, net of interest payments, and has reduced its deficit in public administration from 1.7% of GDP in 2000 to 1.4% in 2001. However, given the high national debt, the EU remains concerned about Italy's budgetary policies.

The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Italy's central government took in revenues of approximately $785.7 billion and had expenditures of $861.5 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately -$75.8 billion. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 107.3% of GDP. Total external debt was $1.682 trillion.


The Italian tax system is considered among the most complicated in the world. Since the late 1990s, the government has been using tax cuts to stimulate economic growth. On 1 January 1998 the government introduced the Dual Income Tax (DIT) system designed to encourage investment by taxing income deemed to be derived from the increase in equity capital in a company at a lower rate than the standard corporate income tax rate. In 2003, the corporate income tax rate (IRPEG), at 36% in 2002, was reduced to 34%. As of 2005, the standard corporate rate was 33%, excluding a 4.25% regional tax (IRAP) on productive activities. Capital gains realized by companies are taxable as business income under the IRPEG and IRAP, and capital losses are deductible. Dividends are taxed at 27% with complete withholding ("payment at the source" or PAYE). This rate may be reduced to 12.5% if residents can show that they had a "nonsubstantial participation" in the firm. A 0% rate applies to dividends paid to resident companies. The PAYE rate for dividends paid to branches of companies from other EU countries is 12.5%

The schedule of personal income tax rates was reformed in 2003 to reduce tax rates and to increase the amount covered by the lowest income band. As of 2005, the individual tax rate progressively increases to a top rate of 39%. However, a solidarity contribution of 4% pushes the top rate to 43%. On 25 October 2001 Italy's gift and inheritance taxes were abolished by the Parliament.

Italy's main indirect tax is its value-added tax (VAT) introduced on 1 January 1973 with a standard rate of 12%, replacing a turnover tax on goods and services. Since 10 January 1997 the standard rate has been at 20% and is applicable to most goods and services. A reduced rate of 10% is applied to some foodstuffs, certain fuel supplies, some transport and some housing, consumers, catering services and live animals. A 4% rate is applied to some foodstuffs, books, newspapers and periodicals, agricultural inputs, and medical equipment. Basic medical and dental services, as well as financial and insurance services are exempt from VAT. A 0% rate is applied to supplies of unwrought gold and ferrous and nonferrous metal scrap, and land not suitable for buildings. Other taxes on transactions include stamp taxes, and contract registration tax.


Italy's membership in the European Union has greatly influenced its tariff structure. Duties on imports from then-European Community members and their dependencies were gradually reduced following the Rome Pact in 1957 and disappeared by 1969, more than a year ahead of schedule. Duties on goods from Greece, which entered the European Community in 1981, were reduced gradually and eliminated by 1986. Italy's adjustment of its tariff structure to that of the now-European Union also has resulted in a substantial reduction of duties on products imported from areas other than the European Union, including the United States.

Import duties on manufactured goods from non-EU countries range from 58%, while raw materials enter mostly duty-free. Other import taxes include a value-added tax (VAT) that ranges from 020% depending on the product and excise taxes on alcoholic beverages, tobacco, sugar and petroleum products.


Because of a lack of domestic venture capital, the government encourages foreign industrial investment through tax concessions on a case-by-case basis. Foreign ownership, however, is limited by law and includes the following regulations: foreign investment can be limited for "reasons essential to the national economy." As a consequence, foreign investment in banks is limited to less than 5% of an institution's capital without government consent. Although privatization is encouraging foreign investment, defense industries remain off limits to non-Italians. However, the extent of the state's direct involvement in the economy has been greatly reduced by the privatization program carried out by successive governments since 1993, encouraged by EU restrictions on state aid to industry and the need to reduce public-sector debt. In an effort to increase confidence of foreign investors in Italy's economic development, the government has enacted legislation providing special incentives, particularly for investments in the southSicily, Sardinia, and the peninsula south of Rome. In recent years, and in accordance with EU liberalization, foreign restrictions on foreign investment in Italy have eased. The corporate tax rate was cut from 36% to 33% in 2004.

Annual foreign direct investment (FDI) into Italy was $2.6 billion in 1998, down from $3.7 billion in 1997. Total FDI stock in Italy in 1998 was about $103 billion. Annual FDI inflow jumped to almost $7 billion in 1999 and continued to increase for the next three years: to $13.4 billion in 2000, $14.9 billion in 2001, and $15.2 billion in 2002, an average of $13.7 billion a year. Total FDI stock in Italy reached about $140 billion by 2002. Italy has remained an underachiever, however, in the attraction of FDI. For the period 1988 to 1990, Italy's share of world FDI inflows was 60% of its share of world GDP. For the period 1998 to 2000, Italy's share of world inward FDI had dropped to only 20% of its share of world GDP. About 63% of inward stock in the 1990s had come from EU countries, up from 55% in the 1980s.

In the 1980s, outward FDI had about equaled inward FDI in Italy, but in the 1990s Italy became a net outward investor. From 1999 to 2002, average annual outward FDI from Italy was $18.4 billion. As of 2001, FDI stock held by Italians in foreign countries totaled about $236 billion. Roughly 60% of Italian holdings of outward stock in the 1990s were in EU countries, the same as in the 1980s.

From 200004, FDI inflows averaged 1.2% of GDP. In 2004, Italy jumped from 12th to 9th most attractive FDI destination in the world, driven primarily by increased confidence among US and Asian investors, according to the FDI Confidence Index. In 2004, intra-EU-25 FDI inflows to Italy amounted to 10.2 billion; extra-EU-25 inflows amounted to 1.9 billion. That year, outward Italian FDI flows to the EU-25 amounted to 14.2 billion; outward FDI flows from Italy to non-EU-25 countries amounted to 0.5 billion. In all, inward FDI in 2004 totaled $16.8 billion; outward FDI totaled $19.3 billion.


Under Mussolini, business and labor were grouped into corporations that, in theory at least, jointly determined economic policy. Also, under the Fascist regime, direct government control over the economy was increased through the creation of powerful economic bodies, such as the Institute for Industrial Reconstruction. Although the corporative system disappeared after the fall of Mussolini, the concept of economic planning remained firmly implanted among the large Marxist parties, as well as among Christian Democratic leaders, whoby different means and for different reasonssought to create a society free from the class warfare associated with a strictly liberal economic system.

Principal government objectives following World War II were reconstruction of the economy; stabilization of the currency; and long-term, large-scale investment aimed at correcting the imbalance of the Italian economy and, in particular, the imbalance between northern and southern Italy. The first and second phases of this policy were accomplished by 1949. Then the government, supported by domestic financial and industrial groups and by foreign aid, principally from the United States, embarked on the third and most important phase, best known as the Vanoni Plan (after former finance minister Ezio Vanoni). Notable in this development effort was the Cassa per il Mezzogiorno, a government agency set up to develop southern Italy and attract private investment to the region. Between 1951 and 1978, government spending on infrastructure in the south was $11.5 billion; additional low-cost loans totaled $13 billion, and outright grants amounted to $3.2 billion.

Simultaneously, direct government control of the economy increased through such government agencies as ENI (National Hydrocarbon Agency), whose activities expanded rapidly in the postwar era. The nationalization of the electric industry, in order to lay the industrial base for a more highly planned economy, and the creation of the National Economic Planning Board composed of leaders from government, industry, and labor were further indications of the importance attached to the concept of a planned Italian economy.

The combined effects of inflation, increased energy prices, and political instability posed serious economic problems during the 1970s. With Italy mired in recession in the early 1980s, economic policy was directed at reducing the public sector deficit, tightening controls on credit, and maintaining a stable exchange rate, chiefly through a variety of short-term constraints. A period of recovery began in 1983, leading to expanded output and lower inflation but also to expanded unemployment. The economic policy aims in 1987 included the reduction of the public-sector deficit and unemployment. Furthermore, improvement in the external sector (due mainly to the fall of oil prices and depreciation of the dollar) led to liberalization of the foreign exchange market in 1987.

Priorities of the early 1990s were cutting government spending, fighting tax evasion to reduce public debt, and selling off state-owned enterprises. At the end of the decade the results of these policies were mixed. Liberalization provided the impetus for greater foreign investment, while the funds generated from privatization eased the public debt. Italy qualified for the first round of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and entered the euro zone in 1999. Tax evasion remains a problem; the underground economy is still estimated at nearly 25% of official GDP. Moreover, the economic disparities between the prosperous north and the impoverished south remain.

The strength of the economy rests on the back of small- and medium-sized family-owned companies, mostly in the north and center of the country. In 2005, the average Italian company employed 4 people, and industrial companies had an average of around 9 employees, compared with an average 15 employees in the EU. In mid-2000, Italy's largest state holding company, Istituto per la Ricostruzione Industriale (IRI), was liquidated.

Italy's public debt in 2004 was estimated at 105.6% of GDP. The EU's mandated debt to GDP ratio is 60%. The budget deficit was forecast to rise from about 3% of GDP in 2004 to 44.5% in 200506, before falling to just under 4% in 2007. GDP growth remained flat in 2005, but was expected to pick up to a still disappointing 11.2% in 200607. Reform of the pension system continues to be a controversial policy issue. The focus of economic policy has been on cutting taxes, fighting unemployment, enhancing competitiveness, and reducing both the budget deficit and debt. However, the only areas in which the government had made limited progress by 2005 were in the labor market and the pension system. Balancing fiscal austerity and policies to promote growth pose a major economic policy challenge.


Social welfare legislation in Italy, begun in 1898, was redesigned by law in 1952 and has subsequently been expanded. All workers and their families are covered and receive old-age, disability, and survivor pensions, unemployment and injury benefits, health and maternity coverage. The system is primarily funded by employer contributions, along with employee payments and some government subsidies. Family allowances are paid for primarily by employer contributions, and are determined by the size and income of the family. Conditions for old age pensions have varying conditions. The first maternity coverage was initiated in 1912, and was most recently updated in 2001.

Despite full legal rights under law, women face some social discrimination in Italy. On average, women earn less than men and are underrepresented in management, the professions, and other areas. Sexual abuse and violence remain a problem, although when reported, the authorities prosecute perpetrators and assist victims. Increased public awareness of sexual harassment and violence increased the number of reported abuses in 2004. The government is committed to protecting and promoting children's rights.

Human rights are generally respected in Italy. Lengthy pretrial detentions still occur due to the slow pace of the judicial system, and occasional cases of the mistreatment of prisoners were reported. Discrimination based on race, sex, religion, ethnicity, disability, and language is prohibited by law.


A national health plan, begun in 1980, seeks to provide free health care for all citizens, but certain minimum charges remain. It is financed by contributions from salaries, by employers, and by the central government. Patients are still able to choose their own health care providers. Reform implementation in the 1980s and 1990s has been difficult. In 1994, the government announced plans to dismantle public universal insurance. Reforms in 1999 sought to integrate primary care with other health care programs, including home care, social services, and health education. Consistent health reforms are hampered by frequent political changes in administration. Most private hospitals have contracts with the national plan, but health care services are more highly concentrated in the northern regions of Italy. The shortage of medical personnel and hospital facilities in Italy's rural areas remains serious. Closure of a number of underutilized hospitals was planned and the government has been making efforts to curb the state deficit in health expenditures; budgets and estimates are repeatedly more than demand. Health care expenditures were 8.2% of GDP.

As of 2004, Italy had the highest number of physicians per capita at an estimated 606 per 100,000 people. In addition, there were approximately 446 nurses, 59 dentists and 110 pharmacists per 100,000 population. In the same year, Italy had 842 public hospitals and 539 private ones, for a total of approximately 276,000 beds.

The infant mortality rate, 72.1 per 1,000 live births in 1948, decreased to 5.94 per 1,000 by 2005, when average life expectancy was estimated to be 79.68 years. As of 2002, birth and death rates were estimated respectively at 8.9 and 10.1 per 1,000 people. Approximately 78% of married women (ages 15 to 49) were using contraception.

In 1999, immunization rates for children up to one year of age were: diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 95%, and measles, 70%. The major causes of death were circulatory system diseases, cancers, respiratory diseases, and accidents and violence. As of 2004, there were approximately 140,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 0.50 per 100 adults in 2003. There were an estimated 1,000 deaths from AIDS in 2003.


Italy's housing and public building program was a major item in the general program of postwar reconstruction. Between 1940 and 1945, almost 20% of the habitable rooms in the country were destroyed. From June 1945 to June 1953, however, of the 6,407,000 rooms destroyed or severely damaged, 354,100 were rebuilt and 4,441,000 were repaired. Under a special housing program, originally instituted with funds from UNRRA and subsequently financed by employer and employee contributions, a total of 15 million rooms were constructed between 1953 and 1961, alleviating the nation's immediate housing problems.

In the 1980s 59% of all dwellings were owner occupied and 36% were rented. Almost 88% had indoor flush toilets, 99.5% had electricity, 59% had central heating, and 34% were heated by a stove or similar source. In 1999, 156,000 new dwellings were completed.


Education is free and compulsory for eight years (for students age 6 through 15), this includes five years of elementary school and three years of lower secondary school. Next, students may choose to attend a technical school, a vocational school, or one of several academic secondary schools, which offer a choice of specialized programs in classical, scientific, linguistic, and artistic studies. All secondary programs generally cover a five-year course of study.

In 2001, about 98% of children between the ages of three and five were enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 99% of age-eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 91% of age-eligible students. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 11:1 in 2003.

There are 55 state universities and 23 other universities, colleges, and higher learning institutes, including the University of Bologna (founded in the 11th century), the oldest in Italy, and the University of Rome, which is the country's largest. In 2003, about 57% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in some type of higher education program; with 49% for men and 65% for women. The adult literacy rate for 2003 was estimated at about 98.6%.

As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 4.7% of GDP, or 10.3% of total government expenditures.


Italy, with its rich cultural heritage, is one of the world's great storehouses of books and art. Among its many of libraries, the most important are in the national library system, which contains two central libraries, in Florence (5.3 million volumes) and Rome (5 million), and four regional libraries, in Naples (1.8 million volumes), Milan (1 million), Turin (973,000) and Venice (917,000). The existence of two national central libraries, while most nations have one, came about through the history of the country, as Rome was once part of the Papal States and Florence was the first capital of the unified Kingdom of Italy. While both libraries are designated as copyright libraries, Florence now serves as the site designated for conservation and cataloging of Italian publications and the site in Rome catalogs foreign publications acquired by the state libraries. All of the national libraries are public. The Estense Library in Modena holds 425,600 volumes, including illuminated manuscripts from the 14th to 18th centuries. The university libraries in Bologna (1.1 million volumes) and Naples (750,000 volumes) each hold important collections. The Medici-Laurentian and Marucelliana (544,000) libraries in Florence and the Ambrosiana Library in Milan are also important research centers. Italy's public library system has about 84 branches and holds a total of 41 million volumes.

Italy, a world center of culture, history and art, has more than 3,000 museums. Among the more important are the Villa Giulia Museum and the National Gallery in Rome; the National Archeological Museum and the National Museum of San Martino in Naples; the National Museum in Palermo; the Galleria dell'Academia, and Uffizi, Medici, Pitti, Bargello, and St. Mark's Museums in Florence; the National Museum in Cagliari, Sardinia; the Brera Museum in Milan; the Museum of Siena; the Archaeological Museum of Syracuse (Siracusa); the National Museum of Urbino; and the Guggenheim Museum and the Academy and Libreria Sansoviniana in Venice. Venice also has the Jewish Museum, the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art, a Natural History Museum, an Archeological Museum, and the Museum of Byzantine Icons. The Campidoglio Museum, the Museum of Villa Borghese, and the Palazzo Barberini Museum, all in Rome, each contain important works of art by Italian masters. Naples hosts the Museum of Ethnoprehistory of Castel Dell'ovo and museums of paleontology, mineralogy, anthropology, and astronomy. The National Museum of Science and technology in Milan has an extensive exhibit on Leonardo da Vinci, including models of some of the machines designed by the Renaissance man. A Goethe museum, with manuscripts and illustrations describing Goethe's travels in Italy, opened in 1997 in Rome. Villa Torlonia, Mussolini's home, was renovated in 2001 and opened as a museum.


Communication systems in Italy, including telephone, telex, and data services, are generally considered to be modern, well developed, and fully automated. In 2003, there were an estimated 484 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were approximately 1,018 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.

Radiotelevisione Italiana (RAI), a government corporation, broadcasts on three channels. In 2004, there were an additional four national broadcast channels, three of which were operated by Mediaset, a company owned by Prime Minister Berlusconi. A 2004 media law initiated an intent to partially privatize RAI. Advertising appears on RAI television, two of the three RAI radio networks, and on many private stations. In 2003, there were an estimated 878 radios for every 1,000 people. The number of television sets was unavailable in the same survey. Also in 2003, there were 230.7 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 337 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There were 1,994 secure Internet servers in the country in 2004.

As of 2002, there were about 90 daily newspapers in the country, but not all of them had national circulation. The major daily newspapers (with their political orientations and estimated circulations) are: La Repubblica (Rome), left-wing, 754,300 in 2004; Corriere della Sera (Milan), independent, 582,500 in 2002; La Stampa (Turin), liberal, 536,233 in 2004; Il Sole-24 Ore (a financial news paper from Milan), 397,000 in 2002; Il Messaggero (Rome), left of center, 337,157 in 2004; Il Resto del Carlino (Bologna), 251,173 in 2004; Il Giornale (Milan), independent, 215,000 in 2002; and L'Unità (Rome-Milan), Communist, 200,760 in 2002. Panorama is the most popular news weekly with a circulation of 545,500 in 2002. The periodical press is becoming increasingly important. Among the most important periodicals are the pictorial weekliesOggi, L'Europeo, Epoca, L'Espresso, and Gente. Famiglia Cristiana is a Catholic weekly periodical with a wide readership.

Italy enjoys a free press, with vigorous expression of all shades of opinion. The majority of papers are published in northern and central Italy, and circulation is highest in these areas. Rome and Milan are the most important publication centers. A considerable number of dailies are owned by the political parties, the Roman Catholic Church, and various economic groups. In general, the journalistic level of the Italian papers is high, and two dailies, Milan's Corriere della Sera and Turin's La Stampa, enjoy international respect.

The law provides for freedom of speech and the press, and the government is said to respect these rights in practice.


Italian society abounds with organizations of every description. Many of these are associated with or controlled by political parties, which have their ideological counterparts in labor organizations, agricultural associations, cultural groups, sports clubs, and cooperatives. Among the most important organizations are the National Confederation of Smallholders and the General Confederation of Italian Industry, which strongly influences economic policy. The General Confederation of Agriculture, the General Confederation of Trade, and the General Confederation of Master Craftsmen also are influential. There are chambers of commerce in most major cities. There are labor and trade unions and professional associations representing a wide variety of occupations. A large number of professional organizations are dedicated to research and education in specialized fields of medicine or for particular diseases and conditions.

Catholic Action and the Catholic Association of Italian Workers are the most prominent of the religious organizations. The international religious Order of St. Augustine and the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) are based in Rome.

A number of political and religious organizations sponsor youth chapters. Scouting programs and chapters of the YMCA/YWCA are also active for youth. Sports associations are plentiful and include such a variety of pastimes as tennis, badminton, tae kwon do, cricket, and football (soccer). National women's organizations include the National Italian Women's Council, the Italian Association for Women in Development, and the Italian Women's Center, based in Rome.

International organizations within the country include Amnesty International, Caritas, and the Red Cross.


Among Italy's tourist attractions are the artistic and architectural treasures of Rome and Florence; the thousands of historic churches and galleries in smaller cities; the canals and palaces of Venice; the ruins of ancient Pompeii; the Shroud of Turin, reputed to be the burial cloth of Jesus; and the delicacies of northern Italian cooking, as well as the heartier fare of the south. Tourists are also lured by Italy's many beaches and by excellent Alpine skiing. Italians enjoy a wide variety of sports, including football (soccer), bowling, tennis, track and field, and swimming. Italy won the World Cup in soccer three times, in 1934 (as host), 1938, and 1982. Cortina d'Ampezzo, in the Dolomites, was the site of the 1956 Winter Olympics. Rome hosted the Summer Olympics in 1960. Turin was the host the 2006 Winter Olympics.

A valid passport is necessary to travel to Italy. For stays of up to 90 days a visa is not required. Within eight days all travelers must register with local police and obtain a visitor's permit. Proof of sufficient funds for the visit may also be required.

Tourism, a major industry in Italy, brought in 39,604,118 visitors in 2003. There were 999,722 hotel rooms with 1,969,495 beds and an occupancy rate of 39%. Tourism expenditure receipts totaled $32.5 billion.

In 2005, the US Department of State estimated the daily expenses for staying in Rome at $490; in Florence, $437; in Milan, $442; and in Venice, $341.


The Italian peninsula has been at the heart of Western cultural development at least since Roman times. Important poets of the Roman republic and empire were Lucretius (Titus Lucretius Carus, 96?55 bc), Gaius Valerius Catullus (84?54 bc), Vergil (Publius Vergilius Maro, 7019 bc), Horace (Quintius Horatius Flaccus, 658 bc), and Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso, 43 bcad 18). Also prominent in Latin literature were the orator-rhetorician Marcus Tullius Cicero (10643 bc); the satirists Gaius Petronius Arbiter ( 66) and Juvenal (Decimus Junius Juvenalis, ad 60?140?); the prose writers Pliny the Elder (Gaius Plinius Secundus, ad 2379), his nephew Pliny the Younger (Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, ad 61?113?), and Lucius Apuleius (ad 124?170?); and the historians Sallust (Gaius Sallustius Crispus, 8634 bc), Livy (Titus Livius, 59 bcad 17), Cornelius Tacitus (ad 55?117), and Suetonius (Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, ad 69?140). Gaius Julius Caesar (100?44 bc), renowned as a historian and prose stylist, is even more famous as a military and political leader. The first of the Roman emperors was Octavian (Gaius Octavianus, 63 bcad 14), better known by the honorific Augustus. Noteworthy among later emperors are the tyrants Caligula (Gaius Caesar Germanicus, ad 1241) and Nero (Lucius Domitius Ahenobarbus, ad 3768), the philosopher-statesman Marcus Aurelius (Marcus Annius Verius, ad 121180), and Constantine I (the Great; Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus, b. Moesia, 280?337), who was the first to accept Christianity. No history of the Christian Church during the medieval period would be complete without mention of such men of Italian birth as St. Benedict of Nursia (480?543?), Pope Gregory I (St. Gregory the Great, 540?604), St. Francis of Assisi (1182?1226), and the philosopher-theologians St. Anselm (1033?1109) and St. Thomas Aquinas (122574).

No land has made a greater contribution to the visual arts. In the 13th and 14th centuries there were the sculptors Niccolò Pisano (122084) and his son Giovanni (12451314); the painters Cimabue (Cenni di Pepo, 12401302?), Duccio di Buoninsegna (1255?1319), and Giotto di Bondone (1276?1337); and, later in the period, the sculptor Andrea Pisano (1270?1348). Among the many great artists of the 15th centurythe golden age of Florence and Venicewere the architects Filippo Brunelleschi (13771446), Lorenzo Ghiberti (13781455), and Leone Battista Alberti (140472); the sculptors Donatello (Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi, 1386?1466), Luca della Robbia (14001482), Desiderio da Settignano (142864), and Andrea del Verrocchio (143588); and the painters Fra Angelico (Giovanni de Fiesole, 13871455), Sassetta (Stefano di Giovanni, 13921450?), Uccello (Paolo di Dono, 13971475), Masaccio (Tomasso di Giovanni di Simone Guidi, 140128?), Fra Filippo Lippi (1406?69), Piero della Francesca (Pietro de' Franceschi, 1416?92), Giovanni Bellini (1430?1516), Andrea Mantegna (14311506), Antonio dei Pollaiuolo (143398), Luca Signorelli (1441?1523), Perugino (Pietro Vannucci, 14461524), Sandro Botticelli (Alessandro Filipepi, 1447?1510), Ghirlandaio (Domenico Currado Bigordi, 144994), and Vittore Carpaccio (14501522).

During the 16th century, the High Renaissance, Rome shared with Florence the leading position in the world of the arts. Major masters included the architects Bramante (Donato d'Agnolo, 1444?1514) and Andrea Palladio (150880); the sculptor Benvenuto Cellini (15001571); the painter-designer-inventor Leonardo da Vinci (14521519); the painter-sculptor-architect-poet Michelangelo Buonarroti (14751564); and the painters Titian (Tiziano Vecelli, 14771576), Giorgione da Castelfranco (Giorgio Barbarelli, 1478?1510), Raphael (Raffaelo Sanzio, 14831520), Andrea del Sarto (14861531), and Correggio (Antonio Allegri, 14941534). Among the great painters of the late Renaissance were Tintoretto (Jacopo Robusti, 151894) and Veronese (Paolo Cagliari, 152888). Giorgio Vasari (151174) was a painter, architect, art historian, and critic.

Among the leading artists of the Baroque period were the sculptor and architect Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini (15981680) and the painters Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1560?1609), Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (16901770), Canaletto (Antonio Canal, 16971768), Pietro Longhi (170285), and Francesco Guardi (171293). Leading figures in modern painting were Umberto Boccioni (18821916), Amedeo Modigliani (18841920), Giorgio di Chirico (b.Greece, 18881978), and Giorgio Morandi (18901964). A noted contemporary architect was Pier Luigi Nervi (18911979).

Music, an integral part of Italian life, owes many of its forms as well as its language to Italy. The musical staff was either invented or established by Guido d'Arezzo (995?1050). A leading 14th-century composer was the blind Florentine organist Francesco Landini (132597). Leading composers of the High Renaissance and early Baroque periods were Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (152594); the madrigalists Luca Marenzio (153399) and Carlo Gesualdo, prince of Venosa (1560?1613); the Venetian organists Andrea Gabrieli (1510?86) and Giovanni Gabrieli (15571612); Claudio Monteverdi (15671643), the founder of modern opera; organist-composer Girolamo Frescobaldi (15831643); and Giacomo Carissimi (160574). Important figures of the later Baroque era were Arcangelo Corelli (16531713), Antonio Vivaldi (16781743), Alessandro Scarlatti (16601725), and his son Domenico Scarlatti (16831757). Italian-born Luigi Cherubini (17601842) was the central figure of French music in the Napoleonic era, while Antonio Salieri (17501825) and Gasparo Spontini (17741851) played important roles in the musical life of Vienna and Berlin, respectively. Composers of the 19th century who made their period the great age of Italian opera were Gioacchino Antonio Rossini (17921868), Gaetano Donizetti (17971848), Vincenzo Bellini (180135), and, above all, Giuseppe Verdi (18311901). Niccolò Paganini (17821840) was the greatest violinist of his time. More recent operatic composers include Ruggiero Leoncavallo (18531919), Giacomo Puccini (18581924), and Pietro Mascagni (18631945). Renowned operatic singers include Enrico Caruso (18731921), Luisa Tetrazzini (18741940), Titta Ruffo (18781953), Amelita Galli-Curci (18821963), Beniamino Gigli (18901957), Ezio Pinza (18921957), and Luciano Pavarotti (b.1935). Ferruccio Busoni (18661924), Ottorino Respighi (18791936), Luigi Dallapiccola (190475), Luigi Nono (1924-1990), and Luciano Berio (19252003) are major 20th-century composers. Arturo Toscanini (18671957) is generally regarded as one of the greatest operatic and orchestral conductors of his time; two noted contemporary conductors are Claudio Abbado (b.1933) and Riccardo Muti (b.1941). The foremost makers of stringed instruments were Gasparo da Salò (Bertolotti, 15401609) of Brescia, Niccolò Amati (15961684), Antonius Stradivarius (Antonio Stradivari, 16441737), and Giuseppe Bartolommeo Guarneri (del Gesù, 1687?1745) of Cremona. Bartolommeo Cristofori (16551731) invented the pianoforte.

Italian literature and literary language began with Dante Alighieri (12651321), author of The Divine Comedy, and subsequently included Petrarch (Francesco Petrarca, 130474), Giovanni Boccaccio (131375), Lodovico Ariosto (14741533), Pietro Aretino (14921556), and Torquato Tasso (154495). An outstanding writer of the Baroque period was Metastasio (Pietro Trapassi, 16981782), and Carlo Goldoni (170793) was the most prominent playwright of the 18th century. The time of Italy's rebirth was heralded by the poets Vittorio Alfieri (17491803), Ugo Foscolo (17781827), and Giacomo Leopardi (17981837). Alessandro Manzoni (17851873) was the principal Italian novelist of the 19th century, and Francesco de Sanctis (181783) the greatest literary critic. Among the Italian literary figures of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Giosuè Carducci (18351907; Nobel Prize winner, 1906), Giovanni Verga (18401922), Gabriele d'Annunzio (18631938), Luigi Pirandello (18671936; Nobel Prize winner, 1934), and Grazia Deledda (18751936; Nobel Prize winner, 1926) achieved international renown. Leading writers of the postwar era are Ignazio Silone (Secondo Tranquilli, 190078), Alberto Moravia (Pincherle, 19071990), Italo Calvino (192387), Umberto Eco (b.1932), and the poets Salvatore Quasimodo (190868; Nobel Prize winner, 1959) and Eugenio Montale (18961981; Nobel Prize winner, 1975). Outstanding film directors are Italian-born Frank Capra (18971991), Vittorio de Sica (190274), Luchino Visconti (190676), Roberto Rossellini (190677), Michelangelo Antonioni (b.1912), Federico Fellini (192093), Sergio Leone (19291989), Pier Paolo Pasolini (192275), Franco Zeffirelli (b.1923), Lina Wertmüller (Arcangela Felice Assunta Wertmüller von Elgg, b.1928), and Bernardo Bertolucci (b.1940). Famous film stars include Italian-born Rudolph Valentino (Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaele Pierre Philibert Guglielmi, 18951926), Marcello Mastroianni (19241996), and Sophia Loren (Scicoloni, b.1934).

In philosophy, exploration, and statesmanship, Italy has produced many world-renowned figures: the traveler Marco Polo (1254?1324); the statesman and patron of the arts Cosimo de' Medici (13891464); the statesman, clergyman, and artistic patron Roderigo Borgia (Lanzol y Borja, b. Spain, 1431?1503), who became Pope Alexander VI (r.14921503); the soldier, statesman, and artistic patron Lorenzo de' Medici, the son of Cosimo (144992); the explorer John Cabot (Giovanni Caboto, 1450?98?); the explorer Christopher Columbus (Cristoforo Colombo or Cristóbal Colón, 14511506); the explorer Amerigo Vespucci (14541512), after whom the Americas are named; the admiral and statesman Andrea Doria (1468?1540); Niccolò Machiavelli (14691527), author of The Prince and the outstanding political theorist of the Renaissance; the statesman and clergyman Cesare Borgia (1475?1507), the son of Rodrigo; the explorer Sebastian Cabot (1476?1557), the son of John; Baldassare Castiglione (14781529), author of The Courtier; the historian Francesco Guicciardini (14831540); the explorer Giovanni da Verrazano (1485?1528?); the philosopher Giordano Bruno (1548?1600); the political philosopher Giovanni Battista Vico (16681744); the noted jurist Cesare Bonesana Beccaria (173594); Giuseppe Mazzini (180572), the leading spirit of the Risorgimento; Camillo Benso di Cavour (181061), its prime statesman; and Giuseppe Garibaldi (180782), its foremost soldier and man of action. Notable intellectual and political leaders of more recent times include the Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1907, Ernesto Teodoro Moneta (18331918); the sociologist and economist Vilfredo Pareto (18481923); the political theorist Gaetano Mosca (18581941); the philosopher, critic, and historian Benedetto Croce (18661952); the educator Maria Montessori (18701952); Benito Mussolini (18831945), the founder of Fascism and dictator of Italy from 1922 to 1943; Carlo Sforza (18731952) and Alcide De Gasperi (18811954), famous latter-day statesmen; and the Communist leaders Antonio Gramsci (18911937), Palmiro Togliatti (18931964), and Enrico Berlinguer (192284).

Italian scientists and mathematicians of note include Leonardo Fibonacci (1180?1250?), Galileo Galilei (15641642), Evangelista Torricelli (160847), Francesco Redi (1626?97), Marcello Malpighi (162894), Luigi Galvani (173798), Lazzaro Spallanzani (172999), Alessandro Volta (17451827), Amedeo Avogadro (17761856), Stanislao Cannizzaro (18261910), Camillo Golgi (18431926; Nobel Prize winner, 1906), Guglielmo Marconi (18741937; Nobel Prize winner, 1909), Enrico Fermi (190154; Nobel Prize winner, 1938), Giulio Natta (190379; Nobel Prize winner, 1963), Italian-American Emilio Gino Segrè (19051989; Nobel Prize winner, 1959), Daniel Bovet (19071992; Nobel Prize winner, 1957), Renato Dulbecco (b.1914; Nobel Prize winner, 1975), Carlo Rubbia (b.1934; Nobel Prize winner, 1984), and Rita Levi-Montalcini (1909-1989; Nobel Prize winner, 1986), and Italian-American Riccardo Giacconi (b.1931; Nobel Prize winner, 2002).


Italy has no territories or colonies.


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Baranski, Zygmunt G. and Rebecca J. West (eds.). The Cambridge Companion to Modern Italian Culture. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

Ben-Ghiat, Ruth. Fascist Modernities: Italy, 19221945. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.

Duggan, Christopher. A Concise History of Italy. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Findlen, Paula (ed.). The Italian Renaissance: The Essential Readings. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 2002.

Gardner, Richard N. Mission Italy: On the Front Lines of the Cold War. Lanham, Md.: Rowan and Littlefield, 2005.

Ginsborg, Paul. A History of Contemporary Italy: Society and Politics, 19431988. London: Penguin, 1990.

Hearder, Harry. Italy: A Short History. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001.

International Smoking Statistics: A Collection of Historical Data from 30 Economically Developed Countries. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Moliterno, Gino (ed.). Encyclopedia of Contemporary Italian Culture. New York: Routledge, 2000.

Torriglia, Anna Maria. Broken Time, Fragmented Space: A Cultural Map for Postwar Italy. Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 2002.

Wessels, Wolfgang, Andreas Maurer, and Jürgan Mittag (eds.). Fifteen into One?: the European Union and Its Member States. New York: Palgrave, 2003.


views updated Jun 27 2018


Jews have lived in Italy without interruption from the days of the Maccabees until the present, through a period of 21 centuries. Although they were never subjected to general expulsion, there were frequently partial ones. They often enjoyed good relationships with the rulers and general population or were granted special privileges. They remained few in number, refrained from attracting attention, were intellectually alert, and continued faithful to their traditions. The record of Italian Jewry thus provides one of the most complex and fascinating chapters in the history of the Jewish Diaspora.

The Roman Pagan Era (second century b.c.e. to 313 c.e.)

Probably preceded by individual Jews who visited Italy as traders, a Jewish embassy was dispatched to *Rome in 161 b.c.e. by *Judah Maccabee to conclude a political treaty with the Roman senate. It was followed by others sent by his brother *Jonathan 15 years later, by *Simeon in 139, and by *Hyrcanus i in 133. In 139, either these emissaries or the other Jews living in Rome were apparently accused of conducting religious propaganda among the Roman population and expelled from the city. However, the decree soon became obsolete. Jewish prisoners taken by *Pompey during his invasion of Ereẓ Israel, 63–61 b.c.e., were brought to Italy, but most were probably freed after a short time. *Julius Caesar, who considered that the Jews represented a cohesive element in the Roman world, granted them certain exemptions to enable them to fulfill their religious duties. These exemptions were subsequently confirmed by most of the Roman emperors. Under *Augustus, the number of Jews in the capital increased. In 19 c.e., during the reign of *Tiberius, his minister Sejanus deported 4,000 Jewish youths to Sardinia to fight banditry, ostensibly to punish the Jews for having tried to defraud a woman of the Roman nobility. In fact, this was part of the policy to suppress the Oriental cults, and an edict was also issued ordering the Jews to leave Italy unless they abandoned their religious practices. Tiberius abrogated the measures after Sejanus' execution.

The growing friction between the Jews of Rome and the rising Christian sect led *Claudius to rid Rome of both elements (49–50), but this time also the decree was short-lived. The Jewish struggle in Judea against the Romans ended in 70 with wholesale destruction and massacre and mass deportations of Jewish prisoners, a large number of whom were brought to Italy. According to later sources, 1,500 arrived in Rome alone, and 5,000 in *Apulia. There too they attained freedom after a relatively short time, and many remained in Italy. The emperor *Vespasian prohibited the voluntary tribute of the *shekel that Jews in the Diaspora customarily sent to the Temple and changed it to a "Jewish tribute," the *Fiscus Judaicus, to be paid into the public treasury. Under *Domitian (81–96) the exaction of this tax was brutally enforced. It was mitigated by his successor *Nerva, but the tax was not abolished until two centuries later. The Jewish uprisings against Roman rule which broke out in Judea, Egypt, and Cyrenaica during the reigns of Trajan and Hadrian and culminated in the heroic but vain revolt of Simeon *Bar Kokhba (132–5) are not recorded to have affected the Jews in Italy. *Antoninus Pius (138–61), *Caracalla (211–7), Alexander *Severus (222–35), and probably other emperors displayed benevolence toward Jews. Jews were included in the edict issued by Caracalla in 212 that extended Roman citizenship to all freemen in the empire.

From the end of the second century until the beginning of the fourth, the Jewish settlements in the Diaspora, although proselytizing intensely, did not encounter opposition from the

Romans, though Septimius *Severus in 204 prohibited conversion to Judaism. The Christian communities, however, which expanded rapidly and proved intransigent, were severely dealt with. The fact that the Jews in Italy were of petty bourgeois or even servile origin, and that they were not infrequently suspected of opposing Roman policy abroad, prevented individual Jews from attaining prominence in economic or social life. It has been estimated that there were 50,000 Jews in Italy during the first century of the empire, of whom over half were concentrated in or around Rome. In the capital, they engaged in humble occupations and lived in the proletarian sections. Cultural standards were not high, although there were painters, actors, and poets. The communities centered on the synagogues, of which 12 are known to have existed in Rome, although not contemporaneously. The ruins of one have been discovered in *Ostia. Their knowledge of Hebrew was rudimentary. The religious convictions and customs of the Jews aroused a certain interest among some sectors of the Roman population and sometimes attracted adherents. This picture emerges from the numerous inscriptions found in the Jewish *catacombs rather than from the evidence provided by the generally hostile Roman intellectuals. Outside Rome the position was substantially similar, as may be deduced from tombstone inscriptions. Initially, Jews settled in the ports: Ostia, Porto, Pozzuoli, Pompeii, *Taranto, and *Otranto. They subsequently spread inland, although it is impossible to state the relative numbers. In the first three centuries of the empire Jews were found in Campania: *Naples, *Capua, and *Salerno; in Basilicata, Apulia, and *Calabria: *Bari, Otranto, Taranto, *Venosa, and *Reggio; and in *Sicily: *Syracuse, *Catania, and *Agrigento. In northern Italy, the presence of Jews has been traced in Civitavecchia, *Ferrara, *Brescia, *Milan, Pola, and *Aquileia. Their occupations may be inferred but are attested only in a few cases. No significant evidence concerning Jewish scholarly and literary activities has been preserved. *Caecilius of Calacte, an orator and literary critic who wrote in Greek during the Augustan period, was highly esteemed, but none of his works is extant. *Josephus composed his major historical works at the imperial court in Rome. It is also known that there was a talmudic academy in Rome which attained distinction in the second century under the guidance of the tanna*Mattiah b. Ḥeresh.

Early Middle Ages (313–c. 1100)

The official acceptance by the Roman Empire of Christianity as a religion and its subsequent expansion marked for the Jews the transition from an era of tolerance to one of subjection. The Christians did not aim at the complete suppression of Judaism, with which they acknowledged affinity in certain common origins and religious convictions. They therefore desired the physical preservation of the Jews, but only in the role of spectral witnesses of ancient truths, with limited possibilities of existence. For this reason, from the fourth century onward the *Church Fathers increased their efforts to secure new laws that would restrain the Jews in their religious practices, limit their political rights, and curb them both socially and economically; at the same time, they exerted pressure on them individually to leave their religion. Constantine the Great prohibited conversion to Judaism and debarred Jews from owning Christian slaves. Constantius (337–61) extended the prohibition to the ownership of pagan slaves and prohibited marriages between Jews and Christian women, imposing the death penalty for such cases. Church dignitaries sallied forth to the public squares to preach against the Jews and incite the populace to destroy their places of worship. In 315 Sylvester, bishop of Rome, is said to have sponsored a public debate directed against the Jews; in 388 Philaster, bishop of Brescia, encouraged the populace of Rome to set fire to a synagogue, and *Ambrose, bishop of Milan, praised the population of Aquileia for doing the same, expressing his sorrow that the synagogue in Milan had not been similarly treated. The emperor *Theodosius ii prohibited the construction of new synagogues, permitting only those in danger of collapse to be restored but not enlarged. In addition, he debarred Jews from practicing law or entering state employment. The legal codes that bear the names of Theodosius (438) and later of *Justinian (529–34) established a new status for the Jews as inferior citizens. They were obliged to carry out numerous special duties and were excluded from public offices and from several professions.

The disintegration of the western Roman Empire, the weak and remote influence of the eastern one, and the lack of forceful Church leaders, led to continuous changes in the situation of the Jews in Italy, if not always evidenced by the sources. Much depended also on which of the invaders succeeded in gaining the upper hand in the various parts of Italy. King Theodoric the Ostrogoth proved benevolently disposed toward the Jews and, between 507 and 519, intervened on their behalf against their opponents in Milan, *Genoa, Rome, and *Ravenna. The Jews actively sided with the Goths when Naples was besieged by the Byzantine general Belisarius in 536. As a result they were persecuted by the Byzantines when a few decades later they conquered Italy. Among the popes of this period, only *Gregory i (590–604) is significant for Jewish history. He afforded the Jews protection in Rome, Terracina, Naples, Palermo, Ravenna, and elsewhere against vexations at the hands of local bishops, insisting that although he desired the conversion of the Jews, he was opposed to attaining this by violence. The missionary fervor of the eastern emperors was felt in their Italian possessions, especially in the south. The Jews in *Oria, Bari, *Brindisi, Taranto, and Otranto suffered from discriminatory legislation and campaigns of forcible conversion under the emperors *Basil i in 873–4 and *Romanus i Lecapenus in 932–6. About the same period, the population in the south suffered from raids by roving Arab bands from North Africa. In Sicily, the Saracenic conquest (827–1061) brought more stability and proved beneficial to the Jews of the island. Toward the end of the 11th century, there were a few Jews living in northern Italy, mostly in *Verona, *Pavia, and *Lucca, a considerable nucleus in Rome, and numerous groups in the south of the country and in Sicily, totaling a significant number.

Although the course of the political events affecting the Jews in these seven centuries is almost completely unknown, the Venosa tombstone inscriptions, particularly from the fourth and fifth centuries, and the chronicle of *Ahimaaz of Oria, which relates events from the ninth century on, throw some light on the Jews in some centers in the south. The Jewish occupations are hardly mentioned, although it is known that there were Jewish artisans and merchants, and, especially in the south, dyers and silk weavers; Jews not only owned houses in the towns but also engaged in farming. Something more is now known about the state of Jewish culture, especially around the tenth century. Tombstone inscriptions were by now composed in Hebrew, and not in Latin or Greek as previously. There were talmudic academies in Rome and Lucca (connected with the *Kalonymus family) and in the south, in Venosa, Bari, Otranto, Oria, and later in *Siponto. A legend telling of four rabbis from Bari, who, after being taken prisoners at sea in 972, were set free and later established rabbinical schools in Mediterranean cities (see *Four Captives), would seem to show that Jewish scholarship in Apulia had gained a reputation beyond Italy. The scholars whose names are preserved may be taken to represent the schools or literary circles which had formed around them. Of special importance were the liturgical poet *Shephatiah b. Amittai of Oria (ninth century), the astronomer and physician Shabbetai *Donnolo (tenth century), and *Nathan b. Jehiel Anav of Rome (11th century), who composed the Arukh. The Sefer*Josippon, a Hebrew work based on Josephus' Jewish War, was probably written by an Italian Jew in the mid-tenth century.

Later Middle Ages (1100–1300)

Italy in the 13th century shows no change in the distribution of the Jewish population, which remained mainly concentrated in the south of the peninsula. Reports of a considerable Jewish settlement in *Venice are difficult to verify. There were a few dozen Jewish families resident in Pisa and Lucca, and isolated families elsewhere. Only in Rome were there as many as 200 families. The Jews were prosperous and led an active intellectual life. They lived on good terms with their Christian neighbors, including those of highest rank. It is of no great importance that a Roman Jewish family which had adopted Christianity, the *Pierleoni family, produced an antipope, *Anacletus ii (1130–38), but it is highly significant that Jehiel *Anav, a nephew of Nathan b. Jehiel, supervised the finances of Pope *Alexanderiii (1159–81). However, the spirit predominating in the city of Rome must not be confused with that of the Church, which now renewed its efforts to assert its authority.

In this period the Jews of Italy were trapped between two conflicting attitudes manifested by the Church. One is expressed in the *bull first issued by Pope *Calixtus ii (1119–24), beginning Sicut Judaeis, which afforded the Jews protection from assaults against their persons, property, or religious practices, and from conversionist pressures, which was confirmed repeatedly by succeeding popes. The other aspect, manifestly hostile, was enunciated by the Third *Lateran Council (1179) which forbade Jews to employ Christian servants, and by the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), convened by Pope *Innocent iii, which made efforts to have the Jews placed in a position of perpetual serfdom, and meanwhile introduced the regulation compelling Jews to wear a distinguishing *badge on their garments. About 20 years later the Inquisition began to preoccupy itself with the Jews, who were submitted to the mercies of the *Dominican friars. The rabid campaign against the Talmud initiated in France in 1240 was in due course extended to Italy. The practice of compelling Jews to attend conversionist *sermons began in Lombardy in 1278. Jewish life was still centered, however, in southern Italy and in Sicily. According to *Benjamin of Tudela, in the late 12th century there were not fewer than 1,500 Jews in Palermo and about the same number all told in Apulia and the Campania. These reached the height of their prosperity under Frederick ii (1212–50), who extended his personal protection to the Jews and secured them the monopoly of the silk weaving and dyeing industries and foreign commerce. He also supported them against the fiscal claims of the bishops, and took a personal interest in promoting Jewish culture. When in 1265 sovereignty of the area passed to the Angevin rulers, the Jews in the south came under the direct influence of the Holy See on which the new dynasty was largely dependent. Under Charles ii a *blood libel was raised against the Jews of *Trani and developed into a violent crusade to convert all the Jews in the south, then numbering probably between 12,000 and 15,000. The campaign lasted until 1294; by then about half the Jewish population had been forced to abjure their faith, entire communities had been annihilated, and many of the synagogues, of which there were four in Trani alone, were converted into churches. Most of the Jews who did not submit fled, while others continued to observe their faith in secret.

Jewish intellectual activity in Italy during this period is represented by several scholars, who interested themselves in various fields without predominating in any. In general, their works on philosophy, ethics, philology, and Kabbalah reflect the influences of contemporary Spanish Jewish literature. There were noteworthy talmudic academies in Rome and southern Italy, in particular at Bari and Otranto. Prominent among the scholars in Rome toward the end of the 12th and during the 13th century, were Menahem b. Solomon b. Isaac, a biblical exegete who also probably arranged the liturgy according to the "Roman" or Italian rite; the philosopher and biblical scholar Zerahiah b. Shealtiel *Gracian; and several members of the Anav family (Benjamin and Zedekiah b. Abraham, Jehiel b. Jekuthiel, Benjamin b. Judah), who extended their activities to almost every field of Jewish learning. Outside Rome, there were the philosopher *Hillel b. Samuel of Verona, Isaac b. Melchizedek of Siponto, commentator on the Mishnah, and the halakhist *Isaiah b. Mali of *Trani (the Elder). Several of these at the same time practiced medicine, wrote liturgical poetry, and translated from Latin and Arabic into Hebrew or vice versa. Members of the ha-Meati family, following in the footsteps of the founder of the family Nathan b. Eliezer, distinguished themselves as translators, as also did Jacob *Anatoli of Naples, *Faraj b. Solomon of Agrigento, and *Ahitub b. Isaac of Palermo. In their task of spreading knowledge they received support from the Hohenstaufen and Angevin courts at Naples. *Judeo-Italian began to be spoken by the Jews of southern and central Italy in the early Middle Ages, then by all Italian Jewry, toward the 14th–16th centuries.

The Zenith (c. 1300–1500)

Toward the end of the 13th century and beginning of the 14th, the Jews in Italy embarked on a new sphere of economic activity as small-scale moneylenders (loan bankers). They were driven into this occupation partly because no regular form of financial assistance was available from other sources for small merchants or needy individuals, and partly because of the Church prohibition on lending money for interest by Christians. Many Jews on the other hand had large amounts of liquid capital, realized after they were obliged to leave the south at the end of the 13th century, or when they left Rome, which declined after the Holy See moved to Avignon in 1309. It was in fact from the south and Rome that a phalanx of Jews wishing to establish themselves as moneylenders made their appearance in several towns and districts in northern and central Italy. They were admitted into these localities and openly encouraged by the local rulers, although often received more hesitantly by the general population. At the same time numerous Jews from Germany, and some from France, crossed the Alps to escape persecution and established themselves in towns in the north of Italy, where they opened loan banks.

The 14th and 15th centuries were periods of expansion and consolidation for the Jewish loan bankers. Their activities resulted not in the accumulation of large fortunes in the hands of a few, but in small fortunes in the hands of many, which led to widely spread prosperity. It is difficult to estimate the number of localities in the peninsula in which Jews were living around the middle of the 15th century – possibly 300 or more. However, it is certain that the prosperity resulting from their moneylending activities was of more benefit to the Jews in Rome and in the north than those in the south. These activities brought them into contact with all sectors of the population, both poor and rich, the small shopkeeper and the lord of the town, the illiterate and the scholar. Hence many of these bankers tended to adopt the way of life of the gentile upper classes, or what has been termed the "Man of the Renaissance," with his taste for letters and art, and pleasure in affluent living.

Nevertheless, the Jews of Italy never became estranged from their Jewish intellectual and religious heritage. This was a period of unprecedented cultural activity, and the Jewish scholars, poets, physicians, and codifiers, who at the same time cultivated secular disciplines and languages, are significant more for their number than for individual excellence. Among the most important were the kabbalistic exegete Menahem b. Benjamin *Recanati, the talmudist and biblical exegete *Isaiah b. Elijah of Trani (the Younger), the poet *Immanuel b. Solomon of Rome, who composed in Italian as well as in Hebrew and also wrote biblical commentaries, his cousin, the philosopher and translator Judah b. Moses *Romano, *Kalonymus b. Kalonymus, of Provençal origin, author of the satires Massekhet Purim and Even Boḥan, and Shemariah b. Elijah of Crete, author of a philosophical commentary on the Bible. Outstanding from the end of the 14th century to the middle of the 15th are the poet and physician Moses b. Isaac *Rieti, author of Mikdash Me'at, a poetical work in Hebrew modeled on Dante's Divine Comedy, and Obadiah of *Bertinoro, author of the classical commentary on the Mishnah. A few decades later saw the activity of the philosophers Elijah *Delmedigo and Johanan Alemanno, both associated with the humanistic circle of *Pico della Mirandola, the halakhist Joseph *Colon, *Judah b. Jehiel, and David Messer *Leon, father and son, the former a philosopher and the latter a biblical scholar. Of Spanish origin were two of the most outstanding personalities and philosophers of their time, Don Isaac *Abrabanel and his son Judah (Leone Ebreo), author of the famous Dialoghi d'amore. In addition, there were the pioneers of Hebrew printing and other Jews who distinguished themselves in medicine, art, and drama.

However, these brilliant economic and cultural achievements did not exclude some darker interludes. Pope *Urban v (1362–70) confirmed the bull giving protection to the Jews, as also did *Boniface ix (1389–1404), who surrounded himself with Jewish physicians. The situation deteriorated after the final condemnation of the Talmud in Spain in 1415 and increasing anti-Jewish activities by the Franciscan friars. Delegates of the Jewish communities assembled in Bologna in 1416, and in Forlì in 1418, to combat these and other dangers. They succeeded in their representations to Pope *Martin v (1417–31), who issued two favorable bulls in 1419 and 1429, and endeavored to control the anti-Jewish preachings of the Franciscans, and especially the activities of their most aggressive representative, John of *Capistrano. However, in 1442, *Eugenius iv introduced harsh anti-Jewish measures which Jewish delegates meeting in Tivoli in 1442 and in Ravenna in 1443 tried unsuccessfully to oppose. In these circumstances, many Jews preferred to move to the territories of rulers who were better disposed, like the Gonzaga in Mantua and the Este in Ferrara. In the following decades the official Vatican attitude again moderated. On the other hand, the Franciscan preachers, often opposed by the civic authorities, violently attacked the Jews and especially Jewish money-lenders, demanding that they should be expelled and their activities replaced by Christian charitable loan banks (see *Monti di Pietà). In order to inflame the populace the friars spread all manner of slanders against Jews, of which the most distressing was the charge of ritual murder in 1475 at *Trent. Other incidents took place elsewhere and were followed by expulsions, generally of a temporary nature.

The Crisis (1492–1600)

Two factors undermined the existence of the Jews in Italy from the end of the 15th and throughout the 16th centuries: the attitude of the Spanish crown toward its Jewish subjects which extended to its Italian possessions, and the confusion caused by the Counter-Reformation struggle in Italy. When the edict of expulsion of the Jews from Spain was issued in March 1492 both Sicily and Sardinia were under Aragonese rule so that the measure was applied there also. Promulgated in May, it was at once implemented, and the process of expulsion was completed by January 1493. In Sicily, 6,300 Jewish-owned houses were confiscated, and a levy of 100,000 florins was imposed. It is calculated that almost 40,000 Jews in all left the country. In Sardinia, the numbers affected were far less. The majority of the exiles went to continental Italy, but a considerable number chose other lands: North Africa, Greece, Turkey, the Levant. The Jews of the two islands were not the only ones to seek shelter in the Kingdom of Naples under the protection of King Ferdinand. They were joined by about 9,000 Spanish Jews. Spanish Jews also received a generally benevolent welcome in other Italian states, and even in the Papal States under Pope *Alexandervi (1492–1503). However, in 1503 the Kingdom of Naples also passed under Spanish rule and in 1510 the expulsion of the Jews was ordered – probably some tens of thousands, though the exact number is difficult to ascertain. The decree was not carried out immediately and 200 wealthy families were formally permitted to remain. In 1515 the edict of expulsion was extended to the *New Christians – that is to Jews who had become converted to Catholicism more or less sincerely and their descendants. In 1515 and in 1520 the quota of tolerated wealthy families was increased, and then lowered again. In 1541 this agreement was definitively abrogated and the law excluding Jews remained in force in southern Italy for over three centuries.

Conditions in central and northern Italy were completely different. In Rome Popes Julius ii, *Leox, *Clement vii, and Paul iii, although differing in character, were well-disposed toward the Jews under their jurisdiction. The same applied to the Medici in Florence, the Este in Ferrara, and the Gonzaga in Mantua, who encouraged the activities and talents of their Jewish subjects, both the older inhabitants and the new arrivals. In Venice the senate began to treat the Jews with a little more consideration, although in 1516 Jewish residence was confined to the *ghetto.

The reaction of the Roman Church to the rise of Protestantism reached a climax in the middle of the 16th century. In its efforts to preserve Catholics from all possibility of religious contamination, the Church acted with particular harshness against the Jews. The first blow fell in 1553, when Pope *Julius iii ordered that all copies of the Talmud be confiscated and burned throughout Italy, on the charge that it blasphemed Christianity (see *Talmud, Burning of). The attack became more violent under *Paul iv (1555–59). His bull Cum nimis absurdum of July 14, 1555, obliged the Jews in the Papal States to lock themselves in the ghetto at night, prohibited them from engaging in any commercial activity except the sale of rags, required them to sell their houses, and submitted them to all the most harassing restrictions enacted during the preceding centuries. At *Ancona, on the pope's orders, 25 Portuguese Marranos found guilty of having returned to Judaism were sent to the stake. Under Pius iv (1559–65) the oppression abated, but rose to even worse excesses under Pius v (1566–72), who expelled the Jews from all of the Papal States, except Rome and Ancona. Some relief was afforded under Sixtus v (1585–90), who permitted Jews to resume their activities in the towns they had recently been forced to leave. However, all vacillation ended with *Clement viii (1592–1605), who, in a bull of Feb. 25, 1593, reverted to the harsh measures of Paul iv and Pius v and ordered the Jews to leave the papal domains within three months, except Rome, Ancona, and Avignon. For over two centuries this restrictive papal legislation continued to apply to the Jews living in the papal territories, and was adopted with almost no exceptions by the other Italian states. In the meantime, 900 Jews were banished in 1597 from the duchy of Milan, then under Spanish rule.

