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‘Italy is the only workshop in the world that can turn out both Botticellis and Berlusconis.’ Beppe Severgnini, ‘La Bella Figura: A Field Guide to the Italian Mind’.
Beppe Severgnini, ‘La Bella Figura: A Field Guide to the Italian Mind’
Sadly, the same integrity did not – even in 2013 - always extend to its politicians, a state of affairs best exemplified by Berlusconi but with its less extrovert antecedents dating back to the days of Giulio Andreotti (‘Il Divo’) the Christian democrat Prime Minister who lead his country for a record-breaking seven terms, albeit not consecutively. Mr Andreotti died in May 2013 aged 94. No other politician dominated post-war Italy more than Mr Andreotti not even Mr Berlusconi, who only managed four terms as Prime Minister. Additionally, Mr Andreotti’s at various times held portfolios of finance, treasury, defence and industry.
Since the founding of the Italian Republic in 1946, no less than 26 men have held the position of Prime Minister, some for no more than one month. The average term of office is around two-and-a-half years. There may have been twenty-six Prime Ministers, but half of them served multiple terms, the record holder being Mr Andreotti, who served in seven different administrations. Amintore Fanfani served six times, Aldo Moro and Mariani Rumor each served five times, and Berlusconi served four. Andreotti was by his nature a wheeler-dealer. He concluded agreements not only with the Italian Communist Party, but also with the leader of the Cosa Nostra (mafia) in Sicily, Stefano Bontate – thereby guaranteeing a Christian Democrat election victory.
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- Political structure
- Main cities
- Languages spoken
- Industry and manufacturing
- Financial markets
- Banking and insurance
- Dress codes
- Entry requirements
- Health (for visitors)
- Credit cards
- Public holidays
- Working hours
- Social customs and useful tips
- Getting there
- Getting about
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Official name: Repubblica Italiana (Italian Republic)
Head of State: President Sergio Mattarella (since 3 February 2015 following Giorgio Napolitano’s resignation on 14 January 2015)
Head of government: Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (Partito Democratico (PD) (Democratic Party) (from 22 Feb 2014)
Ruling party: Coalition led by the Italia. Bene Comune (IBC) (Italy. Common Good) alliance (including the Partito Democratico (PD) (Democratic Party)), the Coalizione del Centrodestra (Centre-right Coalition) (including the Il Popolo della Libertà (the People of Freedom)) and Con Monti per l'Italia (CMI) (With Monti for Italy) (including Scelta Civica (Civic Choice)) (from Feb 2013).
Area: 301,277 square km
Population: 59.69 million (2014)
Official language: Italian
Currency: Euro (€) = 100 cents (from 1 Jan 2002; previous currency lira, locked at L1,936.27 per euro) (Campione d'Italia, an Italian enclave near Lake Lugano in Switzerland, uses the Swiss franc, although the euro also circulates)
Exchange rate: €0.89 per US$ (Sep 2015)
GDP per capita: US$35,823 (2014)
GDP real growth: -0.42% (2014)
GDP: US$2,147.95 billion (2014)
Labour force: 25.77 million (2014)*
Unemployment: 12.80% (2014)
Inflation: 0.22% (2014)
Oil production: 121,000 bpd (2014)
Natural gas production: 6.60 billion cum (2014)
Balance of trade: US$65.31 billion (2014)*
* estimated figure