Jewish cultural and spiritual life did not suffer because of these vicissitudes. Every town of standing had its yeshivah, that of Padua becoming important under Judah and Abraham *Minz and Meir *Katzenellenbogen. Scholars of this period include the philosopher and biblical exegete Obadiah *Sforno; the religious philosopher Jehiel Nissim of Pisa; the grammarians Abraham de *Balmes, Samuel *Archivolti, and Elijah (Baḥur) *Levita; the physician and lexicographer David de' *Pomis; the geographer Abraham *Farissol; the chroniclers Solomon *Ibn Verga, Gedaliah *Ibn Yaḥya, *Joseph ha-Kohen, and the antiquarian Abraham *Portaleone; the scholarly historian Azariah de' *Rossi, author of Me'or Einayim; the poet *Moses b. Joab; and the dramatist Judah (Leone) de' Sommi *Portaleone, who wrote in both Hebrew and Italian. In addition, many Jews individually contributed to art, drama, music, and the development of printing. Outstanding in the medical profession were the papal physicians Bonet de *Lattes, Samuel and Joseph *Sarfati, Vitale *Alatino, and Jacob *Mantino; also *Amatus Lusitanus, author of Curationum Centuriae, Elijah Montalto, and the *Portaleone family of Mantua, five generations of whom attended on the Gonzagas.

Persecutions (c. 1600–c. 1800)

This period is generally known as the Age of the Ghetto. It logically begins in 1555, when compulsory segregation was imposed by Paul iv, or even with the isolated instance when the Venice ghetto was established in 1516. However, it was at the end of the 16th century that the ghetto became an accepted institution in Italy, from Rome to the Alps. Every ghetto had its individual character. Some were overcrowded and unhealthy like that of Rome, the largest of all; others were more spacious and vivacious as in Venice (long the center of Hebrew printing), Ferrara, and Mantua; some had only a nominal existence, as in *Leghorn. All the ghettos – except that of Leghorn – were locked at night; the houses, even if owned by Christians, had fixed rents (jus gazaga; see *Ḥazakah). Jews who went outside the ghetto were obliged to wear a distinguishing badge on their garments. They could not enter the professions except (with severe restrictions) that of medicine. To travel out of the town they required special permits. Almost everywhere they were compelled to attend conversionist sermons. The police gave adequate protection to the ghetto from concerted attacks, but only reluctantly in cases of individual molestation. There were approximately 30,000 Jews living in Italy in the 17th and 18th centuries, of whom between 4,000 and 7,000 lived in Rome, somewhat fewer in Leghorn, and the others distributed in almost 70 places. The position of the Rome community was the most critical. Conditions had steadily deteriorated through the restrictions on earning a livelihood and the high taxation imposed by the Holy See. From the middle of the 17th century some of the popes (*Innocentx, xi, and xii) attempted to mitigate their lot, but were unable to prevent the community from being declared bankrupt in 1698.

In the 18th century also other pontiffs (Clement xi, *Benedict xiv, *Clement xiv) were moved to sympathy by the desperate plight of Rome Jewry, but any measures they introduced were counteracted by hostile successors. In the first year of his pontificate, Pius vi (1775–99) published an "Edict Concerning the Jews," characterized by utter obscurantism. In the other towns of the Papal States with Jewish communities, Ancona and (from 1598) Ferrara, the pressure upon the Jews was less extreme. Elsewhere, in the 18th century, in small communities – e.g., in Piedmont – Jews who were considered useful to the economy received particular assistance. In Veneto the Jews helped to arrest the decline of the towns where they were living, particularly Venice. In Tuscany, the Jews of Leghorn, who were completely free to utilize their commercial ability, were so successful that the grand dukes of the House of Lorraine, in particular Leopold i (1765–90), began to treat their other Jewish subjects similarly and to improve their conditions. When the French armies entered Italy in 1796–98, the new revolutionary spirit momentarily triumphed: the walls of the ghetto were demolished and the Jews received equal rights. However, with the restoration of the old regimes in 1799, all the new-found liberties were abolished. Napoleon's campaign of 1800 again brought freedom to the Jews, but in 1815 the restoration resulted in a complete and almost general return of the old conditions.

Intellectual life within the ghetto was inevitably inferior to that of the preceding period. Learned Jews were obliged not only to renounce their contacts with the outside world, but also any participation in academic institutions and, hence, pursuit of secular studies. This resulted in a very different literary orientation. Among the authors of Jewish apologetics were Leone *Modena, Simone (Simḥah) *Luzzatto, and Isaac *Cardozo. Controversies arose between the supporters of Kabbalah, Mordecai *Dato, *Aaron Berechiah of Modena, Menahem Azariah of Fano, Moses *Zacuto, and Solomon Aviad Sar Shalom *Basilea, and its opponents, Azariah de' Rossi and Azariah *Figo. Benjamin b. Eliezer ha-Kohen *Vitale and Abraham *Rovigo tended toward Shabbateanism. Joseph *Ergas and *Malachi b. Jacob ha-Kohen were instrumental in transferring the center of kabbalistic theosophy to Leghorn. Besides the emergence of two poetesses in the Italian language, Deborah Ascarelli and Sarah Coppio *Sullam, poetry was represented by Jacob Daniel *Olmo, the brothers Jacob and Immanuel *Frances, and Isaiah and Israel Benjamin *Bassani, father and son. Important as a poet, dramatist, and ethical writer was Moses Ḥayyim *Luzzatto. Salomone *Fiorentino, who wrote poems in Italian toward the end of the ghetto period, was much admired. Talmudic studies attracted such illustrious scholars as Isaac *Lampronti, author of the stupendous compilation Paḥad Yiẓḥak; barely less distinguished were Moses Zacuto, Solomon *Finzi, Samuel *Aboab, and Samson *Morpurgo. The polygraph Ḥayyim Joseph David *Azulai also spent much time in Italy. Hence it would be wrong to state that the walls surrounding the ghetto and its high buildings resulted in intellectual darkness. In fact, the contrary is true. Through scrupulous observance of the mitzvot and self-imposed regulation, either to supply the communities with necessities or to avoid excesses in entertainment and dress, the ghetto became a hive of activity, necessarily confined but tremendously alive. Many had several synagogues, all well attended, some with fine architecture such as those of Venice, Padua, Pesaro, and the small Piedmontese communities. There was a constant supply of teachers to listen and instruct. Moral and religious observance was strict but not oppressive. A social-service network provided assistance to all those who lived within the ghetto, especially well organized at Venice and Rome. In consequence, when they withdrew at night into the ghetto, the Jews did not have the feeling of living in prison.

Freedom and Equality (1815–1938)

The record of the half century that passed between the reestablishment of many ghettos and their final abolition differed in the various regions. In Tuscany, after the restoration of the grand duchy in 1815, the Jews there were granted relative equality; only the army and public office remaining barred to them. In the duchy of Parma, the most stringent restriction was that prohibiting Jews from residing in the capital. In the Lombardo-Venetian kingdom under Austrian rule, where there were the important communities of Mantua, Venice, Verona, and Padua, and the growing community of Milan, conditions were not particularly irksome. In Naples, where Jews had begun to resettle, the only restriction was that they were not allowed to constitute an official community. Elsewhere, however, their situation was now again deeply humiliating, especially in contrast with the freedom they had tasted. In the duchy of Modena, all the old disabilities were restored. The same applied to the Kingdom of Sardinia, comprising Piedmont and Genoa, where the only relaxation was that the Jewish badge was not reimposed. In the Papal States intolerance increased, until in 1827 Pope *Leo xii even resuscitated the notorious anti-Jewish edict of 1775.

However, those Jews once more living in such sad conditions now no longer had to rely only on the assistance, mainly ineffectual, of their more fortunate brethren. The middle-class Italian population which was struggling to liberate the country from reactionary regimes, especially the Carboneria and the Giovine Italia movements, had among their aims the elimination of all anti-Jewish discrimination. Distinguished politicians and writers such as Vincenzo Gioberti, Niccolò Tommaseo, Ugo Foscolo, and Cesare Balbo fought for the same ideas. Some expressed these aims in writings which reached a wide public, for instance Carlo *Cattaneo in his Ricerche economiche sulle interdizioni imposte dalla legge civile agli israeliti (1837), on the economic restrictions imposed on the Jews, and Massimo d'*Azeglio, Dell' emancipazione civile degli israeliti, which appeared at the end of 1847. On their part, the Jews did not wait for their aspirations to freedom to be fulfilled through outside assistance and took an active share in the struggle. The Risorgimento movement, which started in Piedmont in 1820–21, became more daring in Modena in 1831 and culminated in the 1848–49 revolutions in Milan, Rome, and Venice – the last under the leadership of Daniele *Manin. The movement included in its ranks many Jewish volunteers from various parts of Italy. Before the uprising broke out in 1848, even the most reactionary governments hastened to grant the Jews some concessions. Pope *Piusix (1846–78), having abolished compulsory Jewish attendance at conversionist sermons and other humiliating regulations, admitted Jews into the civic guard; in 1848 he ordered that the gates and walls of the ghettos be demolished in Rome and in other towns of the Papal States. In Piedmont, in June 1848, the House of Savoy introduced into the constitution of the kingdom a provision that established equal civil and political rights for all citizens, without religious distinction.

In some retrogressive centers popular insurrections later broke out, after which, in 1849, two Jews were members of the constitutional assembly of the newly-proclaimed Roman republic, and in Venice two others, Isaac Pesaro and Leone Pincherle, became ministers in the provisional republican government. When, at the end of 1849, some of the ousted rulers returned and attempted to reimpose the humiliating anti-Jewish measures, they succeeded in doing so only on paper because they no longer had the support of wide sectors of the public. The darkest reaction indeed still prevailed in the towns of the Papal States: Rome, Ancona, Ferrara, and Bologna. The Jews here were again confined to the ghettos, although the gates were not locked at night. Jewish students were excluded from the public schools, and Jews were barred from commercial partnerships with Christians. They were subjected to pressures to accept conversion; these culminated in the notorious kidnapping of the child Edgardo *Mortara in Bologna in 1858, and of Giuseppe Coen in Rome as late as 1864. Even in the Lombardo-Venetian kingdom, the Austrian government became hostile to the Jews, who were suspected of holding liberal ideas. Only Piedmont upheld the emancipation of 1848, and as it extended its jurisdiction over the new areas which in 1861 became the Kingdom of Italy, additional Jewish groups were admitted to complete equality. Between 1859 and 1861 Emilia, Romagna, Tuscany, Lombardy, the Marches, and the Kingdom of Naples were absorbed; in 1866 Veneto and in 1870 Rome were incorporated in the new Italian kingdom. Trieste, which remained outside the boundaries of the Kingdom of Italy until 1919, had a large Jewish community under Austrian rule, generally well-disposed toward Jews.

As soon as equality had been extended to the Jews, the fact was accepted by the Italian people, anxious to demonstrate that the previous segregation had been imposed by political and ideological considerations and did not reflect popular feelings. The Jews reciprocated with alacrity. The principle that religion should not be an obstacle, whether in law or in fact, and the total absence of ill feeling or prejudice between Christians and Jews led to two far-reaching consequences. First, Jews felt free to embrace any career – political, military, academic, professional, administrative, or commercial – and to attain the highest positions. Secondly, freedom to associate on equal terms with other citizens encouraged Jews to minimize existing differences – some even concealed their Jewish identity or rejected it. The Jewish population formed 0.15% of the total in 1861 and 0.13% in 1938: yet 11 Jews sat in the chamber of deputies in 1871, 15 in 1874, and nine in 1921; in the senate there were 11 in 1905, and 26 in 1923. In the universities the proportion of Jewish professors was 6.8% in 1919, and 8% in 1938. The proportion of Jews in the liberal professions and public administration was 6.4% in 1901 and 6.7% in 1928. Jews attained outstanding positions in several branches of national life, not only quantitatively but qualitatively. Among many examples were Luigi *Luzzatti, for almost 20 years minister of finance, who became prime minister in 1910; Giuseppe *Ottolenghi, minister of war in 1902–03; Leone *Wollemborg, minister of finance from 1901; after 1923 Ludovico *Mortara was for many years president of the Court of Appeals and, for a time, minister of justice.

In this period, the structure of the Jewish communities changed radically. In 1840 there existed about 70 organized communities, in 1938 only 23. In 1840 Italian Jewry numbered 37,000, in 1931 47,485 (including many newly-arrived immigrants). The distribution of the Jewish population also changed. Many small rural communities disappeared, while medium-sized urban ones suffered through migration to the larger centers. Before the establishment of united Italy, each community had its own administrative and social structure, the central organization imposed by Napoleon lasting for only a short while. A first step toward introducing some measure of coordination among the communities was established by the Rattazzi Law of July 1857. But it was only in 1911 that a "Union of Italian Jewish Communities" (Consorzio delle comunità israelitiche italiane) was set up on a voluntary basis. Finally the law of Oct. 30, 1930, established on an obligatory national basis the Unione delle comunità israelitiche italiane and defined its administrative competence and that of the individual communities. It also defined the prerogatives of the rabbis, including authorization to perform marriages, provided that the relevant articles of the Italian legal code were read. The law laid down that all those considered Jews by Jewish law automatically belonged to the community if they did not make a formal renunciation.

The upheavals which took place in Jewish life in Italy in the 19th century had important consequences on the nature of Jewish scholarship. Isaac Samuel *Reggio (1784–1855), a disciple of Moses *Mendelssohn and of N.H. *Wessely, propagated the view that it was necessary to diverge from rigid orthodoxy and give a wider place to secular studies. These ideas he wished to put into practice in the rabbinical college of Padua (later *Collegio Rabbinico Italiano) founded in 1829. However, when Lelio *della Torre and Samuel David *Luzzatto, one of the great pioneers of the scientific study of Judaism, directed the college, they followed the traditional path, and under their control it became one of the most highly esteemed rabbinical seminaries in Europe. Luzzatto was an outstanding scholar and an acute exponent of vast portions of the Jewish heritage, including the philosophy of religion, history, literature, ritual, and Hebrew linguistics. Luzzatto's death marked the end of the college in Padua; its functions were partly assumed by the rabbinical college of Leghorn, under the direction of Elia *Benamozegh. The Padua college itself, after brief vicissitudes, was transferred to Florence in 1899 under the dynamic Samuel Hirsch *Margulies; after his death in 1922 it relapsed into inactivity, to be resuscitated later in Rome. Among those trained in these institutions were Mordecai *Ghirondi, Marco *Mortara, David *Castelli, Umberto *Cassuto, Dante *Lattes, and Elia S. *Artom. These and other scholars were able to publish the results of their research and studies on general problems in the numerous Jewish periodicals that appeared in Italy from the second half of the 19th century.

[Attilio Milano]

Holocaust Period

From *Mussolini's accession to power in 1922 until late in 1937, the Fascist government did not formally interfere with the social and legal equality enjoyed by Italian Jewry. However, even in its early stages, the Fascist movement showed evidence of intolerance toward minority groups. Some of the party leaders, including Mussolini, made particular mention of the potential danger to national unity inherent in the "alien character" of the Jews, with their international, cosmopolitan contacts. When the Fascist movement came to power, the government gave priority to real or imaginary pragmatic considerations over ideological principles. The government wanted to make use of "international Jewry" in order to strengthen its policies as a whole, and increase its penetration into the Levant in particular. The Fascist government also sought to prevent the Zionist movement from being attached solely to British interests in the Middle East. However, many Fascist leaders feared the fancied political and economic strength of the Jews. The Abyssinian War of 1935, the worsening of relations between Italy and Britain, the attempts at a rapprochement with the Arab nationalists, and, above all, the strengthening of links with Nazi Germany in late 1936 reversed the political considerations which had been paramount until then. Italian Fascism then turned to militant antisemitism. In this, as in other matters, the Fascist government was forced to pre sent a united front with its ally, Germany, and to foster the ideological program and the organizational and legislative network of Nazi racial antisemitism. The change of attitude was heralded by a section of the press which condemned "the Jewish and Zionist danger." Early in 1937, Pietro Orano published his book, Gli Ebrei in Italia, stressing the "alien" character of the Jews. The book sparked a vociferous anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist campaign in the Italian press; when the party newspaper, Il Popolo d'Italia, joined in, it was clear that the die had been cast. The Manifesto della Razza appeared in July 1938, ostensibly the work of a group of scientists but apparently edited by Mussolini himself. The Manifesto asserted the existence of a "pure Italian race of Aryan stock," into which the Jews had never integrated, and called for the implementation of a clear racial policy of a "northern Aryan character." In September, the first two laws against Jews were passed, one forbidding them to study or teach in any school or institution of higher learning, the other ordering the deportation of all Jewish aliens who had found refuge in Italy after 1919. A "department for demography and race" was established to coordinate the policy of racial discrimination in all branches of the government, and to conduct a census of Jews living in the country. On October 7, the Supreme Council of the Fascist Party determined the principles on which detailed anti-Jewish legislation was to be based. This legislation, passed on November 17, 1938, included prohibitions on marriage between Jews and Aryans and decreed severe civil and economic restrictions, such as interdictions against Jews serving in the army, working in the government, municipal service, or any other public institution, or employing Aryan servants, and the confiscation of Jewish property. The law defined a member of the "Jewish race" as a person with one Jewish parent but exempted Jews in special categories, such as recipients of military awards and those who were wounded in World War i. The restrictions gradually grew more severe as decrees or mere instructions from the party secretary were enacted and executed. Jews were forbidden to own radio sets, visit holiday resorts, enter public libraries, publish newspapers, or be partners in business firms with "Aryan" Italians.

The opening of the racial campaign severely affected the small Jewish community, not only from the economic point of view, but also ethically and organizationally. Many Jews, who from birth were accustomed to complete social equality and who regarded themselves as Italians in every sense, found it hard to understand the meaning of the discrimination and persecution to which they were now subjected. Some were unable to stand the test and tried to find a way out by conversion to Christianity. In 1938–39, 3,910 cases of apostasy were recorded, as against 101 in the previous two years. Over 5,000 others preferred to emigrate. The Jewish community in Italy, which according to the official census of 1931 numbered 47,485 persons, was reduced by 1939 to 35,156 persons, or 0.8% of the total population. Nevertheless, Jewish institutions managed to surmount the crisis, organized themselves for efficient action, gave help to the needy and refugees, and established Jewish elementary and high schools.

Italy's entry into World War ii as Germany's ally (June 10, 1940) caused no drastic change in the status of most of the Jews. In the early months of the war, 43 concentration camps were set up in Italy for enemy aliens, and several thousand Jews of foreign nationality, as well as about 200 Italian Jews, were interned; however, conditions in the camps were, on the whole, bearable. In May 1942 the government decreed that all the Jewish internees would be mobilized into special work legions in place of military service. This order was only partially carried out, and the number of Jews actually mobilized

did not exceed 2,000 men. The fall of the Fascist regime on July 25 and Italy's surrender to Germany on Sept. 8, 1943, were turning points. The country was cut in two, with the south in the hands of the Allies, and central and northern Italy under German occupation.

The Italian Jewish community, which for historical reasons was concentrated in Rome and in the north, found itself in the German-occupied area, i.e., the Fascist protectorate called the Italian Socialist Republic, headed by Mussolini. Within an extremely short period of time, these Jews passed from a regime of civil and economic discrimination (September 1938–July 1943), through a brief period of liberty and equality (July 25–Sept. 8, 1943), to find themselves victims of the horrors of the "*Final Solution," together with thousands of Jewish refugees from France and Yugoslavia who had escaped into Italy during the early years of the war.

At first, the authorities in the Italian Socialist Republic contented themselves with a declaration of principles which defined members of the "Jewish race" as aliens and, for the period of the war, as members of an enemy nation (Nov. 14, 1943). This was followed by an order issued by the Ministry of the Interior that all Jews, without exception, should be interned in special concentration camps and all Jewish property confiscated (Nov. 30, 1943). In the meantime the occupation authorities, through Theodor Dannecker, Eichmann's emissary from the *rsha's ivb4 office, or through *ss and *Gestapo officers, completely took over the administration of the move to murder Italian Jewry. When the German occupation began, the first outbreaks of violence occurred against Jews in Merano (Sept. 16, 1943) and around Lake Maggiore (Sept. 22, 1943). With a detailed list of names and with the assistance of the Fascist armed forces, the Germans hunted out Jews in the principal towns. In Rome, the Germans surrounded the Jewish quarter and on a single day (October 16) arrested more than 1,000 persons, who were dispatched directly to *Auschwitz; immediately on arrival (October 22 or 23) most of them were murdered. Similar Aktionen were held in Trieste (October 9), Genoa (November 3), Florence (November 6), Milan (November 8), Venice (November 9), and Ferrara (November 14). Jews who were caught were at first imprisoned in local jails and later sent to special concentration camps set up in northern Italy, especially in *Fossoli and *Bolzano. When the camps were full, the inmates were sent on to extermination camps, mainly to Auschwitz. It is hard to estimate the exact number of Jews arrested in this early stage, but it may be as many as half the total number of Jews deported from Italy during the German occupation.

A second stage began toward the end of 1943, when Jewish life in Italy went underground and organized Jewish public worship became impossible in the country for the first time in 20 centuries. Numerous Jews managed to cross the border into Switzerland; others found their way through the front line, in spite of many obstacles, to southern Italy, or joined the groups of anti-Fascist partisans in the mountains. However, the great majority preferred to seek sanctuary among the Italian population, in the homes of "Aryan" acquaintances, among peasants and the working classes, and even in Catholic religious institutions. Manhunts were, however, regularly carried out by the German and Fascist police, with the concomitant danger of betrayal by Fascist or avaricious citizens, and the constant need to seek new shelter. However, at the hour of greatest danger, many discovered that the greater part of the Italian people was willing to help the persecuted for humanitarian reasons alone, despite the heavy penalties that they risked by their actions. Of the approximately 2,000 Jews who fought against the German and Fascist forces in the ranks of the partisans, more than 100 fell in battle and five won the highest medals for bravery. Others served in the Allied armies or intelligence services. The number of Jewish victims in Italy is estimated at about 7,750 out of a Jewish population of about 35,000 at the beginning of the German occupation.

[Daniel Carpi]

The arrest, manhunts, and deportations of entire Jewish populations that the Italians had witnessed in western Europe and Greece, the atrocities performed before their eyes in Croatia, and the rumors about events in eastern Europe convinced many Italian soldiers and diplomats that it was their human duty to assist the persecuted Jews regardless of their nationality. What was no less than a rescue operation was then mounted in the region controlled by the Italian army in Dalmatia and Croatia, where 5,000 Jews from the remainder of Yugoslavia had found asylum; in southern France, where more than 25,000 Jews had gathered, mostly refugees from northern France; and in Athens and other parts of Greece in the Italian zone, where there were some 13,000 Jews. Altogether some 40,000 Jewish refugees from various countries found a safe haven in the areas of Italian occupation. (In addition, a few thousand refugees had been permitted to enter Italy itself and gained asylum there.)

Despite repeated protests, in no case did the Italians surrender the Jews to the Germans, the Croatian Ustasha, or the Vichy police. They maintained this position in the face of intense pressure, coupled with demands for extradition made by the Germans at various diplomatic levels and even upon Mussolini himself. At least twice Mussolini succumbed to these pressures and gave orders to surrender the Jewish refugees in the Italian zone of Croatia, but the diplomats and high-ranking military officers around him joined forces to evade implementation of this criminal order. Among those who acquitted themselves honorably in this affair were Deputy Foreign Minister Giuseppe Bastianini and senior diplomats Luca Pietromanchi, Luigi Viau, and Roberto Ducci in Rome; diplomatic representatives Guelfo Zamboni, Giuseppe Castruccio, and Pellegrino Ghigi in Greece; the diplomats Vittorio Zoppi, Alberto Calisse, and Gustavo Orlandini in France; and Vittorio Castellani in Croatia. Among military personnel three generals, Giuseppe Pièche, Giuseppe Amico, and Mario Riatta, merit recognition. Other distinguished figures were Police Inspector Guido Lospinoso, who operated in southern France, where he was assisted by the Jewish banker Angelo Donati and the Capuchin friar Pierre-Marie *Benoît.

Unfortunately, some of the Jews who had found asylum in the Italian occupied zone were arrested by the Germans after September 8, 1943, and were killed in the Holocaust.

[Sergio Itzhak Minerbi (2nd ed.)]

Contemporary Period

Italian Jewry's losses resulting from Fascist persecutions can be estimated at about 40%: by deportations (7,749 dead out of 8,360 deportees, around 16% of the Jewish population in 1938), conversion to other religions (5,705 cases during the period 1938–43, around 12%), and emigration (approximately 6,000 persons, around 13%). Indirect consequences of the persecutions were a drastic decline in the birth and marriage rates, which further aggravated the already precarious demographic conditions of Italian Jewry. In the course of the persecutions, the small communities in particular, which were already declining in numbers, suffered severely. At the end of World War ii, 29,117 Jews remained in Italy, and a further 26,300 refugees originating mainly from central and eastern Europe were added to this number. Italy was a main gathering place for the refugees en route to Palestine, and the great majority later reached Palestine, legally or illegally.

Meanwhile, the difficult work of reconstructing the communities was begun, with the help of Jewish international relief organizations. Politically, the Jewish minority in Italy lived under generally good conditions after World War ii. The Italian Jews and their institutions enjoyed full rights guaranteed by the Constitution and by the respect of the greater part of the Italian people.

At the end of World War ii, a certain number of refugees settled permanently in Italy. Subsequently, immigrants arrived, mainly from Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries and from North Africa, especially following the persecutions of Jews after the *Sinai Campaign in 1956. At the same time, immigration also took place from Hungary and other eastern European countries, although to a smaller extent. Schematically, the following three groups could be distinguished in Italian Jewry: the Jews of Rome, the great majority of whom were born there, who partly still lived in the old ghetto, endowed with a sturdy vitality that could be linked in part to the modest conditions of the community and in part to the survival of strong bonds with Jewish tradition; other Italian-born Jews, widely scattered geographically, with more tenuous links with Jewish culture but steadily growing ties with secular Italian culture, and hence more open to social contacts with non-Jews, mixed marriages, and increasingly rapid assimilation; and Jews born abroad, characterized by greater social cohesion, but inclined to adopt rapidly the habits and customs of the less vital groups of Italian Jewry. According to the results of a statistical inquiry carried out, on a national basis, under the auspices of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 12,000 Jewish families were living in Italy in 1965, comprising about 32,000 Jews out of a total population of 52,000,000 (a density of 0.6 per thousand). The geographical distribution of the Jews was 42.2% in Rome; 7% in Milan; 21.8% in the six medium-sized communities of Turin, Florence, Trieste, Genoa, Venice, and Leghorn; and 8.3% in the 15 small communities of Naples, Bologna, Ancona, Mantua, Pisa, Padua, Modena, Ferrara, Verona, Alessandria, Vercelli, Parma, Merano, Gorizia, and Casale Monferrato. Isolated Jews were also spread over more than 200 minor centers.

A few demographic details from the above survey will suffice to indicate the state of decline of the Jews in Italy. The birth rate for the Jews was 11.4 per 1,000 as against 18.3 per 1,000 for the entire population; the fertility rate (children from birth to four years per 1,000 women of age 15–49) was 210 for the Jews as against 360 for the general population; the marriage rate was 4.6% as against 8.0%; the mortality rate in general was 16.1% as against 9.6%; the Jews were considerably older: the average age was 41 years as against 33 years for the total population; finally, the demographic balance of the Jewish population was negative, -4.7%, as against +8.7% for the general population. In contrast to the general population, the Jewish population was almost entirely urban and limited to the regions of the center and north. Its educational level was higher, with a large proportion of university graduates (14% as against 1.4%). The largest concentration in occupational distribution was to be found in the business and services sectors (80.7% of the Jews as against 30.3% of the general population), with a certain representation in industry (18.7% as against 40.6%) and an almost total absence from agriculture (0.6% as against 29.1%). The majority were self-employed, followed by those employed in commerce, in the free professions, and as executives and employees. In Rome, the number of hawkers was considerable.

The central organization of Italian Jewry was the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, which represented Jewish interests vis-à-vis the government. Under the successive presidencies of R. Cantoni, A. Zevi, R. Bonfiglioli, and S. Piperno Beer, the Union intervened on behalf of Italian Jews in the face of antisemitic incidents and acted on behalf of the heirs of the victims of the Holocaust in matters of reparations and compensation. The Union also had a special section for cultural activities, rabbinical activity, on the other hand, being under the supervision of the Italian Rabbinical Council. Each community was responsible for organizing all religious and welfare services and cultural activities, as well as administering its own property. Jewish education was carried out through a system of Jewish schools, recognized by the state, in which the syllabus of the state schools was followed with the addition of Jewish subjects. Such schools existed in seven communities in 1970; in 1965–66 the total number of their students amounted to 1,986. The greatest number of pupils, however, was to be found in the elementary schools; in the higher grades the number of Jewish students attending Jewish schools fell drastically in favor of state schools. Rabbinical training was given at the Collegio Rabbinico Italiano, in Rome, and the S.H. Margulies Rabbinical School in Turin. Finally, a few hundred Jewish students attended technical courses at *ort.

Among Italian-Jewish publications were La Rassegna Mensile d'Israel, a Jewish cultural magazine; Israel, a Jewish weekly of moderate Zionist tendencies; its cultural monthly, Shalom; and Ha-Tikvah, the monthly organ of the Federation of Jewish Youth. In general, assimilation of young Jews, particularly those born in Italy, was very noticeable and was also evident from the data on mixed marriages. In Milan, during 1952–66, 46 out of 100 Jewish bridegrooms married non-Jewish brides, and 26 of the 100 Jewish brides married non-Jews. In 1955 was founded in Milan the institution cdec (Center of Jewish Contemporary documentation) devoted to the promotion of didactic activities and research on contemporary Italian Judaism, Shoah and antisemitism for researchers, students, and schools. The Italian Zionist Federation encouraged aliyah, which, though small in numbers, was well qualified professionally. It also organized various cultural and educational activities concerning Israel, frequently in collaboration with *wizo (adei) and other representatives of world Zionist organizations. Soon after World War ii, due partly to the presence of the *Jewish Brigade, many young Italian Jews were imbued with Zionist enthusiasm which led to their participation in the Israel *War of Independence (1948) and in some cases to settlement in Israel. This, however, did not always have strong ideological roots, and as a result a considerable number returned to Italy. During that period also the major part of the population of the Apulian village of *San Nicandro was converted to Judaism under the leadership of D. Manduzio and subsequently settled in Israel.

Jews were more modestly represented in realms of culture and in public life than in the first few decades of the 20th century. It should be noted, however, that many representatives of the Jewish intelligentsia had either left Italy because of the racial laws or perished during the persecutions. Among the Jews who rose to distinction in Italy in the post-World War ii period in the humanistic field were the writers C. *Levi, A. *Moravia (Pincherle), G. *Bassani, and P. *Levi; in the field of science, the mathematician G. Castelnuova, president of the Academia Dei Lincei, the physicist E. *Segre, Nobel Prize winner in 1959, and the physicist B. *Pontecorvo, who caused a storm when he defected to the Soviet Union after the war. General G. *Liuzzi was head of the General Staff of the armed forces in the years 1954–59. On the other hand, there was a more modest Jewish participation in Italy's political life as compared with the period before the rise of Fascism. In the legislatures of the Italian parliament there was a succession of Jewish representatives, on the average about ten out of 1,000 deputies and senators in the two houses. Of special note is a leader of the Communist party, Umberto *Terracini of Turin, who was president of the Constituent Assembly in 1947.

[Sergio DellaPergola]


At the start of the 1980s there were some 41,000 Jews in Italy, of whom 36,000 were permanent residents, some 2,000 Israeli students, and some 3,000 Russian Jews, most of whom were in Rome awaiting emigration visas to other countries. Of the permanent Jewish population, 14,500 lived in Rome and 9,500 in Milan, while the communities of Turin, Florence, Trieste, Leghorn, Venice and Genoa accounted for 6,000, with the remaining 2,000 in 14 small communities. Two characteristic demographic traits of the community were aging and assimilation. The Jewish birthrate continued to be low while, for the first time, the rate of intermarriage reached a level of more than 40 percent in Rome, and was considerably higher in other towns.

In 1993, the number of Jews officially registered in Italian communities was 31,000, with an estimated additional 10–15,000 unaffiliated. Mixed marriages fell from 50% to 40% in ten years. During the 1980s a number of small communities died out. Rome Jewry was the most homogeneous, made up mostly of families – most of them store owners – who survived the war and a dynamic post-1967 Libyan Jewish community by now well-integrated, although they had their own synagogue. The Milan community was of international origin with groups of Syrian, Iranian, Lebanese Jews and others, each with their own synagogues. Lubavitch families had settled in various cities, attracting some of the youth. Friction arose initially because the Lubavitch rabbis accused the Italian rabbis of laxity in maintaining halakhic standards, challenging Italian Jewry's elastic traditions of accommodating all forms of religiosity under an umbrella definition of Orthodoxy. A modus vivendi was found, resulting in greater cooperation. No Conservative or Reform congregations existed in Italy because they are traditionally regarded as a threat to Jewish unity and a step toward assimilation.

political events

Along with the general community, Jews also suffered from the continuing erosion in political stability and public order which characterized Italy during the 1970s, and at least three Jews were abducted and held for ransom. In November 1977 the liberal journalist, Carlo Casalegno, joint editor of La Stampa and a good friend of the Jewish community and of Israel, was killed in an ambush in Turin.

Some of the members of the Red Brigade and the nap (Proletarian Action Group) received their military training in Palestinian terrorist camps in Lebanon.

Despite certain self-defense precautions taken by Jewish institutions, there was a general feeling of frustration and distrust in the Jewish community which stemmed from a ceaseless trickle of antisemitic events, often combining anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist elements and trends. These ranged from a variety of Nazi-Fascist or Marxist-Leninist graffiti to more committed documents by intellectuals and official bodies, to bombs thrown against synagogues (which, however, caused neither casualties nor any considerable damage).

Research on antisemitism in contemporary Italy, directed by Professor Alfonso Di Nola, suggested a possible connection between Italian proletarian, revolutionary and reactionary interests and Arabs terrorist groups. In fact, Arab organizations continued to make Italy one of their European strongholds and acted with increasing effrontery against Israeli interests and property, particularly air transport between the two countries.

The main cause of concern to Italian Jews was the consequences of the radicalization of the political struggle on the general scene. A dangerous political instability prevailed in 1974–75. In this connection it was difficult to disentangle wholly the implication of the Middle East crisis from purely local factors. The Italian mass media, headed by the government-controlled radio and television, adopted an open pro-Arab attitude during the Yom Kippur War. One incident received considerable publicity. A satirical article on Col. Qaddhafi, written by two non-Jews, appeared in La Stampa, of which Arrigo Levi – a former volunteer in the Israel War of Independence – had been appointed editor a few months earlier. The Libyan government issued a formal protest, demanding, inter alia, the dismissal of the editor and threatening a total boycott of all products of Fiat, which owned the newspaper. Although Levi was allowed to retain his post, the Italian government issued a "balanced statement" on the matter, showing understanding of the Arab position. This was later openly manifested when Italy voted in favor of the admission of the Palestine Liberation Organization as an observer at the un General Assembly. The resurgent neo-fascism and the anti-Israel tide did not cause any actual direct damage to the Jewish community. Nevertheless, fears for the personal safety of Italian Jewish leaders reached a peak after the arrest in Jerusalem of Greek Catholic Archbishop Capucci. There was evidence of an anti-Jewish mood subtly penetrating into intellectual, cultural, and artistic circles. It could be observed in most Italian universities, including most departments of political science and history, where the Middle East conflict is usually taught, and as a result the academic objectivity and scientific standing of these institutions was slowly being compromised. On the other hand, there were a few positive highlights, such as the courageous stand taken by Chief Rabbi Elio Toaff in a few debates on radio and television, which were widely followed, and the support given Israel by a group of members of the Italian parliament, a delegation of which went on a mission to Israel in 1974. Vigorous and effective pro-Jewish stands were taken in the Jewish and non-Jewish press by such writers as Carlo Gasalegno, Aldo Garosci, Tullia Zevi, Marsimo Della Pergola, Alberto Nirenstein and the editorial board of the Roman Jewish monthly Shalom which had favorable repercussions in the country.

In November 1976 an official proposal was published to grant a conditional release to ss Lieut. Col. Herbert Kappler, who had directed the slaughter at the Fosse Ardeatin (near Rome), after 28 years of imprisonment. The reaction in the Jewish community was immediate; they hastened to the military hospital where Kappler was held. Larger demonstrations followed in anti-Fascist circles, and the proposal was eventually dropped. On Aug. 15, 1977, however, Kappler was suddenly abducted by his wife to the townlet of Soltau in West Germany. An immediate request of extradition, submitted by the Italian government, could not be complied with under German constitutional law. For a few weeks there was some tension between the Italian and German governments (the Germans had actually been exerting pressure to obtain Kappler's release), and only his death a few months later brought the case to an end. There were also some expressions of intellectual revisionism which attempted to minimize the extent of the Holocaust, or to find psychological or political Jewish responsibilities for it. Some of the most vociferous theories about "Jewish racism" were heard in 1976 on the occasion of a strike by a leftist union at the Sonzogno publishing house, to prevent publication of the Italian version of a report on the idf rescue operation at *Entebbe. Nor was the Vatican's position more encouraging; in February 1976, the Vatican delegation at an Islamic-Christian conference held in Tripoli voted in favor of a document stating that Zionism is an aggressive, racist movement, foreign to Palestine and to the whole of the Orient.

During the 1980s the Middle East political situation continued to make itself felt. A Palestinian terrorist attack on the Rome synagogue on October 9, 1982, resulted in the death of a two-year-old boy; 40 Jews were wounded. In October 1985, the Italian cruiser Achille Lauro was hijacked and an invalid Jewish passenger, Leon Klinghoffer, shot and thrown overboard. On December 27, 1985, terrorists struck at the El Al counter of Rome's Airport, leaving many dead and wounded. In June 1986, the Italian government signed an agreement with the U.S. for cooperation against terrorism.

The Lebanese war in 1982 and the Intifada in 1987 set off media campaigns against Israel, often tinged with antisemitism. Newborn Italian "Progressive Judaism" movements proposing a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians began a constructive dialogue with the traditionally critical Italian Left. An Israeli-Palestinian meeting was held in 1989 by the Milan Center for Peace in the Middle East. Jewish and Italian groups joined Shalom Akhshav in a Jerusalem "Time for Peace" march in 1989.

During the Gulf War, the Italy–Israel Friendship Association staged a 1,000-person Solidarity for Israel demonstration outside Israel's Rome Embassy.

On May 25, 1992, Oscar Luigi Scalfaro was elected president of the Italian Republic only two months after having been nominated the first president of the newly formed Italy-Israel Parliamentary Friendship Association. On March 20, he had defended Israel as "a land for which we Europeans have still not been able to assure the basic requisites of security."

Two Italian Jews were elected to parliament: Bruno Zevi on the Radical ticket in 1987 and Enrico Modigliani, a Republican, in 1992. With Italian support, the European Economic Community lifted the freeze on scientific cooperation with Israel in 1991.

In 1991/2 economic instability and political scandals shook coalition alliance parties and strengthened the newly emerged Northern Lombard League favoring regional autonomy, a stop to immigration, and the expulsion of southern Italian migrants. Italy's extreme-right fringe became more audacious, permitting Fascist salutes and racist slogans. There were antisemitic outbursts in sports stadiums (rival teams being referred to as "Jews"), desecrations of Jewish cemeteries, and violence against foreign immigrants. In June 1992 an international revisionist congress was held in Rome, but Italian authorities blocked further meetings.

A massive Kristallnacht anniversary demonstration against antisemitism in Italy's major cities on November 9, 1992, concluded a week of chain reactions to a misleadingly alarmistic report on antisemitism in the weekly Espresso. Following the issue, 30 Jewish stores in Rome were plastered with yellow stars with the message "Zionists Out of Italy" and other graffiti proclaimed "Jews – Back to Africa." About 100 Jewish youths then stormed the headquarters of the Fascist "Movimento Politico Occidentale."

At the end of 1992 parliament was debating a bill updating and reinforcing existing laws against antisemitism, neo-Fascism and racism in all its forms.

A record total of Italian tourists, mostly pilgrims, went to Israel in 1992. El Al increased flights and extended coverage to Venice, Verona, and Bergamo. From 1992 all organized pilgrimages included visits to Yad Vashem. In February 1991, Milan's Cardinal Martini led 1,250 pilgrims, traveling in four planes from Milan and two from Rome. The Italian Touring Club published its first "Green Guide" to Israel in 1993.

legal affairs

A subject of central importance because of its possible impact on communal life was the proposed revision of the Concordat between Italy and the Vatican, in force since 1929. The question of the special role of Catholic religious norms admitted by the Italian Constitution and ordinary law, had a general relevance on the nature of the Italian state, and antagonized both Catholic and secular political forces. The Jews, more particularly, pointed to four areas of inequality in comparison to the Catholic majority, and supported reform of existing legislation:

(a) The Concordat virtually makes Catholicism the official religion of the state, other cults being merely "accepted," and therefore, although formally unequal, are free to organize themselves according to their own principles.

(b) Catholicism has a privileged status in public education.

(c) Although Catholic religious marriages are exclusively regulated by Canon law, they are granted civil validity, while in the case of Jews, religious and civil marriages, though usually performed by the same official in the synagogue, lead to separate jurisdictions in case of controversy.

(d) The Vatican has exclusive property rights and jurisdiction over all catacombs, including Jewish ones. In fact, the Jewish catacombs are closed and inaccessible, and there were fears of their being damaged and despoiled. The Jews asked that these monuments, of the greatest historical and religious importance, be turned over to the Jewish community, which would set up an international committee to supervise maintenance and further research and excavations.

The chance that all these points would be accepted for reformulation was actually remote. Related to revision of the Concordat was a possible reform of the Law of Jewish Communities (1930), under which membership in Jewish communities in Italy is compulsory. Certain Jewish circles advocated a new communal structure, based on voluntary membership. This was opposed by persons fearing it would considerably reduce the financial support to communities, impairing the functioning of their services, particularly of Jewish schools which provide at least a few years of Jewish instruction to about 75 percent of Jewish children in Italy. The largest complex is in Rome with 1,200 children between the ages of 5 and 18.

community life

The Union of Italian Jewish Communities held national congresses in 1982, 1986, and 1990. Tullia Zevi, a journalist from Rome, was elected as the uijc's first woman president in 1982, a position she still held in 1992. The 1982 keynote address on the importance of historical memory was written by Primo Levi, the distinguished novelist and Auschwitz survivor. The Italian Jewish biologist, Rita Levi Montalcini, co-winner of the 1986 Nobel Prize for medicine, addressed that year's uijc Congress, which was also attended by the president of the Italian Republic, Francesco Cossiga.

In 1984, the Italian Constitutional Court repealed a 1930 law requiring compulsory membership and taxation of Jews by local communities. This law was successfully contested by a Libyan Jewish immigrant. In 1987, a new intesa (agreement) between the uijc and the Italian government was signed, becoming effective in March 1989 and containing allowances for Sabbath requirements, legalizing rabbinic marriages, and making rabbinic ordination equivalent to university degrees.

Similar intese were stipulated with other religious minorities in Italy, and in 1992 negotiations began between the government and the c. 100,000-strong community of Muslim immigrants.

Italy became a state of religious pluralism on February 18, 1984, when a revised Concordat between the Holy See and the Italian Republic abolished Catholicism's privilege of being the "state religion," for the first time in 16 centuries. In December 1992 the uijc decided to call a special national congress on the possibility of financing the Jewish communities by opting for voluntary contributions from tax payers of "8 per 1000 lire" of their income taxes – a system already adopted by the Catholic Church, Protestants, Seventh Day Adventists, and Mormons.


A large number of new books dealing directly or indirectly with Jewish subjects were published from the 1970s on, showing continued interest in the subject by a wide public. The most interesting new initiative was the series of books of Jewish culture issued by Carucci. They mainly included reprints of scholarly essays by such authors as Elia Benamozegh, Martin Buber, Umberto Cassuto, Dante Lattes; satirical Jewish poetry by Crescenzo Del Monte; translations and exegeses of biblical texts; an d a new demographic, sociological and political analysis of Italian Jewry by Sergio Della Pergola.

Fausta Cialente was awarded the 1976 Strega Prize for her Le Quattro Ragazze Wieselberger, including autobiographical flashbacks on Jewish society in Trieste at the turn of the century and in Egypt in the 1940s. The 1977 Portico d'Ottavia Prize was awarded to Richard Rubenstein for the Italian translation of his essay "The Religious Imagination," a psychoanalytical analysis of Jewish sources. Given honorable mention on the same occasion were Gitta Sereny's In Quelle Tenebre (a vivid evocation of the Holocaust) and Paolo De Benedetti's La Chiamata Di Samuele. A new volume of the scholarly Yearbook of Jewish Studies was issued by the Collegio Rabinico Italiano, now a division of an expanding Instituto Superiore di Studi Ebraici which provided a framework for scientific study and research on Jewish subjects. In June 1977 a new cultural popular festival was inaugurated in the area of the old ghetto in Rome, attracting for one day many thousands of Jews and non-Jews to theater, music, sport, and cooking exhibitions. Alberto Vigevani was awarded the literary prize Portico d' Ottavia for a collection of tales, Fine delle domeniche, bringing his youthful reminiscences of a vanishing Jewish identity in the assimilated, bourgeois environment of a small Jewish community. Elsa Morante's La storia, including vivid flashbacks to the ghetto of Rome during the Nazi occupation, was very favorably reviewed by literary circles and had a great commercial success. Several books were published on the history of local Jewish communities, most noteworthy of which was Gli ebrei a Perugia by Ariel Toaff. In 1976 the publication began of the scientific-historical review ItaliaStudi e ricerche sulla cultura e sulla letteratura degli ebrei d'Italia. An interesting new edition of the Passover Haggadah was issued by the Federation of Jewish Youth in Italy, in which the translation of the traditional text was complemented by modern Jewish prose and partisan songs. Cultural links between Italy and Israel were strengthened after a new cultural agreement between the two countries became fully operative.

In May 1981 a five-day international congress, "Italia Judaica," was held in Bari under the joint sponsorship of the Italian Ministry for the Protection of Cultural Patrimony and Environment and the State Archives; the papers presented covered various aspects of Jewish history and culture in Italy.

jewish heritage

Major efforts were made to preserve Italy's vast and precious but rapidly deteriorating Jewish heritage. Private foundations and government sponsorship could only partially cover the enormous costs required for maintenance and restoration.

The National Jewish Bibliographic Center was established in Rome in 1984 and in 1990 a new wing was inaugurated. In 1986 a grant from the Olivetti group permitted work to begin on the collection and preservation of about 25,000 volumes of archival and bibliographical materials from extinct and small communities all over Italy. Other contributions included a donation by Nobel Prize winner Rita Levi-Montalcini. Israeli experts came to help in the framework of Italy-Israel cultural agreements, and Father Pierfrancesco Fumagalli, secretary of the Vatican's Commission for Religious Relations with Jews, himself a specialist in illuminated Hebrew manuscripts, contributed from his expertise. In April 1992 a three-year agreement was made with the musicological departments of the University of Cremona and The Hebrew University for collecting, recording, and transcribing liturgical and other music by Italian Jewish composers for a special section of the Library.

The Vatican transferred the custody of the Roman Jewish catacombs to the Italian state in 1985; but for lack of funds for guards and upkeep, the Villa Torlonia catacombs are not yet open to the public.

The Venice and Rome synagogues were refurbished and the restoration of ancient synagogues and cemeteries in small communities were under way. Excavations in Calabria unearthed a fourth-century synagogue.

In 1990, the Italian government announced plans for renovating the Roman ghetto.

The works of Josef B. Sermoneta and Roberto Bonfil, both professors at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, best articulate the problem of interpretation of Jewish culture in the Italian Renaissance. Sermoneta ("Aspetti del pensiero moderno nell'ebraismo italiano tra Rinascimento e età barocca," Italia Judaica, ii, 1986) argued that the familiarity with Italian literary and cultural trends did not entail assimilation: in short, participating in the cultural enterprises of the Renaissance went hand in hand with asserting Jewish uniqueness and spiritual superiority. Bonfil (Gli ebrei in Italia nell'epoca del Rinascimento 1991) urged Jewish historians to renounce harmonistic interpretation and to study Jewish history "on its own terms," that is by defining the social status of Jews in Renaissance Italy, and then reconstructing their unique Jewish experience. The studies of David Ruderman, Michele Luzzati and Kenneth R. Stow show many interesting aspects of Italian Jewish history.

Congresses. Among initiatives made possible by renewed Italy-Israel cultural and scientific agreements were five international "Italia Judaica" conferences including in Genoa, 1984, on "Italian Jewry in the Renaissance and Baroque Periods"; in Tel Aviv, 1986, on "Jews in Italy from Ghetto Times to the First Emancipation"; in Siena, 1989, on "The Jews in United Italy 1870–1945"; and in Palermo, 1992, on "Jews in Sicily up to the Expulsion in 1492."

Throughout 1992 Italy commemorated the 500th anniversary of the arrival in Italy of Jews expelled from Spain. A major international congress was held in Genoa. In Ancona, a monument was unveiled to the memory of a group of Marranos burned at the stake in 1556.

Exhibitions. In 1989 a "Gardens and Ghettos" exhibition on Italian Jewish art was shown in New York and Ferrara, and 1992 saw an important exhibition in Rome of all Judaica literature published in Italy from 1955 to 1990.

holocaust studies

A special commemorative edition of Italy's 1939 racial laws was published in 1989 by Italian authorities in Rome. In Florence, Israeli architect David Cassuto was awarded a silver medal in honor of his father, Rabbi Nathan Cassuto, for moral courage in wartime Italy.

In 1986, rai-tv produced a series of programs on Nicola Caracciolo's book on Italians and Jews in World War ii; in 1987 Susan Zuccotti's The Italians and the Holocaust was translated into Italian; in 1991 Liliana Picciotto Fargion's Libro della Memoria containing the individual stories of every deportee from 1943 to 1945, published by the Milan Jewish Documentation Center (cdec), was presented in a solemn public ceremony in Rome.

education against antisemitism and anti-zionism

In 1992, cdec, with government sponsorship, inaugurated a "Videothéque of Jewish Memory," offering 700 selected videocassettes for free loans to individuals and groups. On November 10, 1992, the Italian Ministry of Education made an agreement with the Union of Italian Jewish Communities on the use in schools of audiovisual programs on Jewish history. A course on Israel for high school teachers was held in Bergamo, organized by the Federation of Italy-Israel Friendship Associations.

catholic-jewish relations

A special document on Ecumenism by the Diocese of Rome in 1983 called for the Church to insure that sermons did not contain "any form or vestige of antisemitism," and called for "a rediscovery of our Jewish roots."

After the revision in 1984 of the Concordat between Italy and the Holy See, Catholicism was no longer a "state religion," and attendance at Catholic religious courses in schools became voluntary.

In 1985 the Vatican's Commission for Religious Relations with Jews promulgated Notes on the Correct Way to Present Jews and Judaism in Preaching and Catechesis. These were discussed in the Vatican by a Jewish delegation which was received by Pope John Paul ii to mark the 20th anniversary of the Nostra Aetate declaration.

On April 13, 1986, John Paul ii visited Rome's main synagogue, the first such visit by a pope in history, and addressed Jews as "our cherished older brothers."

In October 1986 the pope invited leaders of the world's main religions to prayer at Assisi. Judaism was represented by adl Representative Dr. Joseph Lichten and Rome's Chief Rabbi Elio Toaff, who led a study session in front of an ancient synagogue.

In 1987 the pope received Austrian President Kurt Waldheim in private audience, arousing worldwide Jewish protest.

The 1988 the Vatican Document The Church and Racism contained the statement "Anti-Zionism serves at times as a screen for antisemitism, feeding on it and leading to it."

On January 17, 1990, the Italian Episcopal Conference celebrated its first annual national day of dialogue with Judaism in parish churches throughout Italy – so far the only national Episcopal Conference to have taken this initiative.

That same year the cult of "Saint Domenichino" (an alleged Jewish ritual murder victim) in Massa Carrara was abolished by the Catholic Church, declared illegitimate, and without any historical foundation.

In November 1990 the Pope declared that "Antisemitism is a sin against God and man," endorsing a statement made by the International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee in Prague, in September 1990.

On July 29, 1992, a bilateral permanent working commission was established between "the Holy See and the State of Israel, in order to study and define together issues of reciprocal interest and in view of normalizing relations," according to a joint communiqué. This was described as a first step toward diplomatic recognition.

soviet transmigrants in italy

The last groups of Soviet transmigrants left Italy in 1990 after 100,000 had passed through Rome, Ostia, and Ladispoli during the previous two decades. Changed U.S. immigration laws in 1989 and direct processing of visas for Israel in Moscow, ended the flux that had been coordinated by hias, the Joint Distribution Committee, the Jewish Agency, and Italian authorities, who had set up schools and social centers, with religious help from the Lubavitch movement.

community life, historical memory and national politics in the mid-1990s

Two factors permeated Jewish debate in Italy in this period: (1) a series of half-century anniversaries all over the country, commemorating the World War ii events related to Italian and international Holocaust history, and (2) the political rise of the "post-fascist" Alleanza Nazionale (an) party led by Gianfranco Fini.

Meetings, debates, conventions, congresses, ceremonies and colloquiums were held in every region of Italy, organized by local authorities, often in co-operation with Jewish communities, to remember, and also to research and record, the unpublished memories of victims, rescuers, bystanders and all the rest of the generation that lived through the war and are very rapidly disappearing. Scores of new books on Jewish and war history appeared.

In 1994, national elections scheduled for March 27 conflicted with the first day of Passover and were extended to 10 p.m. March 28, after heated protest, to permit Jews to vote. The national elections of March 1994 resulted in a new Conservative conglomerate led by media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi, with a strengthened an party in its midst.

Fini's courting of the Jewish community, in an effort to facelift his party and whitewash the past, met with consistent refusal by the elected leaders of Italian Jewry, even after the an passed a motion at its national party meeting in February 1995 condemning antisemitism and calling the Fascist racial laws "an inestimable disgrace."

The quadrennial national Congress of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (uijc) held in Rome July 3–5, 1994, passed some significant political and community policy motions.

They expressed "concern over Italy's being the first country in the European Union in which forces having roots in fascism … have become part of the governmental majority." They warned against "historical revisionism finding legitimization in a "gray area" equating the values of the struggle for liberation and Nazi-Fascism." They stressed Italian Jewry's commitment to the Constitution, individual freedoms, rights of minorities, pluralism, separation between Church and State, and demanded that international Jewish delegations visiting Italy confer with Italian Jewish leaders before scheduling meetings with Italian government officials.

As always, the uijc Congress stressed its commitment to "the centrality of Israel" and "support for Israel's government."

Economic duress convinced representatives this time to accept the opportunity offered by the government to permit taxpayers to designate eight out of every 1,000 lire to the Jewish community (as many already do to the Catholic Church).

Equating rabbinical degrees from the Rome Rabbinical College with university degrees, and instituting a "laurea" in Jewish Studies at the College was proposed, and later achieved – although at the end of 1995, the latter is still considered an "experimental" degree.

A representative of the Lubavitch movement, which is present in nearly all Italian Jewish communities, was invited to join the Rabbinical Assembly.

Tullia Zevi was elected for her fourth term as president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities.

At the end of 1995, Italian Jewry was faced with two other milestones in Jewish history: the murder of Yiẓḥak Rabin and the forthcoming trial of Nazi war criminal Erich Priebke, extradited in November from Argentina to Italy, co-responsible, as ss Col. Herbert Kappler's assistant, for the reprisal murder of 335 people, including 70 Jews, in the Ardeatine Caves in Rome in March, 1944.

general events

On January 12, 1993, the Ministry of Education introduced the study of contemporary history and the Holocaust into the school system, which previously ended with World War One.

On March 31, 1993, Tullia Zevi won the year's "Courage" prize for "commitment to tolerance and coexistence…." She was named "Knight of the Grand Cross of Merit of the Italian Republic" by the president of Italy, Oscar Luigi Scalfaro.

Nazi skinhead sections were closed down all over Italy as a result of new, stricter laws, but sporadic antisemitic and anti-Zionist incidents continued. On March 19, 1994, masked thugs broke into an exhibition on Israel in Brescia shouting "Zionist assassins," "Intifada," tearing down posters and leaving excrement on the floor.

A 750 lire stamp, issued September 25, 1993, designed by Eva Fischer, commemorated the wartime deportations. Other stamps designed by Ms. Fischer in 1995 commemorated the Montecassino battle and the Ardeatine Caves massacre.

The 50th annual anniversary of the *Jewish Brigade in Italy was celebrated in Piangipane Ravenna with services for those who fell; in Bari, a concert commemorated the landing of the Brigade.

Women increasingly occupy key positions in organized Italian Jewry. In addition to Tullia Zevi, President of the uijc, women are presidents of five of Italy's 20 Jewish communities: Lia Tagliacozzo in Turin; Dora Bemporad in Florence; Celestina Ottolenghi in Ferrara; Bianca Finzi in Bologna; and Paola Bedarida in Leghorn.

In Spring 1995, Tullia Zevi suggested that European Community funds available to religious communities be used by the uijc for Jewish monuments, libraries and youth activities, including international exchange.

Synagogues already restored and reopened after many years of neglect include: (a) the 1824 synagogue of Sabbioneta (province of Mantua) designed by Carlo Visioli, reopened 1993 after 10 years of work costing 100 million lire; (b) and the famous 400-year-old synagogue of Casale Monferrato and its 25-year-old museum; (c) the Pitigliano synagogue, which held its last Yom Kippur service in 1959, was festively re-opened to the recorded voice of the community's last cantor, Azeglio Servi; (d) the Pesaro synagogue, whose reconstruction by Italian Fine Arts authorities caused much controversy. The original light blue and gold-starred cupola of the Portuguese community was painted white; the ancient carved wood separation fence of the women's section was replaced instead of being restored; five inlaid wood rectangles in the entrance portals were replaced by six new ones. The 1437 cupola of the Cuneo synagogue, last restored in 1885, needs further reconstruction; 300 million lire more are needed above the 70 million spent (30 Jews have resettled in Cuneo and in 1995 the first bar mitzvah since the war was held.) The Synagogue of Alessandria was damaged by floods and needed repair. The 1875 Ivrea synagogue, falling apart, was handed over to the municipality in exchange for repairs not yet begun.

New Jewish museums opened in Bologna and Ferrara.

Projects under way include the restoration of the ancient Jewish quarter of Salemi, Sicily, made possible through a 50 billion lire grant by unesco. A research center, a kosher restaurant and 20 houses for scholars will be built.

Conventions and meetings on the many aspects of Jewish history in Italy took place in many towns, and the boom in Judaica publications continues. These include national, regional and municipal histories of Jewish life, Holocaust studies, and Jewish literature, including contemporary Israeli novelists in translation.

A major Italian Jewish convention, organized by Rabbi Shalom Bahbouth of the Department for Community Assistance (dac), took place in Jesoli near Venice in 1994 on "Shalom and the Future of the Jewish People."

[Lisa Palmieri-Billig]

1995–2005. Among the main factors permeating Jewish life in Italy was the right-wing Alleanza Nazionale (an), led by Gianfranco Fini, and the role of Silvio Berlusconi, chief of the Italian parliament since 2002, as well as the subject of the Holocaust, particularly since 2000 when the Italian parliament designated January 27 as Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorating the liberation of Auschwitz. Efforts were made in the Italian Jewish communities to organize debates, conventions, congresses, ceremonies, and colloquiums, in order to promote the knowledge of Judaism and emphasize the importance of memory within non-Jewish society, though there have been complaints of a lack of activism in the promotion of internal culture, particularly in the small communities. The Lubavitch and Reform movements have been growing in many Italian cities. The Reform movement, called Lev Chadash was an absolute novelty in Italy. Founded in 2001 by a group of Italian Jews disagreeing with the Orthodox establishment in matters of conversion and mixed marriage, it had a great deal of success. In September 2004 Rabbi Barbara Aiello of the United States began her tenure at the Reform synagogue in Milan.

Even if less than in other countries, the risk of a new antisemitism nonetheless grew with a 2003 report showing a majority identifying Jews as the number one danger to world peace. A 2005 poll, under the rubric of "Italian Opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and the Mideast Question," showed that a certain movement toward antisemitism, or at least a certain view of events, was emerging among Italians: 11% of those interviewed described themselves as either strongly or fairly strongly in agreement with the proposition that the Jewish Holocaust did actually happen but did not produce as many victims as is usually assumed. In particular, 34.1% of those interviewed described themselves as strongly or fairly strongly in agreement with another proposition, that is, that Jews secretly control economic and financial institutions as well as the media. In addition, 53.7% of Italians were very critical of the Israeli government's handling of the Palestinian question, while 77.8% were against the construction of the security fence that will separate Israelis and Palestinians. Another 35.9% of those interviewed agreed with the statement that the Sharon government was carrying out real genocide and treating the Palestinians the way that Nazis treated the Jews. Furthermore, even as Pope John Paul ii and his successor Benedict xvi improved relations with the Jewish world, theological and political problems remained in relations between the Vatican and the Jewish communities concerning Israel.

In 1998 Amos Luzzatto, physician and scholar of Judaism, was elected president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities. In 2002 Riccardo di Segni, a well-known radiologist and outstanding talmudist and historian, became the Italian chief rabbi, replacing Elio Toaff, who had held the office for 50 years. Riccardo di Segni is the author of numerous articles and books on Jewish culture and thought. He has lectured widely to university audiences, as well as in the community and synagogue. In 2005 Alfonso Arbib, a rabbi and educator of Tripoline origins, became chief rabbi of Milan, replacing Giuseppe Laras, who had held the office for more than 30 years. Among the outstanding scholars and active rabbis in Italy were Scialom Bahbout and Roberto Della Rocca. Scialom Bahbout, physician and researcher at the University La Sapienza of Rome, was the founder and director of Dac (Department for Assistance and Culture of ucei). He also founded the Italian bet midrash Tifereth Yerushalaim in Jerusalem in 2003. Roberto Della Rocca is the director of the Department for Education and Culture (ex Dac) of ucei, vice president of the Central Conference of Italian Rabbis, and professor of Judaism at the Pontificia Lateranense University in Rome.

Women continued to occupy key positions in organized Italian Jewry. In 2003 Sandra Crema Eckert became president of the Modena Jewish community.

The degree issued by the Collegio Rabbinico of Rome was made equal to the Italian Laurea. Jewish studies (history, philosophy, urban history) have been significantly upgraded in Rome, Venice, Bologna, Naples, Trieste, Pisa, and Milan. Italian-Israeli professors like Roberto Bonfil, Sergio DellaPergola, and Alfredo Mordechai Rabello of The Hebrew University, and Sergio Minerbi of Ben-Gurion University, maintained wide institutional relationships with the Italian academies and government. Also, the relationship between the Italian Jewish communities and the Italian Jews in Israel was quite close and allowed valuable cultural exchanges. In the field of Italian Jewish history, the studies of Michele Sarfatti and Liliana Picciotto Fargion shed new light on the extent of the Holocaust in Italy and Nazi-Fascist persecution. They belong to the cdec, which continued to promote didactic activities and research on contemporary Italian Judaism, Shoah, and antisemitism for researcher, students, and schools.

Among the outstanding works with an Italian Jewish content was the film La vita è bella (Life Is Beautiful) in 1997 by Roberto Benigni, who won two Oscars for best foreign film and best actor. The film was considered a masterpiece. It also won the Oscar for original musical score. No other Italian film has received so much international recognition, having also won the First Prize at the 1998 Film Festival at Cannes. Because the protagonist, Guido, is well aware of what is happening but is determined to shield his son from the terrifying reality of the situation in the camps through the invention of an elaborate game, Life Is Beautiful came under attack in some circles for mocking the Holocaust.

In Milan, under the supervision of Maria Modena Mayer, professor of Hebrew literature at the Statale University, the Association of Friends of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (aug) and the Vigevani Foundation have organized many scientific congresses and colloquiums and given scholarships to Italian scholars and students to study in Israel. Furthermore, in 1996, the Center Judaica Goren-Goldstein was founded in Milan thanks to cooperation between the Cuker Goldstein Goren Foundation and the Statale University in Milan, devoted to teaching Jewish thought and culture. In addition to La Rassegna Mensile d'Israel, which continued its activity under the direction of Amos Luzzatto, other journals of Italian Jewish studies were published: ItaliaStudi e ricerche sulla cultura e sulla letteratura degli ebrei d'Italia (since 1976), Zakhor (since 1997), and Materia Giudaica (since 1996). There were also well-organized websites:, giving an overview of Italian Jewry and culture;, which offers the possibility of improving knowledge in Judaic matters; and and focusing on information on Israel. The Jewish Giuntina publishing house of Florence produced new books on Jewish history and culture, and translations from the Hebrew, English, and Yiddish of classical Jewish works. The Jewish Belforte publishing house of Leghorn also published books of various kinds on Judaism. Furthermore, the Zamorani publishing house of Turin is devoted to the publication of historical texts. In 2002–3 Pavia University, under the direction of Professor Paola Vita Finzi and Eng. Vittorio Modena, conducted a research project – Israeli Financing Innovation Schemes for Europe (ifise) – among many European, Italian, and Israeli universities and institutions to arrive at a methodology for the creation of seed and start-up capital sources for high-tech firms in Europe, following the Israeli success stories of Yozma and the Technological Incubators Programs and its application to Italian conditions.

[Robert Bonfil (2nd ed.)]

Relations with Israel

Although Italy was one of the Axis powers during World War ii, this fact left no imprint on her relations with Israel. The active help given in Italy to the survivors of the Holocaust from all over Europe – in particular toward their migration to Palestine – and the fact that, even under the Fascist regime, Italy did not participate in the horrors perpetrated by her German ally but rather actually helped in the rescue work, served to place Israel-Italian relations on a regular footing from the outset. When the young State of Israel approached the question of her foreign ties, Italy was among the first countries in which an Israeli diplomatic mission was established. Israel established an embassy in Rome and a consulate-general in Milan (the Israeli ambassador also maintains contact with the *Vatican), and Italy's embassy was located in Tel Aviv. The development of essential ties, however, was quite slow, due mainly to Italy's postwar policy, the principal aims of which were settlements of territorial questions directly relating to her and a return to a position of equality in the family of nations. Over the years, increased contacts and a strengthening of ties was achieved, because of Italy's rising influence in the various European organizations in which Israel was actively interested; the rise in Italy's position as a Mediterranean country, and her anxiety in view of the Soviet Union's increasing penetration into the Mediterranean basin; the decline – from Israel's point of view – in France's influence after her change in policy on the eve of the *Six-Day War (1967); and the great diplomatic ability Italy displayed when an El Al plane was hijacked to Algeria in 1968 (the release of the plane, its crew, and passengers were secured through Italy's intervention), and when a twa plane was hijacked to Damascus in 1969 and six Israelis were held prisoners after the release of the rest of the passengers.

Objective difficulties existed in some areas, such as that of commercial ties, since the economies of the two countries had a certain similarity in important fields of production (e.g., citrus), and it was therefore not easy to realize their mutual desire to increase trade between the two countries. Italy even placed obstacles in the way of Israel's affiliation with the Common Market because of citrus competition. Italy's active ties with Israel were linked to its general relationship with the Middle East, in which it had important interests. It did not develop a unilateral policy on the question of the Israel-Arab dispute, and its cautious diplomatic initiatives were aimed at advancement toward a negotiated peace.

[Yohanan Meroz]

The significant improvement in relations between Italy and Israel under the Berlusconi government and the historic visit of Gianfranco Fini to Jerusalem in 2003, when he repudiated the Nazi-Fascist Republic of Salò for the first time, are developments at the center of discussion within Jewish communities. In particular, Giulio Terzi di San'Agata, Italy's ambassador to Israel during 2001–3, worked to improve these relations between the two states with great success. Meanwhile, the majority of Italian leftists continued to support the Palestinian cause. In 2002 the liberal newspaper Il Foglio organized a demonstration in Rome in support of Israel, called Israel Day, with a large turnout of Italian citizens, politicians, and journalists.

[Robert Bonfil (2nd ed.)]

The dominant pattern of an excess of Israeli imports over exports to Italy continued. Thus exports from Italy to Israel rose from $13.6 million in 1960 to $314.9 million in 1980, whereas imports to Italy rose from $10.6 million in 1960 to $285.1 million in 1980. In 2004 exports to Italy stood at $810 million, while imports climbed to $1,566 million. A considerable expansion in the number of tourists from Italy to Israel, which rose steadily from 2,400 in 1960 to 37,000 in 1977 and 55,800 in 1980, indicated the growing interest for the Holy Land among Jews and non-Jews. In 2004, 42,000 Italians visited Israel.

Musical Tradition

The various strata of Italian Jewry and the diverse origins of the Jewish communities are reflected in the variety of their musical traditions. Six stylistic traditions can be distinguished:

(1) The Italian rite (also called lo'azi, Italki or Italyani) came to the communities of north central Italy in the late Middle Ages. In 1970 it was still in use in "Italian rite synagogues" of Turin, Padua, Mantua, Venice, Ferrara, Alessandria, Ancona and Siena. In Pitigliano, Reggio Emilia, and Florence it ceased some decades earlier. In Milan and Bologna it was adopted in the modern synagogues.

(2) Sephardi rites and chants which came from Spain, either directly or by way of North Africa, to the communities on the west coast, chiefly Leghorn. Their use eventually spread to Genoa, Naples, Pisa, and in the 19th century to Florence (where they replaced the Italian rite and its melodies).

(3) The Sephardi chant, originating partially from Marranos in Spain but mainly from the Balkan Peninsula and the Orient, and received by the communities on the Adriatic coast, chiefly Venice, and later Trieste, Ferrara, and Ancona. In the Venetian "colonies" of Spalato and Ragusa this tradition is extinct.

(4) The rite of three small communities in Piedmont: Asti, Fossano, and Moncalvo (extinct), which were settled by Jews from France in the 14th to 15th century, and called *apam after their Hebrew initials.

(5) The Ashkenazi rite used by the communities of south-German origin formed in the 16th–17th century at Casale Monferrato, Padua, Verona, Venice, Gorizia. It is extinct in Rovigo, Vercelli, Modena, Sandaniele del Friuli, and other small centers.

(6) Rome, where until the beginning of the 20th century various congregations had " Scole " (synagogues) which, according to their origin, were called Sicilian, Castilian, Catalan, or Italian. In the 20th-century Great Synagogue, inaugurated in 1904, the different musical traditions fused into a single rite, in which the Italian element predominated, but in which the influences of Sephardi chant and ancient and modern Roman Christian liturgy could be discerned.

The most important element common to these different traditions is the Italian pronunciation of Hebrew. Because of the nasalization of the ayin, the loss of the he, the pronunciation of the tav without dagesh as d, and especially since all the vowels (including the sheva na at the beginning and frequently at the end of a word) are fully pronounced, a peculiar sonorousness of musical expression emerged which completely Italianized the tunes, including those of German and Spanish origin. Concomitantly, the chants of Germanic origin underwent a leveling of their pentatonic and characteristically wide intervals, and those of Oriental origin lost such exotic elements as the interval of the augmented second, the plaintive and excessively melismatic turns, and the coloratura passages. The majority of the chants and their style of performance are characterized in all Italian rites by an ecclesiastical solemnity or, at times, by operatic idioms. In the 18th–19th centuries, the singing was also influenced by the "learned" styles of Italian music or by popular songs.

In the synagogues built according to the "Italian plan," i.e., bipolar construction, the tevah or bimah is situated in an elevated niche, like a counterapse, in the western wall opposite the aron; the benches are therefore arranged in two rows along the northern and southern walls and the worshipers are thus able to see the face and gestures of the ḥazzan. The singing therefore developed responsorial forms with much public participation. Under the direction of the ḥazzan, who became a kind of conductor of this homophonous choir, there was participation even in the recital of the introductory formulae of the Shema and the psalms. In the 19th century, with the construction of modern synagogues where the bimah is closer to the aron, participation by the public was reduced; but following the example of the Reform synagogues in Vienna and Paris, an organized choir (male, sometimes mixed or female) was introduced for which new collections of liturgical chants were composed, even in such small Jewish communities as those in Vercelli, Asti, Trieste, Saluzzo, and Mantua. Those chants were composed mainly in 19th-century idiom, reminiscent of the operatic style of Verdi or Rossini, or based on patriotic songs of the Italian Risorgimento in which the Jews had enthusiastically taken part. This music required the use of an organ; however, after World War ii, the organ was abolished in all Italian Jewish communities. It should be noted that the development of "cultured" 19th-century music had its precedents in many Italian cities in the art music composed for synagogue use by Jewish and some non-Jewish musicians during the ghetto period of the 17th and 18th centuries. In the 16th and 17th centuries, Jewish musicians and composers were greatly appreciated by, and enjoyed the favor of, the local rulers. Salomone de Rossi of Mantua, Leone de Modena of Venice, and the Christian Carlo Grossi of Modena are examples of this Jewish-Italian musical symbiosis.

The Italian rite in Rome and in the northern communities possesses its own tradition of biblical cantillation in the reading of the *parashah, the *haftarah (including a special "festive" intonation of the haftarah), and in the sung rendition of the psalms. This tradition is documented in the notations of parashah and haftarah tunes published by Giulio *Bartolocci (1693) and in the intonation of the psalms, noted first by E. Bottrigari (1599) and some years later by Jacob b. Isaac Finzi, ḥazzan of the Ashkenazi community of Casale Monferrato, according to the tradition of his teacher, R. Abraham Segre (preserved in the Hebrew manuscript, Jews College, London, Montefiore 479, fol. 147b).

In this tradition, only five or six of the main (disjunctive) accents are rendered by musical motives of their own, the subservient (conjunctive) accents being disregarded. The application of the motives does not coincide with the "Tiberian" accentuation system with which the biblical text is provided, implying the existence of an independent system based on an oral tradition. This independent system is related to the old Near Eastern practice of Ekphonesis, an early Byzantine term meaning public reading of the Scriptures. Since the Italian rite derives from the Palestinian which dates from an earlier period than the one in which the Tiberian system of the Masoretic accents became established, it may be proposed that this method of biblical cantillation is equally ancient.

The cantillation is limited to a strictly tetrachordal (four-tone) range, and tends to be syllabic, without melismas, the musical motifs being spread over entire words or groups of words. In the Sephardi and Ashkenazi synagogues of Italy, too, this syllabic rendition prevails in biblical cantillation and even more so in the melodies of the prayers. The medieval and Oriental taste for melismatics is preserved only in some archaic melodies of the apam rite or in rites of more conservative and isolated centers such as Gorizia (Ashkenazi) and Leghorn (Sephardi). However, there too, cantorial improvisation in the Oriental style is excluded, the melodic formulas for each liturgical ceremony being fixed by tradition in the form of leitmotiv-like systems which are peculiar to each community. Italian rabbis often protested against the melismatic influences of Oriental or Ashkenazi ḥazzanim on the repertoire of a community, not only because they wished to keep the local musical traditions intact, but because melismas interrupted or distorted the rendering of the text according to the correct grammatical accentuation.

No liturgical or quasi-liturgical Judeo-Italian vernacular songs are found in the tradition, and perhaps none existed. There are, however, a few exceptions: songs in "Bagitto" (the Jewish Livornese dialect), in Judeo-Corfiote (in Trieste), and in Piedmontese-Jewish, all of which are translations of Hebrew Passover songs, Purim parodies, and the like. Moreover, in the middle of the 19th century, some poems written in Hebrew, with parallel Italian translation, were set to compositions and popular anthems of the Risorgimento to celebrate the emancipation of the Jews.

The hymns of the proselytes of San Nicandro, created between 1930 and 1950, form a separate and peculiar repertoire. The hymns are of biblical inspiration, but the language is the dialect of the Gargano-Puglia region and the melodies are adaptations of regional songs. Women perform the hymns in a kind of primitive polyphony.

The only systematic collection of traditional synagogal melodies for the annual liturgical cycle is Federico *Consolo's Libro dei canti d'Israele (1892), containing the Sephardi tradition of Leghorn. A collection of Ashkenazi melodies of Ferrara was made in 1925–35 on the initiative of A.Z. *Idelsohn, but most of the material has been lost. A collection from the present repertoire of the Roman synagogue has been published by A. Piatelli (see bibliography). An early and interesting musical transcription is the "Twelve Biblical Intonations" of the Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews of Venice. Performed by the gentile composer Benedetto Marcello, they were used by him as a melodic basis for his psalm-paraphrases in the paraphrases, Estro poetico-armonico (Venice, 1724–27).

[Leo Levi]


The history of the Jews in Italy has attracted the attention of a considerable number of scholars. Over 2,000 major and minor historical works have been published of local, regional, or general interest. A complete classified bibliography may be found in: A. Milano, Bibliotheca historica italo-judaica (1954), with supplements in 1964 and in: rmi (Nov. 1966). Complete histories are: C. Roth, History of the Jews of Italy (1946); A. Milano, Storia degli ebrei in Italia (1963); and on a smaller scale, G. Volli, Breve storia degli ebrei d'Italia (1961); C. Roth, Jews in the Renaissance (1959); and the corresponding work in Hebrew, M.A. Szulwas, Ḥayyei ha-Yehudim be-Italyah bi-Tekufat ha-Renaissance (1955); as well as collections of essays by the last-named writers, all dealing with individual aspects of Italian Jewish history. See also bibliographies to articles on specific cities, in particular *Rome, *Leghorn, *Venice, *Florence, and *Mantua. fascist period: J. Starr, in: jsos, 1 (1939), 105–24; M. Michaelis, in: Yad Vashem Studies, 4 (1960), 7–41; D. Carpi, ibid., 43–56; idem, in: Rivista di studi politici internazionali, 28 (1961) 35–56; idem, in: Dappim le-Ḥeker ha-Sho'ah ve-ha-Mered, 3 (1968); R. de Felice, Storia degli ebrei italiani sotto il fascismo (1961): U. Nahon, in: Scritti… Leone Carpi (1967), 261–84; R. Katz, Black Sabbath (1970). contemporary period: R. Bachi, in: jjso, 4 (1962), 172–91; Unione delle Communità Israelitiche Italiane, vii Congresso, Relazione del Consiglio (19665726) (1966); F. Sabatello, in: P. Glikson and S. Ketko (eds.), Jewish Communal Service (1967), 107–12; S. della Pergola, in: Bi-Tefuẓot ha-Golah, 10:1–2 (1968), 159–77. musical tradition. sources: Jews' College, London, Ms. Montefiore no. 479, fol. 147b: Notation of Psalm intonation by J. Finzi in Casale-Monferrato, 1600; S. Rossi, Ha-Shirim asher li-Shelomo (Venice, 1622–23); A. Kircher, Musurgia Universalis (Rome, 1650), pt. 1, 64–67; G. Bartolocci, Bibliotheca magna rabbinica, 4 (Rome, 1675–93; repr. 1969), 427–41; M. Zahalon, Meẓiẓ u-Meliẓ (Venice, 1715); B. Marcello, Estro poetico-armonico (Venice, 1724–26); F. Consolo, Libro dei canti d'Israele (1892); E. Ventura, et al., in: rmi, 5 (1931), 429–32; A.Z. Idelsohn, in: huca, 11 (1936), 569–91; E. Piattelli, Canti liturgici ebraici di rito italiano (1967); studies: E. Birnbaum, Juedische Musiker am Hofe von Mantua (1893); E. Werner, in: mgwj, 81 (1937), 393–416; L. Levi, in: L'Approdo, 3 (1954), 37–44; idem, in: Sefer ha-Mo'adim (1954), 182–6; idem, in: rmi, 23 (1957), 403–11, 435–45; 27 (1961); idem, in: Yeda Am, 2 (1955/56), 59–69; idem, in: Centro Nazionale Studi di Musica Popolare, Roma, Studi e Ricerche (1960), 50–68; idem, in: Scritti… G. Bedarida (1966), 105–36; Adler, Prat Mus, index; idem, in: Jewish Mediaeval and Renaissance Studies (1967), 321–64; S. Naumbourg (ed.), Cantiques de Salomon Rossi (1877, repr. 1954); F. Rikko (ed.), Salomon Rossi, Ha-Shirim asher li-Shelomo, 3 vols. (1967– ). add. bibliography: D.A.L. Bidussa, G.L. Voghera. Oltre il ghetto: momenti e figure della cultura ebraica in Italia tra l'Unità e il fascismo (2005); R. Bonfil, Rabbis and Jewish Communities in Renaissance Italy (Heb., 1979; published for the Litman Library by Oxford University Press, 1990); idem, Gli ebrei in Italia nell'epoca del Rinascimento (1991); idem, Tra due mondi. Cultura ebraica e cultura cristiana nel Medioevo (1996); E. Capuzzo, Gli ebrei nella società italiana: comunità e istituzioni tra Ottocento e Novecento (1999); E. Collotti, Il Fascismo e gli ebrei. Le leggi razziali in Italia (2003); S. DellaPergola, Anatomia dell'ebraismo italiano: caratteristiche demografiche, economiche, sociali, religiose e politiche di una minoranza (1976); R. De Felice, Storia degli ebrei italiani sotto il fascismo (1961, 19884; Jews in Fascist Italy: A History (2001)); E.R. Gruber, Virtually Jewish. Reinventing Jewish Culture in Europe (2002); B.D. Ruderman (ed.), Preachers of the Italian Ghetto (1992); idem, Essential Papers on Jewish Culture in Renaissance and Baroque Italy (1992); G. Fabre, Mussolini razzista: dal socialismo al fascismo: la formazione di un antisemita (2005); A. Milano, Storia degli ebrei in Italia 1963 (rist. 1992); G. Formiggini, Stella d'Italia Stella di David. Gli ebrei dal Risorgimento alla Resistenza (1970, repr. 1998); Italia judaica: gli ebrei in Italia tra Rinascimento ed età barocca: atti del 2. Convegno internazionale, Genova 10–15 giugno 1984 (1986); Italia judaica. Atti del iii Convegno internazionale (1989); L. Picciotto Fargion, Il Libro della memoria. Gli Ebrei deportati dall'Italia (19431945). Ricerca del Centro di Documentazione Ebraica Contemporanea (1991, 20022); M. Sarfatti Mussolini contro gli ebrei. Cronaca dell'elaborazione delle leggi del 1938 (1994); idem, Gli ebrei nell'Italia fascista: vicende, identità, persecuzione (2000); G. Schwarz, Ritrovare se stessi: gli ebrei nell'Italia postfascista (2004); A. Stille, Benevolence and Betrayal: Five Italian Jewish Families under Fascism (1991); R.K. Stow, Theater of Acculturation: The Roman Ghetto in the Sixteenth Century (2000); M. Toscano, Ebraismo e antisemitismo in Italia: dal 1848 alla guerra dei sei giorni (2003); C. Vivanti (ed.), Gli Ebrei in Italia, i. Dall'Alto Medioevo all'Età dei Lumi (1996); idem (ed.), Gli Ebrei in Italia, ii. Dall'emancipazione a oggi (1997); K. Voigt, Il rifugio precario. Gli esuli in Italia dal 1933 al 1945, 2 vols. (1993 and 1996); M. Michaelis, Mussolini and the Jews: German-Italian Relations and the Jewish Question in Italy, 19221945 (1978); idem, La Persecuzione degli ebrei durante il fascismo: Le leggi del 1938 (1998); M. Sarfatti: Le leggi antiebraiche spiegate agli italiani di oggi (2002); S. Zuccotti, The Italians and the Holocaust: Persecution, Rescue, and Survival (1987); Dalle leggi antiebraiche alla Shoah: Sette anni di storia italiana 19381945 (2004); D. Carpi, Between Mussolini and Hitler: The Jews and the Italian Authorities in France and Tunisia (1994).


views updated Jun 11 2018


Italian Republic

Major Cities:
Rome, Florence, Milan, Naples, Palermo, Genoa, Trieste, Turin, Bologna, Venice

Other Cities:
Bari, Bergamo, Brescia, Bressanone, Cagliari, Catania, Messina, Modena, Padua, Parma, Siena, Syracuse


This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report 2001 for Italy. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at for the most recent information available on travel to this country.


Like the Roman god Janus, Italy wears two faces. One, soft with the patina of age, looks back on a glorious historythe awesome monuments of Imperial Rome, the ruins of Pompeii, the magnificence of canal-fretted Venice or colorful Florence, cradle of the Renaissance. The other face, shiny new, reflects the modernity of a nation surging with superhighways, busy factories, and skyscrapers.

Northern Italy, center of the nation's economic life, sprawls busily across the Po River plain. Industries sprout alongside time-worn medieval towns, and the alluvial soils make the area one of the richest agriculturally in southern Europe. Terraces on mountain slopes along the northern border grow grapes for wines and mulberry trees for leaves to feed silk-worms.

Central Italy is dominated by Apen-nine ridges. Once they helped bar unity; even now a village dialect may not be well understood only a few miles away. This is the nation's heartland; the region of Dante, Saint Francis, and Leonardo.

Southern Italy, once poverty ridden and ravaged by malaria and erosion, rebounds under reclamation projects and expanding industry. Pacing its life is sunny Naples, the city of Vesuvius, of Capri, and Amalfi, of effervescent people who sing when they are happy, sad, or in love.

Italy is one of the most attractive assignments in the Foreign Service. The country boasts not only a rich cultural and historical tradition, but also enjoys a varied, pleasant climate. Italians are favorably disposed toward Americans, partly for historical reasons, but mainly because of their general appreciation of things American. Americans generally enjoy Italy, though some find it more difficult than they expect. There is a chaotic element to life here that becomes immediately visible in street traffic, in bank lines, and in getting repairs done on an emergency basis. Urban air pollution has become a serious problem, particularly in Milan, Rome, and Naples.

Italy, as other Western democracies, currently faces striking economic and political challenges. It must reduce the economic differences between the wealthy north and the poorer south and control organized crime. In recent years, significant steps have been taken to deal with these problems, but they stubbornly persist.

Approached with a spirit of adventure, humor, and patience, a tour in Italy is sure to be rewarding, both personally and professionally.



Rome, one of the world's most famous cities, has been the capital of Italy since the nation's unification in 1870. It surrounds the small independent Vatican State, worldwide capital of the Roman Catholic Church. Rome is located about halfway down the Italian Peninsula, 15 miles inland from the Tyrrhenian Sea, astride the Tiber River.

Although the seven original hills of the city are small (roughly 44-50 feet above sea level), some of the hills on the west bank of the Tiber, such as Monte Mario (elevation 462 feet), are considerably higher.

A city of about 2.6 million people, Rome is primarily a government and commercial center, though with growing industrial presence. It remains a city deeply imbued with a sense of history. Nevertheless, it is also a modern city with all the modern amenities, and difficulties.

Rome is an international capital. Not only does it host the world headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, it is also the home to the Food and Agricultural agencies of the United Nations (FAO). A sizable foreign community is in Rome. Approximately 17,000 Americans permanently live in the consular district, which includes the regions of Lazio (Latium), Abruzzo, Marche, and Umbria.


A large variety of fresh produce is available locally. Prices and availability of particular items vary greatly with the season. Good beef can be hard to find, but veal is plentiful. Meats and poultry are much more expensive than in the U.S., and the meats are of different cuts. Groceries are available in great variety, including typically American cereals, crackers, and cheeses. Local bread keeps only a short time because it lacks preservatives.


Men: American clothing is practical and satisfactory. Summer suits of synthetic materials can be worn here 6 months a year. Winter suits, a medium-weight overcoat, and a raincoat are also needed. Sports jackets are very useful. Tuxedos are worn for formal nights at the opera. Formal wear can be rented in Rome.

Good ready-made suits are available, as are excellent tailors and a good selection of materials. Although prices vary greatly, the best tailoring is cheaper and the best material more expensive than in the U.S. Custom-made shirts of cotton and silk, worn by well-dressed Italians, are expensive. Underclothing, socks, and ready-made shirts are expensive. Fine silk ties and scarves, leather gloves, coats, and bags are a good buy.

Although Americans generally prefer American styling for their shoes, Italian shoes are considered attractive and are available in a wide range of styles and sizes.

Women: Wool or knit dresses and suits are popular and practical in Italy most of the year. American cottons are ideal for the summer. Cocktail tail and short dinner dresses are worn frequently to the opera, concerts and parties. Sportswear of all kinds is useful.

Dress shops are abundant in Italy, but the selection found in any one shop is limited. Clothing is in high fashion and made mostly of natural fibers (all wool, cotton, or silk). Casual wash-and-wear summer fashions are hard to find (i.e., knit tops and skirts). Winter skirts and sweaters are abundant, of good quality, and are reasonably priced. Remember that sizes and cuts are different and are not always to American taste. Good-quality undergarments are usually more expensive than similar items in the U.S. Some American brands are found locally.

Italian women occasionally have clothes made. This is expensive, but it assures quality. Quality materials are expensive, and simple cotton dresses may often cost as much as silk dresses. Silks and woolens, or blends, are beautiful and of good quality.

Italian shoes are stylish and attractive, but sizes generally vary by length only and do not always fit American feet. A few stores carry American-last shoes. Good comfortable walking shoes are hard to find, but all-leather boots are abundant.

Hats are seldom worn. Several hat shops in Italy sell ready made or made to order hats at prices comparable to those in the U.S. Ladies gloves and other leather goods are an Italian specialty and are generally cheaper than those in the U.S. Designer items from houses such as Gucci, Fendi and Valentino are expensive but cheaper than in the U.S.

Children: Beautiful handmade baby clothing and children's party dresses are abundant but expensive. Play clothes for children under 10 are available, but also expensive. Practical, inexpensive items, such as no-iron polyester/cotton clothing, are generally not available locally.

Supplies and Services

Adequate laundry and dry cleaning services are available, although not as numerous as in the U.S. Dry cleaning is expensive. Rome has both laundromats and coin-operated dry cleaning machines; however, paid attendants operate the machines with varying reliability. Shoe repair prices are comparable to those in the U.S. and the work is very good. Excellent hairdressers and barbers are available, but they are expensive by American standards. Several have English-speaking hairstylists. One should inquire about expertise with different hair-styles and types. It is possible to have an American manicure and pedicure.

Repairs to American radios, sound systems and electrical appliances are not always dependable because most local repairmen are not familiar with equipment made for the American market. It helps to have circuit diagrams or maintenance instructions for each item. Other repair services are generally good, but substantial effort may be required to locate the particular service needed.

Inexpensive plug adapters that eliminate the need for changing American plugs are sold locally.

Domestic Help

Domestic help is expensive, particularly if you are seeking experienced personnel. Italian workers are rare and the majority does not speak English. There are many third-country nationals available. The mandatory requirement for locally hired non-EU household workers is that they possess a valid sojourn permit for work in Italy.

Household worker employment is governed by specific Italian laws and by a National Contract for Household Workers, which is reviewed and renewed every four years. Italian law requires that employers pay several benefits, including health and social security insurance, food/lodging when appropriate, annual leave, 13th month bonus and termination pay. The cost of these benefits may equal the worker's basic salary. This applies to_ all workers (EU or non-EU citizens) regardless of whether they are temporary, full time, or part time. Workers' rights are based on Italian standards that are legally enforceable and failure to observe these basic standards can lead to unpleasant situations for the employer.

Religious Activities

Churches, synagogues and mosques in Rome with services in English include American Episcopal, Anglican, Baptist, Christian Scientist, Evangelical Assembly of God, Methodist, Mormon, Roman Catholic and Presbyterian. Services of other faiths include Bahai, German Lutheran, Greek, Seventh-day Adventist, Italian Waldensian Protestant, Jehovah's Witness, Russian Orthodox, Islamic and Jewish.


The following schools should be contacted as far in advance as possible for registration. Most schools provide student lunch facilities, athletic and recreational programs and bus service. The school year begins in September and ends in June. Good American, British, French and German schools are available. Private schools, including English and French, enroll an increasing number of Italian students because of disciplinary and curriculum reform problems in Italian public schools.

American Overseas School of Rome (AOSR) , Via Cassia 811, Rome 00189. Tel: 06 3326 4841, Fax: 3326 2608, E-mail: [email protected]. Nondenominational, coeducational day school offering instruction in the American educational system (kindergarten through grade 12.) Instruction is by a multinational but predominantly American faculty. The school program is primarily designed to prepare students for American universities. Credits are transferable to U.S. schools and colleges. The school has boarding facilities available for high school students at the Villa St. Dominique. Middle school students can board with local families. Preschool is available for 3-and 4-year-olds.

Marymount International School , Via di Villa Lauchli 180, Rome 00191. Tel: 06 3630 1742, Fax: 06 3630 1738, E-mail: [email protected]. An independent private day school is operated by the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Mary. It follows the same course system and offers the same credits as their school in Tarrytown, N.Y, which is guided by the N.Y State Board of Regents program. It also offers the International Baccalaureate program. The faculty is primarily non-clerical and international, drawing many teachers from Ireland and Great Britain. Instruction is offered in English to girls and boys from kindergarten through grade 12. Early childhood classes are available for 3-and 4-year-olds.

St. Stephen's Schoo l, Via Aven-tina 3, Rome. Tel: 06 575 0605, Fax: 06 574 1941. A private international high school accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, it offers a program in English designed to meet the entrance requirements of U.S. and European universities through the International Baccalaureate program to boys and girls in grades 9 through 12. Faculty is primarily American. Boarding facilities are available for both boys and girls. The school does not provide bus service for day students.

St. George's British International School , Via Cassia Km. 16, (La Storta) 00123 Rome. Tel: 06 3089 0141, Fax: 06 3089 2490, E-mail: [email protected] Nondenominational English day school, offering instruction in English to boys and girls from kindergarten through high school. Faculty is British and the curriculum is the standard general college preparatory program designed to prepare students for British schools and universities. For students in the International Baccalaureate program, it is adaptable for transfer to American schools and universities.

CORE-The Cooperative School , Via Orvino 20, 00199 Rome. Tel/Fax: 06 8621 1614. This school was established in 1983 by a group of British-trained teachers and was formed as a cooperative. It is open to children of all nationalities from ages 3 to 11. All lessons are in English, although an optional Italian program provides for those who wish to enter the Italian state system at a later date. The curriculum emphasizes the basic skills, with each CORE teacher specializing in a subject that they teach throughout the school. Music, art, physical education and drama are part of their program.

Ambrit Rome International School , Via Filippo Tajani, 50 00149 Rome. Tel: 06 559 5305, Fax 06 559 5309, E-mail: [email protected]. Providing an international education based on American and British approaches and techniques, the school's programs of study and activities foster the development of the whole child with opportunities for growth in all areas. Awareness and understanding of different cultures is encouraged, especially an appreciation of Italy, its language and its culture. Foreign language instruction is introduced at any early age.

Special Educational Opportunities American University of Rome , (300 students) Via Pietro Roselli 4, 00153 Roma. Tel: 06-58330919, Fax: 06-5833-0992, E-mail: [email protected]. Instruction is in English. AUR offers bachelor-degree programs in business administration, international relations, interdisciplinary studies, and Italian studies and an associate degree in liberal arts. The American University of Rome is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools and licensed by the Education Licensure Commission of the District of Columbia. It is the Rome study-abroad center for several American colleges and universities.

John Cabot University , (400 students) Via della Lungara 233, 00165 Roma. Tel: 066819121; Fax: 06683-2088, E-mail: [email protected]. Instruction is in English. John Cabot University offers bachelor degree programs in business administration, international affairs art history and English language literature. Some associate degree programs are also available. John Cabot is affiliated with Hiram College in Ohio, which is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. All courses at John Cabot are transferable to Hiram College, which issues official transcripts for John Cabot students. It is the Rome study-abroad center for several American colleges and universities.

The Bologna Center of the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) , Via Belmeloro 11, 40126 Bologna. Tel: 05-1232185, Fax: 05-1228-505, email:[email protected]. Instruction is in English. The Bologna Center is an integral part of The Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washing-ton, D.C. The center offers an interdisciplinary program of graduate studies in international relations. Courses are given in international economics, European studies (history, politics and culture), international law, U.S. foreign policy, and related topics (demography, the environment. and human resources).

Degrees earned at the Center are granted by the Johns Hopkins University. Degrees offered: diploma in international relations (one year), M.A. in international relations (two-years, with year two at SAIS in Washington), master of international public policy (MIPP-one-year program for mid-career professionals), and M.A. in international relations (two-year program for non-Americans in Bologna).

St. John's University , Oratorio San Pietro, Via Santa Maria Media-trice 24, 00165 Roma. Tel: 06636-937, Fax: 06636-901. Internet: Instruction is in English. The Graduate Center of St. John's University, located at the Oratorio San Pietro in Rome, offers programs of study in business administration, church administration, and international relations. The M.B.A. program is fully accredited by the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business (A.A.-C.S.B.) and offers a full-time and part-time American M.B.A. with a concentration in international finance. The church administration program began in 1996; the M.A. program in international relations began in 1997. This is a program of St. John's University in New York.


Almost any form of sports activity can be enjoyed in the vicinity of Rome, including golf, tennis, skiing, swimming, riding, boating, bicycling, hunting, and fishing. Spectator sports include soccer, boxing, horse racing, and auto and motorcycle racing.

Much of Rome's sports activity is organized around private clubs. Most memberships in private clubs are expensive and are not refundable. The Acqua Santa Golf Club, 5 miles from the city, has an 18-hole course. The Olgiata Country Club, about 10 miles north of the city, has a 27-hole golf course, swimming pool, tennis courts, riding horses, and a fine clubhouse. The membership fee is very high and you need a club member sponsor.

Several other tennis and swimming clubs are open to Americans. It should be noted that all sports/recreational facilities are very expensive to join.

Good sports equipment is available locally.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

An incredible number and variety of places of historical and artistic interest are found in and around Rome. Commercial and cultural organizations arrange tours and visits daily. Tours are conducted in a variety of languages, including English.

Naples is less than 3 hours by car and Florence is almost as close. Rome itself has major monuments and archeological and historical sites. These exist in greater richness and variety in Italy than in any other country. The many good guidebooks to Italy available locally or in the U.S. give details on tourist attractions.

Many recreation areas and campgrounds are found in the countryside. Good, but often crowded, beaches with cabanas and some beach equipment for rent lie within 20 miles of Rome and can be reached by public transportation. To the south, 2 hours or less by car, are beautiful and spacious beaches. Terminillo and Ovindoli, 2 hours by car or bus, are the nearest ski resorts with tow systems and equipment for rent. Some hunting and fishing is available in the countryside around Rome, but most hunting is generally limited to invitation-only private reserves. Horses are available from several riding academies in Rome at reasonable prices.

Hikers and mountain climbers will find a wealth of possibilities in the nearby Apennines. The Club Alpino Italiano offers 1-day trips for mountain hiking and, in winter, cross-country skiing.

Rome has many parks for children. The large, beautiful Villa Borghese park has a zoo, a small theater where children's movies are shown in Italian, Punch and Judy shows, pony rides, small bicycles for rent, a lake with boats for rent, and a large playground.


Rome offers a variety of entertainment facilities appropriate to a major capital city. Knowledge of Italian is valuable. Movie theaters show current Italian, American, and other films with Italian soundtracks. One or two theaters offer French, English, and American films with original soundtracks.

Several theaters present classics, modern plays, and revues, usually in Italian. Rome's formal opera season opens in December and continues through May, with excellent productions and performances by leading Italian artists. During the summer, opera moves outdoors to the ruins of the Baths of Caracalla and Ostia Antica. Concert performances are given frequently during the winter season; outdoor performances are held in summer, usually in the late evening. Prices for most of these musical events are reasonable. Visiting theatrical groups, as well as local pageantry, offer additional interest.

Rome has many discos and a few nightclubs. Good restaurants are plentiful, some steeped in atmosphere and others featuring famous food specialities. Many places offer outdoor dining in summer. Meals in fine restaurants can be expensive, but the discerning diner can often find a good buy as well as a good meal.

Social Activities

Rome has a variety of American organizations for men and women. Several hold monthly luncheons. Cub Scout and Brownie packs and Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops are supported by the American community.


Described by Petrarch as the "Pearl of Cities," Florence's glorious past and dynamic present never cease to fascinate students and visitors from all parts of the world. The splendors of the Italian Renaissance are seen not only in its famous churches, palaces, and museums, but are also kept alive in the tradition of crafts-manship, which makes Florence and the region of Tuscany one of the world's major artisan centers.

Florence is in the heart of a rich agricultural region whose principal products are cereal grains, vegetables, olives, and the famous Chianti wines. The city has a population of 500,000. About 30,000 are non-Italian residents, mainly other Europeans, Americans and Chinese citizens. Most members of the foreign colony (except the Chinese) and the Italians who move in this circle speak English. Very few in the general Italian population, however, and virtually no Italian officials speak or understand English. Shopkeepers, travel agencies, and hotels catering to tourists have English-speaking personnel.

Religious Activities

The following churches have services in English: Christian Science Church, Via Baracca 150; Convento Ognissanti (All Saints Catholic), Borgo Ognissanti, 42; St. James American Church (Protestant Episcopal), Via Rucellai, 15; St. Marks (Anglican), Via Maggio, 16.


The American International School of Florence offers an American curriculum as well as an international baccalaureate program for children from preschool through grade 12, with preparation for American schools and colleges. Transportation is available. The address is Villa La Tavernule, 23/25 Via del Carota, 50012 Bagno a Ripoli (Firenze). Tel: 640033. Information on tuition and other charges can be obtained by writing directly to the school.

Florence also has a number of good private and state-run nursery and elementary schools. Italian is the language of instruction in most of these schools, although a few teach in French or German. Many schools provide bus transportation at an additional charge. A number of American parents have found Italian public schools very satisfactory, especially in the lower grades.

No English-language schools are in Florence for children with learning disabilities. Italian schools include handicapped children in classes with regular students under the guidance of specially trained teachers.

Special Educational Opportunities

Over 30 American colleges and universities, including some of the most prestigious, conduct a rich and wide range of full semester and summer programs in Florence and in other cities.

Several excellent schools in the Florence area, graduate and undergraduate, specialize in the fine arts, Italian language and culture, and music. These include the Pius XII Institute, the University of Florence Center of Culture for Foreigners, the Luigi Cherubini Conservatory of Music, the Instituto Statale d'Arte, and the Accademia delle Belle Arti. Tutoring is available in art, music, and Italian language.


There is ample opportunity to enjoy sports in the Florence area. Golf, tennis, swimming, riding, bicycling, hunting, and fishing are the most popular participant sports. Spectator sports are mostly limited to horse-racing and soccer.

A great deal of sports activity centers around private clubs. The Ugolino Golf Club, about a 30-minute drive from the city, has an excellent 18-hole course and swimming pool. The Circolo del Tennis offers good tennis courts and a small swimming pool. Children under 10 are not allowed to use the pool. Membership in both clubs is rather expensive.

Public sports facilities are limited to a number of children's playgrounds and a few large public swimming pools. Horseback riding is also available in and near Cascine Park.

Good sports equipment is available locally, but usually at higher than U.S. prices.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

The hills and mountains surrounding Florence are excellent for hiking, picnicking, and camping. Fishing and small game hunting are also popular in this area. In winter, there is skiing at nearby Abetone and Vallombrosa. Equipment can be rented at moderate rates at both places.

Seaside resorts and public beaches dot the Tyrrhenian coast within easy weekend distance of Florence. Closest resort areas are concentrated around the towns of Forte dei Marmi, Viareggio, and Tirrenia.

Florence and the surrounding countryside are rich in points of historical and cultural interest. Besides the world-famous museums, churches, and palaces in the city proper, hundreds of charming and historically important villas, monasteries, and churches are within its environs.

Bologna, Siena, Pisa, Lucca, and a number of smaller towns of great cultural interest are all within easy driving distance. In addition, excellent autostrade and train service link Florence with most major Italian cities, making them accessible for weekend trips.

Many good camp sites with facilities are open during the summer throughout Italy.


Each season a number of worthwhile cultural and artistic events happen in Florence. The city's musical life reaches its high point in May and June with the Maggio Musicale featuring concerts and operas by world-famous performers and conductors. In addition, a winter opera season is followed by a concert season and many other musical events throughout the year. Open-air concerts are given at the amphitheater in Fiesole and in various locations in Florence during the summer. Plays are occasionally performed at the city's two theaters, the Pergola and the Verdi, always in Italian.

Movies are very popular with Italians, and the city has many cinemas. Foreign films are shown dubbed in Italian. There is a small English-language cinema that has films most of the year.

Florence is the site of a number of important fairs, including a crafts fair, a biennial international antiques fair, a gift fair, and others. Florence and other nearby towns have traditional pageants and festivals, with participants in medieval costume, held in the spring, summer, and fall. Among the most important are the Scoppio del Carro and Calcio in Costume in Florence, the Palio in Siena, and the Giostra del Saraceno in Arezzo.

Florence has many bookstores, some with a good selection of books in English. The American Library of the University of Florence and the library at St. James American Church both have many general interest books in English.

A wide selection of music, camera equipment, and film is available locally at prices generally higher than in the U.S.

Florence and the other cities of Tuscany and Emilia-Romagna have many good restaurants, ranging from the high-priced deluxe to the inexpensive, simple establishments called "trattorie." The nightclubs of Florence are few and expensive.

Social Activities

The city has an active American community, and ample opportunities for to make rewarding friendships with other Americans in the area. Much of the charitable and social activity for Americans centers around the St. James American Church and the American International League. Other American organizations with primarily Italian memberships include the American Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Clubs, and Lions Clubs.

The opportunities for forming friendships with Italians and nationals of other countries are limited only by the initiative of the individual. The many social, cultural, and charitable organizations in Florence offer occasions for meeting Italians. In addition, several foreign cultural organizations, including the British Institute, the Institute Francais de Grenoble, and the Kunsthistorisches Institut, present opportunities for getting acquainted with other foreign resident communities in Florence.


Milan is a city of contrasts. Old buildings, some dating from the Middle Ages, line the narrow winding streets of the central portion of the city, while modern glass and marble skyscrapers and wide boulevards characterize the newer areas.

The city has a bustling atmosphere reminiscent of New York or Chicago and has been called the least Italian of all Italian cities. It is surrounded by an extensive and growing industrial area. A number of satellite cities have been built, many characterized by two-to six-story medium-priced apartment complexes interspersed with park and garden areas. Milan itself is a city of apartment buildings; most range from six to eight stories. Practically all Milanese live in apartments, and the American one-family house with its yard and garden is found only in the suburbs. An extensive and growing industrial area surrounds Milan. A number of satellite cities have sprung up, characterized by two-to-six story, medium priced apartment complexes interspresed with park and garden areas.

Milan is not a tourist city. While probably 1.5 million tourists (10%-15% are Americans) travel through Milan, most are on their way to another destination. Many stop briefly to see the principal tourist attractions: the Milan Cathedral (Duomo), an amazing structure in flamboyant Gothic and the third largest cathedral in the world; the Brera Museum, one of Italy's outstanding galleries; and the Santa Maria delle Grazie church, the refectory of which contains Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper. Another major attraction is a performance at the world-famous La Scala opera house.

For the resident, one of the finest aspects of life in Milan is its proximity to the Italian lake district, Alpine ski and summer resorts, the Italian Riviera and Adriatic beaches, and the tourist centers of Florence and Venice. By train, car, or plane, practically all of continental Europe can be reached in a day's travel time.

Milan is at about the same latitude as Ottawa, Canada, but the climate is temperate. Winter temperatures average 40°F-50°F; summer temperatures 65 ° F-85 ° F. Milan receives about 30 inches of rainfall a year; snow usually appears only a few times from December to March. Bring year-round clothing for the whole family, including gloves, hats, scarves for winter, and lightweight clothing for summer.

The headquarters of many of the largest Italian industrial firms are located in Milan, along with the headquarters of many of Italy's leading industries, trade associations, and largest banks. The city hosts many specialized trade fairs, national and international, throughout the year.

Milanis home to one of Europe's largest trade exhibition centers, the Milan fairgrounds. The U.S. Department of Commerce frequently holds exhibits of U.S. products and services at the trade fairs staged in Milan.

The permanent foreign colony in the area is substantial, including at least 5,000 Americans and a slightly smaller number of British nationals. Swiss, German, and Austrian nationals compose a large part of the foreign population.

The amenities of urban lifeelectricity, gas, central heating, elevator service, garbage collection, telephone serviceare almost on a par with those in the U.S.

In recent years, Milan has become one of the most expensive cities in the world, and almost everything on the economy is more expensive than in the U.S.

Religious Activities

Most Milan churches are Roman Catholic and use the Ambrosian rite. The Santa Maria del Carmine Catholic Church holds services in English. Other Catholic churches hold only Italian-language services, although the cathedral and a few other churches have English-speaking priests who will hear confessions.

The following Protestant churches hold services in English: Methodist Church, Via Porro Lambertenghi 28, Sunday at 10:45 am; All Saints' Episcopal Church (Church of England in communion with American Episcopal Church), Via Solferino 17, Sunday at 10:30 am; Church of Christ, Via del Bollo 5, Sunday at 10:30 am.

Christian Science Church, 16 Via Bigli, holds English services every Sunday morning and on Wednesday evening.

A Jewish synagogue located in Via Guastalla 19, holds evening prayer service daily in Hebrew and Italian; telephone 791-851.

The North Italy Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) is located at Via Gadames 128, telephone 308-7025. Two of the largest local Islamic associations are located at Viale Monza 160 and Via Fara 30.


The American School of Milan (ASM) is a nonprofit institution accredited by the Midwest State Association. ASM offers a typical American high school diploma as well as an International Baccalaureate (I.B.) for those students who qualify. Many U.S. colleges and universities recognize the I.B. as equivalent to up to one full year of college education. Recent ASM graduates have attended Harvard, Stanford, Princeton as well as other prestigious U.S. schools. ASM is directed by an elected board of governors. There is currently a Director and Vice Director of the school.

ASM is located in modern facilities on about 10 acres near the outskirts of Milan, about 1/2 hour by car from the center of the city. It averages an enrollment of about 500, including about 160 American students, and offers a full American curriculum from nursery through grade 12. Over 70% of the teaching staff is American.

In the high school, almost half the courses are honors, advanced placement, or international baccalaureate level. Class sizes are usually small, and SAT scores are generally above average.

The school also offers extensive athletic, music, drama, and other extracurricular programs. Field trips throughout Europe are regularly scheduled for upper grades.

Children with serious learning disabilities cannot be effectively accommodated. There is no learning disabilities instructor currently at the school.

ASM offers optional bus service, which provides service to the city. Every effort is made to ensure that a bus stop is within easy walking distance of each passenger's home.

Milan has two other institutions, the British School and the International School, which offer English-language instruction under the British educational system. Although these may be adequate at the elementary level, there are possible accreditation issues involved for middle or high school students returning to the U.S. or transferring to other American system schools. There are also German, Dutch, Swiss, French and Japanese schools. American children are ordinarily accepted in the Italian kindergartens and elementary grades without special formalities. Although the Italian educational system is good, inevitable language and curriculum problems occur, which become more serious in the higher grades.

Special Educational Opportunities

The three universities in Milan offer instruction only in Italian. Private and community-sponsored adult education courses are also available to Italian speakers in a wide variety of subjects ranging from the arts to technical areas such as engineering and accounting. Arrangements can be made in Milan for private lessons or tutoring in languages, music, art, dance, tennis, and horsemanship.

The Open University offers BA, BSc, MA, MSc, and MBA diplomas as well as professional training certificates from a range of over 150 correspondence courses in English.

The opera and ballet schools of La Scala attract advanced students of music and dance from many parts of the world. Many private teachers in these fields are directly or indirectly associated with La Scala.


While Milan has some outdoor sports facilities, most are on the outskirts or beyond the city proper. With few exceptions, Milan's private clubs are exclusive and expensive. Few Americans join. A small number of health clubs with swimming pools are available at fees equivalent to similar U.S. clubs.

Within the city are public indoor and outdoor swimming pools. Public pools are quite crowded on holidays and during summer weekends.

Several riding schools and clubs are located in the city and in the suburbs. Private and group riding lessons may be arranged.

The nearest golf courses are private clubs at Monza, Barlassina, Cari-mate, and Montorfano. All are within reasonable driving distances of Milan. Some occasionally issue honorary memberships, particularly to principal officers. Otherwise, large, nonrefundable initiation fees (several thousand dollars) are required. Others, with smaller initiation fees, rarely have enough turnover in membership to accept new members. There is one public golf course that is located on the outskirts of Milan.

The city's two Ice Palaces are open for ice skating from October to April.

A number of American-style bowling alleys can be found in Milan and the near suburbs. In summer, boating and swimming in the nearby lakes (Como, Maggiore, Garda, Lugano) and picnicking in the vicinity are popular. Swimming areas at the lakes usually have rock or gravel beaches, and in some areas swimming is only possible by diving from rocks. The nearest ocean beaches are around Genoa (2 hours by autostrada or 2 3/4 hours by rapido train).

Many ski areas are within an easy drive of Milan, including several within 2 hours of the city, so that even 1-day trips are feasible. Ski season usually runs from November or December through April or May. Resorts provide accommodations in all price ranges. Slopes range from very easy to very difficult, with all types of lift facilities. The lower Alpine areas are popular with mountain climbers during the summer; climbing areas for the beginner and the expert are available.

Baseball has a small following in Italy, and a number of amateur teams compete during the summer in the Milan area. Basketball is becoming increasingly popular; four major professional and semiprofessional teams are in the area. American football is beginning to find its place in the sporting scene.

A racetrack on the outskirts of Milan has horse races 5 days a week from spring through fall and 3 days a week in winter. Italy's principal spectator sport is soccer, which is played almost year round. Milan has two class A teams. Their matches at the San Siro Stadium draw crowds of up to 85,000.

Hunting and fishing in season are popular among Italians; licenses are required.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

In addition to the participation and spectator sports described above, northern Italy and neighboring France and Switzerland have much to offer the sightseer. Many points of historical and artistic interest are easily reached on 1-day trips.


Milan offers rich entertainment for the music lover. There is a large number of concert and recital series throughout the winter, many presenting world famous artists, orchestras, and chamber music groups that feature music from all eras.

The opera season at La Scala begins early in December and runs through mid-July.

Eight or nine theaters in Milan present legitimate stage productions (all in Italian), ranging from Shakespeare and Chekhov to works of contemporary Italian and foreign playwrights, to musical revues and operettas.

Milan has as many cinemas as any large American city, presenting foreign as well as Italian films. Several movie theaters present foreign films, including American, in the original language version.

Social Activities

The following organizations offer excellent opportunities to make international contacts: the Benvenuto Women's Club, meets monthly and regularly organizes additional inter-cultural programs for its international membership.

Americans in Milan is a group of Americans who operate under the umbrella of the Benvenuto Club. Monthly luncheons organized by the American Business Group are attended by Americans from a broad spectrum of American and Italian businesses.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Italy consists of Americans in business in Italy and Italian business representatives from firms doing business in the U.S. Its headquarters are in Milan; the Honorary President is the American Ambassador in Rome. Its business meetings and luncheons offer a chance to meet Italians in the commercial and economic fields. The Professional Women's Association has monthly evening meetings that provide professional women the opportunity to gather and make contacts in a social setting.


Few cities have undergone the social, political, and cultural changes that Naples has in its long and colorful history. Although Naples is a modern city with a range of modern problems, including crime, over-population, unemployment, traffic congestion, air pollution, and a stagnant urban center, it remains a beautiful city, a mixture of the old and modern, a city of great historical interest. Once a major Greek colony, and later ruled by the Romans, Byzantines, Normans, Swabians, and the Houses of Aragon and Bourbon, Naples is today a city of diverse cultural styles and competing historical influences. The splendid natural setting of the bay, flanked by Mount Vesuvius, the Sorrento Peninsula, and the islands of Capri and Ischia, continues to attract a heavy stream of visitors from all over the world.

Although Naples is a major seaport and an industrial and distribution center for southern Italy, the city's economy is still dominated by small artisans and entrepreneurs. Many foreigners live in Naples, with Americans forming the largest group. A small American business community and about 10,000 American military personnel and their dependents live in the area.

Religious Activities

There are numerous Catholic churches throughout the city, with a weekly English-language Mass sponsored by the Filipino community at Gesu' Nuovo on Sunday afternoon.

Other churches with services in English are:

AFSOUTH Chapel. Catholic services at the NATO Base. Armed Forces Chapel. Nondenominational Protestant services, Sunday school, and Catholic Masses are held at the Naval Support Activity, Capodichino complex.

Christ Church. (Anglican/Episcopalian) at Via San Pasquale, Chiaia 15B.

Christian Science. Chapel behind Christ Church.

Church of Christ. Viale Augusto 164. Latter-day Saints. Piazza Vittoria 6.

A Jewish military chaplain visits Naples at regular intervals. There is an Italian synagogue in Naples that holds Sabbath services provided by a lay person and services at major holidays. In addition, the U.S. military forces sponsor services on the last Friday of each month and on certain high holy days.

Education The Department of Defense operates two schools: an elementary/middle school (which includes kindergarten), and a high school, both located at the new Gricignano facility that is nearly an hour outside of Naples. The schools are staffed with trained, experienced American teachers. These schools have special educational facilities for mildly developmentally delayed children and those with hearing and speech problems. They are accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. There is an active after school athletic program that includes volleyball, basketball, football, soccer, gymnastics, track, and tennis. There is a school newspaper and other extracurricular activities such as choir, band, drama, and science club. Bus transportation is provided at no extra charge if you are on an established route. The DOD buses will not go to neighborhoods where military dependent children do not reside. The school cafeterias serve soup, sandwiches, and milk at fair prices. The schools have no boarding facilities.

The Allied Nursery and Kindergarten School , a cooperative endeavor, is run by wives of NATO personnel. Located in one of the buildings at NATO Headquarters at Bagnoli, it provides instruction five mornings a week. transportation to and from school costs extra. There is usually a waiting period for admittance.

The International School of Naples , also located on the NATO base, is private, coeducational day school of about 150 students offers instruction in English from kindergarten through grade 12. The non-graded method of class assignment is used from grade 5 on. It is accredited by the European Council of International Schools. Teachers are American and British citizens, except for the Italian-language instructor. Emphasis is placed on a classical college preparatory curriculum. Bus transportation is provided from most areas of Naples.

The Italian-American Montessori School , also located on the NATO base, this school of about 300 students offers an English-language, American curriculum to children in kindergarten through grade 8, based on the teaching philosophy of Marie Montessori. Teachers are American or British. American textbooks are used in all classes. Bus transportation is available from most areas of Naples.

The University of Naples . The main campus is in the downtown section of the city. This school enjoys an excellent reputation and provides courses in agriculture, architecture, economics and commerce, engineering, law, letters and philosophy, medicine and surgery, naval affairs, oriental languages, pharmacy, science, mathematics and physics, and veterinary medicine. It is not too difficult for a foreigner to enroll in the university; however, instruction is in Italian.

Special Educational Opportunities

Naples boasts an Academy of Fine Art and a Conservatory of Music that Americans sometimes attend. At the NATO complex, the Universities of Maryland and Oklahoma offer courses leading to master's degrees in education, business administration, and human relations, and the University of Maryland and other schools offer undergraduate classes in various subjects. The University of Maryland and a growing number of other institutions also offer undergraduate and advanced degree courses via the Internet. (There are several Internet service providers available in Naples.) The French Institute gives French-language instruction to children and adults. Upon successful completion of various levels at the Institute, University of Grenoble certificates of accomplishment are awarded. Local schools offer typing, stenography, and related business subjects in English.

Language instruction is available. Private tutoring is available for persons wishing to study the language independently at a cost of approximately $25 an hour.

Recreation and Social Life

Naples offers ample opportunity for sports and outdoor recreation during the long summer season. The Bay of Naples is ideal for sailing. Several beaches suitable for swimming are within an hour's drive.

In the winter, Roccaraso, a mountain ski resort about 2-1/2 hours from Naples, offers trails for beginners as well as experienced skiers. Skis and other equipment can be rented locally or at the resort at, reasonable prices. The Naples area has many interesting places for hiking, sightseeing, and picnicking, including the islands of Capri and Ischia and the beautiful towns along the Amalfi Coast Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello.

For artists, historians, and interested amateurs, Naples and the surrounding regions are rich in possibilities. The Palazzo di Capodimonte, with its large collections of paintings, tapestries, arms, and furniture, is one of the most impressive museums in Italy. The National Museum houses the world's finest collection of Roman antiquities, many of them recovered from Pompeii. Countless numbers of small churches, museums, and castles within the city reflect the many periods and styles of Neapolitan history.

Excursions outside the city to places such as Paestum, Pompeii, and Herculaneum (to name only the most famous) offer unparalleled opportunities for exploring the remains of earlier civilizations. Many other sites in southern Italy can be visited in the course of weekend outings by car.

Sports attire commonly seen in the U.S. is acceptable in this region.


The season at the world-famous San Carlo Opera begins in January and runs until December (as opposed to the norm of September to June). The 18 first-run Naples cinemas only occasionally offer films in English. In addition to plays and variety shows presented in five theaters in Naples, some spectator sports events are available.


Palermo is the capital of the region of Sicily, an area given broad powers of self-government by the national government in 1947. The city of Palermo, with a population of over 800,000, lies in a valley delineated by sharp rocky mountains that reach to the sea, with the Bay of Palermo presenting a topographical outline of striking natural beauty.

Though the city itself consists of a fair number of up-to-date commercial structures and many modern apartment buildings, it is also rich in Arab, Norman, and Spanish architecture, among others. The importance of these cultures in the history of Sicily is reflected in the many buildings that were left behind.

Winters are mild, and temperatures seldom drop below freezing. The famed Sicilian sunshine is no myth, and the weather is clear and sunny most of the year, with little rain during summer and fall.

Daily routine in Sicily is strongly influenced by the hundreds of years of Spanish rule. Meals are served late, lunch at 1:30 or 2 pm, and dinner at 8:30 to 9:30 pm. The noon meal is generally the larger of the two. A siesta after lunch is common, and all shops are closed from about 1 to 4 pm and remain open until 7:30 or 8 pm in the evening.


The grocery markets of Palermo are full of almost all types of food. One of the great joys of food shopping is the large variety of fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seafood. Most prices are comparable to those in the U.S., with the exception of meat, soap, and paper goods, which are about twice as expensive. Bread and wine are inexpensive and delicious. Palermo has several open-air markets that offer a unique view of one aspect of Sicilian lifethe loud, boisterous methods of bargaining and selling. The city also has a few "supermarkets," but most people patronize the three or four small neighborhood shops, where one can buy everything needed. However, necessities for anything other than Italian cuisine are difficult to find on the local market.

Dining out in the Palermo-Mondello area can be a great experience, especially if one enjoys seafood. Prices are comparable to those in the U.S. Scores of good restaurants offer delicious traditional Sicilian dishes. The food lacks variety, however, since restaurants serving non-Italian fare are few in number.

Religious Activities

An Anglican church in Palermo holds services in English. Since the pastor divides his time between Palermo and Taormina, the church is sometimes closed for several weeks or months. Three other Protestant churches offer services in Italian only. Catholic churches are numerous; one, the Church of Santa Lucia, Via Ruggero Settimo, in downtown Palermo, holds Mass in English each Sunday at 5:30 pm.


No English-speaking schools are in Palermo, nor are there any educational facilities available for learning-disabled children.

Local schoolspublic, private, and parochialaccept foreign children at all levels. Palermo schools offer instruction only in Italian.

Special Educational Opportunities

No truly specialized training opportunities are in Palermo, although it is possible to pursue many and varied hobbies, sports, and crafts generally found in most other cities in Western Europeif one speaks Italian. Pottery-making is one such craft that is popular in the city.


Palermo offers a wide range of spectator sports, with soccer the most popular. The city has a professional soccer team. There is horse and harness racing and an annual horse show. A local tennis club has excellent courts, and stars from all over the world compete at the annual invitational tournament.

Sports and outdoor activities are popular year round but particularly in summer. The centers for water sports are the nearby beaches and clubs of Mondello, a 15-minute drive from the center of the city.

Swimming, boating, sailing, fishing, water skiing, and skin diving are very popular. Along the coast, small open beaches and rocky coves, which are usually crowded, offer the swimmer and skin diver a chance to discover the wonders of the Mediterranean. Sailing is popular, and several private sailing clubs are found in the Palermo area. In addition, a number of enchanting islands off the coast offer opportunities for water sports.

The city has a modern bowling alley, two squash clubs, and several modestly equipped gymnasiums that offer lessons in judo and karate, with facilities for men and women. The scarcity of wild game (except rabbits and small birds) and the strict regulations governing the import and purchase of guns discourage most would-be hunters. A target range using clay pigeons is available for the enthusiastic marksman. Sicily has no golf courses. Skiing is done in the Madonie Mountains, 2 hours away, and on Mount Etna, 4 hours away. Camping facilities are available at various places throughout the island. A good variety of sports equipment can be found at the many sporting goods stores in Palermo at prices comparable to those in the U.S.

Touring and Outdoor Activities

Touring is one of the real delights of Palermo. Even the casual observer is impressed by the grandeur of Sicily's monuments and the beauty of the countryside. The National Museum of Palermo contains priceless artifacts dating from prehistoric, Greek, and Roman periods.

Museums in cities such as Gela, Agrigento, and Siracusa have collections that testify to the diverse and rich cultural history of the region.

Colorful local events, like the theater festivals held in Taormina in July and every other year in Siracusa in May-June, and religious ceremonies, especially at Easter and on other church holidays, are all profitable subjects for study and photography.


The city has many cinemas; foreign films are shown with Italian soundtracks. American films, dubbed in Italian, are often featured and are usually quite recent when released. TV programming in Italy is generally better than or at least comparable to that in the U.S. One can see many vintage American and European films on a regular basis, dubbed into Italian.

Palermo has two opera seasons; the principal one begins before Christmas and continues through June. Operas, operettas, and ballets are staged in the summer in an attractive amphitheater. Winter performances are usually excellent, with skillful and elaborate staging.

During the winter, good concerts are frequent, as some of Europe's best instrumental artists include Palermo in their tours. Tickets are often inexpensive. Theatrical companies with some of the best Italian actors occasionally visit the city with a repertoire of national and foreign plays. Musical variety shows are given often throughout the year, though mostly in winter. All these performances are in Italian.

Sicily is famous for its puppet shows, which are given in tiny, family-owned theaters. The performances are not polished, but they are interesting entertainment, particularly for children.

The city has several nightclubs, but only one or two with floor shows. The others have small bands, where the music ranges from soft and slow to the latest and loudest beat. Discotheques are also popular.

Social Activities

Americans generally confine their entertaining to informal lunches or dinners at home. Unless one makes a sustained effort to become acquainted with Italian families, social life is limited. The foreign colony is small, with few entertainment centers.

Palermo club life is limited. Several tennis clubs offer various types of sports activities, including tennis, swimming, and soccer. Initial membership costs are expensive, although monthly dues are not prohibitive.


Genoa (in Italian, Genova) is the capital of the Italian region of Liguria. The city, at the head of the Ligurian Sea, is about 330 miles by road from Rome. Sunshine and mild weather predominate most of the year although, in winter, cold days made dismal by piercing gusts and chilling drizzle are a reminder that Genoa is a northern city. It is, in fact, located at the same latitude as Augusta, Maine. The usually mild climate is due to the mountains which shield the area in winter from the full effect of northerly winds coming from the Alps.

Greater Genoa is dominated by its port. Much of the city's commercial life is directly involved or related to shipping. Principal industries include a large steel plant owned by Italsider (the largest steel producer in Europe) and major shipbuilding and ship repair yards. Genoa is also the starting point of several oil pipelines which link the Mediterranean with central European countries.

The city is an important producer of heavy machinery, electric motors, generators, and allied products. Major industries in the area are mostly government owned. Relatively few are the privately owned, medium-size concerns which played such an important part in the "Italian economic miracle" of the early 1960s in the other northern industrial centers.

Genoa's population is just over 700,000. The city is built on different levels in, on, and about the hills which dominate the area. Splendid palaces are found in all parts of the city; the best known is the Palazzo Doria, home of the famous 16th-century Italian naval hero, Andrea Doria. The ancient, narrow streets, called vicoli (alleys), still exist in labyrinthine profusion near the central port basin. In other parts of the city, steep, winding footpaths lead to various levels, giving Genoa a distinctive atmosphere and appearance which persists despite all efforts at modernization.

To Americans, Genoa is above all the city in which Christopher Columbus was born and raised. The Genoese themselves are proud of this fact. Genoa maintains a sister-city relationship with Columbus, Ohio, and official visits and gifts are sometimes exchanged.

Apart from the Columbus tradition, many ties exist between Genoa and the United States. Genoese shipbuilders secretly sold ships to the American Republic during the Revolutionary War. Genoa was heavily damaged during World War II, and many residents still remember that important segments of local industry were rehabilitated with Marshall Plan aid.

Nevertheless, this is not to say that Americans can expect to be eagerly welcomed into Genoa's social life. The Genoese (in Italian, Genovesi) are, by tradition, conservative, laconic, and inclined to be suspicious of outsiders (even other Italians). This is probably the result of centuries of isolation.

Until the advent of the railroad, the Apennines were an almost impenetrable barrier to communications with the hinterland and, except for several hostile incursions from the north, Genoa had little overland contact with the rest of Europe, or even with the rest of Italy. Although Genoa was among the first great maritime trading centers as well as a leading seapower, the ancient Genoese city-state suffered several devastating invasions from the sea. The Saracens sacked the city several times. Thus, Genoa's role in maritime matters did not render its populace more cosmopolitan but, instead, tended to strengthen the traditional distrust of aliens, which is still part of the Genoese character.

This attitude appears to be changing, however, judging from the way the Genoese joke about themselves. The considerable influx of people from other Italian cities, notably immigrants from the south in search of employment, has also had a moderating effect. Still, one should expect considerably more reserve in personal and social contacts with the Genoese.

Italian is, of course, the principal language, but some of the people speak their own language, Genoese, among themselves. Genoese is definitely more of a language than a dialect, and there is an Italian-Genoese dictionary as well as a small body of literature in the vernacular.

Genoa's standard of living is high by almost any measure, but the city has not yet experienced the degree of modernization found in Milan, Turin, and other industrial centers of the prosperous north. Americans will find most of the goods to which they are accustomed available in Genoa, but often at higher prices than in the U.S.

Some 70 American families in business or engineering live in the greater Genoa area. In addition, about 3,000 Americans, largely of Italian origin, live in the district. During summer, numerous American tourists pass through the city every week. Most of them do just thatpass throughon their way to or from the French and Italian Rivieras. Thus, the city itself has remained relatively untouched by international tourism, and the Genoese, it would seem, prefer it that way.


The American International School in Genoa (grades pre-kindergarten through eight) is the only school with classes in English. It has a professional staff of 13, most of whom are American. The student body numbers about 85. A U.S. curriculum is followed, and Italian is a required subject. The school year extends from mid-September to mid-June. American International's address is Via Quarto 13C, 16148 Genoa.

The public school system in the city includes elementary (equivalent to grades one through five), middle (grades six through eight), and secondary schools (classical pre-university high schools, and technical and vocational institutions). Parochial schools are numerous, especially for the elementary grades. A few nonreligious private schools are also in operation, but fluency in the language generally is required.

Private tutoring in most subjects, in either English or Italian, is available, and usually is necessary unless the student attends American International. Children planning to attend Italian schools may need language instruction, although young children generally learn the language quickly. Attendance at a local kindergarten is helpful in developing the preschool child's knowledge of Italian.

Instruction is available in voice and in almost every musical instrument, both from private teachers and in special schools. Painting courses are held throughout the year. Dance schools (mainly for children), exercise classes, and lessons in horseback riding, skin diving, and other sports are also available.

Adults with a good command of Italian can take courses at the University of Genoa. The French Institute offers advanced study of French language and literature, and is accredited by the University of Grenoble. The Italo-American Association has an educational program, including instruction in English, as well as a series of lectures and films on American culture and events. The Goethe Institute gives instruction in German language and culture.


The Genoa area offers opportunities for swimming, hiking, tennis, golf, roller skating, sailing, and rowing. Many beaches are only a short bus trip from the center of town, but they are of rocky surface rather than natural sand, and are polluted. The most popular and famous beaches and resorts along the Riviera (Santa Margherita, Rapallo, Portofino) are about 45 minutes from Genoa. Most of these are privately operated concessions and charge a rather stiff entrance fee. The city itself has an excellent outdoor swimming pool in suburban Albaro which is heated in the winter. Numerous other pool facilities exist, although most are private. One 18-hole golf course (in Rapallo) and one nine-hole course (in Arenzano) are within an hour's drive of Genoa. A few public and private tennis courts are available.

Soccer (calcio ) is the national sport; Genoa has two teams in the Italian league. During the season, which extends from early fall to late spring, a game is usually played every Sunday in the city's stadium.

Narrow, congested streets and a hilly terrain make bicycling difficult in Genoa. However, enthusiasts can enjoy flat stretches of road along the sea.

Hunting in the surrounding area is poor. Many private reserves are beyond the Apennines, but with access by invitation only.

Hiking enthusiasts will find pleasant walks near the sea or in the hills. Numerous points of scenic interest along the Italian Riviera are available for sight-seeing by bus or car. The Italian Yacht Club has a clubhouse and yacht basin in the port of Genoa, and sailing is popular throughout Liguria.

Several ski resorts in the nearby mountains, about a two-hour drive from Genoa, are open five months a year. Special excursions at group fares are organized each weekend during the season.


Entertainment facilities in Genoa include cinemas and theaters. Films shown in commercial theaters are dubbed in Italian. The Italo-Britannica and Italo-American Associations sponsor a film club which has biweekly showings during the winter months of English-language films with original soundtracks. Film Story, an association interested in the history of the cinema, shows films in English about once a week. Occasionally, local theaters will sponsor a series of recent American and British movies.

Genoa's opera house, Teatro Carlo Felice, was bombed during World War II, but has been newly rebuilt and reopened in late 1991. The facade of the 2,000 seat opera was reconstructed to match its 1826 original. An excellent local theatrical stock company performs throughout the winter season. Visiting companies from other cities present musical reviews, plays, and operettas. The annual concert season runs from October through February. A chamber music series also takes place during the winter months. A short opera season occurs in fall and in spring. Occasionally, a ballet will be performed during the opera seasons, and an outdoor ballet series is held in suburban Nervi every two years.

To celebrate the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus' first voyage to the New World, the city of Genoa in 1992 held an international exposition called "Christopher Columbus: Ships and the Sea." As part of this exposition, a new aquarium was built. Two football fields in length, it is Europe's largest and features sea life from aquatic habitats around the world.


For many years, until the end of World War I, Trieste was the major port of Italy. It remained important until the end of World War II, when conflicting territorial claims between Italy and Yugoslavia led to the creation of the Free Territory of Trieste, administered by the Allied Military Government composed of American and British forces.

In October 1954, the London Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Italy, Yugoslavia, Britain, and the U.S., ending the military occupation of the city.

In early 1964, the Province of Trieste was grouped with the provinces of Gorizia, Udine, and later Porde-none, into the fifth special autonomous "region" of Friuli-Venezia Giulia; this region, plus the Veneto provinces of Venezia, Padova, Belluno, Treviso, and Rovigo, constitute what was the U.S. consular district.

Trieste's 258,000 inhabitants are principally Italian, but there is also a 10 percent Slovene minority, and the German and Austrian colonies are fairly large. American tourism to the district is concentrated in Venice and, during winter, to the major ski resort of Cortina d'Ampezzo.

The climate is pleasant. Summers are seldom hot and humid, and winters are usually without snow. From December to February, the famous Trieste bora (strong wind) often blows. Winds have reached over 100 miles per hour (although rarely) and may blow for three to four days at a time, intensifying the cold. Crisp, sunny days usually follow.


The International School of Trieste, sponsored by the International Center for Theoretical Physics and partially supported by the U.S. Government, was founded in 1964. Instruction is in English on the American system, offering grades one through eight, a kindergarten, and a nursery. The academic year is from September to June on a trimester basis, and the enrollment of approximately 200 students includes children of varied nationalities, mainly Italian. Information is available from International School at Villaggio del Fanciullo, Via Conconella 16 (Opicina), 34100 Trieste.

Some Americans send their children to the local schools, where instruction is in Italian. Previous tutoring is necessary for entry into all levels and, unless children speak Italian, they often must be enrolled one grade lower than the last completed. The Italian system involves five years of elementary school, three of middle school, and five of high school.

The University of Trieste offers a wide variety of college courses, all conducted in Italian. Individual or class lessons are available at the Conservatory of Music. The Art Institute of Trieste has a full curriculum available for students from 11 to 19 years of age, and the Museum of Modern Art offers inexpensive courses in painting and drawing. Also, extensive opportunities exist in Venice (about two hours by car or train) to pursue artistic and cultural studies.

Recreation and Entertainment

The most popular spectator sports in Trieste are soccer, trotting races, and basketball. Others include water polo, swim meets, sailing, rowing, horse shows, boxing, hunting, and fishing. Tennis and golf are available for those who wish to join clubs. Riding facilities exist, and extensive areas of the countryside are suitable for hiking. Excellent skiing and mountain climbing are found in the nearby mountains of both Italy and Austria.

Venice is about 100 miles away, some two hours by car or express train. Padua, Vicenza, and Verona20, 45, and 75 miles, respectively, to the west of Veniceare also of considerable historic and cultural interest, and are connected with Trieste by express trains. Cortina d'Ampezzo, the popular Italian mountain resort in the Dolomites, about 130 miles by car from Trieste, offers sports (especially skiing) in winter and beautiful scenery at all times.

Only 30 miles from Trieste are the ancient Roman ruins of Aquileia, with important early Christian mosaics. The seaside resorts of Grado and Lignano, with long, sandy beaches and swimming and wading areas, are also close by. Slovenia is easily accessible, and its increasingly popular Dalmatian coast is within a weekend drive.

Trieste offers a wide range of entertainment for a city of its size. The local opera company's season runs from November to March. The Trieste Symphony's concert series, which takes place in fall and spring, is extensive. Recitals, concerts, and miscellaneous musical events also are held. During summer, theatrical presentations are staged in the open-air Roman theater and, in winter, the local repertory theater offers a series of presentations, all in Italian.


Turin (in Italian, Torino) has a long and interesting history dating back to ancient Rome and including a brief period (1861-65) as the first capital of unified Italy. However, it is now known as a modern, thriving, industrial center, particularly in the field of automobile manufacture and design. During the past quarter-century, it has grown at an astonishing rate, and Greater Turin has a current population of more than 1.2 million.

The city is the capital of the Region of Piedmont (Piemonte), which includes the provinces of Turin, Asti, Alessandria, Cuneo, Novara, and Vercellian area about the size of New Jersey, Delaware, and Rhode Island combined. The semi-autonomous Valle D'Aosta Region, north of Turin on the French and Swiss borders, is not included in the Region of Piedmont. Turin is by far the largest city in the district and is the financial, economic, and cultural capital. It is a most important industrial city, although this is not made evident by its architecture.

Turin is equidistant from Rome and Paris and, partially due to many years of French rule, newcomers are often surprised by the "non-Italian" appearance of the city. Wide, straight, tree-lined boulevards slice through the central areas, and the architecture is often a hybrid of Italian and French design. On clear days, the city's personality is radically changed by the awesome beauty of the nearby Alps, which surround it on three sides. On the fourth, or eastern, side, lush green hillsstudded with churches and luxurious villasrise from the banks of the Po River to overlook the city.

Turin has the highest standard of living in Italy. Unlike many cities, however, there is no focal point for its entertainment and cultural forcesno "center of town," and the streets of the city are remarkably free of crowds in the evening. Similarly, the important sights of Turin are not always found in the great piazzas or on main thoroughfares; one must seek them out or be told where to find them. Even getting there is often not enough; a beautiful chapel can be disguised as an office building, or a world-renowned museum can be housed in a structure as nondescript as its neighbors.

At first, friendships can be as difficult to find as the art treasures. The Turinese admit to being different from other Italians, and they take pride in it. In general, they tend to be reserved, courteous, and uninquisitive, and their distinct personalities have helped to create the atmosphere of their city. They prefer to amuse themselves privately; for example, Turin has an extremely limited nightlife for so large a city. American-style bars and adult nightclubs are limited in number, and there are few restaurants serving foreign cuisine.

Turin is not a tourist center for Americans. When a traveler arrives in Turin it is usually because of business or traveling en route to another city. This, more than anything, probably has contributed to the fact that Turin has retained much of its distinctive character despite its rapid growth. On a more personal level, it also has resulted in a novelty: a large Italian city in which practically no one speaks English.

Aside from the charms of the city, however, the tourist misses a great deal when he fails to stop herepleasures and sights which residents of Turin have come to love. Only a very short distance from the city, for example, are some of the world's most famous ski resortsSestriere, Cervinia (Matterhorn), and Courmayeur. The Italian lakes are nearby, as are the French and Italian Rivieras. All of the foregoing can be reached in from one-and-a-half to six hours by car.

A glance at the map will be enough to demonstrate that Turin is an excellent starting point for longer trips to much of Europe. On the other hand, there is a great deal to see within the district itself. The countless Roman ruins, castles, medieval towns, and Alpine valleys can keep a traveler busy for months.


The American Cultural Association of Turin, an English-language school for nursery through high school, is located in a small hill town about 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) from the city. It has been in operation since 1974. The enrollment currently is 220. Italian is a required subject.

The school, which offers languages and the usual academic courses, maintains its facilities at Via Mario Mogna, 10020 Pecetto Torinese, Italy. Both the academic director and the elementary principal are Americans, as are more than half of the faculty members.


Some of the world's most spectacular scenery is visible just outside the city of Turin. The Valle d'Aosta begins 40 miles to the north. It runs directly into Mt. Blanc, Europe's highest peak, after figuratively glancing off Mt. Rosa and Mt. Cervinia (Matterhorn), which are the second and third highest European peaks. All around these famed summits, as well as in the west and the Maritime Alps, valleys are begging to be explored by car. The roads are not always wide or straight, but they are quite adequate.

The Monte Cenisio Pass into France is just west of Turin at an elevation of 6,000 feet, and Geneva is a four-hour drive via the Mont Blanc tunnel. Lake Como and the other attractions of the famed Italian lake country are available by public transportation or by a two-to-three-hour drive, as are most of the other interesting attractions of Italy.

Whether by car or public transportation, the visitor will enjoy touring in the Alps, in the picturesque wine country south of Turin, or in the nearby countries.

Travel time by car to the nearest point in France is one-and-a-half hours; Austria (except in the dead of winter), five-and-a-half hours; Liechtenstein, seven hours; and Spain, 14 hours.

The most popular participant sport in northern Italy is skiing. A dozen ski resorts are within easy reach of Turin, even for day trips. All these areas have lifts, instruction, and boots and skis for rent. If a skier tires of one side of the Alps, in an hour he can reach Chamonix just over the French border, or Zermatt, by cable car, on the Swiss side of the Matterhorn from Cervinia.

Hunting is popular. Quail and pheasant are the most common quarry, but some deer, chamois, and even ibex can be found.

The Circolo della Stampa Sports Club of Turin has 20 good tennis courts and a huge swimming pool. Other courts and pools are around town. An excellent 27-hole golf course is just outside the city, and there is a nine-hole, free course in town. It is difficult to join either golf club, but arrangements usually can be made for nonmembers to play the courses for a limited time.

Public swimming pools, available year round, are inexpensive. Mountain climbing, hiking, fishing (rainbow trout), rowing, skin diving, bowling, and even baseball are all practiced with great enthusiasm in this part of Italy.

Soccer (calcio ) is by far the most popular spectator sport. Attendance at basketball games grows every year, especially since the major teams have begun to import American stars.


The theater is active in Turin, with performances almost exclusively in Italian. The local repertory company (Teatro Stabile Torino) offers plays of high caliber and professional polish.

During winter, at least three productions are always in town at any one time. Movie theaters abound. Most of the better, and some not so good, American films are shown here, usually dubbed in Italian, as are British and continental films. Some movie clubs show a limited selection of films in the original versions.

Turin is the home of a symphony orchestra which broadcasts under the auspices of the Italian radio and television system each Friday during the season. A second organization, the Unione Musicale, presents a concert season, normally at least two programs a week. The Turin opera season, while not matching the splendor of neighboring La Scala in Milan, is thoroughly professional and relatively inexpensive for the best seats in the house. Turinese audiences are not inclined to be demonstrative, but they do appreciate good music.


Bologna lies in the province of Emilia-Romagna, northern Italy, at the foot of the Apennines. Now a transportation center with a population of 417,500, it was first an Etruscan town named Felsina, and its history is rich in Roman, Byzantine, Lombard, French, and church culture. It was a great intellectual and political center in medieval times.

Bologna has been part of Italy only since 1860, when annexation from Austria was voted. It had been church-controlled from 1815 to 1831, the year it was occupied by Austria. Bologna's prestigious university, the oldest in Europe, was founded in 1088 as a school ofRoman law. Medical and theological faculties were soon introduced, but liberal arts were not added until the 14th century. Today, the enrollment is close to 60,000.

Some of Italy's most beautiful ecclesiastical structures are found in Bologna, most notably the old churches of San Petronio, Santa Maria dei Servi, Santo Stefano, and Santo Domenico. Several of the city's historic buildings were destroyed during the heavy bombing of World War II, among them the Archiginnasio and the exquisite 13th-century church of San Francisco.

Bologna has an excellent museum and art gallery; the city and the university attract serious students of art and architecture. Fine (and hearty) food is also one of Bologna's main offerings, and a number of restaurants are justly famous for their distinctive Bolognese cuisine.

Several major Italian publishing houses have headquarters in Bologna and each year the International Children's Book Fair is held here.


Venice (in Italian, Venezia), at the northern end of the Adriatic, is a city built on 118 alluvial islets and laced with 400 bridges. Once a dominant city-republic known as the "queen of the seas," Venice (population 352,500) is a major tourist attraction of Italy and, in fact, of all of Europe. Hundreds of thousands of visitors throng the squares and ride the famous gondolas and motoscafi (motor taxis) through the 160 canals which are the city's thoroughfares. Severe flooding in 1966 damaged much of Venice, but the splendid churches and public buildings have been restored and preserved. Art lovers and philanthropists throughout the world contributed millions of dollars toward the renovations.

Among the most famous attractions are the Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square), with its beautiful cathedral begun in the year 830, and consisting of examples of Byzantine, Greek, Gothic, and Oriental architecture; the 16th-century royal palace library; the Palazzo Ducale (Palace of the Doges, or dukes), rebuilt five times since its original structure was erected in 800; and the numerous galleries, palaces (most on the Grand Canal), and public gardens. Venice flies the emblem of the Winged Lion of St. Mark.

Throughout the year, Venice celebrates its illustrious past. In addition to its regular opera season, from December to March, there is a seemingly endless series of musical events, art exhibits, theater, religious festivals, and municipal celebrations.

There is a wide variety in Venice of hotel accommodations and dining facilities, from the simplest to the most luxurious. Shopping is excellent (although expensive) here, particularly for the world-famous Venetian glass and lace.

Close to Venice are several cities of the Veneto (administrative region) which are steeped in history and art. Among these are Padua, whose renowned 13th-century university is the second oldest in Italy, after Bologna's; Verona, celebrated as the city of Romeo and Juliet; and Vicenza, the birthplace of Andrea Palladio, Renaissance architect of note. Most visitors to Venice eventually find their way to these fascinating ancient towns.


BARI is the major commercial center of the Province of Apulia in southeast Italy. Situated on the Adriatic Sea, about 140 miles east of Naples, this city of 387,800 has boat-building, machinery, oil-refining, tobacco, wine, and printing enterprises. Bari's complete name is Bari della Puglie. It once was part of the kingdom of Naples.

BERGAMO is the capital of Bergamo Province, situated at the base of the Alps, 30 miles northeast of Milan. Divided into Upper and Lower Bergamo, this is a main industrial and cultural hub. Upper Bergamo is the original, fortified section, dating to the second century B.C., when it was the Roman town of Bergomum. It has been ruled by Romans, Venetians, French, and Austrians. Landmarks here include the Romanesque cathedral, the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, and the Bapistry, all in the Piazza Vecchia district. Lower Bergamo has been the city's center since the 19th century. The Academia Carrara here is noted for its outstanding art collection, one of Italy's best. Bergamo has preserved the birthplace of the composer Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848) as a museum. The city has engineering works, textile mills, and cement factories. Its population is an estimated 122,000.

BRESCIA lies at the bottom of the Trompia Valley, 50 miles east of Milan. This area has several reminders of the Roman era, most notably the Capitoline Temple, built by Emperor Vespasian (8 B.C.-A.D. 79) in A.D. 73. The temple is adjacent to the Roman Museum, where one of the world's most celebrated sculptures, "Winged Victory," can be seen. Brescia is the seat of a bishop-ric and site of numerous churches, one dating to the eighth century. The Madonna del Carmine Church is considered a worthwhile tourist stop. Stairs behind the building lead to walls of a Venetian castle and, from this point, one can see across to the Alps. Brescia is also a railroad junction and manufacturing hub. It has a population of approximately 204,000.

The mostly German-speaking city of BRESSANONE is situated in the far north, 20 miles northeast of Bolzano on the Isarco River. With a population of 16,000, this is a tourist area known for its cathedral and Archbishop's Palace. There are 12 churches here, including several monasteries. Bressanone, as Brixen, belonged to Austria from 1803 to 1918.

CAGLIARI is the capital and main port of Sardinia, the largest of Italy's Mediterranean islands. Located on the Gulf of Cagliari in the south, it was founded by Phoenicians, but rose to prominence under the Romans, who made it Sardinia's major city. Remains in Cagliari's lower town attest to the Roman presence: a huge amphitheater, a house, and a great cemetery. The upper town has medieval remnants such as the cathedral, parts of the Pisan fortifications, and the University of Cagliari. An archaeology museum contains a renowned collection of Sardinian antiquities. Mineral exports, agricultural production, and salt mining constitute the local economy. The city has an estimated population of 225,000.

CATANIA , at the foot of Mount Etna in eastern Sicily, was founded by the Greeks in about 729 B.C. Its history reflects the many cultures which dominated it throughout the ensuing centuriesGreek, Roman, Saracen, and Norman. Catania suffered serious earthquakes and volcanic eruptions in the 17th century. The city was a major German defense location in World War II, until successful attacks by the British in the summer of 1943.

MESSINA is a seaport in northeastern Sicily, dating to 730 B.C., when it was founded by the Chalcis Greeks. Now a trade and transportation center with a population of 273,000, Messina existed under the rule of many European conquerors, and has been part of Italy only since 1860. Its population was severely diminished during the plague in 1743, and the city was nearly demolished by earthquakes later in that century and again in 1908. Messina suffered heavy damage in World War II.

MODENA , with a population of 179,000, is said to be Italy's wealthiest city. It is located in the north-central region, 115 miles southeast of Milan and 200 miles northwest of Rome. Automobile manufacture is the mainstay of the economy; metal-working, iron foundries, and tanning are also important. An extensive urban renewal project here includes a massive, English-designed park. The Palazzo dei Musei art museum has one of the country's largest galleries, as well as rare illuminated manuscripts. Modena became a Roman colony in 183 B.C., and joined the Italian kingdom in 1860. A university was founded here in 1175.

PADUA (in Italian, Padova) a rail terminal and commercial city of 241,000, is situated in northeastern Italy. It was here in Italy's second oldest university (founded in 1222) that the great astronomer and physicist Galileo and the anatomist Fallopius taught, and here also that Dante and Petrarch (Petrarca, the poet and humanist) were among the famous students. Padua's botanical gardens, praised throughout the world, are the oldest in Europe, dating from 1545.

PARMA lies on the Parma River in the north, 75 miles northeast of Genoa. It has been a transportation center since the second century B.C., when it was built by the Romans. This is also an agricultural area known the world over for its Parmesan cheese and prosciutto ham; fertilizers and alcohol are also produced. Noted conductor Arturo Toscanini (1867-1957) and printer Giambattista Bodoni (1740-1813) were among Parma's famous residents. Tourist highlights include a 12th-century cathedral, with a masterpiece fresco of the Assumption; the Glauco-Lombardi Museum, housing a collection of personal items of Napoleon's Empress Marie-Louise; and the Palazzo della Pilotta, the home of the Farnese dukes. The city suffered extensive damage in World War II, but painstaking restoration efforts preserved much of its beauty. Its current population is approximately 180,000.

SIENA is a city of considerable interest. It is located in Tuscany, about 40 miles south of Florence and, with its 13th-century churches and palaces, retains much of its medieval appearance. It became independent in the 13th century, and rose to great cultural heights, but its artistic light was diminished by the plague (Black Death) which swept Europe in 1348. Siena's university, built in 1240, remains a seat of learning, and it is said that this city of 70,000 residents is the only place in Italy where pure Italian, with no regional dialect, is spoken. The major attractions of Siena are its Gothic-Romanesque cathedral, its 13th-century Palazzo Publico, and its Academia delle Belle Arti. The city is also famous for the Corsa del Palio (Race of the Banner), an annual medieval horse race which highlights the summer season. Around the central square of Siena (Piazza del Campo) are great palaces which bear the names of the city's noble families.

SYRACUSE (in Italian, Siracusa), situated on the southeastern coast of Sicily, was the leading city of ancient Europe. Founded by the Corinthians in 734 B.C., it grew to dominate the Mediterranean under the Greeks. After falling to the Romans in 211 B.C., the region was invaded by Franks in the third century A.D., and later by Arabs, Normans, Swabians, and Spanish. A 1693 earthquake devastated Syracuse, prompting rebuilding in a curious baroque architecture. Today this is a provincial capital of 119,000 residents. Local agricultural produce is processed in the city, and light industry plays a dominant role in the economy. Tourism is centered on Syracuse's Greek ruins, especially the fifth-century temple and a beautifully preserved theater. Performances are still held here, in even-numbered years. There is a regional archaeological museum in Villa Landolina Park.


Geography and Climate

Italy covers 116,300 square miles (301,225 sq. km.), an area roughly the size of Georgia and Florida combined.

Its prominent geographical feature is the 500-mile-long Italian Peninsula, which is shaped like a boot and extends southeast from Europe into the Mediterranean Sea. The Apen-nine Mountains form the backbone of the peninsula. North of the Apen-nine range lies the Po River Valley (300 miles from east to west), Italy's breadbasket and the center of Italian industry. North of the Po Valley are the foothills of the Alps, in which lie Italy's lake district. Its northern border meanders along the highest points of the southern Alpine passes.

The Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia, which lie southwest and west of the Italian peninsula, respectively, are the largest islands in the Mediterranean. These, along with Italy's other, smaller islands, have hosted trading colonies since the dawn of recorded history and have traditionally provided a window on the rest of the Mediterranean Basin (the western tip of Sicily, for example, is only 90 miles from Tunisia).

Italy's climate is generally pleasant. Although summer temperatures can rise into the mid-90's with high humidity, evenings are considerably cooler, allowing people to take to the streets and squares. In the winter, nighttime temperatures often drop to freezing, but snowfall outside the mountains is rare. In all seasons, the south tends to be warmer and drier than the north.


Italy has a population of roughly 57.6 million on a land mass about three-quarters the size of California. Population density is about twice that of California. Historically, many Italians have emigrated (significant numbers of Italian communities are in the U.S., Canada, Belgium, Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, and Australia), and approximately 2 million Italians still work in other countries. Recently, however, Italy has been experiencing a growing influx of immigrants, a cause of controversy despite the fact that there would be essentially no population growth in Italy were it not for the arriving immigrants.

Outside of Rome and the main tourist centers, few Italians speak a second language. Even in the big cities, truly bilingual persons are hard to find. The most commonly spoken foreign languages are English and French.

With the exception of the German-speaking autonomous province of Bolzano (Bozen) and the significant Slovene population around Trieste, ethnic minorities are small. Isolated, ancient communities of Albanians, Greeks, Ladinos, and French-speakers, however, are here.

The Italian constitution provides religious freedom for all. Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion, although only a small minority regularly attends church. There are small Protestant (Waldensian), Jewish, and Greek Orthodox communities.

The Vatican or "Holy See" is an independent sovereign nation located in Rome, whose head of state is the Pope.

Public Institutions

Italy has been a Republic since June 2, 1946, when a national referendum abolished the monarchy. The constitution, which took effect on January 1, 1948, established a bicameral Parliament (Senate and Chamber of Deputies), a separate judiciary, and an executive branch composed of the Council of Ministers (Cabinet) and President of the Council (Prime Minister), who is Head of Government. The Council of Ministers must retain the confidence of both houses.

The President of the Republic, who is Head of State, is elected for seven years by Parliament sitting jointly with delegates from the 20 regions. The President has limited powers. He or she appoints the Prime Minister, subject to Parliamentary concurrence. The President can also dissolve Parliament and call for elections, if it is clear that no governing majority can be formed.

Seventy-five percent of parliamentarians are elected as individual candidates, 25% by proportional ballot. There are 630 deputies and 315 senators, plus a small number of senators-for-life including all former Presidents of the Republic and a few appointed by the President in recognition of service to the nation. Parliament is elected for five years but may be dissolved by the President before the expiration of its full term. Legislative bills may be introduced in either house but must be voted by a majority in both. Below the national level, Italy is divided into 20 regions (roughly equivalent to US. states), 103 provinces and over 8,000 communes (cities and townships). Regions and provinces have presidents and governing councils. Mayors and city councils are elected locally. each province has a prefect appointed by and representing the central government. he prefect has special responsibility for law and order issues.

Since 1953, no single political party has held an absolute majority in either house. Successive Italian governments have been formed by coalitions or other parties providing "external" support. Until recently, governments centered around the now-defunct Christian Democratic Party (DC) and until the early 1960s, were generally "center" coalitions (the DC plus Liberals, Social Democrats and Republicans). From 1962-94, most governments were "center-left" (the DC plus varying combinations of Socialists, Social Democrats, Liberals and Republicans). The Italian Communist Party (PCI) was excluded from government coalitions although, after the late 1970s, the PCI often provided "external" support to center-left government coalitions. The center-right governed briefly in 1994.

The "clean hands" trials of the early 1990s, which investigated illegal funding of political parties, completely changed the static landscape of Italian politics, and opened a period of transition and transformation which continues even at the beginning of the new century. By 1994, the large and powerful DC and Socialist parties had collapsed and out of their ranks, a number of new parties were formed. In 1991, the PCI broke with its communist tradition and eventually joined with former socialists, left-wing Christian Democrats and others to form the Democrats of the Left (DS). Center right "Forza Italia" was founded by entrepreneur Silvio Berlusconi in 1994. In 1998, the center-left formed the first government headed by a former Communist (DS) Prime Minister, Massimo D'Alema.

Since the 1994 elections, a roughly "bipolar" arrangement has emerged in Parliament with the majority of seats controlled by either the center-right "POLO" coalition or the center-left coalition. New parties have subsequently been formed within the coalitions and a few parties (see below) remain unaligned.

The following are major parties with representation in the national Parliament (as of January 2000).

Center-left Coalition
Democratici (Democrats)
Democratici di Sinistra (Democrats of the Left)
Partito dei Communisti Italiani (Italian Communists)
Partito Popolare Italiano (Italian People's Party)
Unione Democratica per L'Europa (Democratic Union for Europe)
Verdi (Greens)

Center-Right "POLO" Coalition
Allianza Nazionale (National Alliance)
Centro Cristiano Democratico (Christian Democratic Center)
Forza Italia

Unaligned Parties
Lega Nord (Northern League)
Rifondazione Communista (Communist Renewal)
Radicali (Radical Party)

Arts, Science, and Education

Italy is the wellspring of Western civilization and has been a world crossroads for over 2,000 years. Continuous learning, creativity, and technological advancement on the Italian peninsula have shaped virtually every aspect of Western culture. Etruscan and Samnite cultures flourished in Italy before the emergence of the Roman Empire, which conquered and incorporated them. Phoenicians and Greeks established settlements in Italy beginning several centuries before the birth of Christ, and the Greek settlements in particular developed into thriving classical civilizations. The Greek ruins in southern Italy are perhaps the most spectacular and best preserved anywhere. With Emperor Constantine's conversion to Christianity in 312, Rome became the open and official seat of the Catholic Church, and Italy has had a profound effect on the development of Christianity and of Western concepts of faith and morality ever since.

Italy became a seat of great formal learning in 1088 with the establishment of the University of Bologna, the first university in Europe. Other Italian universities soon followed. These great centers of learning presaged the Renaissance, as did innovative works by Italy's great late-Gothic artists. The European Renaissance began in Italy and was fueled throughout Europe by Italian painting, sculpture, architecture, science, literature, and music. Italy continued its leading cultural role through the Baroque and Classical periods and into the Romantic period, when its dominance in painting and sculpture diminished and it reestablished a strong presence in music. Italian artists have been quite influential in the twentieth century. They were the primary exponents of Modernism in the 1920s and 1930s, and continue to have a strong presence in the international contemporary art market.

Today, Italy has one of the world's strongest and most vibrant popular cultures, and plays a large role in shaping worldwide trends in fashion, film, cuisine, industrial and interior design, advertising, and popular music. Following World War II, Italian neo-realism became an important force in motion pictures, and by the 1960s, Italy had established itself as one of a handful of great film cultures. Italian design shaped the look of the post-war world, and today Italy is arguably the international leader in fashion and design.

Italy's great presence in literature and the arts often overshadows its role in the development of science and technology. Italy has been a home for innovation in science and engineering in the centuries since Galileo formulated his theories of planetary movement and Leonardo da Vinci designed a primitive helicopter based upon his studies of nature. At the turn of the century, Marconi carried out experiments in electricity and developed the wireless, but he was preceded by Count Alessandro Volta, one of the pioneers of electricity, over 100 years earlier. By the end of the Second World War, Enrico Fermi's work in nuclear physics led to the development of both the atomic bomb and peaceful atomic applications. Today Italy is a strong competitor in high-technology sectors, including aerospace and communications. Italian education is still held in high regard for its rigor and thoroughness, and although the Italian curriculum and teaching method remains very traditional, Italy also produced Maria Montessori and her revolutionary educational theories.

Commerce and Industry

Italy has a diverse, industrial economy, the sixth largest in the world. It is one of the world's largest producers and exporters of textiles, clothing, gold jewelry, footwear and machinery to produce all those goods, as well as some agricultural products. Numerous Italian companies are famous worldwide, but it is small and medium-sized firms that dominate the economy and are responsible for its dynamism. Germany, France and the U.S. are the most important export markets. As in other industrialized countries, the role of the service sector is growing. Italy is very dependent on imported petroleum and natural gas from Libya, Iran, Algeria and Russia.

Industrial activity is concentrated in the north in a swath that runs from Torino in the west to the Veneto region near Venice in the east. This is one of the most industrialized and prosperous areas in Europe, and accounts for some 50 percent of national income. By contrast the center and particularly the south, or Mezzogiorno, are less developed. Unemployment in the Mezzogiorno is three times that of the north, and per capita incomes are much lower. Italy has a large underground economy. Researchers attribute that to high taxes and rigid labor laws, and estimate it accounts for one-quarter of gross domestic product.

Italy is a founding member of the European Union (formed through the Treaty of Rome) and, in 1998, of Europe's Economic and Monetary Union (EMU). Members of the EMU have ceded monetary authority to a European central bank and begun using the euro for accounting purposes. Euro bills and coins go into circulation in 2002. Polls indicate that Italians are among the strongest supporters in Europe of EMU and continued European integration. To qualify for the Monetary Union, successive Italian governments in 1992-97 implemented widely-praised fiscal discipline measures that produced sharply reduced government deficits and debt levels, lower interest rates and lower inflation. Challenges that Italy still faces are liberalizing labor laws and regulations that govern businesses, improving infrastructure, reducing bureaucracy and addressing a looming pension burden.



Due to traffic jams, narrow streets, and pedestrian-only sections in some shopping areas, public transportation is preferable in city centers. Private cars are preferable for traveling outside the city, however.

New vehicles are sold with city license plates, and it will take between 60 to 120 days before the vehicle becomes available. Car dealers ask for a maximum 10 percent deposit when the contract is signed.

Secondhand vehicles are available through local car dealers, but there is no IVA exemption on such vehicles. The cost for the transfer of titles ranges from $450-$600, based on the size of the engine of the vehicle.

Italy is a member of the Europena Community; its road code, in compliance with EC policies, requires catalytic converters.

If you want to nationalize your vehicle with city plates, you must produce: 1) a manufacturer's certificate stating that the catalytic converter on the vehicle meets EC standards; 2) a technical data information sheet. These documents must be endorsed and legalized with the Seal of the Secretary of the State (Apostille) from where the vehicle is purchased. These documents must be translated into Italian and notarized by an authorized translator in Italy.

The title and the registration card must also have the Apostille Seal and be translated into Italian.

The Italian Government requires the purchase of local liability insurance. Premiums for third-party liability are set by law and are, therefore, equal for all companies. Duty free-entry requests are not processed until the liability policy is in effect. Vehicle at driven into Italy must have an international "green card" certificate of insurance. Collision and theft insurance is available locally (but is expensive) or can be obtained from American insurers such as Clements in Washington, D.C., American International Underwriters, or USAA.

Current regulations allow foreigners to drive in Italy if they have a valid driver's license. If the license is not Italian, the original license with translation must be carried at all times.

Traffic moves on the right side of the road. The highways are generally well maintained but are often narrow and winding, the exception being the superhighways, called "autostrade."


Transportation within the cities, whether by bus, tram, or subway (in Rome and Milan) is good, although crowded at rush hours. Always be alert to the danger of pickpockets and purse-snatchers on public transportation. Taxis are usually available but expensive. They do not cruise looking for fares but wait at taxi stands throughout the cities or can be called by phone.


Telephone and Telegraph

Telephone connections within Italy and to international points are of excellent quality and reliable. For local calls, there is a usage charge of approximately two cents per minute. A long distance call to the U.S. can be direct dialed from any city at a rate of approximately $.50 per minute. You can also subscribe to callback services in the U.S. or utilize calling cards such as AT&T and MCI. Residential lines or service for a newly leased residence can be obtained within two weeks of placing an order.

Cellular phone service is reliable with a usage fee of approximately $1 per minute and a monthly basic service charge of $30. Bringing a cellular phone from the U.S. to Italy is risky in that converting and registering it is not always possible. A basic unit runs approximately $100 depending on the service agreement.

Personal telegrams can be sent for about $4.


International mail service between Italy and the U.S. is unreliable. Surface mail takes 6-8 weeks. Packages sent via international mail are subject to customs inspection.

Internet Service

Internet access in Italy is widely available. A number of internet service providers (ISP) provide free internet access via dial up phone lines. The telephone charges during connection to the ISP from within Rome are approximately one cent per minute, depending upon the time of day.

Personal computers with U.S. specifications may be used successfully, although transformers may be required. Computer accessories and peripherals are available in Italy and are generally compatible with equipment brought from the U.S.

Radio and TV

Italy has three state-controlled radio networks that broadcast day and evening hours on both AM and FM, in addition to RAI International on shortwave and virtual radio via internet. Program content varies from popular music to lectures, panel discussions, classical music, and opera, as well as frequent newscasts and feature reports. In addition, many private radio stations mix popular and classical music. A short-wave radio, though unnecessary, aids in reception of VOA, BBC, Vatican Radio in English and the Armed Forces Network in Germany and in other European stations.

The three public TV networks controlled by Radio-Televisione Italiana plus many other private stations offer varied programs, including news, operas, game shows, sitcoms, cartoons, plays, documentaries, musicals, and films-all in Italian. RAI also has a new 24-hour news and information system that is available on cable and at night on RAI-3. All programs are in color, except for the old black-and-white movies. Most Italians still depend on VHF/UHF reception, but both cable systems and direct satellite reception is increasingly common. Conventional satellite dishes can pick up European broadcasts, including some in English. Telemontecarlo and other private networks retransmit CNN and other American network programs late at night or in the early AM. CNN is widely available in four and five star hotels. Programs are chiefly news, sports, network comedies and movies.

Radios, TVs, VCRs (both using the PAL/SECAM standard) and DVDs are available locally, but at much higher prices than in the U.S.

Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals

The International Herald Tribune is published six days a week in Italy and is available with an Englishlanguage supplement, "Italy Daily" (edited jointly with RCS Corriere della Sera) throughout most of the country. The European edition of The Wall Street Journal is published in Bologna, and along with USA Today, is available in major cities. European editions of Time and Newsweek are available one or two days after publication. Other foreign newspapers and magazines are also available on newsstands, and current U.S. magazines can be found there as well. The Center for American Studies in Rome subscribes to a variety of American magazines and professional journals and has over 70,000 volumes on subjects related to the U.S. Rome has several English-language bookstores with a varied but high-priced stock. A more limited selection in English is found in bookstores in other cities.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities

Quality medical facilities, including English-speaking physicians, specialists in most fields, and hospitals and clinics, are available in most cities. Public hospitals are usually understaffed, and frequently the staff does not speak English. Private hospitals are similar to those in the U.S. and are equally expensive. The staff in private hospitals may or may not speak English.

Equivalents to most American medicines are available in local pharmacies. Bring an adequate supply of medications, however, in case what is needed is not available.

Community Health

Sanitary controls throughout Italy are good. The water is safe but not fluoridated. Use only bottled water. Good pasteurized milk is available. Uncooked shellfish and uncooked pork are not safe. Precautions, such as washing fresh fruit and vegetables and avoiding raw seafood, are the same as those advisable in the U.S.

Preventive Measures

Environmental allergy symptoms are common during the spring and summer months due to dust and pollen levels. Viral and bacterial respiratory ailments are common during the winter months. Smog levels can be high in any of the major cities, but particularly in Milan. Throughout the country, when certain smog levels are exceeded, alternate day driving is instituted. No special immunizations are necessary other than those generally recommended.


Jan 1 New Year's Day

Jan. 6Epiphany



Mar/Apr.Easter Monday*

Apr. 25Anniversary of the Liberation

May 1Labor Day

June 2 Republic Day

June 24 St. John's Day (Florence)

June 29 St. Peter and St. Paul's Day

Aug. 15Assumption Day

Sept. 19 St. Gennaros Day (Naples)

Nov 4.(Sun closest to this day)WWI Victory Day

Nov. 1All Saints' Day

Dec. 6St. Nicholas Day

Dec. 7St. Ambrogio's Day (Milan)

Dec. 8Immaculate Conception

Dec. 25Christmas Day

Dec. 26St. Stephen's Day


In addition, each city observes the local patron saint's day.


Passage, Customs and Duties

A passport is required. A visa is not required for tourist stays up to three months. For further information concerning entry requirements for Italy, travelers may contact the Embassy of Italy at 3000 White-haven Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20008. Tel: 202-612-4400 or via the Internet:, or the Italian Consulates General in Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, or San Francisco.

Those tourists planning to stay other than in hotels for more than one month should register with the local police station within eight days of arrival in Italy. Visitors to Italy may be required to demonstrate to the police upon arrival sufficient financial means to support themselves while in Italy. Credit cards, ATM cards, traveler's checks, prepaid hotel/vacation vouchers, etc. can be used to show sufficient means.

Americans living in or visiting Italy are encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Rome or at one of the three U.S. consulates general and obtain updated information on travel and security within Italy.

The U.S. Embassy in Rome, Italy is located at Via V. Veneto 119/A. Tel: 39-06-46741 and fax: 39-06-4674-2217. Internet address:

The U.S. Consulates are located in:

Florence, at Lungarno Amerigo Vespucci 38. Tel: 39-055-239-8276/7/8/ 9, or 39-055-217-605; fax: 39-055-284-088.

Milan, at Via Principe Amedeo 2/10. Tel: 39-02-290-351 and fax: 39-02-290-35-273.

Naples, at Piazza della Repubblica. Tel: 39-081-583-8111 and fax: 39-081-761-1804.

There are U.S. Consular Agents located in:

Genoa, at Via Dante 2. Tel: 39-010-584-492 and fax: 39-010-553-3033.

Palermo, at Via Vaccarini 1. Tel: 39-091-305-857 and fax 39-091-625-6026.

Trieste, at Via Roma 15. Tel: 39-040-660-177 and fax 39-040-631-240.


Both dogs and cats must be accompanied by a health certificate containing the following: Identification of the animal Name and address of the owner Statement that the animal has been examined on the date of issuance of the certificate and found sound. Statement that the animal has been vaccinated for rabies at least 20 days, but no more than I 1 months, before the date of issuance.

The certificate expires 30 days after the date of issuance and must be signed by an official or officially accredited veterinary doctor of the country of origin. Importation of dogs is subject to payment of an import tax, which is 19% of the dog's value, as determined by customs authorities, and normally runs between $30-$60.

If the owner of the animal is in the U.S., a statement is required from the Department of Agriculture certifying that the veterinarian who examined the animal was authorized to do business in the U.S. Current regulations provide that dogs and cats are subject to examination by an Italian veterinarian at the border, airport, or other port of entry into Italy. Pets may be sent unaccompanied by air but not by ship.

All dogs on the streets must be muzzled and leashed. No exceptions are granted, and the regulations, though not generally enforced, are invoked in case of trouble.

Firearms and Ammunition

Up to a total of three pistols may be imported per year so long as the weapon is of the type, make and caliber registered in the "Catalogo Nazionale."

The same applies for shotguns. Three shotguns may be imported per year, so long as they are smooth bore. A shot gun with a rifled bore must be registered in the "Catalogo Nazionale" as mentioned above. Upon importation, the weapon would have to be sent to Gardone Valtrompia, Brescia, to the Banco Nazionale di Prova for balistic typing and marking.

Currency, Banking and Weights and Measures

As a member of the European Community, the Austrian monetary unit is the Euro, which is divided into 100 cent. Coins in circulation are 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 cent and 1 & 2 euros. Bank notes are 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 and 500 euros. The exchange rate approximates 1.15 euro to $1 US.

Currency exchange facilities, which accept all convertible currencies and travelers checks, are available at the international airports and railroad stations, as well as at banks. They generally give better exchange rates than hotels.

Weights: 1 kilo equals 2.2 pounds (kilogram), 1 ounce equals 28.25 grams, 1 gram equals .04 ounces, 1 pound equals .45 kilograms.

A common unit of measure (weight) used when buying cold cuts, cheese, pasta, fruits and vegetables is the "etto" which equals 100 grams or about 4 ounces. If you ask for "due etti" of boiled ham, you would get about 8 ounces (half a pound.)

Liquid Measures: 1 quart equals .95 liter (almost a whole liter), 1 liter equals 1 quart, 2 ounces or 4 cups, 10 liters equal 2.64 gallons.

Distance: 1 inch equals 2.54 centimeters, 1 mile equals 1.61 kilometers, 1 meter equals 39 inches, 1 kilometer equals .62 miles.

To convert kilometers to miles, divide the number of kilometers by 8 and multiply the result by 5 or multiply the number of kilometers by .6.

Temperature: Temperatures are expressed in degrees Centigrade or Celsius.


These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country.

Barzini, Luigi. The Italians: a Full Length Portrait Featuring Their Manners and Morals. Simon & Schuster: New York, 1996 (c1964).

Bassani, Giorgio. The Garden of the Finzi-Continis: A Novel. William Weaver, translator. Fine Communications, 1997.

Burke, Greg. Parma: A Year in Serie A. Trafalgar Square, 1998.

Burnett, Stanton H. The Italian Guillotine: Operation Clean Hands and the Overthrow of Italy's First Republic. Stanton H. Burnett and Luca Mantovani. Lanham, MD, Rowman and Littlefield in conjunction with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1998.

Calvino, Italo. Italian Folktales. George Martin, translator. Harcourt Brace, 1992.

Calvino, Italo. If On a Winter's Night a Traveler. William Weaver, translator. Harcourt Brace, 1982.

Claridge, Amanda. Rome: An Oxford Archaeological Guide. Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1998.

Di Lampedusa, Giuseppe. The Leopard. Archibald Colquhoun, translator. lator. Pantheon Books: New York, 1988.

Frei, Matt Italy: The Unfinished Revolution. London, Mandarin, 1996.

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang. Italian Journey, 1786-1788. Translated by W.H. Auden and Elizabeth Mayer. Penguin Books: London, 1962.

Guicciardini, Francesco. The History of Italy. Sidney Alexander, translator. Princeton University Press, 1984.

Hay, Denys. The Italian Renaissance in Its Historical Background. 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press, 1977.

Hearder, Harry. Italy: A Short History. Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Hofmann, Paul. The Seasons of Rome: A Journal. Henry Holt and Co.; New York, 1997.

Hutchinson, Robert J. When in Rome: A Journal of Life in Vatican City. Doubleday: New York, 1998.

Lamb, Richard. War in Italy, 1943-1996 1945: A Brutal Story. DaCapo Press, 1996.

Levi, Carlo. Christ Stopped at Eboli: The Story of the Year. Frances Frenaye, translator. Noonday Press, 1995.

Levi, Primo. If Not Now, When? William Weaver, translator. Penguin, 1995.

Levi, Primo. If This is a Man; and, The Truce. Stuart Woolf, translator. Penguin: New York, 1979.

Lintner, Valerio. A Traveller's History of Italy. 5th ed. Interlink Pub. Group, 1998.

Masson, Georgina and Tim Jepson. The Companion Guide to Rome. University of Rochester Press: Rochester, 1998.

Mayes, Frances. Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy. Broadway Books: New York, 1999.

Mayes, Frances. Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy. Broadway Books: New York, 1996.

McCarthy, Mary. The Stones of Florence. Harcourt Brace: New York, 1989.

McCarthy, Mary. Venice Observed. Harcourt Brace: New York, 1963.

McCarthy, Patrick. The Crisis of the Italian State: From the Origins of the Cold War to the Fall of Berlusconi and Beyond. New York: St. Martin's Press, c1997.

Parks, Tim. Italian Neighbors or, A Lapsed Anglo-Saxon in Verona. Fawcett Books: New York, 1993.

Parks, Tim. An Italian Education: The Further Adventures of an Expatriate in Verona. Avon Books: New York, 1995.

Pirandello, Luigi. Six Characters in Search of an Author. Eric Bentley, translator, Signet Classic, 1998.

Richards, Charles. The New Italians. Penguin Books: London, 1995.

Sciascia, Leonardo. Open Doors and Three Novellas. Sacha Ravinovitch and Marie Evans, translators. Vintage Books, 1993.

Silone, Ignazio. Bread and Wine. New American Library, 1988.

Smith, Denis Mack. Modern Italy: A Political History. University of Michigan Press, 1998.

Stile, Alexander. Benevolence and Betrayal: Five Italian Jewish Families Under Fascism. Penguin, 1993.

Stile, Alexander. Excellent Cadavers: The Mafia and the Death of the First Republic. Vintage Books, 1996.


views updated May 17 2018


ITALY. The early modern period following the Renaissance is only now emerging from long neglect by historians, who once considered the period one of unbroken decline. This neglect is paradoxical considering that it was in the period of the late Renaissance and the Counter-Reformation that Italy attained its greatest influence in the Western world and a degree of wealth and sophistication that gave it the pilot role in European civilization. The two-and-a-half centuries following the end of the Italian wars in 1559 do not constitute a single period, however.


Unlike France, England, and Castile, which were relatively centralized monarchies with deep roots in the Middle Ages, and unlike Germany, which was a loose-knit confederation of a myriad of relatively stable states under the benign leadership of the Holy Roman emperor, Italy lacked a simple over-arching political framework that enjoyed a wide consensus. Medieval wars between Guelphs and Ghibellines, partisans of papal and imperial authority, respectively, were fought to a stalemate where the reality of power lay with each major city and each great lord in central and northern Italy. Then a gradual and fairly rapid process of elimination of the small states by the larger ones resulted in a political map articulated around less than a dozen territorial states by the time of the Peace of Lodi in 1451. The large-scale Italian wars beginning in 1494 simplified this situation even more after a half-century of intermittent fighting. When the wars were over, the king of Spain, Philip II (ruled 15551598), was duke of Milan and king of Naples, Sicily, and Sardinia. A handful of Italian princes seated in Turin, Mantua, Ferrara, Parma, Florence, and Urbino were reduced to satellite status. The pope had now become effective ruler over all the Papal States in central Italy by eliminating the virtual independence of city-states like Perugia or Bologna. Three medieval city-republics still survived: the powerful Venetian state jealous of its independence, the rich but subservient Genoese republic, and the almost insignificant Luccan state. Once the French threat was definitively removed by a long succession of religious conflicts (15611629), Italy enjoyed the fruits of a Pax Hispanica that underpinned its economic growth and its new institutional stability.

The new principalities themselves were significant improvements over the unstable coalitions of interests in small city-states. Dynasties like the Medici in Florence, the Farnese in Parma, and the Savoy in Turin gradually reined in the privileges and the autonomy of feudal lords and ensured greater stability by offering more impartial justice. Italian urban governments were as efficient as those anywhere, and the political prerogatives enjoyed by established families in the towns and cities of central and northern Italy enabled them to govern conjointly with their princes. These princes also took the first steps to empower the elites of subject towns in their bureaucracies and employed them at their courts. While most princes built citadels to guarantee the docility of local nobles, they also entrusted the peasantry with arms and training as territorial militia. With time, even the new, upstart dynasties planted roots in the territories they ruled, cajoled the aristocracy to cooperate with them, wove alliances, and multiplied marriages with other dynasties in Europe. In short, they acquired legitimacy in the eyes of their subjects.

Similarly, the king of Spain held Neapolitan and Sicilian barons on a tighter leash and kept them from each others' throats. These aristocrats readily admitted the usefulness of a strong foreign monarch who served as a safety valve against overbearing and ambitious members of their own group. Spain held out many rewards for their compliant obedience and granted noble families ample autonomy in their fiefs. Spanish imperial ventures in the New World, in the Mediterranean, and in Flanders gave Italian elites almost everywhere a worthy theater in which to display their bravura and achieve their most lofty ambitions. Spanish power also kept the peace in Italy by barring the way to invaders and mediating the tensions arising between Italian states. Most of Italy lived contentedly in the Spanish shadow, and its elites joined the great Catholic crusades against heresy in Flanders, in France, and against the Turks in Hungary and the Mediterranean. More pacific Italians enriched themselves by helping finance the great Spanish military machine.


This long sixteenth century, lasting until 1620, marked the creation of the first truly global economy with ramifications in Asia and the Americas. Much of the great flow of silver from the Spanish New World was diverted to the coffers of Italian businessmen who then reinvested it in large-scale trade. Italy enjoyed a number of cultural advantages it had accumulated since the Middle Ages. With Arabic numerals, with widespread numeracy, and commonplace recourse to paper transactions, Italians developed the most sophisticated financial and credit mechanisms anywhere. Italy's high-quality urban manufactures dominated the lucrative luxury sectors of international commerce, the skills to produce them protected and enhanced continually in each city. Venice was probably the most important industrial city in Europe, if not the world. Milan was

Italian Ruling Dynasties
Duchy of Mantua
Francesco II Gonzaga (14841519)
Federico II (15191540)
Francesco III (15401550)
Guglielmo (15501587)
Vincenzo I (15871612)
Francesco IV (1612)
Ferdinando (16121626)
Vincenzo II (16261627)
Carlo I (16271637)
Carlo II (16371665)
Carlo Ferdinando (16651708)
Duchy of Ferrara, Modena & Reggio
Alfonso I d'Este (14761534)
Ercole II (15341559)
Alfonso II (15591597)
Cesare (15971628): bastard branch, minus Ferrara
Alfonso III (16281644)
Francesco I (16441658)
Alfonso IV (16581662)
Francesco II (16621694)
Rinaldo (16941737)
Francesco III (17371780)
Ercole III (17801803)
Duchy of Urbino
Guidobaldo I Montefeltro, (15031508)
Francesco Maria I Della Rovere (15081516 & 15211538)
Guidobaldo II (15381574)
Francesco Maria II (15741631)
Duchy of Parma and Piacenza
Pier Luigi Farnese (15451547)
Ottavio (15471586)
Alessandro (15861592)
Ranuccio (15921622)
Odoardo (16221646)
Ranuccio II (16461694)
Francesco (16941727)
Antonio (17271731)
Philippe de Bourbon (17481765)
Ferdinando (17651802

a vast workshop fed from the great Po valley and provisioned, like the manufacturing cities around it in Lombardy, from much of Europe. Cities like Florence, Bologna, and Naples were also notable centers of manufacturing in a broad range of activities. This economy was directed, at the top, by large-scale bankers, dominated by the Genoese, meeting annually in Piacenza to sort out the exchange and credit needs of all of Europe. The manufacturing economy was complemented by one of the most efficient agricultural economies in the Western world, giving Italy the highest population density in Europe. The successful integration of livestock-raising, tree and vine crops, and cereals in central and northern Italy permitted landlords to utilize scant resources more rationally. If the country was not quite self-sufficient in food supplies, ruling elites adopted complex administrative measures to avert urban famine.

Italy was not least the seat of the Catholic Church. Despite the challenge to its hold over western Europe with Protestant reformations in Germany, France, and England, the great and complex institution survived and gradually recovered. The long and intermittent Council of Trent (15451563) enhanced the unity of the institution, while new religious orders like the Jesuits bolstered the power of the pontiff. The new Roman Inquisition (founded in 1542) quickly crushed any hint of nonconformity in Italy, while an array of committees rejuvenated the basic texts and doctrines of the faith. The Roman Curia grew to become one of the great courts of Europe, and the city of Rome grew with it, largely rebuilt and deploying modern concepts and tools of urbanism that made the Eternal City the most modern metropolis on the continent and a great repository of both sacred and secular architecture. The Council of Trent had far-reaching consequences for the practice of Catholicism throughout the world, but Italy was its motor, the area of recruitment of its most active proponents. It took decades for the central organs of the church to apply the council's decisions to the urban and rural hinterland, and much longer for these changes to bear fruit. Nevertheless by 1600 the reforms were everywhere in full swing, with the aim of Christianizing Italians in depth. One effect was to make the church an ever more powerful political entity that expanded its jurisdiction and its taxing power with respect to the state. Members of the social elite flocked to enter both old and new religious orders, or saw the church as a coveted career choice. Clerical discipline and doctrine were then relayed to men and women in both city and country via ever more numerous confraternities.


Italy's cultural inventions provided the standards to which Europeans complied in literature, architecture, art, and music until the end of the nineteenth century, although the country lost some of its pilot role by 1650. The era is synonymous with the baroque aesthetic, fashioned in Rome in the late 1500s, and often closely associated with the Catholic Church. Italian spectacles and festive activities were something of a magnet for Europeans, who imitated its styles. In music, both the small-scale madrigal and the large-scale opera were inventions of the period with a long future. Italian cities invented the modern conservatory to train professional musicians, as they invented the art academy as a place to master the techniques and the theory of painting, sculpture, and architecture. Rome and Venice witnessed the emergence of the first art "market" where buyers and sellers exchanged artworks as commodities. Over time, the baroque aesthetic gradually simplified to announce the basic principles of what would become neoclassicism in the eighteenth century. Italy remained the favorite destination of painters and architects seeking models elaborated in both modern and ancient times.

The proponents of all these reforms and inventions were very largely aristocrats. Urban living had given them a patina of urbanity that combined gentle birth, good breeding, a high level of education, and the ability to choose among a wide array of professional and amateur activities without equal in Europe. The humanist models of virtù exercised in this world were taught formally to nobles in Jesuitrun colleges created first in Italy and then exported throughout the Catholic world and beyond. At first, little prevented the active involvement of noblemen in commerce and manufacture, but as aristocratic mores formed a proper doctrine by the late sixteenth century, they began to withdraw from the active role to celebrate a more genteel otium ('leisure'). Yet it was precisely this detachment from mundane affairs that other Europeans found compelling. The pomp and formality of aristocracy defined the early modern elite, and even the age.


The Italian pilot role was snatched away suddenly around 1620. The country was never fully protected from foreign threats. During all of the early modern age, Barbary pirates infested the Mediterranean and the Adriatic seas, seizing ships laden with merchandise belonging to Italians. Worse, flotillas of Muslim pirates raided coastal villages and carried off the population into slavery in North Africa or the Middle East. At times, even substantial cities like Reggio Calabria could be sacked by the largest of such flotillas. Italians and Spaniards responded by building a vast network of coastal fortresses and towers, manned with troops and backed with militia to rally threatened districts. The great Ottoman fleets were smashed at Lepanto in 1571, but insecurity reigned thereafter, checked only by the expansion or creation of Catholic crusading flotillas of the knights ofSaint John of Jerusalem and of Santo Stefano, operating out of Malta or Livorno, or the small papal and Savoyard squadrons combined with Spanish vessels based in Genoa, Naples, or Sicily.


The corsair raids were mere pinpricks next to the eruption of large-scale warfare in Italy and Europe after about 1613, which engulfed first the northern states and then gradually all the others. The Thirty Years' War, which began in 1618, widened to include France intermittently after 1625 and permanently after 1635. Northern Italy became a frequent battleground for contending armies, while other territories contributed troops and money, mostly in support of Habsburg Austria and Spain. The consequences of large-scale, long-term warfare threw the Italian economies into upheaval, destroying networks of credit and exchange, closing off markets, closing workshops, weakening survivors to the point of making them more vulnerable to contagious diseases. By the 1640s, mounting taxes and a dizzying public debt triggered a massive uprising in the kingdom of Naples that imperiled the Spanish regime. If the region saw the rapid recovery by Spain, the kingdom of Naples was too exhausted to remain a pillar of Spanish strength. During the seventeenth century, King Philip IV (ruled 16211665) privatized most of his assets in southern Italy in a desperate attempt to find cash to fight the war, reducing royal power in that region to a shadow. It would be decades before Spanish viceroys could muster enough strength in the form of tax revenue to impose their control over the mountainous hinterland and impose obedience on the most turbulent feudal lords. In Sicily, too, the number of troops in the coastal fortresses contracted to the edge of insignificance. Even Venice was drawn into a long and costly defense of its overseas empire against the Ottoman Turks in three very costly wars (16451670, 16841699, 17141718) that reduced its presence in the Middle East to a mere shadow. Hundreds of Venetian patricians died on the ramparts of Candia (present-day Hania), the capital of Crete, or in desperate sea battles with the Turks in the Aegean or the Dardanelles, or of typhus and plague contracted during military operations.

With the eclipse of Spanish power everywhere in Europe, Italian states became pawns in the new European state system articulated around a handful of emergent great powers. Challenged repeatedly by France, Spain was hard pressed to defend its overseas colonies and its European possessions. It almost lost Sicily in the 1670s in the aftermath of an urban revolt at Messina (16741678), and Naples and Sardinia escaped conquest only due to French lack of initiative. French pressure on Italian states convinced those princes and republics to let lapse their ties and alliances with Madrid. Only in 1690 did a challenge to French ambitions emerge with the Habsburg emperor Leopold I's (ruled 16571705) dispatch of an army to northern Italy, intent on filling the Spanish vacuum with an Austrian one. Leopold I intended to impose his jurisdiction (and his claims to Italian taxes) on the whole of northern and central Italy, as Charles V (ruled 15191556) had been briefly able to do in the sixteenth century. The demilitarization of most of the Italian states after the end of the Thirty Years' War in 1648 forced the smaller states without large standing armies, like Genoa, Mantua, Florence, and Modena, to comply reluctantly with imperial ultimatums. This crisis came to a head during the War of the Spanish Succession (17011714) when the extinction of the Spanish Habsburg line opened a succession contested between France and the rest of Europe. Most of Spain acclaimed Louis XIV's grandson Philip as king and heir of all the Spanish dominions in 1700. However, the prospect of combining the weak global empire of Spain with the powerful and populous kingdom of France was too horrible to contemplate for the Austrian Habsburgs and their allies in England, Germany, and the Netherlands. Spanish territories in Italy meekly accepted the Bourbon candidate, Philippe d'Orléans, and most accepted the presence of French armies in Italy to defend the inheritance. The Gonzaga rulers of Mantua openly sided with the "Gallispans," as they were called. Piedmont was dragged into the French alliance at the outset of the war but changed sides in 1704. Campaigning on a scale never before seen, between the Gallispan forces and the imperial and Piedmontese in northern Italy, culminated in the perilous siege of Turin by the French in 1706. A victory there would probably have entrenched the Bourbon dynasty in Italy. At the last minute, an imperial army under Prince Eugene of Savoy(16631736) maneuvered its way to Piedmont and routed the Gallispan army and chased it out of Italy. In the subsequent campaigns, Austrian armies occupied all of Lombardy and the kingdom of Naples and imposed imperial tutelage on all the smaller states. Over the subsequent decades, Vienna would patiently extend its authority over them all, with the exception of Piedmont and Venice, which had substantial armies of their own.


The legacy of war in the seventeenth century included both disease and ruin. Hard times magnified the impact of diseases like the plague that swept away a quarter of the population of northern Italy in 1630 and then a quarter of southern Italy in 1656. The decline of food prices in the aftermath of the plagues also served to depress the entire economy, with the result that most peasants lost the land they owned due to insufficient revenues in hard times. Widespread misery took a lethal toll in frequent outbreaks of typhus, which killed hundreds of thousands of people each time there was a general harvest failure. Widespread poverty drove prices downward for at least a century, between 1620 and 1730, forcing all to curtail spending and investment. The urban manufactures lost their markets abroad and then increasingly their markets at home, too. Instead of importing food and raw materials and exporting high-quality manufactured goods, as in the past, Italians imported ever more manufactured goods from France, the Netherlands, and England, and sold agricultural commodities and semifinished products in exchange. From what we can measure, standards of living in Italian cities and villages declined along with the population. This was not an economic crisis, per se, preparing a rapid recovery. Rather, Italy fell quickly and enduringly behind its northern European neighbors and became the very example of stagnation and decline.

Italy lost its cultural ascendancy in the same period. After spearheading the mathematization of the universe, Italian philosophers formulated the first serious challenge to the Aristotelian worldview that the church supported. However, the church grew in strength throughout this crisis period, and with the active support of Italian princes, it mobilized against new currents in philosophy and science in an enduring manner. If Italy retained a larger number of universities and academies compared to other countries, these were gradually coopted by religious authorities vigilant against dangerous novelties. Italian elites ceased their campaign to spread literacy in cities and villages. Europe's cultural center of gravity shifted away from northern Italy to settle on the triangle of Paris-London-Amsterdam, which became the fulcrum of the Enlightenment.


The eighteenth century nevertheless witnessed a partial recovery of Italy, though it did not begin to close the gap with northwest Europe. The long depression of the European economy ended around 1730 as the newly rising population began to raise prices and intensify commercial exchanges. Italy's once-prized urban manufactures continued to lose ground, and the country ruralized further, while in northern Europe the cities gained ground absolutely and relatively. Nevertheless, famines became less frequent as large-scale maize and rice cultivation introduced these high-yield crops into the staple diet. A new interest in agricultural questions among the elite sparked an era of innovation and experiment, and investments aimed to reclaim farmland from marshes and hillsides. The Italian population increased from thirteen million to eighteen million at the end of the century, but European population increase was stronger outside Italy. Fortunes were made supplying grain and other foodstuffs to the cities, and the country exported food and other agricultural products like raw silk. Economic thinkers began to suggest lifting the number of restrictions hedging agricultural production and distribution, in the expectation that landlords would produce more food as prices rose. The widespread famines of the mid-1760s constitute a watershed in that governments everywhere began to liberalize the economy, and the grain trade in particular. Production did indeed rise, but prices rose relentlessly, too, and with them, misery proved irrepressible.

The same liberalizing trends were introduced into manufacturing, with the same mixed results. State monopolies and privileges protecting specific industries did not prove very successful. After mid-century, governments began to turn a blind eye to breaches in the regulations. Governments contributed to the expansion by investing effort in roads, canals, and monetary stability. More typically, new initiatives scattered to the countryside and used peasant labor that was abundant and cheap in the off-season. By the late eighteenth century, the future geography of Italian industry was already perceptible in Piedmont, northern Lombardy and the Veneto, Liguria, and northern Tuscany, producing cheap goods for popular markets in Italy and beyond. As the price of manufactured goods declined, something of a consumer revolution began to reach a large portion of the population, in central and northern Italy particularly.


The same secularizing trends at work north of the Alps began to weaken the monolithic nature of Tridentine Catholicism in the peninsula. In order to contest the challenges to their jurisdiction coming from France, Spain, and Austria, the popes gave new impetus to the study of church history, armed with the new tools of chronology and diplomatics. The unintended result was to have church scholars lead an assault on over a thousand years of church legends. A more critical form of erudition, a study of history, law, and institutions, made intellectual elites in Italy more suspicious of receiving tradition uncritically. After more than a century of active Counter-Reformation, the Italian clergy had never been so well educated or disciplined, but this meant that they were open to fresh intellectual currents, too. The church sometimes excoriated secular tendencies and arrested some of the early Freemasons (members of a philanthropical secret society who tolerated unorthodox religious views), but it could not reverse the trend. In the 1720s and 1730s Piedmont began to limit the church's jurisdiction, and took a more active role in education and charity, areas in which church institutions had been more active than the state. States began to invoke the need to appoint their own censors. Inquisition activities began to be curtailed, since they had always operated with the state's cooperation, and this was no longer automatically forthcoming. Italian states began to impose new taxes on church incomes, to reduce the tax immunities of clergymen, to reduce the number of priests and monks in their territories, and to abolish mortmain, which had prevented church land from being sold to secular landowners. Between 1750 and 1770 a spate of laws limiting the church's jurisdiction was issued all across Italy, sometimes accompanied by new concordats. Nevertheless, this did not entail the more profound dechristianization that was beginning in France. Popular attendance at church services was still very high everywhere. Over most of Italy, the late seventeenth and the entire eighteenth century witnessed missionary activity on an unprecedented scale over the entire countryside, instilling a more modern individual piety despite the theatrical flourishes typical of Mediterranean religiosity. If anything, the eighteenth century witnessed an unprecedented cultural gulf between urban cultural elites and the illiterate majority of Italians.


The intellectual dynamism in eighteenth-century Italy was considerable, across the gamut of genres. Increasing numbers of books were published in Italy, and ever more were imported, legally or as contraband. While censorship was still the norm, censors often intervened with a light hand. The church's index of prohibited books of 1758 was less severe than those preceding it, and was perhaps less severe than that of some Italian states. A great many forbidden works lined the bookshelves of Italian homes or libraries, often published in French. The publication of books was complemented by the multiplication of periodicals. While they rarely reached more than a couple of thousand subscribers each in northern and central Italy, they usually passed through more hands. These made known books published throughout Italy and the rest of Europe with very little time lag. Italian elites became conversant with French Enlightenment principles and with English ideas, too, spread by young aristocrats on the grand tour. By the 1760s and 1770s, the Italian authors who were members of academies and contributors to philosophical and literary journals began to disseminate their ideas close to the realm of power in Milan and Turin, Parma and Modena, Florence and Naples.


More often than not, Italian governments were friendly to such developments, which never encompassed much more than an urban elite. Many of the academies functioned with the blessing of princely governments. These governments evolved gradually in the direction of more discretionary power in the hands of the prince and his court, and a dwindling role for the noble heirs of the urban governments whose institutions reached back into the Middle Ages. The model was largely French, fashioned over several centuries by kings who gradually subjected great lords and autonomous regions to their authority. Piedmont applied these lessons most effectively with perfect continuity through the dukes of Savoy from Emanuel Philibert (ruled 15591580) onward. The house of Savoy domesticated its nobility by making service a condition of fiefholding. Nobles served in the army and at court, in both cases enhancing the power of the prince. Noblemen strove to be admitted to bureaucratic institutions in Turin. The dukes also adopted the French employment of powerful commissioners, called intendants, entrusted with the strict application of the duke's decisions in every district capital. With a more efficient government hierarchy, the dukes could afford to raise taxes and establish a standing army, which could be used to enforce its will on recalcitrant subjects. During the long reign of Victor Amadeus II (16831730), the duke single-mindedly pushed back provincial, aristocratic, and ecclesiastical privilege with the aim of increasing his revenues. These he spent principally on warfare. Aided by British and Dutch subsidies, Victor Amadeus fashioned a large and effective military force that helped tilt the balance against Louis XIV and resulted in the expansion of the state in Lombardy and the acquisition of Sardinia (1720) with its royal title. Along with Venice, but with more ambitious expansion aims, Piedmont possessed the only serious Italian army on the peninsula. By committing its army to one side or the other in the rivalry between the Bourbons and the Habsburgs, the Savoy dynasty was able to increase the size and power of the state.


Piedmont was eventually isolated after 1756 once Habsburgs and Bourbons decided to make peace to confront other threats. Both dynasties applied absolutist principles in the Italian areas they governed, although these were not completely novel in the eighteenth century. The French Bourbon kings considered Italy to be a sideshow and did not seek major gains there during the eighteenth century. Their sole durable initiative was to purchase the rebellious island of Corsica from Genoa in 1767 and to crush the rebels there. Ejected from the peninsula after 1707, the Spanish Bourbons returned in 1734 when a seaborne army enabled the adolescent Charles III (ruled in Naples 17341759) to take Naples and Sicily from Austria. Charles was long dependent upon instructions from his parents, who gave him an army composed chiefly of Spanish and other foreign troops. True to Bourbon principles, Charles sought to domesticate the Neapolitan aristocracy and rule through civil servants steeped in royalist tradition. Charles was forced by family allegiance to commit the kingdom to war against the Habsburgs after 1740. With luck, his army defeated an Austrian attempt at reconquest in 1744, and Neapolitan notables resigned themselves to the Bourbon regime. The chief minister in Naples, Bernardo Tanucci (ascendant 17401776), adopted principles long followed in France, then Spain, to curtail baronial and ecclesiastical jurisdictions and liberties to the benefit of royal government, and to recover the direction of tax offices alienated to private investors during the preceding century. The place of the church was drastically curtailed during the latter half of the eighteenth century, in part due to a new concordat. Feudal power receded more gradually, though baronial excesses and violence were largely things of the past after 1750. There was even some progress in enhancing royal control over the tax machinery and in streamlining government procedures. After Tanucci retired, and the crown settled on Charles's son Ferdinand I (ruled 17671825) and his Habsburg queen Maria Carolina, absolutist policies designed by aristocratic Freemasons hemmed in baronial power in Sicily, too. The Bourbons tried to maintain a credible army and rally the aristocracy around it, and in the 1780s they created a navy, too, with which to combat Barbary corsairs. In Naples the regime established a panoply of royal institutions, including a palace at Caserta modeled on Versailles. The regime was fairly deeply rooted in the kingdom when French revolutionaries overthrew it in 1799, and it was restored largely through popular rebellion.


Austrian Habsburgs applied the same general principles in the areas they governed after winning the War of the Spanish Succession in 1714. Initially they scooped up most of the Spanish territories in Italy: Milan, Naples, and Sardinia (exchanged with Piedmont for Sicily in 1720). Habsburg ambitions did not end there. Mantua was confiscated from the Gonzaga dukes for backing the Bourbons. The emperor Charles VI (ruled 17111740) also intended to incorporate into the empire the other Italian principalities: Parma on the extinction of the Farnese in 1731; Tuscany on the extinction of the Medici in 1737. Italians constituted about one-third of the emperor's direct subjects in those years.

But the incipient "Austrian" empire was a ramshackle conglomeration of territories articulated around the Austrian and Bohemian heartland, with its peripheries responding poorly to directives from the center. Its vulnerability in Italy was demonstrated during the War of the Polish Succession in 17331735 as Gallispan armies supported by Piedmont ejected imperial troops from both Lombardy and Naples, losing the latter definitively. When in 1740 a Prussian attack gave birth to a new coalition aimed at breaking up the Austrian Habsburg empire, triggering the War of the Austrian Succession, the new Habsburg regime headed by Maria Theresa had never looked weaker. The Danubian territories rallied around the dynasty, however, permitting the levy of new Habsburg armies for fighting in Italy, Germany, and the Low Countries. A new Spanish army operating in Emilia with Neapolitan support was beaten back. When Piedmont and Britain joined Austria soon after, the Habsburg Monarchy was able to mount better odds. Maria Theresa briefly lost Milan and Parma in 1745 to Gallispan troops but soon after recovered sufficiently to put the Bourbons on the defensive. French successes elsewhere finally allowed a Spanish Bourbon to become duke of Parma in 1748, but it was a limited success. Maria Theresa spent the rest of her reign reinforcing imperial institutions in Milan. As in Piedmont, the crucial initiative was to undertake a meticulous cadastre of landed property that allowed it to assess taxes more equitably and efficiently. Gradually, the monarchy took over the business of raising taxes, which was novel for the ancien régime. After 1765, Maria Theresa was aided by her eldest son, Joseph, who reigned as emperor between 1780 and 1790. As a result of their initiatives to stimulate the economy and streamline the administration, Milanese patricians gradually lost their hold over the region, to the benefit of Italians nominated from Vienna.

The Habsburg influence spread throughout Italy in the eighteenth century, prefiguring the predominance of Metternich's age in the early nineteenth century before Italian unification. Genoa relied on imperial troops to retain its shaky hold on Corsica. Maria Theresa's husband, emperor Francis I (ruled 17371765), succeeded the Medici to the grand-ducal throne of Florence, and ruled it from Vienna through the intermediary of Lorrainer officials, until his son Leopold (ruled 17651790) went to rule there directly after 1765. The Este line in Modena eventually merged with a Habsburg prince, extending Vienna's influence into Emilia. Once Habsburgs and Bourbons formed an alliance in 1756, it was cemented in place through a series of marriages, and queen Maria Carolina effectively brought Naples into the Austrian sphere of influence at the end of the century, displacing the Spanish connection of her Bourbon husband.

Habsburg reforms tended to be most drastic with respect to the Catholic Church. Maria Theresa was content to impose Vienna's jurisdiction in her territories, at the expense of the pope. It can be argued that she was following the Bourbon lead in this area, imposing ultimate state control over papal functionaries. Reforms to church structures under her sons Joseph II (in Lombardy and the Trentino) and Leopold (in Tuscany) were intentionally more fundamental, as both princes sponsored the spread of Jansenist principles at the expense of traditional Catholicism. Bishops nominated from Vienna were henceforth all selected with a view to uprooting "superstition" and "fanaticism." Priests were trained at great seminaries under state control, using a Jansenist catechism. The great majority of religious houses were closed by government order and their property confiscated. Most of these measures irritated most Italians, and the Tuscan reformers were challenged by traditional bishops and popular riots in 1787. Leopold decreed a pause in these and other reforms, but they marked the real end of the Counter-Reformation era in Italy, just before the arrival of French revolutionary troops in 1796.

See also Florence ; Habsburg Dynasty: Austria ; Habsburg Dynasty: Spain ; Maria Theresa (Holy Roman Empire) ; Papacy and Papal States ; Savoy, duchy of ; Venice .


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Gregory Hanlon


views updated May 21 2018


Italian Republic

Repubblica Italiana



Located in southern Europe, Italy is a peninsula extending into the Central Mediterranean Sea. It is shaped like a high-heeled boot kicking a "triangle"the island of Sicily. Italy borders France to the west, Switzerland and Austria to the north, and Slovenia to the east. The country also shares a border with 2 tiny independent states, San Marino and the Vatican, both of which are entirely surrounded by Italian territory. Italy has an area of 301,230 square kilometers (116,304 square miles) and a coastline of 7,600 kilometers (4,722 miles), including the islands of Sicily and Sardinia. Comparatively, Italy is slightly larger than the state of Arizona. Rome, the capital city, is on the country's western coast at the heart of the peninsula. Other major cities include Milan, Naples, Genoa, Florence, Venice, Palermo, Bologna, and Bari.


In July 2000 the population of Italy was estimated at 57,634,327. In the same year the birth rate stood at 9.13 per 1,000 people while the death rate was 9.99 per 1,000 people. Thanks to the annual arrival of immigrants, the projected growth rate is 0.09 percent. The data clearly show that without the influx of foreign immigrants the Italian population would suffer a steady decline. More restrictive immigration policies are being adopted, and it is expected that by 2010 the population will decrease to 56,484,000.

According to 1996 statistics, just over 67 percent of Italians live in an urban setting; the rest live in the countryside. The regions with the highest density are Campania (with 426 people per square kilometer, or 1,103 per square mile, in 1998) and Lombardy (378 people per square kilometer, or 979 per square mile). The regions with the lowest density are Val d'Aosta (37 people per square kilometer, or 96 per square mile) and Basilicata (61 people per square kilometer, or 158 per square mile). The biggest city is Rome, with 2,646,000 inhabitants, followed by Milan (1,308,000), Naples (1,020,000), Turin (910,000), Palermo (687,000), and Genoa (641,000).

Ethnic Italians form 97 percent of the population, but there are small ethnic minorities such as German-Italian, French-Italian, Slovene-Italian, and Albanian-Italian, while foreign immigrants make up 1.8 percent of the population. The largest immigrant groups are Moroccans, Albanians, Filipinos, Americans, Tunisians, and Chinese. Italyhome to Vatican City, the seat of the Popeis a predominantly Roman Catholic country, even though church attendance has been progressively falling. There are small Protestant and Jewish communities, but, as a consequence of the growing number of North African, Bosnian, and Albanian immigrants, the second religion of Italy today is Islam. With 18 percent of people over 65 and only 14 percent below the age of 14, there is widespread concern about the rapid rate at which Italy's population is aging. With average life expectancy at 79.03 years, the government is worried about the financial costs, such as health care and pensions, associated with an aging population.

Contrary to popular perception, Italian families are no longer as large as they once were, and it is becoming common for couples to have only 1 child. Economic well-being, a high cost of living, and the entrance of women into the workforce have had a tremendous influence on family structure. In 1961, about 14.4 percent of families had 4 or more children, compared to 1998 when only 1.4 percent of families had 4 or more. Without the arrival of immigrants, the Italian population would have fallen over the last decade. To reverse the negative trend, the government has adopted family-friendly policies. The government encourages families to have more children through tax breaks and direct grants. The policy has not been too successful, however, because people do not consider the financial incentives to be enough.


Italy's gross domestic product (GDP) of US$1.273 trillion makes it the sixth richest country in the world. In income per capita, it occupies 18th place. The country's economic success is a recent accomplishment. Italy was unified in 1861 after 3 wars of independence fought against various foreign rulers who dominated different parts of the country. The driving force behind Italy's unification was Victor Emmanuel II, the king of Piedmont and Sardinia, who waged wars against foreign rule in the name of Italian independence and territorial unity. Italy had long been carved up by foreign powers, but several self-ruling cities and kingdoms also existed. With the help of committed patriots, such as Giuseppe Mazzini and Giuseppe Garibaldi, Victor Emmanuel accomplished his aim to unify the country under his rule. Despite the enthusiasm of unification, economic conditions were poor. Italy had few industries, and most people lived off agriculture. Furthermore, the difference between the more advanced northern half of the country and the poorer south was evident. The pace of industrialization was slow, and industry could not provide jobs for new generations of workers. Because of the poor standard of living and lack of work, many Italians left the country to find a better life, particularly in the United States. The first wave of mass emigration to the United States took place before the turn of the 20th century, followed by a second wave after World War I (1914-18). During the period of Italy's fascist rule, which lasted from 1922 until 1943, and then following the end of World War II (1939-45), many Italians migrated to European countries such as the United Kingdom, Germany, and Belgium. Before the economic boom in the late 1950s, many Italians also migrated to Australia, South Africa, Switzerland, and Latin America.

The turning point in Italian economic history was the economic prosperity of the 1960s. At the time, private and state-owned enterprises took advantage of foreign assistance from the United States under the Marshall Plan and the launch of the European Economic Community (EEC) to restore the Italian economy. Despite skepticism about the European Common Market, Italy joined and profited from the progressive integration of Western European economies. By developing strong export-related industries, the industrial triangle of Milan-Genoa-Turin led the economic boom. Italian exports became attractive, and the growth of exports led to a strong internal demand for goods and services. Small and medium enterprises began establishing themselves and prospering in Northern Italy. These companies were the force behind economic growth as they exported machinery, engineering products, textiles, and clothing. Large private companies such as FIAT and state-owned companies such as ENI and ENEL also contributed to economic growth. Meanwhile, southern Italy remained impoverished, and its inhabitants migrated north in large numbers until the late 1970s.

In the following decades, Italy was able to consolidate its economic success, even though the economy was never again as strong as it had been in the 1960s. Comparatively, the Italian economy grew faster in the 1960s than any other European country, while around the world only the Japanese economy fared better. The 1970s and 1980s saw much more uneven development. Italy is heavily dependent on Algerian gas and Arab oil supplies, so it was hit hard by the oil crises of the 1970s. Despite this trouble, Italy's economy grew over 3 percent annually during the 1970s, though it began to slow at the end of the decade. The second oil crisis in 1979 and domestic political turmoil created high unemployment and high inflation . Strikes, demonstrations, flight of capital, and confrontations between the trade unions and businesses plagued the country. To steer the country away from this troubled period, political parties formed a Grand Alliance to find a solution that would satisfy most of the people. A national solidarity government was formed and managed to deal with the problem of stagflation (high inflation combined with high unemployment and stagnant consumer demand), reduce civil unrest, and lay the foundations for future growth. The country began to recover about 1983 and moved toward a new period of economic expansion. Strong economic performance allowed successive governments to make improvements in the welfare state that provides health care, education, pensions, infrastructure , and benefits.

Before the 1980s, Italy was a free market economy with a strong element of state control and state ownership. Many state-owned companies had operated efficiently and contributed to economic growth. By the mid-1980s, however, the state sector was beginning to create distortions in the economy. Many Italians employed by the state lived well above their means, accumulating debts and enjoying a free ride at the public expense. By the mid-1980s, appointments to the civil service and to the management of state-owned enterprises were handed out as political favors, leading to widespread corruption. The mismanagement of public resources drained the economy. Furthermore, the high costs of the welfare system put a strain on the country's finances, thanks to widespread corruption and waste in the health care, social security, transport, and education systems. The economic slump of the early 1990s highlighted the burden of the public debt and brought about radical measures to cut costs, privatize , and reduce the role of government in the economy.

The state began to withdraw from its role in the economy after a first round of privatization was carried out at the end of the 1980s. Large state-owned enterprises such as the motor car manufacturing company, Alfa-Romeo, were sold to private investors. The progressive disengagement of the state from the economy created more room for private investors. With the prospect of entrance into the European Monetary Union (EMU), Italy was forced to undertake massive reforms to lower inflation, reduce the deficit, and lower interest rates. By 1992 reforms accelerated as the state disengaged from the economic sphere. The radical changes brought success in tackling the high deficit through cuts to the welfare state and measures to limit waste. Inflation was brought under control by means of restrictive monetary policies , and the tax system was made more efficient. Because of the initiatives, Italy succeeded in qualifying to participate in the EMU.

By 1998 and 1999, Italy experienced sustained growth after many years of high taxes, budget cuts, and high unemployment. The relative importance of the Milan-Genoa-Turin industrial triangle declined, and small and mediumsized private enterprises in the northern part of the country became the chief participants in the new boom. Recovery from the economic recession of the early 1990s and acceptance into the EMU was due, in part, to the social partnership pact brokered by the government. Employers and labor united to put an end to confrontation and to adopt part-time contracts, flexible hours, and lower overtime rates. Even the public sector embraced these changes to improve its efficiency. Investments were made in technological development, salaries were frozen for months, and the workforce increased production in exchange for job security.

The Italian economy is now much more free-market oriented than at any previous time. Several sectors have been liberalized and state monopolies disbanded. Many state-owned enterprises have been privatized over the last 8 years, with 13 percent of these sold to national private investors and another 8 percent to foreign private investors. The remaining 79 percent were sold to the public via stock offerings. Over 500,000 workers were transferred from the public to the private sector between 1992 and 1998. Some of the largest companies to be privatized or already privatized included: AGIP, SNAM, and Italgas (in the energy sector); ILVA, Ansaldo, Nuovo Pignone, Dalmine, and Italimpianti (in the industrial sector); Credito Italiano, Banco di Roma, and Banca Commerciale (financial sector); Telecom Italia (communication sector); and Alitalia, Tirrenia, and SEA (transportation sector).

By 2000, Italy enjoyed a healthy economy characterized by slow growth. In fact, Italy had the slowest growing economy of the 11 founding members of the EMU. With the GDP growth of 1.4 percent in 1999, Italy lagged behind the 2.9 percent annual growth rate of other countries in the EMU. But growth increased in 2000, reaching an annual rate of 2.7 percent and may be expected to continue to improve in the coming years as the country continues to adjust to the new economic scenario created by the withdrawal of the state.

Despite the relatively healthy economy, high unemployment, underdevelopment in large areas of the south, and the large presence of an often criminal, informal economy continue to plague Italy. Most of the unemployed live in the south. Organized crime tries to recruit those people. Unemployment has always been a problem even in times of economic growth. In 2000 unemployment stood at 11.5 percent. Although unemployment is high, it may not be reflective of reality because of the number of people employed in the nation's informal sector. Living conditions in the south of Italy are difficult, the job market is tight, and emigration is still the preferred option of many young people. The government has made a serious attempt to address this problem by granting tax breaks to companies willing to set up business and hire workers in the south. CGIL, the largest Italian trade union, calculated that between October 1997 and April 2000 over 100,000 people found work in small or medium-sized enterprises in the south.

The government has toughened laws against businesses that fail to pay their taxes and who gravitate toward the informal economy. Companies that want to move from the informal economy and legalize receive help. The re-emergence of the companies entitles workers to social benefits and helps generate revenue for the state from taxes. Most of the new enterprises are active in the clothing, footwear, agricultural, and construction sectors. Although these businesses operate on a small scale, many hire a large number of workers. It is difficult to determine precise statistics because of the informal nature of the market.

It is incorrect to treat the whole of southern Italy as a homogenous area because there are substantial differences in economic and social development in different regions. For example, Abruzzo is more prosperous and developed than Calabria. Within the same southern region, production compares favorably with the more affluent north. Although social development and the standard of living is improving, overall indicators still point, however, to a significant gap between the north and the south.

Ironically, factories in the north suffer from a shortage of labor because of recent economic growth. Despite unemployment rates below 4 percent, southerners are reluctant to move to the north. Southern objections include the high cost of living in the north and the long hours accompanied by most of the manual job opportunities. Many people from the south with higher education hold out for better job prospects. Because of job vacancies, smaller companies in the north request more visas for eastern European and African workers.


Italy has been a democracy since the end of World War II, and despite its international reputation for political instability, the country has enjoyed largely consistent policies from successive governments. The country became a republic following the abdication of King Victor Emmanuel III in 1946 and the creation of a constitution in 1948. The country's president is elected by an electoral college whose members represent the popular vote. The president in turn selects a prime minister from the ruling coalition in the parliament. In elections held in 1999 Carlo Azeglio Ciampi was elected president. Following legislative elections in 2001, Silvio Berlusconi was selected as prime minister.

Italy has a bicameral legislature consisting of a 315-member Senate and a 630-member Chamber of Deputies. Both houses are directly elected by popular vote, and members serve 5-year terms. The judicial branch is headed by a Constitutional Court whose members are appointed in equal number by the president, the parliament, and the administrative Supreme Courts.

The major parties that have dominated politics since 1946 are: the Christian Democrats (DC), the Communist Party (PCI), and the Socialist Party (PSI). The Christian Democrats have been the dominant force in Italian politics, continuously leading a coalition government from 1946 until the early 1990s. Until 1963, when the Socialist Party entered parliament, the Christian Democrats' coalition partners represented 3 smaller parties, the Republican Party (PRI), the Social Democratic Party (PSDI), and the Liberal Party (PLI). The main objective of all parties was the exclusion of the communists from government, and the resulting continuity of parliamentary representation ensured that there were no major swings of policy. This government coalition presided over a long period of economic growth and a satisfied electorate opposed to any radical change. The harsh recessions of the late 1970s, mid-1980s, and early 1990s, however, undermined the popularity of the DC-PSI axis, but it was not until 1992 that the political system fell apart. In that year, a major anti-corruption investigation that implicated politicians and heads of industry in a cash-for-favors exchange shook the political and economic establishment of the country.

The corruption scandals, combined with the collapse of the USSR that ended the ideological war over communism in Italy, radically altered the political system. In addition, a new economic recession for which mismanagement of the national economy was largely to blame hastened the exit of an already discredited political class. Thus, traditional parties disappeared, and new parties emerged between 1991 and 1994. Electoral laws were reformed, and in a radical move, proportional representation was abolished. It was replaced with the first-pastthe-post system, where the country is divided into constituencies, and the constituency seat goes to the winning candidate. (The congressional elections in the United States follow a comparable system.) The changes stood to give the electorate clear choices and were welcomed by many who believed that, with fewer parties in government, politicians would deal with concrete issues in non-ideological terms. Far from decreasing, however, the number of political parties has increased, and coalition government still prevails. Nevertheless, to a certain extent, expectations have been met, and the Italian electorate does face a clear choice at election time between center-right and center-left coalitions. Both sides have had periods in office since 1994.

The main parties within the center-right coalition are Forza Italia, National Alliance (AN), the Northern League (NL), and the Center Christian Democrats (CCD). The largest party is Forza Italia, led by media tycoon Silvio Berlusconi, who is also the leader of the coalition. This party believes strongly in further reducing the role of the state in the economic sphere and aims to accelerate the pace of privatization. Clearly conservative, Forza Italia also plans to cut the costs of the welfare state and introduce free-market competition in health and education, as well as cutting taxes. The Northern League shares these economic policies but also advocates increased political and fiscal autonomy for all regions by devolving responsibility to the regions for providing several fundamental services, including the provision of education, health care, transport, and law and order. Under this proposal, the regions would be empowered to raise taxes, keeping most of the revenue to spend as they decide, without central government interference. The NL represents, in electoral terms, the majority of northern voters, and its appeals for federal reforms are to be taken seriously. The National Alliance is the most right-wing party of the coalition and is mostly preoccupied with limiting foreign immigration, preserving the integrity of the national territory, and safeguarding the international credibility of Italy. It shares the broad economic approach of its partners but does not support the federal reforms advocated by the NL. The Center Christian Democrats offer a more moderate voice regarding immigration and social policies but argue for increased economic liberalization.

The center-right coalition was in power in 1994 for only 7 months and was unable to carry out their promised reforms because the Northern League withdrew from the alliance. The center-left coalition won the 1996 election. The main parties of the center-left coalition are the Democrats of the Left (DS), the People's Party (PPI), the Greens, the Democrats, and, after years in the wilderness, the Communist Party (PCI). The DS, the largest partner in the coalition, is a social-democratic party. The broad outline of its economic policy, shared by all its partners, favors liberalization, privatization, lower taxes, and job creation by means of financial incentives to employers. The PPI is one of the heirs of the old Christian Democrats (DC) and is the most socialist party of the coalition, supporting recognition of gay rights, subsidized housing for refugees, and abortion. In the economic sphere, the PPI is slightly to the left of the dominant DS and believes that the state should still play a strong role in managing the economy. One distinctive policy of the PPI is the advocacy of state aid to private schools run by the Catholic Church. The Greens subscribe to most of the economic policies advocated by the DS but are mainly concerned with the environmental aspects of those policies. In common with the Greens in the rest of Europe, they are particularly committed to limiting the use of motor cars in favor of a more environmentally friendly public transport system. Many of the economic policies of the right and left parties overlap; the difference is marked in matters of social policy, the environment, and federalism. The center-left coalition is not as keen as its opponents to introduce free-market competition in the provision of health and education, preferring a smaller, more efficient welfare state and, in principle, is not hostile to foreign immigration. Finally, the center-left supports administrative and political decentralization, but is against extensive federal reforms that would widen the already large gap between North and South.

The center-left coalition held power from 1996 to 2001, a period characterized by an economic slump and by Italian support for NATO actions in Kosovo. With the economy slumping in the runup to the 2001 legislative elections, the center-right parties, led by Silvio Berlusconi's right-wing Forza Italia, returned to power in a coalition that included some of the most right-wing parties in Europe. Since his return to power, Berlusconi has been an outspoken proponent of free trade and pro-business policies. He has promised to reduce unemployment, cut taxes, and reform education and the still-bloated state bureaucracy.

An aspect of Italian politics that should not be ignored is the growing disillusionment of the electorate. Many citizens feel that their participation in the political process makes no difference to government, and there has been a sharp decrease in party membership. Voter turnout has steadily decreased since the mid-1980s, and in the 1996 elections, 23.1 percent of voters either stayed away from the polls or spoiled their ballot papers. This is a worrying sign of disaffection, and many political parties are concerned that if this trend continues it will undermine the legitimacy of future governments.

The former leader of the Socialist Party, Giuliano Amato, launched a far-reaching privatization program in 1992, which was continued by both coalition governments. Aside from the sale of state assets, both coalitions agreed that the pension system should be reformed and its apparent generosity curtailed. The reform of the pension system was carried out in full by the center-left coalition in power from 1996 to 2001, which was able to convince the trade unions to accept a deal. Both coalitions are also in favor of increased international free trade, even though they advocate some sort of protectionist measures for so-called "cultural products" such as movies and TV programs, which promote Italian language and culture. Finally, budget cuts across the board (particularly as regards health and defense) have been welcomed by both coalitions. The general convergence of ideas on economic management should not, however, obscure the differences that still exist between left and right. These differences are highly visible when it comes to crucial social issues such as immigration, gay rights, and the environment.

Problems of corruption, including the infiltration of political institutions by organized crime, have long been a feature of Italian life. The present political system was born out of a popular reaction against the spread of corruption and crime, but the problem, though marginally worse in the 1970s and 1980s than it is as of 2001, refuses to go away. The new political structures seem only to have provided a pause in the usual pattern of "doing politics" and "doing business" in Italy.

Taxation in Italy is quite a complicated affair because there are numerous taxes that each citizen has to pay. Moreover taxation is high, representing 43.3 percent of the GDP. However, the number and quality of the public services are some justification for high taxes, and measures to simplify the tax system have been introduced since 1998. Income tax accounts for 34.9 percent of total tax revenues, while value-added tax (VAT) contributes 35.4 percent. In addition, local governments levy other indirect taxes .

The tax system is plagued by tax evasion, however. Many economists point to this problem as one of the main challenges Italy needs to resolve in the near future. The government is improving the situation, but there is still an enormous amount of work to do. Aside from the considerable sums of money that entirely escape the government due to the strength of the informal economy, there is significant income tax evasion. Employees in both the public and private sectors have their tax deducted from their paychecks and do not have to submit tax declaration forms. However, employers, self-employed professionals, and business owners must fill out tax forms and declare their profits. Huge numbers of people in these categories falsely report their earnings, thus lowering their tax bills. The state has as yet not found a method of tackling this situation. For many years tax evasion was ignored, thanks to a commonly accepted theory that it was conducive to economic development: the money would swell either consumption or investment. But tax evasion is clearly putting a strain on public finances, and its effects are particularly negative at a time of increasing cutbacks in public services. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recognized the problem in 1998 and pointed out that far-reaching reforms had to be undertaken if tax evasion was to be reduced. The government is currently implementing certain reforms that are expected to make the system more coherent and make evasion less common.


Italy has an efficient and modern infrastructure, even though it performs poorly compared to other Western European countries of comparable size. The whole peninsula is well connected through an extensive system of railways, expressways, national roads, airports and seaports. Most of the infrastructure was rebuilt after the ravages of World War II and is subject to constant improvement and upkeep. However, many important projects have failed to materialize, among them the subway system in Naples, and more railways in the south and east to facilitate the movement of goods. At the same time, funds were given to many useless projects, built solely to line the pockets of those whose political or economic support could thus be counted upon.

Italy has a number of important international airports and the national carrier, Alitalia, has a fleet of 166 planes which transport 25 million passengers annually and connect Italy to 60 other countries. Overall, Italy has 136 airports, the most important being Fiumicino (Rome), Malpensa and Linate (both serving Milan), Ronchi dei Legionari (Trieste), Caselle (Turin), and Marco Polo (Venice). Seaports used to be a key element of the Italian transport system; they handle a substantial percentage of cargo until the mid-1970s. Due to the development of alternative means of transportation and competition from neighboring ports, however, their traffic has declined somewhat. The ports of Trieste, Genoa, Naples, Taranto, Augusta, Gioia Tauro, and Livorno are economically important to their respective regions. Italy is a major power in container shipping in the Mediterranean. The Italian merchant fleet consists of over 2,000 ships, 1,331 of which are over 100 tons. The country also has 1,500 miles of waterways that are used for commercial purposes, but this system is relatively undeveloped.

Since most goods in Italy are transported by road, the system is constantly upgraded and improved. It provides a highly developed and efficient network of interconnected highways and lesser roads, particularly in northern regions. The main routes at the hub of the road system are Turin-Milan-Venice-Trieste, Milan-Bologna-Florence-Rome, Milan-Genoa, and Rome-Naples. There are 6,460 kilometers (4,014 miles) of expressway, mostly in the northern and central regions, and the system overall is comprised of 654,676 kilometers (406,815 miles) of paved roads. Links to the rest of Europe are excellent. However, even Italy's extensive and sophisticated road network is now barely able to cope with the steadily increasing traffic.

The country's rail system is also highly developed and traverses a distance of 19,394 kilometers (12,051 miles). Italian passenger trains are generally punctual, comfortable, and cheap compared to the rest of Europe. They are the preferred means of travel for many commuters as well as tourists, who can thus avoid congested roads and urban areas. In order to improve the system, the state-owned rail company, Ferrovie dello Stato (FS), is currently developing a project to introduce high-speed trains like the French TGV.

Infrastructure is not the same quality throughout the country. While the road and rail networks are intricate and plentiful in the north and center of the country, the southern infrastructure is poor. Northern Italy's impressive economic growth and geographical proximity to the heart of Europe made it a key commercial area, and the

CountryNewspapersRadiosTV Sets aCable subscribers aMobile Phones aFax Machines aPersonal Computers aInternet Hosts bInternet Users b
United States2152,146847244.325678.4458.61,508.7774,100
aData are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
bData are from the Internet Software Consortium ( and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

infrastructure developed accordingly. By contrast, the geographical isolation and poor economic development of Southern Italy meant that infrastructure was never a priority except for seaports.

Italy has very few natural resources and must import most of them from neighboring countries. Crude oil comes mainly from Libya, Algeria, and countries in the Arab peninsula. Petroleum represents 4.5 percent of all Italian imports. Gas comes from Algeria, Tunisia and Russia through a number of pipelines. Furthermore, unlike Germany and France, Italy has no nuclear power capability and is completely dependent on imported energy. For this reason, Italy is one of the few Western European countries to enjoy very good relations with a number of Arab states. In 1998 and 1999, Italian prime ministers were the first Western leaders to visit countries such as Iran and Libya after many years of diplomatic isolation. In 1998, Italy consumed 266.705 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity, provided mainly by the formerly state-owned company ENEL, which was privatized in 1999. The generally reliable 220-volt power system covers the whole country.

Until recently, the state-owned company Telecom Italia provided telecommunications services in Italy, but the market recently opened to competition, thanks in part to the privatization of Telecom Italia in 1997, which remains the principal provider. There were 25 million main telephone lines in use in 1999. Like many other Western European countries, Italy is experiencing the Internet revolution, and in 1999 there were 68 Internet hosts per 10,000 people. More recent, but unconfirmed, figures claim that 10 million Italians surf the net. What distinguishes Italians from their neighbors in Western Europe is the quantity of mobile phones in circulation. They have proved particularly popular in Italy, and by 1998 there were 355 mobile phones per 1,000 people. This figure has certainly increased dramatically since then and recent figures record that 48 million cell phones have been sold in Italy since 1995.


Like all advanced capitalist economies, Italy is quickly moving away from its traditional economic sectors to become predominantly services-oriented, although the economic importance of the industrial sector is higher than the EU average. Agriculture accounted for 2.5 percent of the GDP in 2000, while industry and services accounted, respectively, for 30.4 percent and 67.1 percent of the GDP. Italy has recovered from the economic recession of the early 1990s in part through its efforts to develop the service sector even further. Services both to commercial enterprises and private individuals have grown in importance, while the relevance of the agricultural sector continues to decline. In the south, tourism is seen as one of the principal sectors for development, one that would generate employment in the region.

The manufacture of machinery, motor vehicles, clothing, footwear, and food processing are the main industrial sub-sectors. Many of these enterprises manufacture goods almost exclusively for foreign markets and must, therefore, monitor international economic changes very carefully. These companies are largely concentrated in the northern regions and are often small or medium in size. More often than not, they are also family run, and the business is kept within the family for generations. The large manufacturers include such internationally recognized names as FIAT, Benetton, Parmalat, Mediaset, Pirelli, and Zanussi, multinational companies which produce a wide range of products across several manufacturing sectors.

An interesting aspect of Italian economic development is the increasingly important role that small and medium enterprises have come to play. These companies are often family run and can count on a well-qualified and dedicated workforce. They receive extensive support from local government and are well integrated into their communities. These complex business networks are known as integrated industrial districts, which means that almost every company in the same geographic area makes the same products, or necessary components for those products. This pattern enables all companies in the integrated district to share a common distribution network and to take delivery of energy resources or raw materials in huge amounts in one place. The system cuts costs to business and helps them to compete in the international markets. Thus, for example, the northern area of Friuli is renowned for its furniture making factories, the region of Marche for shoemaking, and so on.

Italy's employment statistics reflect its economic trends. The agricultural labor force is steadily diminishing (down to 5.5 percent of the total workforce in 1999), and industrial employment is also shrinking due to the impact of the new economy (to 32.6 percent in 1999). The service sector employs the largest percentage, 61.9 percent, of the Italian workforce. During the 1993-95 recession, the industrial sector went through a painful period of restructuring and many jobs were lost. Older workers were offered the option of early retirement, while others were enrolled in retraining programs. A substantial number of jobs were saved by the introduction of the social partnership plan.


The agricultural sector employed only 5.5 percent of the working population in 1999 and contributed only 2.5 percent of the GDP in 2000, with an output of over US$36 billion. However, in the southern regions of Basilicata, Calabria, and Molise, agriculture accounts for just over 20 percent of local employment. The decline of this sector in terms of employment and the GDP is, however, compensated for by ever-accelerating productivity. The agricultural profile is in line with all other Western European countries and is due specifically to the effects of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the European Union (EU). It is impossible to examine Italian agriculture without taking CAP into consideration since CAP is the basis for agricultural support across Western Europe. This EU policy ensures that subsidies and incentives are offered in order to sustain prices and guarantee a certain level of income to farmers. Thus, prices are artificially maintained, and if agriculture were to be liberalized in full, the sector would collapse throughout Europe. CAP was launched in the late 1950s to improve efficiency and as of 2001 accounts for most of EU expenditures, a staggering US$45 billion.

The CAP was not very successful in Italy in its initial stages because subsidies did not cover several traditional Mediterranean products such as olives, tomatoes, oranges, and lemons. When these were finally included, the more positive aspects of the policy emerged. First, it provided the necessary capital for mechanization, and Italy underwent rapid mechanization during the 1980s. Second, it offered an incentive to merge and thus enlarge the average farm. Through CAP, the EU buys up surplus products and, as a consequence, larger farms can be very beneficial to the economy. Finally, CAP ensures that all traditional Italian agricultural products are given some protection against cheap competition, with export traders subsidized to supply cut rates. Unfortunately, CAP seems to have favored northern farmers, but the government is attempting to correct the effects of CAP by offering grants and tax breaks to small farms in the south.

With only 5 percent of the land under cultivation, Italy is not self-sufficient in agricultural products, yet it enjoys an abundance of agricultural resources. Despite a negative balance of trade in agriculture, productivity is high, and the Mediterranean climate ensures that a variety of products are available both for internal consumption and external markets. Italy is a world leader in olive oil production and a major exporter of rice, tomatoes, and wine. Moreover, BSE, or "mad cow" disease, caused a major drop in beef consumption, while an increasing number of consumers turned towards organically grown produce.

The Italian government has always been a staunch defender of its national agricultural sector when it comes to negotiating production quotas with EU partners or seeking grants to defend the sector from decline. Funds to buy machinery, to compensate farmers for over-production, and to pay EU-imposed fines were constantly made available by the government. However, the Italian government was unable to stop the most recent CAP reform of 1997, which caused spending on Mediterranean products to decline in favor of increased spending for northern European dairy farmers.

In addition, Italian agriculture is suffering from changes in the climate and very poor management of the land. Large-scale farmers in the north live reasonably well, particularly in comparison to their counterparts in the south. The regional disparity is due partly to the effects of CAP and partly to organizational differences. In northern and central Italy, co-operatives has dominate. These farming co-operatives provide widespread support, both socially and economically, for their members, and help in rationalizing production and distribution. In the south, farmers have no production and distribution networks on which they can depend, and the smaller scale of their operations, combined with their isolation, curtails their ability to compete in the market.

Meat has never been a major Italian product, and most of the meat consumed in Italy is imported from other European countries, particularly Ireland and Germany. Italy is also quite weak in the dairy farming sector, although it exports a handful of distinctive cheeses such as parmesan, mozzarella, and gorgonzola. Fruit is grown almost exclusively in the south, with most of the oranges and lemons coming from Sicily. Apples grow in Trentino Alto Adige. But the real strength of Italian agriculture is the production of olives, wine, and tomatoes.


Olives are one of the country's most lucrative exports. In 1999 production reached a record 7.243 million quintals (a quintal is a unit of weight equal to 100 kilograms, or about 220 pounds), confirming Italy as the leading producer in the world. The hot Mediterranean climate makes the southern region of Italy well suited for olive production, with most olives produced in Puglia. The industry changed considerably during the 1990s, moving away from traditional farming methods to more intensive and mechanized production. Thus, half of the olive-producing land excludes other types of cultivation and small producers are being driven out as large companies take over processing and distribution in the olive industry. Italy's main international competitors in olive production are Greece and Spain. In 2000, due to poor weather conditions, Italy's output decreased to 4.929 million quintals and Italian olive production was outstripped by Spain.


Grapes are to be found in every Italian region. Winemaking has a very long tradition in the country, and Italy enjoys a positive trade balance in this sector. The vines yield 9,459,000 metric tons of grapes and 62,618,000 hectoliters of wine (a hectoliter is 100 liters). Until the mid-1980s, wine production was not generally of a high standard and, indeed, much table wine was cheap and of very poor quality. The industry then went through a series of reforms that introduced strict quality controls, and standards rose to a level whereby Italian wines can compete at international level with French wines. Italy's best-known wines are Chianti (produced in Tuscany), Barolo (produced in Piedmont), Soave (produced in the Veneto), and the white wines of Collio (produced in Friuli), Marsala (from Sicily), and Brunello (produced in Tuscany).


As in all other advanced Western economies, the Italian industrial sector is declining, decreasing the level of employment in industry and affecting the sector's contribution to the GDP. Industry employed 32.6 percent of the workforce in 1999, while contributing 30.4 percent to the GDP in 2000. However, manufacturing was the key to Italy's post-World War II economic boom and remains important. The steel industry in particular allowed the country to become one of the strongest economies in the world. All branches of the industrial sector grew very quickly, and Italian exports soared. Then, in the second half of the 1980s, the industrial sector went though a crisis, while the service sector expanded. With the onset of the second millennium, the loss of jobs in the industrial sector seems to have stabilized, and although facing tough international competition, Italian companies appear ready for the challenge.


The backbone of the manufacturing sector is a few internationally known multinationals, operating in company with large numbers of small and medium enterprises. The most noteworthy manufactured products include machine tools, textiles and clothing, motorized road vehicles, domestic appliances, arms, fertilizers, and petrochemicals. Most manufacturing firms are located in the north of the country, with very few large factories in southern Italy. When Italy experienced its economic miracle in the 1950s and 1960s, the manufacturing heart of the country was the industrial triangle of Milan, Genoa, and Turin. However, this area has lost its predominant role due to the demise of the steel mills and other heavy industry. The northeast of the country, mainly the regions of Lombardy, the Veneto, and Friuli, is now the engine of the Italian economy. Certain large enterprises have relocated some of their operations to southern Italy to benefit from tax breaks and a more flexible workforce, but the region still has a very poor concentration of factories. Furthermore, large state-owned factories shut down in Taranto, Crotone, Terni, and Naples in the late 1980s, causing the loss of thousands of jobs. This action was part of a rationalization plan that required either the closure or the privatization of state-owned companies, and the public sector workforce was encouraged to seek employment in the growing service sector.

The most important, and probably best known, Italian manufacturing business is FIAT. This multinational company, headquartered in Turin and headed by the Agnelli family, has been a major force in Italian economic life since the beginning of the 20th century. FIAT is mainly involved in the production of Fiat cars and has a number of plants in Italy and abroad. It also owns Alfa-Romeo, Lancia, and Ferrari. FIAT's combined operations produce 3 million cars per year in Italy. While its export market is reasonably healthy, FIAT's large share of the Italian market allows it to compete in the European market. The Italian government is still influenced by the idea that "what is good for FIAT is good for Italy," so it lends its support to the car manufacturing company. In recent years, the government has subsidized the purchase of brand new cars (in most cases, Fiats) from car owners who want to trade in their old model. Thanks to this scheme, FIAT was able to make the Punto, one of the best-selling small cars in the company's history. Many FIAT operations are headquartered abroad, with cars and trucks made in countries such as Poland, Russia, Brazil, and Spain. Finally, the year 2000 alliance with General Motors allowed FIAT to re-discover its U.S. market, which was abandoned when Japanese car manufacturers began exporting to the United States. FIAT is also heavily involved in many other sectors of the manufacturing industry: car components, trucks, motorcycles, industrial vehicles, weapons, and engineering machinery.


Another very important sub-sector in the manufacturing industry is textiles and clothing, which boasts some of the world's best known fashion designer labels, such as Valentino, Armani, Versace, Gianfranco Ferré, and Krizia. However, the more casual clothing market accounts for the financial success of this sector. The design, quality, and relatively inexpensive prices of its products have made textile manufacturing Italy's third largest business after engineering and construction. Almost 1 million workers are employed by the textile industry, which is a leading exporter of clothes and shoes. There are very few large enterprises in this industry; most producers have small or medium-sized factories. The real strength of the sector lies in the efficiency of its distribution networks, and in the fame they enjoy, particularly in newer markets like the United States and Asia where the top labels are status symbols.

One big name known throughout the world caters to customers of average income: Benetton. In recent years almost as well known for its controversial advertising as for its clothes, Benetton is a family-owned business located in the Veneto. In the 1980s and early 1990s, Benetton's annual sales figures passed the US$1 billion mark, with most of the income derived from export. By addressing the casual market rather than the high fashion market, Benetton was able to combine quality with affordable prices. The strategy paid off and helped other Italian manufacturers by creating a niche market from which they could all profit. However, currently, Benetton is not as strong as it was in the clothing market, and it has diversified into construction and communications. Nevertheless, the industry remains a vibrant cornerstone of Italian export.

While many of the more famous brand names are situated in northern Italy, the textile sector is reasonably strong in southern Italy, where an increasing number of producers have relocated some of their manufacturing. Fashion houses in particular tend to outsource their production to small, family-run businesses in the area of Naples or in Puglia, where workers are more flexible. They specialize in the manufacture of leather, from which clothes, handbags, wallets, and purses are made.


The development of the food processing industry in Italy has been similar to that of textiles. While its contribution to the GDP is far less substantial, it is nevertheless a significant economic sector. Fragmented and small-scale until the 1980s, the sector became more competitive by the 1990s through privatization and rationalization. Very powerful food manufacturing groups such as Barilla (makers of pasta) and Parmalat (dairy products) are dominant in their respective fields, not only in Italy but also abroad. Swiss-owned Nestlé acquired Buitoni pasta and Perugina chocolate in 1987 and thus has an important presence in Italy. As well as these main players, a wide range of small firms produce traditional Italian fare such as mozzarella cheese, Parma ham, and Calabrian sausages, without much recourse to modern technology. Most of the food products are destined for local consumption, but many are also exported. The widespread network of Italian restaurants abroad contributes to the increasing reputation and popularity of Italian foods throughout the world, and processed food exports represent a major element of numerous businesses in the sector.


Services have become the strongest foundation on which Italy builds its economic health. With a 67.1 percent share of GDP in 2000, the sector is the largest contributor to the national economy. The enormous expansion of service industries over the last couple of decades has encouraged the government to regard as a priority further investment in the sector. Since 1991, the number of employees in the service sector of the state bureaucracy, however, has steadily decreased as part of the government's cost-cutting policy and important state-run services are being given over to the private sector.


Italy competes with the United States, France, and Spain as one of the most popular destinations for international tourists, who flock to it in huge numbers. Approximately 30 million tourists visited the country in 1999 and, thanks to the Catholic Jubileum (a celebration of Catholic heritage) over 40 million visited in 2000. Surprisingly, tourism was not a priority for the country until the late 1980s. Then a coherent promotion program emerged and led to general improvements in transport, hotels and other tourist accommodations, museums, and monuments. The turning point was the 1990 soccer World Cup, when tourists descended on Italy for that event and rediscovered the country's other attractions.

Italy is extraordinarily rich in history, classical art and architecture, ancient cities and villages, glorious landscapes, and a coastline well served by beaches. The vast western historical and artistic heritage draws large numbers of visitors to Rome, Venice, and Florence, while the smaller cities such as Siena, Pisa, Naples, the Isle of Capri, and Taormina in Sicily are increasingly popular. The region of Emilia-Romagna is a favorite spot for those, such as the east Europeans, on a limited budget, while Sardinia and Sicily are more upscale destinations. In 1996, receipts from tourism amounted to over US$28 billion. If those working in the transport sector were to be included in the statistics for the tourist sector, almost half of the working population would be connected with tourism. However, as with so much else in Italy, tourism is highly concentrated in the center-north, where most of the hotels and accommodations are located. In recent years, however, both central government and local administrations have begun to invest heavily in tourist services in the southern regions. Potentially, tourism can bring hard currency and employment to the south, encouraging development in its comparatively neglected regions of the country.

The working conditions in the tourist industry vary considerably from region to region and from business to business. Many hotels, restaurants, and bars are family owned, and extra labor is hired at a low cost during the busy months. Conditions are better for workers in state-owned museums, tourist offices, and transport. An almost unlimited supply of labor from the informal economy is available to the tourist sector, and it is needy foreign immigrants who take the lowest paid and least pleasant jobs.


Italy has a highly developed retail system. Mass outlets in the form of supermarkets, malls, and multiple stores are becoming increasingly popular, and distribution is very well organized, particularly in the northern regions. The main chains are Standa, COOP, Esselunga, Sigma, and SPAR. Nevertheless, the retail sector is largely made up small, family-owned shops, and these remain the primary sales outlets for goods and services in the south. The shop-owners' association, a very powerful lobbying group, was able to convince government to withhold licenses for supermarkets and malls for 2 years so that small shop owners could claim back some business. Working conditions are decent in family-owned shops, where employers tend to treat outside help as if they belonged to the family. Italian shop assistants, unlike those in many other countries, are professionals who are likely to stay with their jobs for life.


Italy is a highly developed economy, and the financial and banking sector is similar to that of all other Western European countries. The Bank of Italy is the central bank, but with EMU now in place, the country's monetary policy is overseen by the European Central Bank. However, the Bank of Italy remains in charge of credit control and functions as the ultimate guarantor of other banks. The number of banks in Italy has always been high, with a wide range of financial institutions operating at different levels. There are national banks, both public and private, popular co-operative banks, savings banks, and chartered banks. Most of the co-operative and savings banks operate within a limited territory (provincial or regional). In general, banks are concentrated in the north. A notable exception to this is Sicily, where a large number of banks and other financial institutions are located for the less than healthy reason that organized crime requires money-laundering institutions under its control.

In recent years, mergers and takeovers have increased in order to strengthen and stabilize the banking system. Privatization has also helped to streamline the sector. Investment institutions, both public and private, are becoming increasingly important, with many people turning to investments to supplement their income. Since 1998, the banking system has been almost fully liberalized and most banks offer a wide range of financial services to their customers. Italian families have been traditionally very keen to save money, and, in 1999, the total deposits held in Italian banks amounted to US$450 billion. According to 1999 data, European banks use 53 percent of their available reserves to service individual loans, such as mortgages, with only 46.3 percent directed towards financing private sector businesses. Italy, however, does not conform to this pattern. Italian banks invest 66.7 percent of their resources in private enterprise, while only 18.3 percent is given to private consumers.


Italy recorded a trade deficit for several decades, largely due to the fact that the country lacked energy resources and was entirely dependent on imports for its supply. However, the 1990s brought a change of fortune, beginning with the devaluation of the lira in 1992 which allowed many businesses to compete in overseas export markets, particularly in Asia markets and the United States. The reduction of oil and gas prices in the

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Italy
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.

mid-1990s gave a further boost to small and medium-size companies, as did their aggressive promotion of their products, which enabled them to penetrate foreign markets. Today, "Made in Italy" is in many countries a well-regarded indication of quality. In 1998, Italy recorded a trade surplus, with imports totaling US$215.887 billion against exports worth US$242.332 billion. That surplus has since been trimmed, with export of US$241.1 billion in 2000 against imports of US$231.4 billion.

Italy benefits from the EU free market, which is not subject to any trade barriers or tariffs , and 56.8 percent of Italian exports went to other EU countries in 1999. Italy's main export destinations within Europe are Germany (16.4 percent), France (12.9 percent), the United Kingdom (7.1 percent), Spain (6.3 percent), and the Netherlands (2.9 percent). The country's biggest commercial partner outside Europe is the United States, which takes 9.5 percent of Italy's export goods. Recently, a number of Asian countries have become important buyers of Italian products, and exports, particularly of clothes and shoes, to Japan, South Korea, and China are increasing. Italy's major exports are transport equipment, electrical machinery, textiles and clothing, chemicals, and food and beverages. The single largest export is transport equipment, with FIAT the main supplier. FIAT not only exports the motor cars (including Ferraris) for which it is known worldwide, but also a number of other vehicles ranging from train carriages and metro cars to trucks and motorcycles.

The products of its EU partners also dominate Italy's imports. In 1990, over 61 percent of total imports came from EU countries: Germany (19.3 percent), France (12.6 percent), the Netherlands (6.3 percent), and Spain (4.4 percent). Outside the EU, the United States contributes 5 percent of imports. The composition of imported goods is evidence of the lack of energy resources and raw materials from which the country suffers. Thus, metal represents 9.9 percent of total imports, and petroleum represents 4.5 percent. Transport equipment also figures prominently, as do chemicals and food. All of the most important multinational businesses, across all sectors, operate in Italy, either directly or through subsidiaries. A number of them invested quite heavily in the country, particularly after the liberalization of the European market in 1987, under the auspices of the EU.


The value of the Italian lira has been volatile over the last 30 years and is generally considered a weak currency by comparison with other major currencies. Historically, the weakness of the Italian lira has been both a curse and a blessing for the country. On the one hand, Italy had to pay for energy resources and supplies in hard

Exchange rates: Italy
euros per US$1
Jan 20011.0659
Note: Rates prior to 1999 are in Italian lire per US dollar.
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

currency (U.S. dollars), and imported goods were expensive. On the other hand, a weak currency contributed to making high-quality Italian exports very appealing due to their relatively low prices, and the foreign markets were duly conquered. Moreover, high production costs were offset by relatively cheap labor.

Italy's participation in the European Economic Community (EEC) failed to stem the currency's volatility, and the lira was twice forced to withdraw from the fixed exchange rates that had been established among the member states. Following the last withdrawal in 1992, the government devalued the currency in order to boost exports at the height of the economic recession when the lira was under tremendous speculative pressure. The calculated gamble of devaluation paid off, particularly as regards exports to the United States, where U.S. consumers were ready to enjoy their country's economic boom.

Since the launch of the euro, the lira has found a previously unknown stability. The exchange rate is fixed, and in January 2002, the lira will be replaced by the euro, which will become the currency that competes against the U.S. dollar, and other currencies in the global market. Public opinion in Italy, unlike that of certain other countries such as the United Kingdom, welcomes the introduction of the new currency and does not seem to mind abandoning the traditional lira.

The Italian Stock Exchange (ISE), located in Milan, was founded in 1808, but until the mid-1980s it played a comparatively insignificant role in the national economy. Many businesses were suspicious of the stock exchange and chose to remain unlisted. However, since 1998, the ISE has grown into a dynamic force as a result of privatization, a new generation of progressive managers, and the requirements of the new economy. The public, too, is increasingly interested in stocks and shares and, as in the United States and elsewhere, a greater number of people are playing the market. Consequently, the ISE has expanded, and at the end of 1998 there were 223 listed companies. During 1997 and 1998, the volume of trading increased continuously, achieving and sustaining record levels. Privatization has certainly contributed to enhancing the qualitative level of listed companies and attracted a wider public. While Milan is by no means as important as London or Paris to European share dealing, it is becoming increasingly important to the Italian economy.


The Italian Institute of Statistics assesses the class system using 6 different categories. The first is the bourgeoisie, which includes entrepreneurs employing a minimum of 6 people, self-employed professionals, and managers, and accounts for 10 percent of the working population. The white collar middle class covers employees engaged in non-manual jobs and makes up 17 percent of the working population. The urban petit bourgeoisie comprise 14 percent of the working population, defined as small entrepreneurs with a maximum of 6 employees, shopkeepers, and self-employed artisans. The rural petit bourgeoisie, at 10 percent, own and operate small enterprises in the primary sectors of agriculture, forestry, hunting, and fishing. The urban working class is the 37 percent of the workforce that is engaged in manual labor. Finally, the rural working class, at 9 percent, are employees of the primary sector. This class breakdown, in identifying 2 categories each of the working and entrepreneurial classes, is considered to be more precise than the more common method of class division and has been used since the mid-1980s.

The situation regarding upward social, or class, mobility in Italy is quite complex. In 1998, the absolute rate of mobilitypeople who belong to a different social class than their parentswas 60.3 percent for men and 64.9 percent for women, the great majority of the Italian work-force. However, when one breaks down the absolute rate of mobility figures by class and analyzes them in relation to the changes in occupation structure between the current times and the 1960s, the whole picture changes. The highest mobility rate is found within the rural working class (91.1 percent), due mainly to the fact that, in the space of one generation, the occupational weight of this class has been greatly reduced. The lowest rates of mobility are found in the classes that have not been radically

GDP per Capita (US$)
United States19,36421,52923,20025,36329,683
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.

modified by the occupational structure: the urban working class and bourgeoisie. In these cases only half of the people are in a different class than their parents. It is, therefore, quite clear that true social mobility is perceived as being greater than it is. This conclusion is confirmed by data that give the rate of intra-generational mobility for all classes as 30.3 percent. Thus, the opportunities for social mobility still largely depend on an individual's social origins.

Despite being a wealthy country, Italy suffers from serious inequality in the distribution of wealth and resources. These dramatic statistics stand out: in 1998, 2,558,000 families (11.8 percent of the total) lived in poverty, which is equal to 7,423,000 individuals. The figure was even higher at the end of the 1980s, when families living in poverty represented 14 percent of the population. Once again, the contrast between north and south could not be clearer, with over 65 percent of impoverished families living in southern regions. The gap between the rich north and the impoverished south continues to increase, as does the depth of poverty itself. Of those classified as poor, elderly people living on a simple state pension make up 53 percent of households living in poverty. Their numbers, however, are steadily decreasing, to be overtaken by the working poor. This phenomenon, which looks likely to become a permanent feature of Italian society, affects couples with one or more children, where only one parent works, is under 40 years old, and has few qualifications and, thus, low earning power.

As a result of Italy's generous welfare state, the great majority of poor families do not live in extremes of squalor or deprivation. Essential needs provided by the state include basic health care and education, clean water supplies, and housing. Moreover, extensive family networks help those living in poverty to feel less isolated and are sometimes a source of financial help. However, it is extremely difficult for families in poverty to improve their circumstances, and over 70 percent of households classified as poor in 1994 remained poor 2 years later.

Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: Italy
Lowest 10%3.5
Lowest 20%8.7
Second 20%14.0
Third 20%18.1
Fourth 20%22.9
Highest 20%36.3
Highest 10%21.8
Survey year: 1995
Note: This information refers to income shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita income.
SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].
Household Consumption in PPP Terms
CountryAll FoodClothing and footwearFuel and power aHealth care bEducation bTransport & CommunicationsOther
United States139946851
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
aExcludes energy used for transport.
bIncludes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

Necessity often forces individuals in poverty to take up low-paid and unsafe jobs in the informal economy, where they are subject to threats and blackmail. In urban areas of the south, the younger generation finds it very difficult to obtain work and poverty drives a percentage of them into the arms of organized crime. Migration to the north or leaving Italy altogether still remain ways out for many. While poverty is less visible in the wealthy north, it does exist. In particular, young couples with 2 or more children who struggle to meet the high cost of living on low salaries find themselves caught in the poverty trap.


Official 1998 figures put the Italian workforce at over 23 million, with an unemployment rate of 11.5 percent, but these statistics fail to take the informal economy into account. Unemployment is substantially higher in the south and among the younger generation. Statistically, people from the south, under age 30 and with poor qualifications stand a 50 percent chance of being unable to find employment. Thus, both geography and age are major factors in the Italian labor market.

Italy has a number of trade unions which, although formally independent, are connected to the larger political parties. The strongest union has always been the Confederazione Generale Italiana Lavoratori (CGIL), originally of communist allegiance, but now affiliated with the leftist Democrats. Italian trade unions were very strong in the past, and thanks to their efforts in the 1970s and 1980s many Italian workers currently enjoy a high level of social protection. Some of this protective network is being dismantled, but the foundations remain in place. Following mass strikes and demonstrations in 1968 and 1969, a statute of workers' rights was finally made law in 1970, thus ensuring security of employment in larger firms. Smaller firms were exempted from adopting a number of the statute's measures, but its impact has nevertheless been considerable in promoting the rights of workers. Among other significant victories for the trade union was the wage indexing system, guaranteeing that salaries would rise in line with annual inflation; common job classification, which introduced standardized salaries throughout Italy for specific categories of work; paid maternity leave; and an increase in the number of paid holidays. Despite these measures, Italian workers are among the worst paid in Europe, and higher wages for all workers is a constant demand of the trade unions, since the strong and well-organized employers' associations do not ever award substantial increases. Poor wages, though, are generally offset by a number of other social benefits, and in recent years the working week has been reduced to 37 hours (down 2.5 hours) for the same pay. Furthermore, people who are laid off can count on employment checks for a number of months and are entitled to severance pay, no matter what the grounds for dismissal.

Workers in the informal economy tend to be poorly educated, live in high unemployment areas, and are often foreign immigrants. They are unable to take advantage of the benefits enjoyed by the legally employed, and their working conditions are inadequate. Those who run the informal economy ignore safety regulations, demand working hours that far exceed the legal maximum, make no contributions to pension funds, offer no job security, and give no severance pay. The informal economy has the greatest impact on farm laborers where work is seasonal, and on construction and textile production workers employed by small firms. Wages in the informal sector tend to be at subsistence level, but it is difficult to ascertain the actual figures. Despite the efforts of the EU to curb the informal economy in Italy and enforce safety regulations, over 1,000 workers die in the work place every year.

Trade unionism in Italy has been in decline since the mid-1980s and most paid-up union members are retired workers. The influence of the unions has declined due to the reduction of the workforce in the industrial sector, the skepticism with which the trade union elite is perceived, and government policy aimed at weakening the unions. Much that was achieved by the unions has been abolished or is on the verge of being dismantled. Privatization, liberalization, and budget cuts have reduced the protection network, and businesses have a far freer hand in dealing with the workforce. Consequently, employers' contributions towards pensions are being slashed, and overtime is not as well paid. The pressure of international competition and the necessity to maintain a healthy budget mean that labor costs have to be cut in both the private and public sectors. In order to preserve jobs, the trade unions and employers entered into a pact by which workers moderate their requests and accept cuts in exchange for job security.

Women have been entering the workforce since the early 1960s. They are a significant presence in all sectors of economy and tend to continue working after marriage, and even after having children. Many, however, are still employed in sectors that have been traditionally perceived as suited to women, such as education, health care and social services. The difficulty of coping with a full time job and raising children is a real burden to many women, and they increasingly turn to part-time work, which, though becoming more common, is an underdeveloped sector in Italy.


1861. Italy is unified after decades of struggle against foreign occupation. The king of Piedmont becomes king of Italy.

1870. Radical land reform takes place, intended to benefit the peasant workers, but few profit from the reforms, and living conditions for farmers decline.

1880s. Prime Minister Giolitti embraces protectionism and places high tariffs on a number of agricultural and industrial products to defend the national sectors. The policy backfires, access to foreign markets collapses, and a tariff war with France ensues.

1890s. The tariff war with France ends. The economy begins to develop, but many leave the country in search of a better life. The United States and South America are the preferred destinations.

1899. Giovanni Agnelli founds FIAT in Turin.

1915. Italy joins the Allies and fights against Germany and Austro-Hungary in World War I (1914-18).

1922. In the wake of enormous postwar political and economic problems, Benito Mussolini's fascist movement comes to power. Mussolini is appointed prime minister and radically changes the country.

1925. Mussolini completes his design of transforming Italy into a fascist dictatorship. He reshapes the economy to focus on agricultural self-sufficiency, a strong industrial sector and a rapid military build-up. The economy is mixed: private companies co-exist with many state-owned companies.

1936. Italy enters the colonial race and invades Somalia, which remains an Italian colony until the end of World War II.

1939-45. Italy enters World War II as an ally of Nazi Germany in 1940. With the downfall of Mussolini in 1943, however, Italy switches its allegiance to the Allies.

1946. Following a national referendum, King Victor Emmanuel III abdicates, and Italy becomes a republic. A government of national unity is formed to tackle the country's problems.

1952. Italy becomes a founding member of the European Coal and Steel Community with Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

1957. Italy becomes a founding member of the European Economic Community, the predecessor to the European Union. The Italian "economic miracle" begins through a combination of free market principles and heavy government intervention.

1963. The Socialist Party abandons its leftist stance and joins the Christian Democrat government. This coalition holds power until 1994.

1968-69. The country is shaken by a series of strikes and demonstrations. Workers and students demand the improvement of working and living conditions. The government meets many demands, and a more modern welfare state is established.

1973. The first oil crisis slows economic growth but does not stop it.

1977. The economy grinds to a sudden halt. Political crisis and stagflation lead to the formation of a government of national unity, as left-and right-wing terrorism spreads.

1980. Rationalization and privatization commence and continue throughout the decade, with private companies becoming dominant.

1984. The beginning of a new economic miracle. Low oil prices, technological innovations, and cheap labor drive the Italian economy forward. However, only the northern regions benefit from this growth.

1992. The old political class is swept away by corruption scandals. The new government embraces neo-liberal policies based on massive budgetary cuts, privatization, and the promotion of worker flexibility. The lira is de-valued to boost exports. The policy succeeds, and Italy exports more than it imports. Italy signs the Maastricht Treaty, which provides for further European economic integration. Among the measures to which Italy subscribes is participation in the European Monetary Union.

1994. The center-right coalition led by media magnate Silvio Berlusconi wins the elections but remains in power only 7 months. A temporary government led by technocrats replaces it.

1996. The center-left coalition wins the elections and continues with economic liberalization.

1999. Italy qualifies for monetary union with 11 other EU countries and plans for the introduction of a single currency, the euro.

2001. A center-right coalition led by Silvio Berlusconi gains control of the government.


The liberalizing efforts of the 1990s laid the foundations for the present growth, and Italy entered the new millennium on a high note, embracing the European Monetary Union and its new currency, the euro. The country's technological revolution is succeeding, the network of small and medium-sized enterprises is solid, international competitiveness is strong, and the balance of trade is positive. The government is consolidating the excellent results obtained by limiting expenditures and is waging a determined battle against tax evasion. Italy's economic outlook is, therefore, a positive one, particularly as the level of education is rising, and population growth is manageable. All indicators point to continued improvements in living standards. The future will see the Italian economy integrated even more into the economy of its European partners, and the European Union will eventually become a fully integrated body in all economic matters, including taxation.

There are, however, still a number of negative aspects that plague the economic and social well-being of Italy. First and foremost is the gap between the north and the south, which has widened over the past couple of decades, with government policies and EU grants proving unable to bring about any substantial improvement. Closing this gap is Italy's biggest challenge in securing a healthy future.

The weight of the informal economy also remains a major problem. While attempts have been made to reduce the impact of this sector, it remains considerable, and in escaping state control, it has a negative effect on working conditions, quality control, and fiscal revenues. While the informal economy may represent a source of income for many poorer families in the short term, in the long run it will undermine the official economy and, therefore, the country as a whole. Finally, there is the problem of persistent unemployment. Even when the economy is doing very well, the number of people out of work is higher than the European average. Unemployment stood at 11.5 percent in 2000. The government needs to address this problem as a matter of urgency.


Italy has no territories or colonies.


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Welcome to the Italian Trade Commission Web Site. <>. Accessed October 2001.

Francesco Cavatorta




Italian Lira (L). One lira equals 100 centesimi. There are coins of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,000 lire. There are notes of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 50,000, and 100,000 lire. The lira will be replaced in January 2002 by the euro, the new unified currency of the European Union (EU). One euro will be worth 1,936.27 lira at a fixed exchange rate. All lira coins and bills will disappear, and by June 2002 only euros will be in circulation.


Engineering products, textiles, clothing, production machinery, motor vehicles, transport equipment, chemicals, food, beverages, tobacco, minerals, non-ferrous metals.


Engineering products, chemicals, transport equipment, energy products, minerals, non-ferrous metals, textiles, clothing, food, beverages, tobacco.


US$1.273 trillion (purchasing power parity, 2000 est.).


Exports: US$241.1 billion (f.o.b., 2000). Imports: US$231.4 billion (f.o.b., 2000).


views updated May 14 2018


Basic Data
Official Country Name:Italian Republic
Language(s):Italian, German, French,Slovene
Literacy Rate:98%
Academic Year:September-June
Number of Primary Schools:20,361
Compulsory Schooling:8 years
Public Expenditure on Education:4.9%
Foreign Students in National Universities:24,858
Educational Enrollment:Primary: 2,816,128
 Secondary: 4,708,406
 Higher: 1,775,186
Educational Enrollment Rate:Primary: 101%
 Secondary: 95%
 Higher: 47%
Teachers:Primary: 251,827
 Secondary: 461,776
 Higher: 70,342
Student-Teacher Ratio:Primary: 11:1
 Secondary: 11:1
Female Enrollment Rate:Primary: 100%
 Secondary: 95%
 Higher: 52%

History & Background

Italy is a parliamentary republic divided into 20 autonomous territorial regions. Each region is divided into provinces. Italian is the official language for the majority of Italy's 57.6 million inhabitants; however, regions with localized languages are considered "special status regions," and resources are provided to meet the educational needs of those living in these areas. Roman Catholicism is the most popular religion, but there is no official state religion. After experiencing political disunity from the fifth to the nineteenth century, Italy began unification in 1859 with the seizing of Lombardy from Austria.

As a member of the European community, Italy has become increasingly globalized and its population reflects the diversity of immigrant cultures and languages. The role of schools has expanded to accommodate the needs of changing demographics. In the nineteenth century there was a high degree of illiteracy among the Italian population, especially in the southern region, notably in Sicily. As Italy shifted from agricultural to industrial society, schools became increasingly more important to the socioeconomic and cultural development of the country in the twentieth century. In the new millennium, Italian schools are emphasizing literacy skills for a post-industrial global democracy.

Educational institutions, including religious, Catholic based and other private schools, had always been available to the ruling classes. The oldest university in Europe was established in Bologna in 1158.

Italian public education can be traced to 1859 when law 3725 mandated four years of free, compulsory elementary education and the Casati Law centralized the Italian educational system. In 1904, law 407 extended compulsory education, mandating all children through age twelve to attend schools. At the same time, the Italian governments recognized the needs of a more industrialized society and implemented vocational training.

In 1923, the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades were separated from elementary school and became scuole di avviamento (technical schools). Compulsory education was extended by two years. Elementary schooling, which was divided into three lower grades and two upper grades, continued until approximately 1957. Giardini d'infanzia (kindergartens) were established by a 1923 royal decree, but they were not officially operated until 1968.

During the fascist era (1922-1943), Ministry of Education and provveditori (provincial inspectors) controlled Italy's educational system and dictated the rigid curriculum and policy. Municipalities had very limited power. Elementary schools were allowed a more creative curriculum and upper secondary students were encouraged to engage in historical-critical inquiry, but the main emphasis was on standardized curriculum and methodology.

Since the 1950s, the Italian school system has undergone profound changes. Decentralization of administration has increased. Syllabi and curriculum have been revised, and teaching methodology has improved. Teachers have greater roles as instructional leaders in the educational process. Inservice training and other means of professional development provide educators with current information in their fields of specialization.

Constitutional & Legal Foundations

In 1859, before the unification of Italy, the Legge Casati (Casati Law) established the provisions for the organization of state education. The law included five sets of regulations dealing with higher education, upper secondary classical education, technical education, primary education and normal schools (for elementary teacher preparation). This system called for highly centralized administration and a clear division of upper secondary education between the liceo classico (a pre-university requirement) and vocational, "utilitarian" secondary schools for practical job training. The Coppino law introduced compulsory schooling in lower primary grades.

The 1923 Gentile reform legislation made the following provisions: preschool (nursery school) was neither compulsory nor free; five-year-olds must attend primary schools, which were divided into two groups or cycles; lower secondary education had six different institutions; upper secondary education had five different institutions; and higher education included state-funded universities and private universities.

Radical school reform occurred as a result of the fall of fascism and the 1948 constitution that espoused democratic principles. The basic principles of education were established by the Italian Constitution, which emphasizes freedom of education; the nation/state's responsibility for providing educational institutions at various levels; education for all individuals regardless of background; parental responsibility for educating children; and financial resources for needy students to pursue higher education. Article 33 states that teaching about arts and sciences shall be free and open to all and that the republic shall establish the general educational principles and create state [public] schools of all levels. Article 33 reaffirms that schooling must be compulsory and free, but it allows private schools to be established as long as they meet all requirements and standards of public schools. This article also allows institutions of higher learning to be established autonomously within the limits of the law.

The first paragraph of Article 34 ensures that schools shall be open to all citizens and, like a portion of Article 33, emphasizes educational equality. This article provides for government scholarships for needy students. Article 117 establishes regional authority over vocational education (except those requiring higher education).

Some laws governing Italian education include law 1054, which relates to nursery school education (giardini d'infanzia, scuole materne ); law 653, which addresses school exams; and law 503, which is concerned the elementary school curriculum for scuole elementari. During the 1960s, a number of laws reformed Italy's educational system: law 444 applied to preschool education; law 1895 established middle schools (scuole media ); law 119 modified school examples; law 910 opened universities to upper secondary (liceum ) students, including those attending non-university track upper secondary institutions; and in 1961 a law made technical colleges more flexible so they could more easily adapt to technology advances.

Legislation passed in the 1970s led to significant educational reforms. Law 477 provided for the legal status of state school personnel, the establishment of school assemblies, and the implementation of experimental educational methodologies. Law 517 regulated teaching in elementary and secondary schools, student assessment, and integration of special needs students. Because of this legislation, evaluation of students' progress no longer relied exclusively on exam grades; teachers' analyses of students' progress and development were also included. Teacher-designed lessons were required to accommodate the needs of individual students and include remediation for special needs students.

Additional reforms in the 1970s focused on the structuring of schools and schooling to meet the needs of a growing global labor market. Curricula included the study of science, math, and languages. Student exchange programs were initiated and expanded. Teaching pedagogy and content, program criteria, and modes of student assessment were revised and updated. Inservice training for teachers encouraged them to become "transformational leaders."

Two key pieces of reform legislation were passed in the 1980s. Law 270 provided regulation regarding the legal status of teachers, recruitment, and training, and Law 168 established the Ministry for University of Scientific and Technological Research.

In the 1990s there were a number of new laws and presidential decrees relating to education. Law 148 reformed elementary education. Law 341 reformed the university teaching. Law 104 continued to emphasize the integration of handicapped students in school. Law 59, passed in 1997, reformed public administration and simplified school administrative procedures; implemented in 2000-2001, these regulations granted wider educational, organizational, and research autonomy to schools.

Several presidential decrees directly related to portions of Law 59: decree 275 established strict regulations concerning the number of students per class; decree 233 regulated territorial organization of schools; decree 258 ordered reorganization of the Educational Documentation library in Florence and the European Center for Education; decree 300 provided for the reform of Regional Institutes for Research, Experimentation and In-Service Training (IRRSAE); and decree 112 introduced strong education decentralization from the Ministry of Education to provincial and local authorities.

University autonomy has also been widened. Law 425 reformed state exams for higher education, and Law 9, passed in 1999, re-emphasized the need for compulsory education and extended it to 10 years.

In 2000, some legislative issues addressed the equity and equality of education between public and private schooling. Other legislative concerns targeted changes in Italy's education system that would better prepared its citizens to enter the twenty-first century job market.

Educational SystemOverview

Basic Italian educational principles are constitutionally founded and ensure free, compulsory educational opportunity for all children. The Italian educational system's philosophy of education varies from teacher centered to student centered. The highly standardized curriculum was designed to facilitate school transfer in both public and private schools. There has been a gradual shift from rote memory assignments and assessments to less formal methods, which stress creativity and the application of critical inquiry and higher order thinking skills. In 1989 all issues related to higher education were transferred to the Ministry for Universities and Scientific Research.

The Italian educational system provides nursery school for 3- to 5-year-olds; elementary school for 6- to 11-year-olds; lower secondary or middle school for 11- to 14-year-olds; upper secondary school or vocational training for 15- to 18- or 19-year-olds; and university, university institutes, or Fine Arts academies for those 19 and older. Upper secondary schools include classic or scientific high schools (five years) leading to higher education/university studies; artistic (four years); technical school (five years); vocational school (five years or more); nursery school and primary teacher training (three years); and higher/university education (three to five years).

The overall responsibility for education in Italy rests with two bodies: the Ministry of Public Instruction for preschool, primary, and secondary education and the Ministry for Universities and Scientific Research. There are close links between these two ministries and the Finance Ministry regarding budget matters and the Labor and Social Security Ministry for connecting schooling with the world of work. Educational reform continues in Italy with its main focus on the role of the ministries regarding policy, budget, curriculum, pedagogy, and administration or distribution of responsibilities.

Since the late 1950s, educational responsibilities and services have become gradually decentralized, and in 1972 many of the Ministry of Public Instruction's administrative powers were transferred to regional and local authorities. Since 1975 regions have had the primary responsibility for vocational education and training; they have consulted with the Ministry of Labor to ensure the appropriate programs and training are being provided. In 1985 pedagogical and programs guidelines were established for elementary and lower elementary school. Since 1999, all citizens aged 6 to 16 years must attend a compulsory education program. Parents have the option of sending their children to school or providing compulsory education themselves or employing a tutor. Those parents who assume direct responsibility for their children's education must file yearly reports with the Provincial Director of Education documenting their compliance with the established curriculum, and the children must pass state exams. A very small percentage of parents select for this type of education.

Student attendance is the responsibility of head teachers (direttore didattico ) who are the equivalent of school principals in the United States. The mayor of each comune or township provides head teachers with lists of all children who, according to the General Registry Office, should be enrolled in school. When children complete their elementary education, head teachers are responsible for transferring students to lower secondary or middle schools. Head teachers contact parents of children not attending schools; non-compliance with attendance policies can result in punishment for parents or guardians.

Major reforms have taken place within the Italian school system to meet the needs of global education in the European Community and find educational compatibility within member nations. A Ministry of Public Instruction decree states that the study of other languages is essential for educational and professional development. Elementary schools were reorganized to include the study of modern languages, which are essential for effective communication and educational mobility within the European community. Middle and upper secondary school curricula include the study of foreign languages. Italians also realize that the study of languages and cultures are essential to meet the needs of immigrant populations as well as to encourage active, participatory citizenship in a global democracy.

This European dimension of education can be traced to Comenius (1592-1670), the Czech philosopher of education, who was concerned with schools as democratic arenas of intellectual discourse. His philosophy emphasized political unity, religious reconciliation, and educational cooperation. Initiatives of the European dimension on education include promoting equivalence of academic diplomas and mobility; fostering cooperation in education and research among universities; re-examining school curriculum, organization, exit exams, guidance and counseling, and extra-curricular activities.

A resolution from the European Community outlined objectives for strengthening the European dimension in education: to give young people a sense of European identity in the context of history and culture, and especially in safeguarding universal values of democracy, social justice, and human rights; to encourage youth to become full participants and contributing members in the European Community; and to point out the advantages and the challenges of European citizenship and cooperation in intercultural understanding The European dimension in education includes awareness of European citizenship in an interdependent world; the importance of building relationships; the involvement of extracurricular activities.

Educational legislative provisions are made within member countries of the European Community. EURYDICE, the Italian agency at the Library of Pedagogical Documentation, has strengthened its commitment for an integrative effort to publish and disseminate international information and documentation to benefit members of the European community. Italy cooperates with member countries on exchanges of classes, students, and teachers, as well as other educational initiatives and cultural agreements. Students who are citizens of the European community may attend school in Italy for professional education and training. The Office of Cultural Exchange at the Ministry of Public Instruction had directed its efforts to activities toward wide-ranging cooperative projects. A pilot project connected 300 territorial schools to the Internet so students would have international access to information and educational opportunities.

Educational cooperative efforts include implementing instructional reform, establishing school age levels of entry and exit, providing professional training courses for secondary students, reinforcing language acquisition, reducing the number of dropouts, providing student guidance and orientation, and organizing programs of equivalency, mobility, and exchange. Programs like SOCRATES, ERASMUS, and LEONARDO are essential to the development of quality education across members of the European Community. The ministries of education have increased a financial commitment to participate in the European education dimension.

An efficient service of pedagogical documentation, information, and research is needed to promote and develop autonomous projects within existing cooperative networks. Important aspects of the European dimension of education are to facilitate and integrate the process of communication, to provide for the service of information, and to ensure the dissemination of research results throughout regions, provinces, and countries in the European Community.

Intercultural education has become an essential component of the Italian educational system at all levels of schooling to create a new awareness of the European dimension in citizenship. These school programs define the dimensions of socialization by providing opportunities for students to come into contact with cultures and languages different from Italian society and to learn to become world citizens. The Italian educational system promotes cultural pluralism in the curriculum by encouraging students to develop a healthy sense of respect for cultural differences and to approach the study of issues from a multiple perspective, while maintaining universal values of social justice and equity.

Since 1985 primary schools have stressed instructional objectives that deal with the importance of inter-cultural education emphasizing the need for understanding and cooperating with culturally different persons to prevent the danger of stereotyping and prejudice. In 1991 these objectives became part of nursery school education where the term multicultural education was introduced and stressed the importance of identifying, recognizing, and valuing cultural diversity in school and global, democratic societies.

Secondary schools have had less direction from the state in incorporating multicultural awareness in the curriculum; however, there are initiatives included in educational objectives and curriculum to integrate intercultural communication and understanding, as well as develop multiples ways of thinking critically. A 1994 ministry educational decree emphasizes the need for providing multicultural awareness and activities as a global response to a society that is becoming increasingly multicultural. This decree also reinforces the rights of immigrant and migrant children to equal opportunity and equity of access to education and training.

Italy participates in European network projects created for intercultural and multicultural education. Many of these programs, coordinated by the Office of Cultural Exchange, are specifically designed for teacher training in intercultural and teaching and learning for a multicultural society, including bilingual education and teaching of Italian to immigrant students. The Office of Cultural Exchange published a report, "Intercultural Education: Experiences and Prospects," which gives an overall picture of the theoretical and practical aspects of intercultural and multicultural education and highlighting the importance of cross-cultural communication for global democracies.

In 1996 the central role of the European dimension in education was reaffirmed; schools will continue stressing intercultural awareness and understanding for a global society. Information and experiential opportunities for intercultural education issues and opportunity for international educational exchanges and multilateral school partnerships within the European Community are exemplified in programs like SOCRATES, LEONARDO, and ERASMUS. An increasing number of students participate in these programs throughout Europe. For example, Italian students enrolled in an agricultural course may be permitted to study in France or Portugal for one year and receive equivalency in mobility, credits, and grades.

A 1998 educational decree ensures that immigrant children in Italy must receive compulsory education, have access to information, and have all the rights to education services in the school and community. The school community respects the cultural and linguistic diversity of its members, encourages the sharing of cultural differences, and promotes mutual respect and tolerance. The school community promotes and encourages initiatives to respect and protect the culture and language diversity and provides opportunities for intercultural experiences and activities.

Preprimary & Primary Education

Schooling usually begins with noncompulsory early childhood education or nursery school for children aged three to five. Nursery school education is free for public institutions. As more women enter the workforce, more government sponsored and private childcare facilities are available for infants and young children. In 2000, approximately 96 percent of three to five year olds attended public or private nursery schools (Scuola Materna, Scuola dell'Infanzia, and Giardini d'Infanzia ). At age six, children enter free, compulsory elementary schools (Scuola Elementare or Scuola Primaria ), which last five years.

Nursery school teachers emphasize activities that enhance creativity skills, social attitudes, autonomy, and the learning process; children are readied for elementary school. Often children are placed in classes by developmental level, rather than age. Schools must accommodate students with special needs. Most classes have 25 students. Teachers are responsible for allocating the necessary hours and activities to meet the educational objectives. In 1992-1993 there were 27,274 preschools with approximately 1,569,811 students and 75,601 teachers. In September 2000, preprimary schools were given the autonomy in terms of organization, pedagogy, and curriculum, as long as the schools complied with the general objectives of the national educational system. Educational objectives for early childhood education include the interaction of culture and language with identity, autonomy, and competence. Curriculum includes body and movement; language (speech and words); spatial orientation and order of things; time and nature; and the self and relationship to others. There is a similarity between Italian and American early childhood curriculum and pedagogy; both have the goal of preparing children to become members of a democratic society.

Early childhood education in Italy has become world famous. The Reggio Emilia schools have become "laboratories" studied and modeled by teachers from many countries, especially the United States. The philosophical model of Reggio Emilia nursery schools and kindergartens focuses on constructivist theoretical foundations that emphasize a learner-centered curriculum and teaching methodology. These preschools link their practices to the theoretical perspectives of John Dewey, a progressive American educator.

The Reggio Emilia schools create an educational world in which children work and play in communities and learn to respect other persons and divergent points of view. Teachers guide children through critical inquiry. Many of the activities include building structural art objects that require critical thinking skills using linguistic and mathematical processes and the ability to work in cooperative groups. The curriculum includes long-term projects in a variety of media that foster connections between school and the home, family, and community and develop awareness and appreciation for regional, national, global cultural heritage.

Another influential early childhood theorist was Maria Montessori, the well-known Italian educator, who believed that children could learn math and language skills by applying knowledge. Her philosophy, curriculum and teaching methods have given impetus to Montessori schools in the United States and other countries. Montessori concentrated on the goal and process of education, rather than its methods. She defined the educational process as the development of the total human being in relationship to the environment and cultural context. Montessori believed that schooling should correspond to each child's developmental stage. She wrote that children begin exploring the world around them at birth, gradually moving from sensory to cognitive awareness.

In Montessori schools, children are introduced to materials in a sequential and logical progression. They are taught that freedom implies responsibility, self-discipline and working cooperatively with others. Montessori educational materials are designed for exploration and self-discovery. Academic study must have long, uninterrupted blocks of time to allow students to explore, reflect, and problem solve. For Montessori, the ultimate goal of education for a young adult is to develop within the individual the desire for life-long learning.

In 1985 and 1990 there were educational reforms regarding the curriculum and structure of primary education and its connection to preschool. Legislation in 1985 promoted early literacy and the development of the individual child. A 1990 law called for curricular connections between primary school activities with those of preschool and lower secondary school. These links encourage consistency of curriculum, pedagogy, and student cognitive development.

In 1999, compulsory education was extended to 10 years. Students begin the mandatory program when they are six-years-old. Primary/elementary schools (Scuola Elementare or Scuola Primaria ), which can be public or private, must follow some national educational regulations; however, the 1997 Bassanini law 59 allows some freedom in curricular and pedagogical structure. The number of number of hours spent in class varies; students may attend classes for 27, 30, or 40 hours per week. Teachers have the autonomy and opportunity to design flexible curricula that meet student needs and national educational objectives. They ensure that the curricula includes examples from the European perspective, develop cross-cultural activities with a European focus, and establish contacts with other schools via pen pal and other programs.

Schools are required to provide students' families with an instructional plan describing subjects and activities for regular and optional curriculum; student assessment methods; research and experimentation activities; and the role of teachers in the school organization. Support is given to special needs students. The inclusion of learning disabled students provides all children with an opportunity for understanding and respecting differences.

Children usually attend schools closest to their home. Most classes have 25 students, but schools are established when there are 10 or more children of compulsory education age. The school year has a total of 200 days per year. It begins in September and ends June 30 with holidays at Christmas, Easter, and in the summer. Classes are usually from 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. with a lunch break of approximately 90 minutes. In 1992-1993 there were 22,710 primary schools with approximately 2,959,564 students and 264,615 teachers.

Elementary education is divided into two cycles. Cycle one is two years, and cycle two is three years. Students pass automatically from cycle one to two. During cycle one, teachers play a dominant role in the classroom and use a multidisciplinary curriculum. At times various classes may be grouped together and team-taught. Classroom activities are the responsibility of the Teachers Assembly (Collegio dei Docenti ). During the second cycle, teaching is divided into subject areas and different teachers teach the various subjects according to their specialty. Teaching is organized into modules around three main areas: linguistic expression, scientific-logicalmathematical, and historic-geographic-social. Teachers coordinate activities to ensure coherence and uniformity. Textbooks are chosen by individual teachers. Primary school curriculum includes Italian language, foreign language (French, German, or other) depending on the region of the Italian border, mathematics, science, history, geography, social studies, art, music, physical education, and Catholic religion (optional).

Student assessment and progress are tracked throughout the year by teacher observations; homework; and written work, oral work, and presentations. Parents or guardians received non-numerical reports (scheda ) about three times per year that emphasize the student's overall development commitment to learn. Parents are allowed to meet with teachers for an explanation of the report. At the end of the fifth grade students must pass written and oral exit examinations (Esami di Licenza Elementare ), which will allow them to enter compulsory lower secondary or middle school (Scuola Media ).

Secondary Education

Secondary schools (Scuola Secundaria ) are divided into lower and upper secondary education. Lower secondary or middle school is compulsory, lasts three years, and is for students 11- to 14-years-old. In 1992-1993 there were 9,857 lower secondary school with approximately 2,059,044 students and 233,034 teachers. The goal of these schools is to prepare students for life and careers. Individual subjects are taught by teachers with specialty in the field; however, teachers use cooperative, interdisciplinary planning and curricular connections to ensure coherence and uniformity. The curriculum includes Italian, history, civics, geography, foreign language, mathematics, sciences (physics, chemistry, and natural sciences), technical education, art, music, physical education, and catholic religion (optional). Teachers use non-prescribed, commercial textbooks.

Student assessment no longer includes marks from 1 through 10 or remedial exams. Each teacher enters narrative comments on the learning progress and maturity level of the student. The personal report card (Sheda Personale ) is prepared by each teacher and presented to the class council (Consiglio di Classe ) where all teachers agree on a written final assessment with explanatory notes that is sent to parents. The class council decides on the student promotion to the following academic year. At the end of the third year, all students take an exam consisting of three written tests in the subject areas of Italian, mathematics, and a foreign language and a multidisciplinary oral test. Students who fail must repeat the academic year. Passing students earn an overall assessment of excellent, good, or satisfactory and receive a middle school certificate (Diploma di Licenza Media ). This enables them to enter upper secondary education.

Upper secondary education is available for students aged 14 to 19. Most upper secondary schools are public and require a fee that may be waived according to the family financial need and the student assessment at the end of the year. The school year is from September until the end of June. Programs vary from three to five years. The majority of Italian teenagers attend Liceo Classico and Liceo Scientifico to prepare for university studies. Others attend art schools (Liceo Artistico or Istituto d'arte ); music school (Conservatorio di Musica ); elementary teacher preparatory programs (Istituto Magistrale ) or nursery school preparatory programs (Scuola Magistrale ). Some students attend the Liceo Linguistico, a privately funded and operated upper secondary institution. Those students who do not wish to pursue a university education may enroll in technical or vocational schools (Istituti Tecnici or Istituti Professionali ) after middle school for three years or more of training and education in applied fields.

The classical type education includes the classic liceum and the scientific liceum. The classical liceum prepares students for the university and other types of higher education. Liceum studies take five years and consist of two cycles: the lower cycle of two years and the upper cycle of three years. Students attend school six days per week and lessons are one hour per subject. Curriculum includes Italian language and literature, Latin language and literature, Greek language and literature, foreign language and literature, history, philosophy, natural sciences, chemistry, geography, mathematics, physics, history of art, and physical education. Catholic religion is optional. The scientific liceum prepares students for university education with emphasis in the sciences. Curriculum includes Italian language and literature, Latin language and literature, foreign language and literature, history, philosophy, geography, natural sciences, chemistry, astronomy, mathematics, physics, drawing, and physical education. Catholic religion is optional.

Teacher Training (Istituto Magistrale ) for primary school teaching provides access to further study at schools of education at the university level. This program requires four years of coursework and may include a fifth year leading to university studies in the field of education. Curriculum includes Italian language and literature, Latin language and literature, foreign language and literature, philosophy, courses on teaching methods and educational psychology, history, civics, geography, natural sciences, chemistry, mathematics, physics, drawing, history of art, choral music, and physical education. Students may elect to study the Catholic religion or a musical instrument.

Nursery school teacher training (Scuola Magistrale ) is a three-year course of study. Curriculum includes Italian language and literature, education courses, history, geography, accounting, mathematics, natural sciences, hygiene and pediatrics, music and choral singing, home economics, theory and application of physical education, handicrafts, drawing, and teaching methods. Catholic religion is optional.

Assessment for all types of classical, upper secondary schooling is done by individual teachers according to each subject. At the end of the year the Class Council determines each student's final assessment. Students must earn marks between a six and a ten for each subject; those with lower marks must repeat exams in September prior to entering a new school year. At the end of upper secondary school, students must take an exam consisting of two written tests and an oral test. The oral portion of the exam is given by an examining board, which asks questions based on the written exams. Students are expected to demonstrate expressive and critical ability. Those passing the exam receive a certificate of completion (Maturita ). In 1992-1993 there were 753 classical liceums with 231,064 students and teachers; 1,038 scientific liceums with 472,950 students and teachers; 541 primary teacher training schools with 159,518 students and 57,370 faculty; and 165 nursery teacher training schools with 21,522 students and teachers.

Artistic liceum provides students with specialization in painting, sculpture, stage design, and architecture. Coursework lasts for four years with access to higher education at the Fine Arts Academy (Academia di Belle Arti ) or schools of architecture at the university. Following a fifth year, students may obtain a certificate of art (Diploma di Maturita Artistica). General curriculum includes Italian language and literature, history, history of art, mathematics, physics, natural sciences, chemistry, physical geography, and physical education. Art curriculum includes life drawing, still life, figure modeling, ornamental modeling, geometric drawing, perspective, elements of architecture, and anatomy for artists.

Art schools (Istituti d'Arte ) prepare students for traditional craftwork in industry, such as in ceramics, textiles, printing, glass, or gems. Courses last approximately three years and lead to the master of art diploma (Diploma di Maestro d'Arte Applicata ). Students who complete two additional years of coursework obtain the upper secondary certificate (Diploma di Maturita di Arte Applicata ). Curriculum for art schools includes general subjects (Italian language and literature, history, civics, history of art and applied arts, mathematics, natural sciences, chemistry, and geography) and art curriculum (geometric and architectural drawing, life drawing, and plastic arts). Catholic religion is optional.

Special education is provided for by law and is available for special needs students, including the handicapped. Special students attend regular classrooms; however there also self-contained classrooms for students who are not able to be included in regular classroom instruction. There are also institutes for the blind and the deaf. Teachers at these institutes receive special training so they can work with these students. Classes for the blind include physical therapy, telephone switchboard, and basket weaving.

The handicap law of 1992 provides for special education for nursery school, elementary, and middle school students. Some classes are also held in rehabilitation centers and hospitals for children unable to come to school. These classes are set up by the provincial directorates of education in coordination with health services, as well as public and private centers under contract to the Health Ministry and the Ministry of Labor. Teachers with specific training in psychology and associated pedagogy are hired for these centers. Teachers with a specialized credential in special education become support teachers (Insegnanti di Sostegno ) in local school groups (Circolo Didattici ) for nursery and primary schools and in individual secondary schools. Special education teachers often work alongside a regular teacher, providing support to the special needs students.

Students between the ages of 14 and 17 may enroll in three-year technical or vocational programs that have an optional additional two years of education and training. Technical Schools (Istituto Tecnico ) prepare students to work in jobs in agriculture, industry, business, tourism, surveying, foreign trade, laboratory technicians, and many other practical professional occupations. Vocational Schools (Istituto Profesionale ) prepare students for work in industry, agriculture, trade, hotel business, and other skilled work in the labor market.

Technical and vocational schools have similar curricula, which include general classes (Italian language and literature, history, civics, geography, foreign languages, mathematics, physics, natural sciences, chemistry, drawing, and physical education) and coursework within the field of specialization. Catholic religion is optional. Assessment for these schools is similar to that of upper secondary schools. In 1992-1993 there were 2,962 technical schools with 1,273,682 students and 111,334 teachers and 1,702 vocational schools with 534,044 students and 51,852 teachers.

Higher Education

Italy has the two oldest universities in Europe. The School of Medicine in Salerno was founded in the ninth century, and the University of Bologna was founded in the eleventh century. A number of other universities were founded by the end of the sixteenth century. The University of Padua and the University of Modena were founded in 1200. The universities of Rome, Perugia, Pisa, Florence, Naples, and Siena were founded in 1300. The universities of Turin, Parma and Catania were founded in 1400, and Messina was founded in 1500.

Article 33 of the Italian constitution allows public and private entities to establish institutions of higher education: universities, academies, and non-university higher education, such as art institutes. Other higher education institutions include the Higher Institutes of Physical Education, higher institutions with special statutes (Oriental Institute of Naples, the Higher Naval Institute of Naples, the College of Education of Pisa), schools of postgraduate and specialist studies, and other university level institutions. These institutions function fairly autonomously and are overseen by the Ministry for University of Scientific and Technological Research, which ensures some uniformity of curricula, standards, and examinations.

In 2000, university education was provided by 76 universities: 51 national universities, three polytechnic institutes, 12 free universities, 5 university institutes, 2 universities for foreign students, and 3 high schools (upper secondary). More than 1.0 million students attend Italian universities that employ more than 65,000 faculty members. Levels of university coursework include first level programs leading to a university diploma (Diploma Universitario ), which has been eliminated under current reform law and Special professional Training Schools (Scuole Dirette a Fini Speciali ). Second level programs lead to a university degree (Diploma di Laurea ). Third level programs lead to a specialization degree (Diploma di Specializzazione ) and research doctorate (Dottorato di Ricerca). Admission to third level degrees requires a (Diploma di Laurea ).

Students who complete the liceum may go directly to the university. Admission to the university requires candidates to have an upper secondary school certificate (Maturita or Diploma di Istruzione Secundaria Superiore ) earned after five years of study. Entrance exams are required for certain university programs and count for 70 percent of the admission, while grades from the Maturita count for 30 percent. Students are given numbers and placed on waiting lists according to their grades. Those with higher marks will be admitted to the university. Some candidates retake exams to achieve the higher marks needed for entering the university. The most crowded university programs are medicine, veterinary school, international studies, and environmental sciences. Other programs are less competitive and do not limit admissions.

Candidates apply directly to the institution they wish to attend. University students may pay registration and other fees. Needy students may apply and qualify for grants and loans; they may also hold part-time jobs. The academic year, which may be divided into semesters, starts in early November and ends in mid-June with final yearly exams in July. University degrees (Diploma di Laurea ) can be earned in the following professional fields: science, medicine, engineering, agriculture, economics, political-social law, literature (humanities). For each area of specialty there are compulsory and elective courses.

The average time for completing university course-work is from four to six years. A 1990 reform allows student to earn a university degree in a specialized working field (diploma di specialista ) within two to three years of coursework. Higher non-university education is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Public Instruction or Ministry of Education.

In November 1999, regulation 509 established criteria for a new university structure that allows universities to plan courses of study and provide teaching autonomy. In 2000, reforms were underway to integrate the Italian educational system within the structure of the European community. The plan calls for two university cycles of study to allow for student transfers and mobility among universities in Europe. Additional reforms focus on student requirements and credits (Credito Formativo Universitario or CFU ) and the three-year Laurea (L ) degree and five-year Laurea Specialistica (LS ) degree. To enroll in L courses, students must have a Diploma di Istruzione Secundaria Superiore; to enroll in LS courses, students must have a Diploma di Superamento dell'Esame di Stato.

The Ministry of the University and Scientific and Technological Research has reorganized university studies into five main areas: medicine; science and technology; humanities; law, politics, social sciences, and economics; and engineering and architecture. The Diploma di Laurea is designed to prepare students a high level of professional competency in their chosen field. The Laurea Specialistica provides additional advanced understanding and skills in the specialized profession. Written and oral exams are administered before students are allowed to advance within the university.

The university president confers university degrees and diplomas, which also reflect the higher education requirements of the European community. Each diploma reflects the student's course of study and the specific curriculum in the field of professional specialization. Some universities, in conjunction with national, local, public and private entities, may offer one year finishing courses in certain fields of specialization.

Non-university education includes Academies of Fine-Arts (Academia di belle Arti ), Higher Institutes for Art Industry (Istituto Superiore per le Industrie Artistiche ), National Academy of Dramatic Arts (Academia di Arte Drammatica ), National Academy of Dance (Academia di Danza ), and Academy of Music (Conservatoria di Musica ).

Vocational education and training are also part of non-university education. Initial vocational training is intended to promote employment and to allow individuals to keep abreast of new scientific and technological developments in the labor force. Vocational training is offered to young people who completed compulsory education and wish to earn a vocational certificate. This training is usually provided throughout the year by the following regional authorities: Ente Nazionale Istruzione Professionale (ENAIP); Associazione Cattolica Lavoratori Italiani (ACLI); Centro Nazionale Opere Salesiane (CNOS); Istituto Addestramento Lavoratori-Confederazione Italiana Sindacati Lavoratori (IAL-CISL); and Ente Nazionale Formazione Addestramento Professionale dell'Unione Italiana Lavoratori (ENFAP-UIL).

Initial vocational training covers agriculture, industry, crafts, and services and includes courses leading to a first certificate; integration courses for completing secondary education; post-certificate courses for those requiring specialized certificates; courses and post-certification activities; and level two courses for additional certificates of specialization. During vocational education, students are often required to train in the workplace.

Some individuals between the ages of 15 and 25 have apprenticeships (Apprendistati ). Apprenticeships are based on a contract in which employers teach the student apprentice the necessary technical expertise to become a skilled worker. Apprentices receive financial compensation as they take theoretical courses and apply this knowledge in the workplace. At the end of the apprenticeship contract, these working students must pass a qualification exam in the particular apprenticeship field. There are approximately 605,000 young people involved in apprenticeship contracts; 53 percent are in the crafts sector. Approximately 80 percent of these apprenticeship enterprises are in Northern Italy.

Employment training contracts (Contratti di Formazione-Lavoro ) are covered by a 1983 law which provides for private and public companies and their consortia to take on a certain number of individuals between the ages of 15 and 30 for a period of 2 years. Enterprises must submit specific training plans and make a commitment to train and teach these individuals and assist them in transition to the world of work. The Italian government offers financial incentives to the companies that participate in this program.

Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

Administration of the Italian Educational system was at one time highly centralized. Since the end of the 1950s, there has been a trend toward decentralization, from the Ministries to the regional and provincial offices. Presidential decrees in 1972 and 1977 transferred more educational responsibility to the regions, provinces, and communes; however, finance, personnel, curriculum, and scientific research, and other specialized areas remained centralized. In 1989 the Ministry of the University and Scientific and Technological Research was created to guide, regulate, finance, and help with the administration of universities and research. Other responsibilities of this university ministry include coordination with the European community and international integration of the university system, admission requirements, monitoring and assessment. The Ministry for Public Instruction continues to be responsible for elementary, secondary, and tertiary, non-university education.

A 1997 law continued to delegate some educational responsibilities to regional and local governments, but major decisions still remain centralized. A 1999 presidential decree provided additional regional educational autonomy in terms of administration and management, school time and classes, and some curricular decisions. The 1999 decree also created an agency for vocational training and education that will work in conjunction with the Ministry of Public Instruction and the Ministry of Labor for effective coordination of vocational education and training. Law Decree 300 also called for the merger of the Ministry of Public Instruction with the Ministry of the University and Scientific and Technological Research; the merger should be completed by 2003.

National education authorities include the Ministry of Education based in Rome; central offices; regional schools superintendents (Sovrintendenza Scolastica Regionale ); and the Provincial Director of Education (Provveditorato agli Studi ). Within the Ministry of Public Instruction, the minister is assisted by one or more under-secretaries. The organizational units within the Ministry of Public Instruction deal with different levels and types of schools, teacher education and training, cultural exchanges, personnel administration. The Ministry issues general guidelines, legislation and directives for schools and schooling. There is a special service for preschool education, and three inspectors are responsible for physical education, art education, and employee pensions.

The minister may call upon certain individuals for advice, tasks, and budget. These persons include the Secretariat, members of the minister's cabinet and offices working with the Minister of Public Instruction; regional and provincial undersecretaries of state appointed directly by the Minister; and ministerial advisers. Directors general, inspectors, and departments may also be called for expert advice.

The Higher Council for Education (Consiglio Superiore della Pubblica Istruzione ) has replaced the National Education Council. This council assists the Minister of Public Instruction with planning and supervision of education policy. The central general administration of nursery schools (Servicio per la Scuola Materna ) assists the Minister in policy making and the implementation of educational activities (Orientamenti dell'Acttivita Educativa ). The central general administration of elementary and secondary education (Directorates ) deal with primary and lower and upper secondary schooling. These directors submit regulations to the Minister of Public Instruction regarding curricular implementation, teacher recruitment, non-teaching staff, student assessment, funding, and other school issues.

Central general administration of higher education under the Ministero dell'Universita e della Ricerca Scientifica e Tecnologica is responsible for the implementation and evaluation of the university strategic plan; ensures the autonomy of individual universities; enhances university research; supervises and monitors university research plans; allocates funds according to specific, designated criteria; coordinates educational activities and research projects at the national and international level, especially within the countries in the European community; works in conjunction with the Ministero della Istruzione Pubblica in coordinating education at various levels in terms of inservice training of school personnel; fosters research in the field of education; and promotes cultural exchanges among schools and universities. The Ministry of University and Scientific and Technical Research is assisted by three departments: the Department of University and Student Autonomy (Dipartimento per l'Autonomia Universitaria e gli Studenti ), the Department for the Development and Promotion of Research (Dipartimento per lo Sviluppo e il Potenziamento del'Attivita di Ricerca ), and the Department for Economic Affairs (Dipartimento per agli Affari Economici ).

Additional councils assist the Ministry in matters of university education and administration. The Consiglio Universitario Nazionale (CUN) oversees university planning, the appointment of professors and researchers, and teaching regulations. The council is composed by 15 professors, 3 of whom representing 3 scientific disciplines; 8 student representatives; 4 technical and administrative staff representatives; and 3 members of the Conferenza Permanente dei Rettori della Universita Italiana (CRUI). These representatives are all elected members who remain in office for four years. CRUI is involved in the development of objectives for the university, the allocation of financial resources, and in the administration of didactic and scientific regulations regarding research.

The Commissione di Esperti per il Coordinamento tra l'Istruzione Universitaria e gli Gradi di Istruzione (Commission of Experts for the Coordination of University Instruction) is composed of three members appointed by the Consiglio Nazionale della Pubblica Istruzione, three members appointed by the CUN, two members appointed by the Consiglio Nazionale dell'Economia e del Lavoro (CNEL) representing employers and employees, one representative from the Regional Institute for Research and Refresher Courses (IRRSAE) which coordinates in-service teacher training, three experts nominated by the Ministero della Pubblica Istruzione, and three experts nominated by the Ministero dell' Universita e della Ricerca Scientifica e Tecnologica. This commission concerns itself with students following university education and preparation for teaching.

Two new councils will be formed after 2000: the Consulta Nazionale per il Diritto agli Studi Universitari (National Council for the Rights of University Students) and Consiglio Nazionale degli Studenti Universitari (National Council of University Students). The National Council for the Rights of University Students will be composed of five university representatives, five regional representatives, and five students. The National Council of University Students will be comprised of 28 student members, elected by their peers, who are enrolled in degree or diploma programs. This council will be concerned with general criteria and teaching guidelines.

In Italy, local school administration includes provinces and communes. Education power at the provincial level includes the Provveditore agli studi and the Assessore Provinciale alla Pubblica Istruzione. These individuals are responsible for state and local administration of schools. The Provveditore is in charge of the promotion, coordination, supervision, and monitoring of provincial schools, except for the Fine Arts Institutes. He interprets the central laws and regulations for primary and secondary education in regional schools. The Provincial Director of Education establishes relationships among provincial andlocal school authorities. The Provveditore is also responsible for inservice education for teachers, special education, and health education. The Provincial Scholastic Council (Consiglio Scolastico Provinciale ) serves as a consulting body to the Provveditore. The Assessore alla Pubblica Istruzione is responsible for upper secondary education in terms of establishing and annexing schools and other aspects of physical facilities, including the integration of handicapped students, school networking, and school safety.

Commune offices and authorities, often representing small residential communities, are distributed throughout Italy and are concerned with the performance of functions and services needed in the daily operation of schools and student attendance. Additional responsibilities include subsidized student transportation, cafeterias, textbooks, and financial assistance for needy families. Communes have similar responsibilities as provincial bodies.

Specific administration and management of schools have become increasingly decentralized and grant schools autonomy in teaching, administration, research, and development. Schools are viewed as expressions of functional autonomy aimed at determining and providing educational opportunity. Schools are seen as institutions that assist with the cognitive, sociocultural, and moral development of citizens in a pluralistic society. Each school prepares a Piano dell'Oferta Formativa (POF), a plan that includes the philosophy, missions, and goals consistent with the general educational objectives and national standards. Schools are expected to reflect the cultural, social and economical realities of each community and provide equal opportunity in education for all citizens. The POF includes different teaching strategies that consider teaching and learning styles, especially the needs of culturally diverse students.

The Collegio del Docenti (Teacher Council) makes decisions regarding teaching and learning on the basis of general objectives defined by the Consiglio di Circolo (Cycle Council) or Consiglio di Istituto (Institutional or School Council). Parents and students have input in the decision-making process. School goals, regulations and decisions are distributed to students and parents during enrollment at the start of each academic year. Statutory rule of law concerning school autonomy makes it clear that schools must take into account cultural pluralism; provide equal opportunity for students; foster academic freedom in teaching and learning; as well as plan and implement educational and training interventions, which assist in the development of all learners. School decentralized decision-making includes teaching autonomy, organizational autonomy, and research autonomy. Teaching autonomy means that schools must carry out a plan that includes national objectives leading to an educational environment conducive to learning for all students.

Class schedules and lessons are flexible and arranged into modules, according to subject areas, which best meet student needs. Students are grouped for enhanced learning and teaching opportunity. In terms of organizational autonomy, schools are allowed to decide how to best allocate teaching resources and adapt teaching methodologies and curriculum according to student needs, as long as the schools follow their POF. Autonomy of research, experimentation, and development provides for curricular planning and assessment; training and professional development of school personnel; innovation of curricula and pedagogy; theoretical and experiential teaching and learning; and interdisciplinary curricular integration, including vocational education and training.

School autonomy also allows individual schools to increase course offerings and educational activities that take into account the social and cultural needs of the community. Schools are encouraged to build networks with other schools, universities, and private corporations and associations. These community network relationships encourage curriculum innovation, a variety of methods and strategies, collaborative research opportunities, cooperation in educational resources, and teacher exchanges.

Schools are given administrative and financial autonomy in staff recruitment, hiring, and teaching assignments. The Ministry of Education establishes guidelines for school autonomy to ensure some uniformity within the Italian educational system. This guiding framework includes specific educational objectives, minimum curriculum standards, compulsory curricular timetables, general criteria for student assessment, and general organization of adult education. Universities function under the guidelines of the Ministry of the University and Scientific and Technological Research, but they also have some provincial and regional autonomy in terms of staffing, curriculum, and research.

The Ministry of Public Instruction allocates funds directly to technical and vocational schools to use for materials and laboratories and other facilities needed for experiential education. Regions have specific powers and needs regarding school buildings, vocational education, school transportation, school meals, and providing textbooks free of charge. Provinces and communes are usually given freedom to use resources and finances to meet the needs of individual communities, while still maintain standards and requirements of the Ministry of Public Instruction. Provincial authorities cover the building cost of primary and lower secondary schools, as well as technical and scientific upper secondary schools. The communes cover the cost of upper secondary classical schools.

The Ministry of Universities and Scientific and Technological Research disperses financial resources among state and private universities that meet state level requirements. Private universities also received funding from private organizations, associations, or foundations. State universities are allowed to accept private funding contributions for resources and research. Additional income for universities comes from student tuition.

Evaluation of educational institutions is a concern. In 1999 the government established the National Institute for the Evaluation of the Educational System, which is responsible for the administration of institutional evaluation, documentation, and educational research. This institute monitors institutional evaluation and provides technical guidance and support. Inspectors from the Ministry of Education pay regular visits to schools to ensure educational quality and equity and implementation of ministerial directives. Inspectors' responsibilities include giving educational assistance in terms of planning, organization, and implementation of programs; technical assistance and advice for experimental and research activities; and defining and implementing in-service training for faculty and staff.

Article 33 of the Italian constitution establishes educational policy, which states that the government must establish a state school system for all children, providing opportunities commensurate with their aspirations, regardless of economic status and social situation, such as ethnic or linguistic background. Private bodies and individuals are entitled to establish schools and colleges of education. These schools may get state funding if they follow rules and guidelines, including health regulations, similar to those of public schools and ensure equal opportunity to students.

Nationally recognized private schools are also authorized to provide certificates of completion. Provincial Directors of Education supervise private schools at the preschool level. Private elementary schools include officially recognized schools (Scuole Parificate ) also supervised by the Provincial Director of Education (Provveditore agli Studi ); and authorized private schools run by persons with a Primary Teaching Training Certificate, or a classical or technical diploma (Magistrale from the Scuola Magistrale ). Teachers at these private schools may be asked to articulate a faith and morality statement.

Private education at the secondary level includes legally recognized schools (Scuole Legalment Risonosciute ) and state authorized schools (Scuole Pareggiate ). These schools have the same validity as state schools and can award a middle school certificate (Diploma di Licenza Media ). In recognized schools, curriculum, student assessment, and teacher qualifications are similar to public schools. Private schools may receive public funding in terms of government grants. Private education at a higher level include universities and other higher education institutions, as well as non-university higher level education for high levels of specialization, such as art institutes. If these institutes follow state guidelines, they may award certificates. The Ministry of Education's art inspector supervises the private art institutes.

Nonformal Education

At one time the primary goal of nonformal adult education was to eliminate illiteracy. Since the level and quality of literacy have risen, adult education has been focusing on preparing adults to enter the workforce and preparing individuals to continue their own educational attainment. Many of the students enrolled in adult education include housewives, unemployed persons, and immigrants seeking newer opportunities for employment and further education.

Scuole Populari were first established in 1947 to help eliminate illiteracy. These schools abolished in 1982. However, there are literacy courses for elementary and secondary school certificates of achievement for those who did not follow all prior educational steps. Management of adult schools is the function of territorial centers, which decide on the specific needs of communities. Adult education is planned and coordinated at the district level. Adult education centers usually function within an established school. The school principal is the coordinator for the adult education center.

Activities in adult centers include counseling and guidance for applicants; literacy education at various levels, including preparation for higher education; language (Italian) education and special language training for immigrants and others; vocational education and training; and preparation for certificates of achievement in compulsory elementary education and secondary school certificate. Many adults return to school for retraining and changing career paths. Most classes are offered in the evening to meet the needs of the working student population. Certification includes Diploma di Licenza Elementare, Diploma di Licenza Medi, and statement of vocational training and similar certificates of achievement for secondary education.

Italy is part of EDUVINET, Education via networks, a partner team of European Community member countries for Internet-supported teaching and learning and distance education in and among schools in Europe. Objectives of EDUVINET include training teachers, administrators, and students in using internet resources effectively; preparing young people and adults for the information age in interdependent democracies; extending educational European content available on the internet; and using educational resources more efficiently throughout European schools.

The EDUVINET Web site includes discussion forums, like EDUTALK; teaching, methodology, and curriculum; full text teaching resources; exemplary teaching content; teacher training opportunities; links to schools, teaching subjects, curriculum and pedagogy, and European information; opportunities for publishing with EDUVINET; and searching engines. EDUVINET is supported financially by the SOCRATES Open and Distance Learning Program. EDUVINET can also be a support network for distance education available through the Open University, which started in the England and has expanded through many European countries. Adult students find the Open University Distance Education opportunity a flexible means of continuing educational goals.

Teaching Profession

Teachers have always been considered government employees; however, they have their own collective bargaining unit at school level. Educational reforms have lead to increased decentralization. Individual schools are becoming the groups primarily responsible for the administration and management of the teaching staff. The Ministry of Public Instruction continues to be responsible for orientation, coordination, and verification of teaching status.

Until 1997-1998 primary school teachers were trained at upper secondary schools (Istitutos Magistrales ) for four years where the curriculum included academic courses on teacher training that included theory, methods, and teaching practice. Since 1998 nursery school and elementary teacher education are required to complete a four-year university degree (Laurea ).

Secondary school teachers always had been required to attend and earn a university degree in a specialized field. They may obtain the designation of Abilitazione from two-year specialization schools (Scuole di Specializzazione ). Those wishing to take the teaching exam (cattedre ) must have this designation. Teachers must pass another exam (concorso ) to obtain professional teaching status. Teachers also receive training on the integration of special needs students, such handicapped students; some teachers have a specialization in areas of special education. Teachers in recognized private schools must meet the same qualifications as public school teachers.

School principals or head teachers (Preside, Direttore Didattico, or Dirigente Scolastici ) are responsible for the overall management of the school, including instructional, financial, and personnel issues and represent the school within the community. They report directly to the Provincial Director of Education. The principals or head teachers coordinate all school activities and are responsible for meeting legislative provisions. They must guarantee equal opportunity and equity of resources to all students, taking into account the sociocultural needs of the community. These school leaders implement School Council decisions; organize the school internally, promoting and coordinating activities for faculty and staff; and develop class schedules, teacher assignments, and student disciplinary action. Other teachers or administrative directors may assist the principal or head teacher.

The recruitment of new Dirigente Scolastici is done through a course-competition announced by the Ministry of Public Instruction. Teachers with a university degree (Laurea ) who have been teaching for at least seven years can be admitted to this competition. Teachers who complete the general training course-competition satisfactorily and who meet placement qualifications can be placed in primary and middle schools. Teachers who complete specific secondary training can be placed as head teachers in upper secondary schools.

The School Council (Consiglio di Istituto ) is responsible for budgetary methods and the organization and planning of non-educational extra curricular activities. The council decides on the purchase of school equipment, teaching materials, and other resources; on the use of school facilities for curricular and extra curricular activities, including sports; on the remedial and support courses to be offered, and on the cooperative efforts with other schools and community groups. The council includes teachers, parents, and students. The chair of the council is an elected parent representative, and the principal serves an ex-officio member.

Teaching and educational activities are the responsibility of the principal, the Teachers' Assembly (Collegio dei Docenti ), the Interclass Council (Consiglio d'Interclasse ) for primary schools and Class Council (Consiglio de Classe ) for secondary schools. The Teachers' Assembly is composed of all the permanent and temporary teachers of each primary school group or individual primary or secondary school and is chaired by the school principal. The Teachers' Assembly is responsible for teaching and educational plans for each school year. The group must follow national legislation and guidelines and be cognizant of community needs and concerns. It encourages academic freedom and interdisciplinary teaching and learning. The Teachers Assembly is also responsible for evaluating teacher performance, selecting textbooks and other resources in consultation with teachers and parents, and for providing inservice for teachers and staff.

Rectors are univerisities' legal representatives. The faculty members at each university select someone among them to serve as rector or president. The rector carries out the decisions of the academic senate (Senato Academico ), the university decision-making body regarding academics and other educational issues. The president also works with the Consiglio di Administrazione, the board responsible for administrative and financial management. Various faculties within departments carry out instructional and research activities in fields of specialization. University teaching requires a doctorate in a field of specialization. The Faculty Committee, comprised of deans, professors and researchers, coordinates and carries out the academic responsibilities of the university related to curriculum, scholarship, and student advising. The committee makes decisions about teaching and research. Students may be a part of this committee. Inspectors visit schools to ensure that educational objectives are being met.

The federal government finances public education by providing salaries for teachers and staff and purchasing textbooks and other instructional materials and resources. Most funding is sent directly to regional and provincial offices for schools to use as they deem appropriate following guidelines from the Ministry of Public Instruction. The School Council is responsible for allocating funding for school maintenance, facilities, equipment, library expenditures, and academic resources. Preliminary budgets are prepared by an Executive Board elected by the School Council and chaired by the school principal. The school secretary, an ex-officio member of the board, is responsible for recording accounting and expenses.

University rectors are responsible for posting recruitment needs, procedures, and competitive exams for the posts of full, associate, and research professor. University faculty includes full professors and associate professors. Full professors are professors with tenure of first level (Professori di Prima Fascia or Ordinari ), and associate professors have tenure of second level (Professori di Seconda Fascia ). Professorial levels are assured academic freedom in teaching and research. Research professors (Professori di Ricerca ) contribute to the development of research and integrate and apply it to their teaching.

Contract professors are hired according to Ministry for Universities for Scientific and Technical Research (MURST) regulations for one- to six-year contracts to teach and assist in scholarship activities with professors and university students within specific fields of specialization. Budget considerations may limit these contracts. Native language collaborators and linguistic experts who have earned a Laurea may be hired to work on specific research projects with faculty and students for a specific time period. Lecturers from other countries are also hired for their areas of expertise and work for a limited contract period.


The Italian school system is divided into three tiers: primary, secondary, and higher education. School reform was introduced in the early 1960s and continues. The primary or elementary school is compulsory and free; elementary education starts at 6 years of age and lasts until a student is 11 years old. Students are required to pass an aptitude exam at the end of elementary school before entering secondary school.

Compulsory education has been extended to lower secondary education or middle school and, in 1999, to the first year of upper secondary school. At the end of middle school, students take another aptitude test before entering upper secondary school. At the end of upper secondary education, students must pass a final exam (Esame di Stato ) that allows them to earn a certificate (Diploma di Maturita ) to enter the world of work or gain access to universities and non-university higher education schools. Upper secondary schools, sometimes also referred to as higher education, include the classic, linguistic, and scientific schools (liceos ); education schools for nursery and elementary teachers; and technical, vocational, and professional schools.

There are private schools for all levels of education. Funding for private schools is primarily from private organizations; however, private schools may receive state funds if they follow the same guidelines as state public schools in terms of curriculum, personnel, and management.

Adult education exists for those who wish to acquire job skills, improve literacy levels, and continue their education. The Italian educational system recognizes the importance of cultural and linguistic pluralism and in schools. Accommodations are made for students with special needs. Italy, as a member of the European Community, is engaged in the European dimension of education and participate in a network of international initiatives.


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Maria A. Pacino


views updated May 18 2018






Given Italy's unparalleled contributions to the visual arts from the twelfth century to the present, it would have been unusual, indeed, if its culture had not made fundamental contributions to the development of film art from the silent era to the present. After being identified with the historical epic in the silent cinema, Italy's film culture was virtually ignored during the fascist period, but the advent of postwar Italian neorealism after 1945 threw Italy into the forefront of modern European filmmaking. Subsequently, a number of the individuals associated with neorealism developed into auteurs, and Italy produced several generations of Europe's best art film directors. Italy also contributed a great deal to commercial film genres, such as the spaghetti western, the sword and sandal epic, the giallo (horror-mystery), and even the cannibal and zombie cult movies of the late twentieth century.


On 11 November 1895, Filoteo Alberini (1865–1937) applied for a patent on an early device, the Alberini Kinetograph, and between 1909 and 1916, the Italian silent cinema represented a major force in world cinema before the hegemony of Hollywood was firmly established, with major production centers in Turin, Rome, Naples, and Milan. Alberini produced the first feature film with a complex plot—La Presa di Roma (The Taking of Rome, 1905)—which was based on a patriotic theme, the annexation of the Eternal City in 1870 to the new Italian republic. The next year, CINES, a major production company, was founded, and it rapidly allowed Italian silent films to capture an enormous international market share for a brief period. While Italian silent films reflected a variety of genres, including Roman costume dramas, adventure films, comedies, filmed drama, even experimental or avant-garde works by the Futurists, there is little question that the success of the costumed film set in classical antiquity was responsible for much of the industry's early success. Italy's Roman past, the wealth of classic ruins and grandiose monuments all over Italy, the favorable climate and natural light of the peninsula, plus the relatively low labor costs for huge crowd scenes, all encouraged on-location shooting of costume dramas and interior scenes with lavish neoclassical decors. Important works in this epic vein include Gli Ultimi giorni di Pompeii (The Last Days of Pompeii, 1908) by Luigi Maggi, Quo Vadis? (1913) by Enrico Guazzoni, and the silent cinema's most famous epic by Giovanni Pastrone (1883–1959), Cabiria (1914), whose majestic treatment of the Second Punic War introduced the use of the dolly into cinematic practice, influenced D. W. Griffith's Intolerance (1916), and subsequently inspired many neomythological or peplum films, a staple export item of the Italian industry in the 1950s and 1960s.

In addition to historical epics and filmed versions of themes taken from drama, opera, and history, the Italian cinema quickly developed the star system (the diva), a development that naturally led to an increased use of close-ups to convey passionate emotions. Italian femme fatales such as Lyda Borelli in Ma l'amor mio non muore (But My Love Won't Die!, 1913) by Mario Caserini, Maria Carmi in Sperduti nel buio (Lost in the Dark, 1914) by Nino Martoglio, and Francesca Bertini in Assunta Spina (1915) by Gustavo Serena, set an international standard for melodramatic passion. The most memorable male lead was the muscular former dockworker and taciturn protagonist of Cabiria, Bartolomeo Pagano (1878–1947), whose character in that film, Maciste, spawned numerous subsequent imitations that often changed Cabiria's classical setting. For example, Maciste became an Italian soldier during World War I in Maciste alpino (Maciste the Alpine Soldier, 1916), a modern tourist in Maciste in vacanza (Maciste on Vacation, 1920), a detective in Maciste policioho (Maciste the Detective, 1917), and even a visitor to Dante's Inferno in Maciste all'inferno (Maciste in Hell, 1926) by Guido Brignone, which included memorable special effects and tinted colors to represent the punishments of Hell.

During the silent period, the cinema also attracted the critical attention of key Italian intellectuals. The avant-garde Futurist movement devoted a Futurist manifesto to cinema in 1916, calling for this new art form to avoid the slavish imitation of other art forms and to concentrate on its novel and innovative visual effects (exactly the opposite of what the industry actually did, since it privileged literary adaptations). Some Futurist short films were produced. Other popular writers, such as Gabriele D'Annunzio (1863–1938), who provided the intertitles for Cabiria, or Nobel Laureate and playwright Luigi Pirandello (1867–1936), who wrote a famous novel about a movie camera operator and worked to film a number of his successful plays, helped to bring respectability to this upstart art form that had only recently emerged from the atmosphere of the circus and vaudeville show. After World War I, American and European competition almost destroyed the Italian industry completely, forcing production to drop from 220 films in 1920 to less than a dozen works in 1927, just before the introduction of the talkies.


From 1922 to 1943, over 700 films were produced, most not really "fascist" films at all but primarily entertainment. Indeed, the fascist regime admired the Hollywood model, not the totalitarian cinemas controlled by dictators in Germany and Russia. When it desired pro-regime propaganda, Mussolini's government relied on radio and short filmed documentaries prepared by LUCE (the Union of Cinematographic Education) and screened with the feature films designed for entertainment. Even in wartime, Italy averaged some 72 films annually between 1939 and 1944, a figure that gives some idea of the large local market for film and its role as popular entertainment. When the Italian industry nearly collapsed after World War I, Italian movie theaters (numbering at one point some 3,000 theaters) were forced to show only foreign films, a situation that was intolerable for the Fascist regime, whose official economic policy was self-sufficiency—that is, autarchy—in all matters economic and cultural. When the Italian government moved to block Hollywood's near monopoly of film distribution within the Italian market, the Hollywood "Big Four" (20th Century Fox, Paramount, MGM, Warner Bros.) withdrew from the Italian market in protest. No longer forced to face overwhelming American economic pressure, the Italian film industry eventually rebounded, filling the void of Hollywood products with nationally produced films.

Outside of Italy, little was known of Italian cinema during the fascist period, and this ignorance encouraged the erroneous idea abroad that the post–World War II Italian cinema had arisen miraculously from the ashes of the war. In retrospect, many important achievements of this era are more clear. Mussolini himself was fond of saying that the cinema was the most powerful art form developed in the modern era. Mussolini's son Vittorio played a major role as the editor of an influential film journal (Cinema) that involved such collaborators as the future postwar leftist directors, Luchino Visconti (1906–1976), Michelangelo Antonioni (b. 1912), and Giuseppe De Santis (1917–1997), and it was Vittorio Mussolini's friendship that enabled Roberto Rossellini (1906–1977) to begin to work in the industry. The regime founded a major film school, the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia (1935); and it built one of the world's great film production complexes, Cinecittà, inaugurated by Mussolini in 1937. Both of these institutions are still in operation, and with their vast archives, they also serve as repositories of Italian cinematic history. Bianco e nero, the official organ of the Centro, and Cinema helped to spread information about foreign theories and techniques through translations and reviews. The regime also sponsored university film clubs (Cinegufs) that helped to create a generation of cinephiles. Most of the great directors, actors, technicians, and scriptwriters of the neorealist period received their training during the fascist period, and some postwar stars made their first films in the service of a regime whose policies they would later repudiate after the fall of Mussolini in 1943.

The first Italian sound film was Canzone dell'amore (The Song of Love, 1930) by Gennaro Righelli (1886–1949). With the advent of the talkies, Italian cinema was dominated by two important directors: Mario Camerini (1895–1981) and Alessandro Blasetti (1900–1987). Camerini's stylish comedies stressed role playing in society, enjoyed intelligent and lively scripts, and first brought together Vittorio De Sica (1902–1974), as an actor, and Cesare Zavattini (1902–1989), as scriptwriter in a classic comedy, Darò un milione (I'd Give a Million, 1935). Long before De Sica became identified by his neorealist masterpieces scripted with Zavattini, he was the most popular actor in fascist Italy, playing roles similar to those performed in Hollywood by both Cary Grant and James Stewart. Camerini's most important comedy, Il Signor Max (Mr. Max, 1937), starring De Sica, established a level of craftsmanship and witty sophistication that rivals the best products of the Hollywood studios during the same period. Blasetti's career represents an entirely different approach to cinema. Frequently abandoning the sound studios at Cinecittà so crucial to Camerini's work, Blasetti created his masterpiece 1860 (Gesuzza the Garibaldian Wife, 1934), a patriotic film about Garibaldi. In its original uncut edition, he linked Garibaldi's Redshirts to Mussolini's Blackshirts, first made use of nonprofessional actors and on-location shooting, and pursued film realism—all supposedly original features of the immediate postwar period. Blasetti's Vecchia guardia (The Old Guard, 1935) employs a similar documentary style in portraying Mussolini's rise to power. Yet, Blasetti also made one of the most beautiful and imaginative of all films during this era, La Corona di ferro (The Iron Crown, 1941), in which ornately stylized studio sets testify to the technical prowess reached at Cinecittà. Its call for universal peace at a time when the entire world (including Italy) was at war demonstrates how fascist censorship was quite loosely applied to the commercial cinema. Moreover, Blasetti's Quattro passi fra le nuvole (A Stroll in the Clouds, 1942) prefigured the poetic style of De Sica's postwar neorealism in its simple plot and a Zavattini script.

Italian films made during the fascist period were usually not "fascist" in tone, although they were often nationalistic and patriotic, much like their Hollywood counterparts. The search for realism in the Italian cinema thus began not with the postwar period and the neorealists but, rather, with directors working in the 1930s and the 1940s before the end of World War II. In an important manifesto published in 1933 ("The Glass Eye"), pro-Mussolini journalist Leo Longanesi called for Italian directors to take their cameras into the streets and to produce a non-Hollywood version of Italian everyday life, a film realism that was authentically Italian in content. This interest in realism was specifically the goal of the left-wing Italian fascist intellectuals associated with Vittorio Mussolini's journal Cinema, and after the war and the fall of his father's regime, these same individuals continued their interest in film realism but pursued this goal with a Marxist, not a fascist, twist. Not only talented auteurs such as Blasetti, but other directors took up Longanesi's call, and the advent of the war added urgency to a realistic view of Italian life on celluloid. A marriage of fact and fiction, documentary and fantasy, soon became the formula for successful films about the war. Francesco De Robertis (1902–1959), his protégé Rossellini, and Augusto Genina (1892–1957), all contributed to this search for realism while making war films. Genina's Squadrone bianco (The White Squadron, 1936), a film about Italian colonialism in Libya, was shot on stupendous desert locations; his L'Assedio dell'Alcazar (The Siege of the Alcazar, 1940), a celebration of the Falangist defense of the Alcazar fortress by Franco's troops during the Spanish Civil War, also employed real locations and documentary footage.

The realistic war films of Genina, De Robertis, and Rossellini adopted the formula of the documentario romanzato (fictional documentary), combining a fictional-emotional-romantic theme (usually the love affair between a soldier and his lady friend) with the documentary-historical-realistic theme (the war film genre, real locations, documentary photography, some nonprofessional actors). De Robertis's Men on the Bottom (1941), made for the Italian navy, employs an editing style indebted to Eisenstein's montage (the Russian's theories had been discussed and partially translated by the film journal Cinema) and used nonprofessional actors, the men on board an Italian submarine, to great effect. Rossellini actually produced a trilogy of pro-regime films that we label today his "fascist trilogy," which may be contrasted and compared to the more celebrated "war trilogy" he made in the immediate postwar neorealist period. The first of these three works, La Nave bianca (The White Ship, 1941), the dramatic tale of life on a hospital ship saving brave Italian soldiers, was shot in collaboration with De Robertis; Vittorio Mussolini collaborated on the script. It was followed in short order by two other films supporting the war effort (the soldiers, sailors, and airmen doing the fighting and the dying, not necessarily the fascist regime): Un Pilota ritorna (A Pilot Returns, 1942) and L'Uomo dalla croce (The Man With a Cross, 1943). These three nationalistic films shot to support the troops represent important precursors of Italian neorealism, and another appeared in 1943, the year that witnessed the downfall of Mussolini's regime: Ossessione (Obsession) by Luchino Visconti (his first feature). Based on a pirated version of James Cain's novel, The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934), Visconti created a truly unusual antiheroic protagonist who can easily be seen as a homosexual. This character was indebted to American hard-boiled novels and was diametrically opposed to the kind of "manly" protagonists fascist censors might have preferred. Visconti's long takes and languorous rhythms reappeared in his postwar work and represented a style that was set apart from the more rapid editing techniques in Rossellini's neorealist classics.


With the fall of Mussolini and the end of the war, international audiences were suddenly introduced to Italian films through a few great works by Rossellini, De Sica, and Luchino Visconti that appeared in less than a decade after 1945, such as Rossellini's Roma, città aperta (Rome, Open City, 1945) and Paisa Sica's Sciuscià (Paisan, 1946); Dè (Shoeshine, 1946), Ladri di biciclette (The Bicycle Thieves, 1948), and Umberto D. (1952); and Visconti's La Terra trema (The Earth Trembles, 1948). Italian neorealist films stressed social themes (the war, the resistance, poverty, unemployment); they seemed to reject traditional Hollywood dramatic and cinematic conventions; they often privileged on-location shooting rather than studio work, as well as the documentary photographic style favored by many directors under the former regime; and they frequently (but not always) employed nonprofessional actors in original ways. Film historians have unfortunately tended to speak of neorealism as if it were an authentic movement with universally agreed-upon stylistic or thematic principles. While the controlling fiction of the best neorealist works was that they dealt with universal human problems, contemporary stories, and believable characters from everyday life, the best neorealist films never completely denied cinematic conventions, nor did they always totally reject Hollywood codes. The basis for the fundamental change in cinematic history marked by Italian neorealism was less an agreement on a single, unified cinematic style than a common aspiration to view Italy without preconceptions and to employ a more honest, ethical, but no less poetic, cinematic language in the process.

These masterpieces by Rossellini, De Sica, and Visconti are indisputably major works of art that capture the spirit of postwar Italian culture and remain original contributions to film language. But with the exception of Rome, Open City, they were relatively unpopular within Italy and achieved success primarily among intellectuals and foreign critics. In particular, De Sica was criticized for "washing Italy's dirty laundry in public" by Giulio Andreotti, a Christian Democratic politician who was later to become one of Italy's most powerful prime ministers. One of the paradoxes of the neorealist era in Italian film history, an epoch that lasted no more than a decade, is that the ordinary people such films set out to portray were relatively uninterested in their self-image. In fact, of the approximately eight hundred films produced between the mid-1940s and the mid-1950s in Italy, only a relatively small number (about 10 percent) could be classified as neorealist, and most of these few works were box-office failures. After years of fascist dictatorship and the deprivations of war, Italians were more interested in being entertained than in being reminded of their poverty.

A number of less important but very interesting neorealist films were able to achieve greater popular success by incorporating traditional Hollywood genres within their narratives, thereby expanding the boundaries of traditional film realism. This group of commercially successful works include Vivere in pace (To Live in Peace, 1947) by Luigi Zampa (1905–1991), a comical view of Germans, Italians, and Allied soldiers at war that cannot help but bring to mind the World War II TV sitcom Hogan's Heroes; Senza pietà (Without Pity, 1948) by Alberto Lattuada (1913–2005), a daring film noir about the black market, prostitution, and American racism in postwar Livorno; Riso amaro (Bitter Rice, 1949) by Giuseppe De Santis, a vaguely Marxist film about proletarian class solidarity that gave birth to the phenomenon in Italy of the "sweater girl" known as the maggiorata, making Silvana Mangano (1930–1989) an overnight sensation; and Il Cammino della speranza (Path of Hope, 1950) by Pietro Germi (1914–1974), a film about poor Sicilian miners migrating to France in search of work. These four films reflect a shift from the war themes of Rossellini to the interest in postwar reconstruction typical of De Sica's best efforts, but they are even more important as an indication of how the Italian cinema moved gradually closer toward conventional American themes and film genres.


In spite of the fact that Italian intellectuals and social critics preferred the implicitly political and sometimes even revolutionary messages of the neorealist classics, the public preferred Hollywood works or Italian films made in the Hollywood spirit, and even the neorealist auteurs soon became uncomfortable with the restrictive boundaries imposed upon their subject matter or style by well-meaning leftist critics. In Italian cinema history this transitional phase of development is often called the "crisis" of neorealism. In retrospect, the period from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s can be described more accurately as a natural evolution of Italian film language toward a cinema characterized by many different styles and concerned with psychological problems as well as social ones. Crucial to this historic transition are a number of 1950s films by Rossellini, Michelangelo Antonioni, and Federico Fellini (1920–1993). In Antonioni's first feature film, Cronaca di un amore (Story of a Love Affair, 1950), he borrows a plot indebted to Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice, American film noir, and Obsession, but his distinctive photographic signature is already evident: characteristically long shots, tracks and pans following the actors; modernist editing techniques that reflect the slow rhythms of daily life; and philosophical concerns with obvious links to European existentialism. Antonioni continued to develop this kind of narrative into the next decade, eventually emphasizing image over narrative storyline.

b. Rimini, Italy, 20 January 1920, d. 31 October 1993

Acclaimed film director, accomplished screenwriter, and cartoonist, Federico Fellini is one of Italy's most celebrated filmmakers. In 1943 he married actress Giulietta Masina, who starred in several of his films.

When World War II ended, Fellini wrote important neorealist screenplays, including Roberto Rossellini's Roma, città aperta (Open City, 1945)—work that earned him his first Academy Award® nomination, Paisà (Paisan, 1946) and L'Amore (Ways of Love, 1948), which contains "Il miracolo" ("The Miracle"); Alberto Lattuada's Senza pietà (Without Pity, 1948);and Pietro Germi'sIl Cammino della speranza (The Path of Hope, 1950). Subsequently, Fellini launched a series of major works dealing with Italian provincial life that won him international fame, including Lo Sceicco bianco (The White Sheik, 1952), La Strada (The Road, 1954), and Le Notti di Cabiria (The Nights of Cabiria, 1957). The last two films won Oscars® for Best Foreign Language Film. Shortly thereafter, Fellini completed one of the most successful of all postwar European films, La Dolce Vita (The Sweet Life, 1959), his first collaboration with actor Marcello Mastroianni. The film's title became synonymous everywhere and in numerous languages with the society life depicted by Rome's gossip-column photographers or paparazzi, a word Fellini contributed to the English language. Fellini's often imitated but never equaled masterpiece (1963) cast Mastroianni as Fellini's alter ego and earned a third Oscar® for Best Foreign Film.

Fellini's later films became more personal and thus are linked to the postwar European art film. They deal with such themes as the myth of Rome—Satyricon (Fellini's Satyricon, 1969) and Roma (Fellini's Roma, 1971); Italy under fascism—Amarcord (1973), a film that won Fellini his fourth Oscar® for Best Foreign Film; and the very nature of art and creativity itself—E la nave va (And the Ship Sails On, 1983); Ginger e Fred (Ginger and Fred, 1986); and Intervista (Fellini's Interview, 1987). As Fellini's art developed beyond his neorealist origins, it began to explore dreams or surrealistic fantasies and to exploit the baroque imagery and sumptuous Cinecittà sets for which his cinema has become justly renowned.

During the last years of his life, Fellini made three television commercials for Barilla pasta, Campari Soda, and the Banco di Roma. They are extraordinary lessons in cinematography and reveal not only his genius, but also his grasp of popular culture. He also exhibited his sketches and cartoons, many of which were taken from private dream notebooks, thus uncovering the source of much of his artistic creativity—the unconscious. Fellini received numerous honors during his lifetime, including twenty-three nominations for Oscars® in various categories (eight of which were successful and four of which were for Best Foreign Film); a special fifth Oscar® for his career achievement (1993); the Golden Lion Career Award from the Venice Film Festival (1985); and dozens of prizes from the world's most important film festivals.


Lo Sceicco bianco (The White Sheik, 1952), La Strada (The Road, 1954), La Dolce Vita (The Sweet Life, 1959), (1963), Giulietta degli spiriti (Juliet of the Spirits, 1965), Satyricon (Fellini's Satyricon, 1969), Amarcord (1973), Intervista (The Interview, 1987)


Bondanella, Peter. The Cinema of Federico Fellini. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992.

Chandler, Charlotte. I, Fellini. New York: Random House, 1995.

Fellini, Federico. Fellini on Fellini. Translated by Isabel Quigley. New York: Da Capo Press, 1996.

Kezich, Tullio. Federico Fellini: His Life and Work. New York: Faber, 2006.

Stubbs, John C. Federico Fellini as Auteur: Seven Aspects of His Films Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2006.

Peter Bondanella

Fellini's early works also continue an evolution beyond neorealist preoccupation with social problems. In I Vitelloni (The Vitelloni, 1953), a film to which Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets (1973) is deeply indebted as a model, Fellini provided a portrait of six provincial slackers, their miserable daydreams, and their humble existence. Instead of indicting his characters for their limited perspectives, Fellini, as in his later films, focused upon the clash of illusion and reality in the dreary lives of his comic figures. Soon afterward, two masterful films

established his international reputation as an auteur: La Strada (The Road, 1954) and Le Notti di Cabiria (The Nights of Cabiria, 1957). Both works won an Oscar® for Best Foreign Film, and in them both, Fellini moved beyond mere portrayal of provincial life to reveal a new emotional dimension, one motivated by a personal poetic vision and a particular Fellinian mythology concerned with spiritual poverty and the necessity for grace or salvation—concepts that seem to be Catholic but that, in Fellini's works, take on a strictly secular and vaguely existentialist connotation. As Fellini once remarked, he believed the story of one's neighbor was just as important as a narrative about a stolen bicycle (an obvious allusion to De Sica's neorealist masterpiece), and Fellini became the standard-bearer for the transcendence of neorealism by Italian film.

Although he was the neorealist director most directly associated with contemporary events and the use of documentary techniques and nonprofessional actors, Rossellini also joined Antonioni and Fellini in moving Italian cinema toward what he called "a cinema of the Reconstruction," most particularly in a number of films he made with his wife Ingrid Bergman: Stromboli (1950), Europe '51 (The Greatest Love, 1952), and Viaggio in Italia (Journey to Italy, 1953). In each of these important but unpopular films, Rossellini employed one of the most glamorous and famous Hollywood stars in intimate roles that played completely against any traditional treatment of the female movie star in Hollywood, a technique lionized by Rossellini's New Wave fans but rejected by popular audiences as uninteresting.


In the years between the mid-1950s (when the "crisis" of neorealism had clearly passed) and the mid-1970s (a time of violent social and political upheavals in Italy), the Italian cinema achieved a level of artistic quality, international popularity, and economic strength that it had never before achieved before and that it would never again reach. Film production continued at well above two hundred films for a number of years, while a prolonged crisis in the American industry reduced Hollywood competition within the domestic market and abroad. Italy could boast a number of distinguished auteurs (Antonioni, Fellini, Visconti, De Sica, Rossellini) who were producing their greatest masterpieces. Their films not only fascinated critics and festival audiences but also were highly successful commercially. Such hits as Visconti's Rocco e i suoi fratelli (Rocco and His Brothers, 1960), Il Gattopardo (The Leopard, 1962), La Caduta degli dei (The Damned, 1969), and Morte a Venezia (Death in Venice, 1971); Fellini's La Dolce Vita (The Sweet Life, 1959), (1963), Satyricon (Fellini Satyricon, 1969), and Amarcord (1973); Antonioni's trilogy on modern love L'Avventura (1960), La Notte (The Night, 1961), and L'Eclisse (The Eclipse, 1962) in black and white and the important color films Il Deserto rosso (Red Desert, 1964) and Blow-Up (1966); and De Sica's La Ciociara (Two Women, 1960) and Il Giardino dei Finzi-Contini (The Garden of the Finzi-Contini, 1970) all show highly complex stylistic shifts in films created by four auteurs whose origins evolved beyond the simpler neorealist approach of their early work.

De Sica's two films were awarded Oscars® and are highly wrought commercial films, skillful adaptations of literary works that might well have been made in Hollywood. Two Women portrayed a woman's horrifying experiences during the war and provided a successful star vehicle for a performance by Sophia Loren (b. 1934) that earned her an Oscar® for Best Actress. The Garden of the Finzi-Contini presented a moving portrait of the Holocaust in Ferrara. Both films were far removed from the spirit of the simple storylines about humble people that established De Sica as neorealism's most poetic director. Visconti's films portrayed broad historical themes with lush, opera-like mise-en-scène: The Leopard, for example, was a pessimistic interpretation of Italy's national unification, while The Damned and Death in Venice both examined different aspects of German national character from the standpoint of European decadence and modernism. Visconti's films often seem as if they could easily unfold on the operatic stage of La Scala. In Antonioni's films, both those in color and in traditional black and white, photography preempted the central function of traditional plot and character, as his characters came to grips with a sense of alienation and futility in the modern industrial world. Antonioni was particularly brilliant in relating characters to their environments, and he framed his shots as if he were a contemporary abstract painter, asking his audience to consider people and objects as equally important and meaningful.

Fellini's baroque style in La Dolce Vita, or his celebration of artistic creativity in , present broad strokes of fantasy, informed by the analysis of the director's own dreams and his desire to recreate his own bizarre fantasy world. For Fellini, the imagination, rather than reality, had become the cinema's proper domain because only fantasy fell under the director's complete artistic control. Since cinema entailed expression, not the communication of information, its essence was imagery and light, not traditional storytelling. The film also made an important statement about the nature of film art itself. The harried protagonist of the film, the director Guido, possesses many of Fellini's own traits. The narrative employed by Fellini in this work moved rapidly and disconcertingly between Guido's "reality," his fantasies, and flashbacks to the past of dreams—a discontinuous story line with little logical or chronological unity. Considered by many directors to be the greatest and most original film ever made (Citizen Kane may be its only true rival), has been imitated by directors as different as François Truffaut, Spike Jonze, Joel Schumacher, Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese, Bob Fosse, and Peter Greenaway, not to mention certain episodes of David Chase's TV series The Sopranos. Fellini Satyricon presented a psychedelic version of the classic novel by Petronius, while Amarcord offered a bittersweet portrait of Italian provincial life under fascism, the main characters of which may be considered the parents of the postwar slackers in The Vitelloni. Amarcord asserted Fellini's belief that Italian fascism displayed the nation's arrested development, its paralysis in adolescence, and the average Italian's wish for a delegation of moral responsibility to others, an unusually ideological position taken by a director who was often criticized for ignoring social problems by his leftist critics.


If Visconti, De Sica, Antonioni, and Fellini dominated the cinema of the period, their international prestige coincided with the rise of an extremely talented group of younger men and women whose early works were indebted to neorealism but characterized by more ideological intentions. The best examples of such works are Il Vangelo secondo Matteo (The Gospel According to Matthew, 1964) by Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922–1975); Battaglia di Algeri (The Battle of Algiers, 1966) by Gillo Pontecorvo (b. 1919); Prima della rivoluzione (Before the Revolution, 1964) by Bernardo Bertolucci (b. 1940); La Cina è vicina (China Is Near, 1967) by Marco Bellocchio (b. 1939); Salvatore Giuliano (1962) by Francesco Rosi (b. 1922);Il Posto (The Sound of Trumpets, 1961) by Ermanno Olmi (b. 1931); Indagine su un cittadino al di sopra di ogni sospetto (Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion, 1969) by Elio Petri (1929–1982); Padre Padrone (Father and Master, 1977) and La Notte di San Lorenzo (Night of the Shooting Stars, 1982) by Paolo Taviani (b. 1931) and his brother Vittorio (b. 1929); Il Portiere di notte (The Night Porter, 1974) by Liliana Cavani (b. 1933); and Pasqualino Settebellezze (Seven Beauties, 1976) by Lina Wertmüller (b. 1926).

b. Sofia Scicolone, Pozzuoli, Italy, 20 September 1934

Sophia Loren transcended illegitimacy and poverty to become the most famous film star in Italy. After working for Italian pulp magazines, Loren debuted in the movies as an extra in Federico Fellini's Luci del varietà (Variety Lights, 1950) and then as a slave girl in Mervyn LeRoy's Quo Vadis? (1951), shot by MGM in Rome. She first attracted serious attention in a filmed version of the Verdi opera Aïda (1953), in which she lip-synched Renata Tebaldi's singing. Loren's busty physique made her one of Italy's most famous maggiorate (sweater-girls), along with Gina Lollobrigida and Silvano Mangano.

At first Loren's beauty overshadowed her very real talent as an actress. In Vittorio De Sica's L'oro di Napoli (The Gold of Naples, 1954), her performance already commands respect. With the help of her husband, producer Carlo Ponti, Loren played a number of Mediterranean roles for Hollywood films, including Stanley Kramer's The Pride and the Passion (1957) and Melville Shavelson's Houseboat (1958), in which she worked with Cary Grant. In 1957 Loren and Ponti married in Mexico, but Italian divorce law did not recognize the marriage. As a result of marital and financial problems, the couple became the target of Italian paparazzi, and Loren even spent several weeks in an Italian prison in 1982 for tax evasion, a crime that only increased her popularity in Italy.

Loren's Hollywood films with such major stars as Grant, Alan Ladd, Anthony Perkins, and William Holden gave her international visibility. She appeared in both epic costume dramas, such as Anthony Mann's El Cid (1961) and The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964); in westerns, such as George Cukor's Heller in Pink Tights (1960); and in romantic comedies, such as Charlie Chaplin's A Countess from Hong Kong (1967) and Robert Altman's Prêt-à-Porter (Ready to Wear, 1994). No doubt, her Hollywood exposure helped her win an Oscar® for Best Actress in Vittorio De Sica's La Ciociara (Two Women, 1960), in which she played the courageous mother of a teenaged girl during World War II. Two other De Sica films showcased Loren's talent for film comedy, pairing her with another Italian film icon, Marcello Mastroianni: Ieri, oggi, domani (Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, 1962), winner of an Oscar® for Best Foreign Film; and Matrimonio all'italiana (Marriage, Italian Style, 1964).

Loren delivered the greatest performance of her late career for director Ettore Scola in Una Giornata particolare (A Special Day, 1977), in which she plays an unglamorous and world-weary housewife in fascist Italy, who falls for Mastroianni, only to discover that he is a homosexual. Loren received two career awards: an Oscar® from the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (1991), and a Golden Lion from the Venice Film Festival (1998).


L'oro di Napoli (The Gold of Naples, 1954), La Ciociara (Two Women, 1960), Ieri, oggi, domani (Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, 1962), The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964), Matrimonio all'italiana (Marriage, Italian Style, 1964), Una Giornata particolare (A Special Day, 1975), Prêt-à-Porter (Ready to Wear, 1994)


Harris, Warren G. Sophia Loren: A Biography. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998.

Masi, Stefano, and Enrico Lancia. Italian Movie Goddesses. Rome: Gremese, 1997.

Peter Bondanella

Olmi's touching examination of the loneliness of a young office worker named Domenico in The Sound of Trumpets seems closest to the tone of Christian humanism that neorealist films frequently espoused. In its use of nonprofessional actors, its emphasis upon expressive deep-focus shots in office interiors, and its concentration

upon moments of crisis in the protagonist's life where film time coincides with elapsed narrative time, this simple masterpiece owed an obvious debt to De Sica. Olmi's L'Albero degli zoccoli (The Tree of the Wooden Clogs, 1978), one of many examples of successful films financed by Italian state television Radiotelevisione Italiana (RAI), an increasingly important source of funding for major Italian works or for co-productions with other national cinemas, returned to a neorealist recreation of peasant life on a farm near Bergamo at the turn of the nineteenth century, employing nonprofessional peasants from the area who speak their local dialect. Its three-hour length allowed Olmi to recreate the slow rhythms of life in a pre-industrial peasant culture much as Visconti did earlier in The Earth Trembles.

In contrast to Olmi's simple touch, Rosi moved beyond neorealist presentation of nonrhetorical facts to what he termed a "documented" method of making films. Salvatore Giuliano was less a work of fiction than an investigation (inchiesta) into the ambiguous historical circumstances surrounding a Sicilian bandit whose career, under the director's close scrutiny, reflected the machinations of the Christian Democratic party, as well as the Mafia. Rosi combined a documentary style with a series of ingenious flashbacks to present a legal brief against Italian political institutions. It was the first of many Italian political films with an anti-establishment tone that appeared during the next two decades. He continued the richly documented briefs against the political system that he began with Salvatore Giuliano in a series of excellent works: Lucky Luciano (1974) was a probing look into the link between American politicians and the rise of the Mafia in Sicily; Cadaveri eccellenti (The Context, 1976) contained a chilling Kafkaesque parable about the connection between political power and corruption in Italy, adapted from the novel Il Contesto by Leonardo Sciascia, where the image of the Mafia is transformed into a universally comprehensive metaphor for corrupt, absolute power everywhere in the world. Most indebted to the simple storylines of neorealist narrative was Rosi's Tre fratelli (Three Brothers, 1981), a view of contemporary Italian life seen through the lives of three brothers who return to southern Italy for the funeral of their mother.

Like Rosi, Pontecorvo employed a documentary style in The Battle of Algiers, with a narrative structure that used flashbacks and flash-forwards to provide critical commentary on the "facts" the film presents. His careful recreation of a case history of Third World revolution owed an important debt to the style of Rossellini in his early war films and employed a variety of techniques—highly mobile, hand-held cameras employing fast film stock; telephoto lenses common in television news reporting; duplicating the negative of the film in the lab to reproduce the grainy, documentary texture of Paisan—to produce a hybrid style indebted not only to Rossellini's photography but also to Eisenstein's special form of ideological montage. Rossellini's neorealist model may also be discerned in Father and Master and Night of the Shooting Stars by the Taviani brothers. The first work was based upon an autobiographical account of how an illiterate Sardinian shepherd struggled to become a professor of linguistics. The acquisition of standard Italian thus became a metaphor for the acquisition of full citizenship in modern Italian society. The Night of the Shooting Stars is a postmodernist reinterpretation of Italian neorealism, a remake of Rossellini's Paisan. The Taviani brothers set Rossellini's realistic depiction of the meeting of American GIs and the partisan Resistance during World War II within a child's world of fantasy and imagination.

Although Bertolucci, Bellocchio, and Pasolini were indebted to Rossellini, they were also influenced by the aesthetics of Berthold Brecht (1898–1956) and the cinematic practice of Jean-Luc Godard and the French New Wave. Their relationship to their neorealist heritage was therefore far more ambiguous than might be suggested by

simple influence. Pasolini accepted many of the features of neorealism—nonprofessional actors, on-location shooting, contemporary themes, natural lighting—but rejected any attempt to create naturalist cinema that would ignore the mystery of life embodied in religion. He described his love for reality as "philosophical and reverential," not naturalistic. For Pasolini reality included mythology, religion, and dream. The style he developed in The Gospel According to Matthew, a biblical film made by a Marxist atheist, can be best described as pastiche, mixing the most disparate cultural and thematic materials. Nothing is more striking about this highly original work than its editing and sense of rhythm, for it is with a continuous process of rapid cuts and the juxtaposition of often jarring images that Pasolini forces us to experience the life of Christ through a new perspective. In his later films, such as Medea (1969) or The Decameron (1971), Pasolini moved beyond any simple neorealist vision of society and employed literary texts as platforms to launch his theories about how modern capitalist societies have destroyed the virtues of his beloved lower class characters from non-industrial and economically underdeveloped cultures. In the first film, he interpreted Euripides's play as a mythic portrait of the exploitation of the preindustrial regions of the Third World (Medea's world) by Western capitalism (Jason's world). In the second film, Pasolini transformed Boccaccio's panoramic portrait of Florentine middle-class, mercantile culture into an amusing portrayal of the way in which the sexual freedom enjoyed by lower class types from Naples represents a form of human liberation not possible in modern industrialized society.

Bertolucci and Bellocchio presented a fresh view of Italian politics in their youthful works. With Before the Revolution Bertolucci adapted Stendhal's The Charterhouse of Parma in a poetic and highly lyrical study of a young bourgeois intellectual from Parma who toys with Marxism and eventually prefers a safe, middle-class marriage to revolution or an incestuous love affair with his aunt. Fabrizio, the protagonist of the film, is clearly a reflection of many of Bertolucci's own personal concerns, and like Bertolucci, he suffers from the "nostalgia for the present." He lives in an era before the revolution and is doomed, like so many of Bertolucci's characters, to embrace the coming workers' victory but never to take an active role in it. Bellocchio's artistic perspective is angry and provocative rather than lyrical and elegiac. While Bertolucci's Fabrizio retreats into the protective womb of the Italian family, China Is Near attacked the very institution of the family itself, as Bellocchio portrayed a thoroughly dislikable middle-class family in a satire of Italian political corruption. The result was a political allegory attacking the historic compromise between the right and the left in Italy, viewed from the microcosm of a small, provincial family. Bertolucci's The Conformist (1970), perhaps his most beautiful work, employed a complicated plot with frequent flashbacks and reliance upon psychoanalytic theories indebted to Wilhelm Reich on the link between homosexuality and fascism, to analyze the birth of a fascist mentality. Bertolucci's mature grasp of his craft was evident in the famous tango scene between two women, with its quickly shifting camera angles, positions, graceful motions, and skillful editing. Bertolucci's controversial Last Tango in Paris (1972) continued his exploration of psychoanalytic themes, with a masterful performance by Marlon Brando as an American expatriate who has a deadly love affair with a young girl in Paris.

Elio Petri's Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion, blending an ideological message with suspense and slick commercial presentation, was awarded an Oscar® for Best Foreign Film. It combined the generic conventions of a police thriller with those of a more abstract, philosophical parable in the manner of Kafka. Like the film inquiries of Rosi, Petri's cinema aimed at a fundamental critique of Italian political power. Two Holocaust films by Cavani and Wertmüller presented radically different views of Nazi concentration camps, the most extreme form of political power ever exercised. In The Night Porter, Cavani narrated a controversial story about a female camp inmate who has an affair with a Nazi officer and then reunites with him years later in a sado-masochistic love affair ending in death in postwar Vienna. It is, as the Nazi says, a "Biblical" story, because the young woman asked for the head of another inmate who was annoying her and then danced nude for her Nazi lover in imitation of Salomé. In an entirely differenẗller's Seven Beauties (1975), for which she received the first Oscar® nomination for a female director, moves in from wartime Nazi Germany to prewar Fascist Italy (Naples). Its main character is a Neapolitan dandy who lives by his wits but whose nefarious deeds eventually cause him to be sent to the eastern front and ultimately to a concentration camp. There, in order to survive, he desperately seduces the obese commandant of the camp, who then forces him to murder his and comic vein, Wertmu best friend in order to save his own life. Wertmüller's film thus portrays a man whose sole reason for living is to survive, even at the expense of neglecting all moral values. Both The Night Porter and Seven Beauties explored the moral implications of survival in the evil world of the Gunskirchen Lager concentration camp.


Much of the Italian film industry's success during its most prosperous years was based upon the popularity of film comedies, the commedia all'italiana. Thesegenre films were dominated by some excellent commercial directors who acquired auteur status by virtue of their comic genius: Mario Monicelli (b. 1915), Luigi Comencini (b. 1916), Dino Risi (b. 1916), Ettore Scola (b. 1931), and Wertmüller. Furthermore, these directors enjoyed the collaboration of great scriptwriters, such as Age (Agenore Incrocci [1919–2005]), Furio Scarpelli (b. 1919), Tullio Pinelli (b. 1908), and Scola himself. These directors and scriptwriters had at their disposal a troupe of great comic actors and actresses no national cinema outside Hollywood could match: Alberto Sordi, Vittorio Gassman, Marcello Mastroianni, Nino Manfredi, Ugo Tognazzi, Claudia Cardinale, Sophia Loren, Monica Vitti, and Stefania Sandrelli. Once denigrated by Italian leftists as merely "commercial" films without artistic pretensions, Italian comedies often contained more trenchant social criticism than the more acceptable ideologically oriented "art" films of the period. The many excellent works produced from the late 1950s to the end of the 1970s provide an accurate mirror of changing Italian customs and values. They helped to force the average Italian into a greater awareness of conflicting values, by attacking age-old prejudices and questioning the inept rule of governing elites and institutions. They often embodied a black, grotesque vision of contemporary Italian society, and the laughter in these works was bittersweet.

The film that best reflected the combination of comedy and social criticism typical of the commedia all'italiana was Germi's Divorce, Italian Style (1961). Made before Italian law admitted legal divorce, Germi's satire of Sicilian sexual mores chronicled the comic attempts of a Sicilian nobleman to force his hated wife into adultery, so that he can murder her, receive a light sentence for a crime of honor (hence the film's title), and marry his mistress. Utilizing a complex narrative juxta-posing the director's critical view of this affair with the Sicilian's biased justification of his misdeeds, Germi recreated the oppressive atmosphere of Sicilian provincial life that forces men and woman to commit violent crimes in order to obtain sexual fulfillment. Another excellent example of commedia all'italiana was Bread and Chocolate (1973) by Franco Brusati (1922–1993), a grotesque indictment of the conditions experienced by Italian "guest workers" in Switzerland. Perhaps the most interesting comic director was Ettore Scola, who began working in the cinema as a scriptwriter on dozens of comic films produced in the 1950s and the early 1960s. In We All Loved Each Other Very Much (1974), Dirty, Mean and Nasty (1976), and The Terrace (1980), Scola employed a

b. Arcangela Felice Assunta von Elgg Spagnol von Braueich, Rome, Italy, 1928

After an early career as an actress and puppeteer, Wertmüller encountered Federico Fellini and worked as his unaccredited assistant on . Immediately afterward, she directed her first feature film, I Basilischi (The Lizards, 1963), a work that recalls Fellini's I Vitelloni (The Young and the Passionate, 1953) in its focus upon provincial slackers. After making several comedies under the name George H. Brown featuring singer Rita Pavone and actor Giancarlo Giannini—Rita la zanzara (Rita the Mosquito, 1966) and Non stuzzicate la zanzara (Don't Sting the Mosquito, 1967) that met with some success at the box office—Wertmüller made the spaghetti western, Il Mio corpo per un poker (The Belle Starr Story, 1967).

Her international renown came about because of five incredibly popular political comedies that introduced the pairing of Giannini and Mariangela Melato. Mimì metallurgico ferito nell'onore (The Seduction of Mimi, 1972), a farce about sex and politics, made the two performers famous, and the subsequent Film d'amore e d'anarchia (Love and Anarchy, 1973) was a box-office sensation. Travolti da un insolito destino nell'azzurro mare d'agosto (Swept Away, 1975) aroused the ire of many feminists. This comedy of a rich woman abandoned on a deserted island with a member of the Italian proletariat and their subsequent love affair still arouses passions. A comparison of Wertmüller's Swept Away with the embarrassing 2002 remake underscores the quality of Wertmüller's early comic films. Wertmüller's cinematic style was influenced as much by popular Italian culture as by the cinema: a love for puppetry and the commedia dell'arte tradition informs her films, most of which employ stereotypical comic figures to criticize society.

Wertmüller's masterpiece, Pasqualino Settebellezze (Seven Beauties, 1976), which combined political comedy with a dark visionof the Holocaust, received the first Academy nomination for Best Director bestowed on a woman.

Following the unparalleled critical and commercial success of this film, Wertmüller signed a contract to direct English-language films, but her international popularity fell off dramatically with the appearance of La Fine del mondo nel nostro solito letto in una notte pienad pioggia (A Night Full of Rain, 1979). Subsequent Italian-language films—Fatto di sangue fra due uomini per causa di una vedova (Blood Feud, 1978), Scherzo del destino in agguato dietro l'angolo come un brigante da strada (A Joke of Destiny, 1983), Io speriamo che me la cavo (Ciao, Professore!, 1993), and Metalmeccanico e parrucchiera in un turbine di sesso e di politica (The Worker and the Hairdresser, 1996)—demonstrated her combination of politics and humor but never matched the popular and critical success of her 1970s films. Besides work in the cinema, Wertmüller has directed operas and made films for Italian television. Since 1988, she has served as an administrator at Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia, the film school in Rome.


Mimì metallurgico ferito nell'onore (The Seduction of Mimi, 1972), Film d'amore e d'anarchia (Love and Anarchy, 1973), Tutto a posto e niente in ordine (All Screwed Up, 1974), Travolti da un insolito destino nell'azzurro mare d'agosto (Swept Away, 1975), Pasqualino Settebellezze (Seven Beauties, 1976), Io speriamo che me la cavo (Ciao, Professore!, 1993)


Ferlita, Ernest, and John R. May. The Parables of Lina Wertmüller. New York: Paulist Press, 1977.

Wertmüller, Lina. The Head of Alvise. London and New York: William Morrow, 1982.

——The Screenplays of Lina Wertmüller. Translated by Steven Wagner. Introduction by John Simon. New York: Quadrangle Books, 1977.

Peter Bondanella

sophisticated metacinematic narrative (a narrative about movie making) to treat the history of Italian cinema itself, examining not only the heritage of neorealism (especially his model Vittorio De Sica) but also the assumptions of commedia all'italiana. We All Loved Each Other Very Much was the most complex of these films, combining a consideration of the many social and political changes Italy has undergone since the fall of the Fascist regime with an equally comprehensive survey of major developments in the history of postwar Italian film. Dirty, Mean, and Nasty presented a humorous remake of De Sica's proletarian fairy tale, Miracle in Milan (1950). However, Scola completely altered De Sica's fanciful utopian shantytown and his happy poor, for in Scola's contemporary shantytown every positive characteristic of the poor in De Sica's classic work is reversed. Instead of patient, long-suffering, and down-trodden people, Scola shows us vicious, brutish, mean, and nasty individuals without any redeeming moral values who have become what they are because of a desperate economic system. In The Terrace Scola examined the genre so crucial to his own career as a director and scriptwriter, the commedia all'italiana, continuing his metacinematic examination of Italian film history by questioning the very possibility of making film comedies.

With a style indebted to Fellini's baroque imagery, Italy's commedia dell'arte, and a political perspective critical of contemporary Italian society, Lina Wertmüller established herself in the 1970s as Italy's most important female director. Her best works were all typical of the commedia dell'italiana genre: The Seduction of Mimi (1971); Love and Anarchy (1972); Swept Away (1974); and her previously discussed masterpiece, Seven Beauties. Wertmüller's comedies, filled with stock characters and presented with the typical vulgarity of traditional Italian slapstick farce, treated controversial political subjects, such as feminism, women's rights, working-class chauvinism, and the opposition of love and anarchy, with grotesque humor. They frequently highlighted the acting talents of a pair of brilliant comedians, Giancarlo Giannini (b. 1942) and Mariangela Melato (b. 1941). Other important examples of this genre include four films by Monicelli: Big Deal on Madonna Street (1958), a parody of a bank robbery film; The Great War (1959), a satirical attack on

patriotism; The Organizer (1963), a very funny account of a Socialist labor organizer; and My Friends (1975), a classical hilarious collection of cruel Tuscan practical jokes played on stupid people. Equally well-crafted works containing interesting social commentary may be found in Comencini's Everybody Home! (1960), a comedy about Italy's withdrawal from World War II; and in two works by Risi: The Easy Life (1962), a portrait of postwar Italian cynicism, and The March on Rome (1962), a send-up of a fanatic believer in Mussolini who persists even after the fall of Il Duce's regime.


Between the mid-1950s and the 1970s, the Italian film industry produced an enormous number of genre films. The first of these specifically Italian versions of themes more often identified with Hollywood than with Rome was the sword-and-sandal epic, also called the neomythological or peplum film, accounting for 10 percent of Italian production between 1957 and 1964. Hercules (Pietro Francesci, 1958) gave birth to a flood of muscle-men pics with body-builders (often Americans, such as Steve Reeves or Gordon Mitchell) playing the lead roles and bearing the classically associated names of Hercules, Maciste, Ursus, Spartacus, and Samson, to name only a few. Perhaps the most skilled of the directors who worked in this genre was Vittorio Cottofavi (1914–1998), whose The Warrior and the Slave Girl (1958) and Hercules and the Conquest of Atlantis (1960) are classic examples of the genre. Set vaguely in classical times and populated by mindless musclemen and buxom damsels in distress, these works appealed to a predominantly male audience that thrived on violent action and strong, anti-intellectual heroes. The genre flourished during the 1960s and then again briefly in the 1980s, but its production values were far removed from similar works made in Hollywood, and these films rapidly became cult favorites and the butt of jokes on Saturday Night Live satirical skits, which poked pun at the cheap dubbing that allowed actors to speak without moving their lips and to fall silent when they did move. In Italian film history, such films made conscious reference to the far older tradition of silent film epics, such as Cabiria.

The other remarkably successful commercial genre during this period was the "spaghetti" western, dominated by a great director, Sergio Leone (1929–1989), who virtually revived a dead Hollywood genre with A Fistful of Dollars (1964) by a conscious departure from what had come to be known as the "classic" western formula. Leone's film owed a debt both to Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo (1961) and to Carlo Goldoni's play The Servant of Two Masters (1945). The Stranger, or The Man with No Name (a part that was to make Clint Eastwood an international star), leaves prison and cleans up a border town infested by two rival families: American gunrunners and Mexican bootleggers. Leone plunges his audience into a violent and cynical world far removed from the traditional West of John Ford or Howard Hawks. His hero is motivated by the same greed as the evil bandits, and graphic violence is accompanied by grotesque comic gags and mannered close-ups indebted to Eisenstein. A crucial artistic element is the skillful music of Ennio Moricone (b. 1928), whose unusual sound track composed of gunfire, ricocheting bullets, cries, trumpet solos, Sicilian folk instruments, and whistles became an international best-selling record. The classic western gunfight became, in Leone's hands, a ritualistic act that concludes a narrative cycle and employs a crescendo of music not unlike the close of an aria in a grand opera. This international hit was followed in close order by four other films of the highest quality: For a Few Dollars More (1965), The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966), Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), and Duck, You Sucker! (1971). The link between popular film genres in the Italian industry may be discerned from the fact that Leone's first film before he began making his westerns was a colossal peplum, The Colossus of Rhodes (1961), no doubt inspired by the success of the Hollywood production of Ben Hur filmed in Italy in 1959. More than a few links exist between the musclemen of the peplum and the strong, silent gunfighters of the spaghetti western. Between 1963 and 1973, over four hundred Italian westerns were produced, but none of them had the impact of Leone's works or were made with the same high production values and fine acting. Like the peplum genre, the lesser Italian westerns followed a formulaic pattern, focusing upon a single gunfighter hero, such as Sabata, Django, Ringo, Sartana, and Trinity. Eventually, the genre began to parody itself in such interesting films as My Name Is Nobody (Tonino Valerii, 1973); or to incorporate radical political themes, such as A Bullet for the General (Damiano Damiani, 1966) or Don't Touch the White Woman (Marco Ferreri, 1975). Again, as was the case with the peplum film, the high-water mark of this genre was reached within approximately a decade.

Another popular and low-budget genre that generated enormous profits for the industry and, like the peplum and the western, became an object of cult attention, was the so-called spaghetti nightmare or Italian horror film, often also called the giallo (the name being derived from the yellow covers that Italian publisher Mondadori employed on their mystery novel series). Pioneers in this genre were Mario Bava (1914–1980), Lucio Fulci (1927–1996), and Riccardo Freda (1909–1999), whose directorial debut, Black Sunday (1960), turned little-known British actress Barbara Steele into a cult-figure "scream queen." Perhaps the most highly regarded horror director is Dario Argento (b. 1940), whose successful works include The Gallery Murders (1970), The Cat o' Nine Tails (1971), Deep Red (1975), and Suspiria (1977). Argento's work combined the excessive gore and splatter violence of the traditional B-horror film with extremely elaborate and baroque visual settings. Because of the praise these spaghetti horror films have received from American directors Quentin Tarantino, George A. Romero, and John Landis, as well as writer Stephen King, the best and the worst representatives of this Italian genre remain popular and still command cult followings even larger than those that exist for the peplum or the spaghetti western.


The international success of Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris and Fellini's Amarcord may mark the high-water mark of Italian cinema's commercial and artistic success. From the dawn of Italian neorealism to the beginning of the 1970s, Italian cinema was universally regarded as one of the most original and innovative national cinemas, often rivaling Hollywood in its artistic achievements if not always in its commercial success. Subsequently, in 1976 both Bertolucci and Fellini attempted big-budget films, romantic epics more typical of Hollywood productions, the former with 1900, a historical treatment of the rise of Italian socialism with touches of Gone With the Wind, and Fellini's Casanova. In spite of their undeniable qualities, neither lived up to expectations. Leone attempted the same leap from Italian production norms to Hollywood blockbuster standards with Once Upon a Time in America (1984), challenging the association of American gangsters with Italians by telling the story of Jewish gangsters. Finally, with The Last Emperor (1987),

Bertolucci scored a bulls-eye, winning nine Oscars® for his epic portrayal of the Emperor of China who eventually becomes a simple citizen and dies during Mao's Cultural Revolution. But the artistic merits of such films could not detract from the air of crisis circulating throughout the industry. Gradually the old lions, the great art film directors, disappeared one by one or simply ceased making interesting films; the economically profitable genre films, such as the peplum, western, or horror film, dried up and became no longer events at the box office but cult collectors' items on video and DVD. International co-productions, such as Last Tango or The Last Emperor, to cite only the most profitable examples by Italian directors, raised the embarrassing question of whether such films ought to be considered really "Italian" or whether they were more accurately to be labeled as Eurofilms.

Talented Italian directors, actors, and technicians did not disappear (indeed, there was a migration of Italian cameramen, makeup artists, special effects people, and set designers to Hollywood during this period). But Italian film theatres began to close: in 1985, almost 5,000 theatres existed; by 1998, that number was reduced to 2,600. Basically, individual great films continued to be produced, but these films were created within an industry that had become increasingly weaker. In the mid-1970s, Italian-produced films controlled approximately 60 percent of its home market, but by 1993, that figure had dropped to 13 percent. During the 1990s, some 140 to 180 Hollywood films circulated in Italy as opposed to around 100 Italian films, but the Hollywood products gained almost 75 percent of the market share. In 1999, the year that witnessed the international success of Life Is Beautiful by Roberto Benigni (b. 1952), only 14 percent of Italian production had any life at the box office at all; many were never distributed or were only screened in ten cities or less. In spite of this depressing situation, Italian films continued to produce some authentic gems in spite of its weak industrial base and the dearth of energetic and skillful producers.


A third generation of Italian directors is slowly appearing as younger artists begin to test their strength at the box office and at international film festivals. Their success may well hold out the promise of another Italian "Renaissance" in the cinema in the new century. This group may be described as the "postmodern" generation, since their works so often cite other films in the Italian or Hollywood cinematic traditions. Such new faces include Benigni; Gianni Amelio (b. 1945), Maurizio Nichetti (b. 1948), Nanni Moretti (b. 1953), Giuseppe Tornatore (b. 1956), Gabriele Salvatores (b. 1950), Silvio Soldini (b. 1958), Marco Tullio Giordano (b. 1950), Giuseppe Piccioni (b. 1953), Gabriele Muccino (b. 1967), and Ferzan Ozpetek (1959). Benigni's Life Is Beautiful combined comic techniques learned from Charlie Chaplin's The Great Dictator (1940), Fellini's visual style, and Wertmüller's Seven Beauties to create a moving but tragicomic vision of the Holocaust. Nichetti married visual techniques learned from television advertising with a parody of De Sica's neorealist classic Bicycle Thieves in The Icicle Thief (1989). Giuseppe Tornatore's Cinema Paradiso (1989) owed much to both Fellini's example and the history of Italian cinema, and like Scola's We All Loved Each Other Very Much, it viewed contemporary Italy through the prism of the cinematic past, garnering an Oscar® for Best Foreign Film and enormous audiences all over the world in the process. Salvatores's Mediterraneo (1991), another recent Oscar® winner for Best Foreign Film, employed formulas from the commedia all'italiana (particularly the satires of patriotism in The Great War and Everybody Home!) to produce a funny account of inept Italian occupiers of a Greek island in World War II. Salvatores's most recent I'm Not Scared (2003) has been widely praised as a moving thriller. Nanni Moretti is perhaps the most idiosyncratic and most talented of this entire generation, producing bittersweet comic works that are closer to film essays than to fictional films. His Dear Diary (1994) won the Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival: it combined ideas about simple storylines from Zavattini's neorealist theory, political ideas from Pasolini's work, and Fellini's choice of the "mockumentary" genre form. His more recent work, The Son's Room (2001), the winner of the Palme d'Or at Cannes, moved from Moretti's usual egocentric but sympathetic narcissism to treat the devastating effects of a young boy's loss on his parents. Piccione's Not of This World (1999); Muccino's The Last Kiss (2001) and Remember Me, My Love (2003); and Soldini's Bread and Tulips (2000) are all worthy successors to the glorious commedia dell'italiana tradition. Monica Stambrini's Gasoline (2001), a lesbian thriller that was a hit at various film festivals around the globe, may be the debut of another Italian feminist director that is even more outrageous than Lina Wertmüller and as equally talented. A number of excellent works by Gianni Amelio—Open Doors (1970), The Stolen Children (1992), Lamerica (1994), and The Way We Laughed (1998)—and by Marco Tullio Giordano—One Hundred Steps (2000) and The Best of Youth (2003)—all offer eloquent testimony that Italian cinema's penchant for social realism has not disappeared.

Perhaps the most unusual of the new faces to appear on the horizon is Turkish-born director Ferzan Ozpetek, whose films are resolutely Italian in character, language, and style but whose Levantine origins are also apparent in their themes: The Turkish Baths (1997), Harem (1999), His Secret Life (2001), and Facing Windows (2003). His ability to work within the Italian film industry while coming from another national culture recalls the success of another recent Italian hit with an international flavor, Il Postino—The Postman (1994), directed by non-Italian Michael Radford. Incorporating a moving performance by a dying Italian comic star, Massimo Troisi (1953–1994), Il Postino was Italian in every conceivable respect but its director's nationality. Perhaps one way Italian cinema may survive into this new century is to become more international and less deeply rooted in native traditions of cinematic art. But such a globalization of Italian cinema would deprive the world of one of the most original and unique film traditions to have arisen in the centuryold existence of the cinema.

SEE ALSO National Cinema;Neorealism;Westerns


Armes, Roy. Patterns of Realism: A Study of Italian Neo-Realist Cinema. London: Tantivy, 1971.

Bertellini, Giorgio, ed. The Cinema of Italy. London: Wallflower, 2004.

Bondanella, Peter. The Films of Roberto Rossellini. Cambridge, UK and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

——. Italian Cinema: From Neorealism to the Present, 3rd revised ed. New York: Continuum, 2001.

Brunette, Peter. The Films of Michelangelo Antonioni. Cambridge, UK and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Freyling, Christopher. Spaghetti Westerns: Cowboys and Europeans from Karl May to Sergio Leone. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1981.

Landy, Marcia. Fascism in Film: The Italian Commercial Cinema, 1931–1943. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986.

Marcus, Millicent. After Fellini: National Cinema in the Postmodern Age. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002.

——. Filmmaking by the Book: Italian Cinema and Literary Adaptation. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993.

——. Italian Film in the Light of Neorealism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1986.

Palmerini, Luca M., and Gaetano Mistretta. Spaghetti Nightmares: Italian Fantasy-Horrors As Seen Through the Eyes of Their Protagonists. Edited by Margot Winick. Translated by Gilliam M. A. Kirkpatrick. Key West, FL: Fantasma Books, 1996.

Reich, Jacqueline, and Piero Garofalo, eds. Re-viewing Fascism: Italian Cinema, 1922–1943. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002.

Rumble, Patrick, and Bart Testa, eds. Pier Paolo Pasolini: Contemporary Perspectives. Buffalo, NY and Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1994.

Testa, Carlo. Italian Cinema and Modern European Literatures, 1945–2000. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002.

Peter Bondanella


views updated May 23 2018



Compiled from the August 2007 Background Note and supplemented with additional information from the State Department and the editors of this volume. See the introduction to this set for explanatory notes.

Official Name:

Italian Republic



Area: 301,225 sq. km. (116,303 sq. mi.); about the size of Georgia and Florida combined.

Cities: Capital—Rome (pop. 2.8 million). Other cities—Milan, Naples, Turin.

Terrain: Mostly rugged and mountainous.

Climate: Generally mild Mediterranean; cold northern winters.


Nationality: Noun and adjective—Italian(s).

Population: (2007 est.) 57.8 million.

Annual growth rate: (2007 est.) 0.01%.

Ethnic groups: Primarily Italian, but there are small groups of German-, French-, Slovene-, and Albanian-Italians.

Religions: Roman Catholic (majority).

Languages: Italian (official).

Education: Years compulsory—18. Literacy—98%.

Health: Infant mortality rate—5.76/ 1,000 live births. Life expectancy—76.08 years for men; 83.0 years for women.

Work force: (24.63 million, 2006 est.) Services—63%; industry and commerce—32%; agriculture—5%. Unemployment rate is 7%.


Type: Republic since June 2, 1946.

Constitution: January 1, 1948.

Government branches: Executive—president (chief of state), Council of Ministers (cabinet), headed by the president of the council (prime minister). Legislative—bicameral parliament: 630-member Chamber of Deputies, 315-member Senate (plus a varying number of “life” Senators). Judicial—independent constitutional court and lower magistracy.

Political subdivisions: 94 provinces, 20 regions.

Political parties: Forza Italia, Democratic Party of the Left, National Alliance, Northern League, Democracy is Freedom-The Daisy, United Christian Democrats of the Center, Communist Renewal, Italians of Values, Greens, Rose in the Fist, Italian Communist Party, UDEUR (Union of Democrats for Europe).

Suffrage: Vote for House; universal over 18; vote for Senate; universal over 18.


GDP: (purchasing power parity, 2006 est.) $1.756 trillion.

GDP per capita: (purchasing power parity, 2006 est.) $30,200.

GDP growth: 1.9% (2006); 0.1% (2005); 0.9% (2003 est.); 0.4% (2002); 1.8% (2001).

Natural resources: Fish and natural gas.

Agriculture: Products—wheat, rice, grapes, olives, citrus fruits, potatoes, sugar beets, soybeans beef, dairy products.

Industry: Types—tourism, machinery, iron and steel, chemicals, food processing, textiles, motor vehicles, clothing, footwear, ceramics.

Trade: Exports (2005 est.) $371.9 billion f.o.b. Partners (2004)—Germany 13.6%, France 12.4%, U.S. 7.9%, Spain 7.3%, U.K. 7.1%; mechanical products, textiles and apparel, transportation equipment, metal products, chemical products, food and agricultural products. Imports (2005 est.) $369.2 billion f.o.b. Partners (2004)—Germany 18%, France 11%, Netherlands 5.9%, Spain 4.7%, Belgium 4.5%, U.K. 4.3%, China 4.2%; machinery and transport equipment, foodstuffs, ferrous and nonferrous metals, wool, cotton, energy products.


Italy is largely homogeneous linguistically and religiously but is diverse culturally, economically, and politically. Italy has the fifth-highest population density in Europe—about 200 persons per square kilometer (490 per sq. mi.). Minority groups are small, the largest being the German-speaking people of Bolzano Province and the Slovenes around Trieste. There are also small communities of Albanian, Greek, Ladino, and French origin. Immigration has increased in recent years, however, while the Italian population is declining overall due to low birth rates. Although Roman Catholicism is the majority religion—85% of native-born citizens are nominally Catholic—all religious faiths are provided equal freedom before the law by the constitution.

Greeks settled in the southern tip of the Italian Peninsula in the eighth and seventh centuries B.C.; Etruscans, Romans, and others inhabited the central and northern mainland. The peninsula subsequently was unified under the Roman Republic. The neighboring islands came under Roman control by the third century B.C.; by the first century A.D., the Roman Empire effectively dominated the Mediterranean world. After the collapse of the Roman Empire in the West in the fifth century A.D., the peninsula and islands were subjected to a series of invasions, and political unity was lost. Italy became an oft-changing succession of small states, principalities, and kingdoms, which fought among themselves and were subject to ambitions of foreign powers. Popes of Rome ruled central Italy; rivalries between the popes and the Holy Roman Emperors, who claimed Italy as their domain, often made the peninsula a battleground.

The commercial prosperity of northern and central Italian cities, beginning in the 11th century, combined with the influence of the Renaissance, mitigated somewhat the effects of these medieval political rivalries. Although Italy declined after the 16th century, the Renaissance had strengthened the idea of a single Italian nationality. By the early 19th century, a nationalist movement developed and led to the reunification of Italy—except for Rome—in the 1860s. In 1861, Victor Emmanuel II of the House of Savoy was proclaimed King of Italy. Rome was incorporated in 1870. From 1870 until 1922, Italy was a constitutional monarchy with a parliament elected under limited suffrage.

20th Century History

During World War I, Italy renounced its standing alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary and, in 1915, entered the war on the side of the Allies. Under the postwar settlement, Italy received some former Austrian territory along the northeast frontier. In 1922, Benito Mussolini came to power and, over the next few years, eliminated political parties, curtailed personal liberties, and installed a fascist dictatorship termed the Corporate State. The king, with little or no effective power, remained titular head of state.

Italy allied with Germany and declared war on the United Kingdom and France in 1940. In 1941, Italy—with the other Axis powers, Germany and Japan—declared war on the United States and the Soviet Union. Following the Allied invasion of Sicily in 1943, the King dismissed Mussolini and appointed Marshal Pietro Badoglio as Premier. The Badoglio government declared war on Germany, which quickly occupied most of the country and freed Mussolini, who led a brief-lived regime in the north. An anti-fascist popular resistance movement grew during the last two years of the war, harassing German forces before they were driven out in April 1945. A 1946 plebiscite ended the monarchy, and a constituent assembly was elected to draw up plans for the republic.

Under the 1947 peace treaty, minor adjustments were made in Italy's frontier with France, the eastern border area was transferred to Yugoslavia, and the area around the city of Trieste was designated a free territory. In 1954, the free territory, which had remained under the administration of U.S.-U.K. forces (Zone A, including the city of Trieste) and Yugoslav forces (Zone B), was divided between Italy and Yugoslavia, princi-pally along the zonal boundary. This arrangement was made permanent by the Italian-Yugoslav Treaty of Osimo, ratified in 1977 (currently being discussed by Italy, Slovenia, and Croatia). Under the 1947 peace treaty, Italy relinquished its overseas territories and certain Mediterranean islands.

The Roman Catholic Church's status in Italy has been determined, since its temporal powers ended in 1870, by a series of accords with the Italian Government. Under the Lateran Pacts of 1929, which were confirmed by the present constitution, Vatican City is recognized by Italy as an independent, sovereign entity. While preserving that recognition, in 1984, Italy and the Vatican updated several provisions of the 1929 accords. Included was the end of Roman Catholicism as Italy's formal state religion.

Italy's Cultural Contributions

Europe's Renaissance period began in Italy during the 14th and 15th centuries. Literary achievements—such as the poetry of Petrarch, Tasso, and Ariosto and the prose of Boccaccio, Machiavelli, and Castiglione—exerted a tremendous and lasting influence on the subsequent development of Western civilization, as did the painting, sculpture, and architecture contributed by giants such as da Vinci, Raphael, Botticelli, Fra Angelico, and Michelangelo. The musical influence of Italian composers Monteverdi, Palestrina, and Vivaldi proved epochal; in the 19th century, Italian romantic opera flourished under composers Gioacchino Rossini, Giuseppe Verdi, and Gia-como Puccini. Contemporary Italian artists, writers, filmmakers, architects, composers, and designers contribute significantly to Western culture.


Italy has been a democratic republic since June 2, 1946, when the monarchy was abolished by popular referendum. The constitution was promulgated on January 1, 1948.

The Italian state is centralized. The prefect of each of the provinces is appointed by and answerable to the central government. In addition to the provinces, the constitution provides for 20 regions with limited governing powers. Five regions—

Sardinia, Sicily, Trentino-Alto Adige, Valle d’Aosta, and Friuli-Venezia Giulia—function with special autonomy statutes. The other 15 regions were established in 1970 and vote for regional “councils.” The establishment of regional governments throughout Italy has brought some decentralization to the national governmental machinery, and recent governments have devolved further powers to the regions. Many regional governments, particularly in the north of Italy, are seeking additional powers. The 1948 constitution established a perfectly bicameral parliament (Chamber of Deputies and Senate), a separate judiciary, and an executive branch composed of a Council of Ministers (cabinet), headed by the president of the council (prime minister). The president of the republic is elected for seven years by the parliament sitting jointly with a small number of regional delegates. The president nominates the prime minister, who chooses the other ministers. The Council of Ministers—in practice composed mostly of members of parliament—must retain the confidence of both houses. The houses of parliament are popularly and directly elected by a proportional representation system. Under 2005 legislation, the Chamber of Deputies has 630 members (12 of which are elected by Italians abroad). In addition to 315 elected members (six of which are elected by Italians abroad), the Senate includes former presidents and several other persons appointed for life according to special constitutional provisions. Both houses are elected for a maximum of five years, but either may be dissolved before the expiration of its normal term. Legislative bills may originate in either house and must be passed by a majority in both.

The Italian judicial system is based on Roman law modified by the Napoleonic code and subsequent statutes. There is only partial judicial review of legislation in the American sense. A constitutional court, which passes on the constitutionality of laws, is a post-World War II innovation. Its powers, volume, and frequency of decisions are not as extensive as those of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Principal Government Officials

Last Updated: 2/1/2008

Pres.: Giorgio NAPOLITANO

Prime Min.: Romano PRODI

Dep. Prime Min.: Massimo D’ALEMA

Dep. Prime Min.: Francesco RUTELLI

Under Sec. for the Cabinet: Enrico LETTA

Min. of Agriculture: Paolo DE CASTRO

Min. of Communications: Paolo GENTILONI Silveri

Min. of Cultural Heritage: Francesco RUTELLI

Min. of Defense: Arturo PARISI

Min. of Economic Development: Pierluigi BERSANI

Min. of Economy & Finance: Tommaso PADOA-SCHIOPPA

Min. of Education: Giuseppe FIORONI

Min. of Environment: Alfonso PECORARO SCANIO

Min. of Equal Opportunity: Barbara POLLASTRINI

Min. of Family Policy: Rosy BINDI

Min. of Foreign Affairs: Massimo D’ALEMA

Min. of Govt. Programs: Giulio SANTAGATA

Min. of Health: Livia TURCO

Min. of Infrastructure: Antonio DI PIETRO

Min. of Interior: Giuliano AMATO

Min. of Intl. Trade & European Affairs: Emma BONINO

Min. of Justice: Clemente MASTELLA

Min. of Labor: Cesare DAMIANO

Min. of Public Works & Innovation: Luigi NICOLAIS

Min. of Regional Affairs: Linda LANZILOTTA

Min. of Relations With Parliament & Reform: Vannino CHITI

Min. of Social Welfare: Paolo FERRERO

Min. of Transportation: Alessandro BIANCHI

Min. of Universities & Research: Fabio MUSSI

Min. of Youth & Sport: Giovanna MELANDRI

Pres. of the Chamber of Deputies: Fausto BERTINOTTI

Pres. of the Senate: Franco MARINI

Governor, Bank of Italy: Mario DRAGHI

Ambassador to the US: Giovanni CASTELLANETA

Permanent Representative to the UN, New York: Marcello SPATAFORA

Italy maintains an embassy in the United States at 3000 Whitehaven Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-612-4400).


Until recently, there had been frequent government turnovers since 1945. The dominance of the Christian Democratic (DC) party during much of the postwar period lent continuity and comparative stability to Italy's political situation. From 1992 to 1997, Italy faced significant challenges as voters—disenchanted with past political paralysis, massive government debt, extensive corruption, and organized crime's considerable influence—demanded political, economic, and ethical reforms. In 1993 referendums, voters approved substantial changes, including moving from a proportional to a largely majoritarian electoral system and the abolishment of some ministries. However in 2005, parliament passed a new electoral law based on full proportional assignment of seats.

Major political parties, beset by scandal and loss of voter confidence, underwent far-reaching changes. New political forces and new alignments of power emerged in March 1994 national elections. The election saw a major turnover in the new parliament, with 452 out of 630 deputies and 213 out of 315 senators elected for the first time. The 1994 elections also swept media magnate Silvio Berlusconi—and his Freedom Pole coalition—into office as Prime Minister. Berlusconi, however, was forced to step down in January 1995 when one member of his coalition withdrew support. The Berlusconi government was succeeded by a technical government headed by Prime Minister Lam-berto Dini, which fell in early 1996. New elections in 1996 brought a center-left coalition to government for the first time after World War II.

A series of center-left coalitions dominated Italy's political landscape between 1996 and 2001. In April 1996, national elections led to the victory of a center-left coalition (the Olive Tree) under the leadership of Romano Prodi. Prodi's government became the second-longest to stay in power before he narrowly lost a vote of confidence (by three votes) in October 1998. A new government was formed by Democratic Party of the Left leader and former-communist Massimo D’Alema. In April 2000, following a poor showing by his coalition in regional elections, D’Alema resigned. The succeeding center-left government, including most of the same parties, was headed by Giuliano Amato, who previously served as Prime Minister in 1992-93.

National elections, held on May 13, 2001, returned Berlusconi to power at the head of the five-party center-right Freedom House coalition, comprising the prime minister's own party, Forza Italia, the National Alliance, the Northern League, the Christian Democratic Center, and the United Christian Democrats. In April 2005, a poor showing in regional elections and dissatisfaction with the focus of the government's program among center-right coalition members forced Prime Minister Berlusconi to resign and form a new government. The 60th government since the liberation of Italy was formed on April 23, 2005, with a new program emphasizing economic concerns. The previous Berlusconi government was the longest serving in Italy's post-war history. In national elections held April 9-10, 2006, Romano Prodi's center-left Union coalition won a narrow victory over Berlusconi's Freedom House coalition. The Union coalition includes the Democratic Party of the Left, the Daisy Party, UDEUR (Union of Democrats for Europe), Rose in the Fist (made up by Italian Social Democrats and Italian Radical Party), Communist Renewal, the Italian Communist Party, and the Greens. The Prodi government nearly fell in February 2007 due to dissatisfaction by members of far-left parties with Prodi's foreign policy.

In May 2006, the parliament elected Giorgio Napolitano of the Democratic Party of the Left as the Republic's President. President Napolitano formerly served as a lifetime senator, Minister of the Interior, and a Member of the European Parliament. President Napolitano's term ends in May 2013. The Senate, lower house, and regional representatives will vote to elect his successor.

Political Parties

Italy's dramatic self-renewal transformed the political landscape between 1992 and 1997. Scandal investigations touched thousands of politicians, administrators, and businessmen; the shift from a proportional to majoritarian voting system—with the requirement to obtain a minimum of 4% of the national vote to obtain representation—also altered the political landscape.

Party changes were sweeping. The Christian Democratic Party dissolved; the Italian People's Party and the Christian Democratic Center emerged. Other major parties, such as the Socialists, saw support plummet. A new populist and free-market oriented movement, Forza Italia, gained wide support among moderate voters. The National Alliance broke from the neofascist Italian Social Movement. A trend toward two large coalitions—one on the center-left and the other on the center-right-emerged from the April 1995 regional elections. For the 1996 national elections, the center-left parties created the Olive Tree coalition while the center right united again under the Freedom Pole. The May 2001 elections ushered into power a refashioned center-right coalition dominated by Berlusconi's party, Forza Italia. The April 2006 elections returned the center-left to power under the Union coalition, a successor to the Olive Tree. Freedom House now sits in the opposition. Prodi's government is formed by a nine-party coalition with diverse political views. The relatively moderate Democrats of the Left and Democracy is Freedom-The Daisy Party have announced a plan to merge in October 2007 and form a new Democratic Party. Parties to the left of the Democratic Party are also contemplating some form of consolidation. The next year may see considerable change in the structure and alliances of many Italian political parties.

The largest bloc in the Chamber of Deputies is the Olive Tree (31.3%), a grouping of the Democrats of the Left and the Daisy Party within the Union coalition; Forza Italia (23.7%); the National Alliance (12.3%); the Union of Christian and Center Democrats (6.8%); and the Communist Renewal Party (5.8%). Similar rankings generally apply in the Senate, in which the Olive Tree coalition and Forza Italia are the dominant parties.


The Italian economy has changed dramatically since the end of World War II. From an agriculturally based economy, it has developed into an industrial state ranked as the world's sixth-largest market economy. Italy belongs to the Group of Eight (G-8) industrialized nations; it is a member of the European Union and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Italy has few natural resources. With much land unsuited for farming, Italy is a net food importer. There are no substantial deposits of iron, coal, or oil. Proven natural gas reserves, mainly in the Po Valley and offshore Adriatic, constitute the country's most important mineral resource. Most raw materials needed for manufacturing and more than 80% of the country's energy sources are imported. Italy's economic strength is in the processing and the manufacturing of goods, primarily in small and medium-sized family-owned firms. Its major industries are precision machinery, motor vehicles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, electric goods, and fashion and clothing.

Italy's economic growth averaged only 0.66% for the five years ending in 2005; 2006 GDP growth reached 1.9%, largely due to export growth to the Euro zone area.

Italy continues to grapple with excessive budget deficits and high public debt—4.3% and 108% of GDP expected for 2006, respectively. Italy joined the European Monetary Union in 1998 by signing the Stability and Growth Pact, and as a condition of this Euro zone membership, Italy must keep its budget deficit beneath a 3% ceiling. In June 2006, the European Commission warned Italy it had to bring the deficit down to that level by 2007. The budget passed in December 2006 raised sufficient revenues to make that target, even though the budget was derided by many as having no stimulus for growth.

Italy's closest trade ties are with the other countries of the European Union, with whom it conducts about 54.4% of its total trade (2002 data). Italy's largest EU trade partners, in order of market share, are Germany (15.5%), France (11.6%), and the United Kingdom (5.9%). Italy continues to grapple with the effects of globalization, where certain countries (notably China) have eroded the Italian lower-end industrial product sector.

The Italian economy is also affected by a large underground economy—worth some 27% of Italy's GDP. This production is not subject, of course, to taxation and thus remains a source of lost revenue to the local and central government.

U.S.-Italy Economic Relations

The United States and Italy cooperate closely on major economic issues, including within the G-8. With a large population and a high per capita income, Italy was the United States’ eleventh-largest trading partner in 2005, with total bilateral trade of $42.5 billion comprised of exports to Italy totaling $11.5 billion and imports from Italy worth $31.0 billion.

The U.S. ran a $19.5 billion deficit with Italy in 2005, up from $17.4 billion in 2004. Part of this imbalance has been due to a strong dollar. Significant changes are occurring in the composition of this trade. Value-added products such as office machinery and aircraft are becoming important U.S. exports to Italy. U.S. foreign direct investment in Italy at the end of 2004 exceeded $33.3 billion.


Unemployment is a regional issue in Italy—low in the north, high in the south. The overall national rate is at its lowest level since 1992. Chronic problems of inadequate infrastructure, corruption, and organized crime act as disincentives to investment and job creation in the south. A significant underground economy absorbs substantial numbers of people, but they work for low wages and without standard social benefits and protections. Women and youth have significantly higher rates of unemployment than do men.

Unions claim to represent 40% of the work force. Most Italian unions are grouped in four major confederations: the General Italian Confederation of Labor (CGIL), the Italian Confederation of Workers’ Unions (CISL), the Italian Union of Labor (UIL), and the General Union of Labor (UGL), which together claim 35% of the work force. These confederations formerly were associated with important political parties or currents, but they have evolved into fully autonomous, professional bodies. The CGIL, CISL, and UIL are affiliated with the International Confederation of Free Trad Unions (ICFTU) and customarily coordinate their positions before confronting management or lobbying the government. The confederations have had an important consultative role on national social and economic issues.


Italy's agriculture is typical of the division between the agricultures of the northern and southern countries of the European Union. The northern part of Italy produces primarily grains, sugarbeets, soybeans, meat, and dairy products, while the south specializes in fruits, vegetables, olive oil, wine, and durum wheat. Even though much of its mountainous terrain is unsuitable for farming, Italy has a large work force (1.4 million) employed in farming. Most farms are small, with the average size being only seven hectares.


Italy was a founding member of the European Community—now the European Union (EU). Italy was admitted to the United Nations in 1955 and is a member and strong supporter of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade/World Trade Organization (GATT/WTO), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the Council of Europe. It chaired the CSCE (the forerunner of the OSCE) in 1994, the EU in 1996, and the G-8 in 2001 and served as EU president from July to December 2003. Italy began serving a two-year term on the UN Security Council in January 2007. Italy firmly supports the United Nations and its international security activities.

Italy actively participated in and deployed troops in support of UN peacekeeping missions in Lebanon, Somalia, Mozambique, and Timor-Leste and provides critical support for NATO and UN operations in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, and Albania. Italy, under NATO's ISAF, maintains approximately 2,000 troops and a Provincial Reconstruction Team in the western Afghanistan province of Herat. In December 2006, Italy completed the deployment of some 3,000 troops who supported international efforts to stabilize Iraq and continues to support reconstruction and development assistance of the Iraqi people through humanitarian workers and other officials. The Italian Government seeks to obtain consensus with other European countries on various defense and security issues within the EU as well as NATO. European integration and the development of common defense and security policies will continue to be of primary interest to Italy.


The United States enjoys warm and friendly relations with Italy. Italy is a leading partner in the war against terrorism. The two are NATO allies and cooperate in the United Nations, in various regional organizations, and bilaterally for peace, prosperity, and security.

Italy has worked closely with the United States and others on such issues as NATO and UN operations as well as with assistance to Russia and the New Independent States; Lebanon; the Middle East peace process; multilateral talks; Somalia and Mozambique peacekeeping; and combating drug trafficking, trafficking in women and children, and terrorism. Under longstanding bilateral agreements flowing from NATO membership, Italy hosts important U.S. military forces at Vicenza and Livorno (army); Aviano (air force); and Sigonella, Gaeta, and Naples—home port for the U.S. Navy Sixth Fleet. The United States has about 13,000 military personnel stationed in Italy. Italy hosts the NATO Defense College in Rom