Italy

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Posted by motoman 02/27/2009 @ 11:42

Tags : italy, europe, world

News headlines
Fiat CEO To Meet Italy Govt, Unions Once GM Talks Are Clear - Wall Street Journal
Fiat plans to retool two plants in Italy as part of a plan to buy GM's operations in Europe - including Germany's Adam Opel GmbH, Sweden's Saab and the UK's Vauxhall - as well as those in Latin America and South Africa, and merge them with its auto...
Italy cracks down on illegal immigrants, landlords - The Associated Press
Premier Silvio Berlusconi's conservative government is being pressured by the anti-immigrant Northern League party in its coalition to halt illegal migration as Italy's economy shrinks in the global downturn, like others across Europe....
German, Italy Economies Shrank at Record Pace in First Quarter - Bloomberg
Italy will report GDP at 10 am and Eurostat, the European Union's statistics arm in Luxembourg, publishes first- quarter data for the entire 16-nation euro region at 11 am Economists forecast a 2 percent contraction. “The latest ugly GDP figures should...
Italy's Tiscali 1Q Net Loss Narrows, Revenue Falls - Wall Street Journal
Italian broadband company Tiscali SpA (TIS.MI) said late Thursday its first-quarter net loss narrowed 54% on the year thanks to lower restructuring and financial costs. The company posted a net loss of EUR17.2 million compared with the EUR37.5 million...
Astana riders blank out sponsor's name - guardian.co.uk
CHIAVENNA, Italy, May 15 (Reuters) - Lance Armstrong and all but one of his Astana team mates protested at unpaid salaries by blanking out the sponsor's name on their shirts for Friday's seventh stage of the Giro d'Italia. Team members were not paid...
Ex-Government Worker Sues for Immunity in CIA Rendition Case - Washington Post
By Peter Finn A former US government employee, accused by Italy of participating in a CIA-organized kidnapping of a militant Egyptian-born cleric in Milan, has sued the State Department demanding that it invoke diplomatic immunity to quash any...
ITALY: GDP -5.9% ANNUAL IN FIRST QUARTER 2009 - ANSAmed
(ANSAmed) - ROME - Italy's Gross Domestic Product (Gdp) has dropped 5.9% during the first three months of 2009, with respect to the same quarter in 2008. The information was issued in a statement by the country's National Statistics Institute (Istat)....
Italy's Astaldi says plan targets are conservative - Reuters
Astaldi, which focuses on big infrastructure projects such as railways, makes half of its revenues outside Italy. It operates in South America, eastern Europe and Algeria. "We haven't been hit by the credit crunch, we have several hundred million of...
Italy Aims to Send Spider-Bot Swarm to Moon - FOXNews
Messina compared their private endeavor to those of sailing teams that attract national sponsors for the America's Cup, and stated the goal of bringing "a new philosophy of funding space missions" to Europe and Italy. "What we are trying to leverage is...

Italy

Flag of Italy

Italy /ˈɪtəli/ (help·info) (Italian: Italia), officially the Italian Republic (Italian: Repubblica Italiana), is located on the Italian Peninsula in Southern Europe and on the two largest islands in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily and Sardinia. Italy shares its northern, Alpine boundary with France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia. The independent states of San Marino and the Vatican City are enclaves within the Italian Peninsula, and Campione d'Italia is an Italian exclave in Switzerland.

Italy has been the home of many European cultures, such as the Etruscans and the Romans, and later was the birthplace of the university and of the Renaissance, that began in Tuscany and spread all over Europe. Italy's capital, Rome, was for centuries the center of Western civilization. Italy possessed a colonial empire from the second half of the nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century.

Today, Italy is a democratic republic and a developed country with the eighth-highest quality-of-life index rating in the world. It is a founding member of what is now the European Union, having signed the Treaty of Rome in 1957, and it is a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). It is a member of the G8, having the world's seventh-largest nominal GDP, and is also a member state of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Council of Europe, the Western European Union, and the Central European Initiative. Italy is a Schengen state. It has the world's seventh-largest defence budget and shares NATO's nuclear weapons. On 1 January 2007, Italy began a two-year term as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

The origin of the term Italia, from Latin: Italia, is uncertain. According to one of the more common explanations, the term was borrowed through Greek from the Oscan Víteliú, meaning "land of young cattle" (cf. Lat vitulus "calf", Umb vitlo "calf"). The bull was a symbol of the southern Italian tribes and was often depicted goring the Roman wolf as a defiant symbol of free Italy during the Samnite Wars.

The name Italia originally applied only to a part of what is now Southern Italy—according to Antiochus of Syracuse, the southern portion of the Bruttium peninsula (modern Calabria). But by his time Oenotria and Italy had become synonymous, and the name also applied to most of Lucania as well. The Greeks gradually came to apply the name "Italia" to a larger region, but it was not until the time of the Roman conquests that the term was expanded to cover the entire peninsula.

Excavations throughout Italy reveal a modern human presence dating back to the Palaeolithic period, some 200,000 years ago. In the 8th and 7th centuries BC Greek colonies were established all along the coast of Sicily and the southern part of the Italian Peninsula. Subsequently, Romans referred to this area as Magna Graecia, as it was so densely inhabited by Greeks. Ancient Rome was at first a small agricultural community founded circa the 8th century BC that grew over the course of the centuries into a colossal empire encompassing the whole Mediterranean Sea, in which Ancient Greek and Roman cultures merged into one civilization. This civilization was so influential that parts of it survive in modern law, administration, philosophy and arts, forming the ground that Western civilization is based upon. In its twelve-century existence, it transformed itself from republic to monarchy and finally to autocracy. In steady decline since the 2nd century AD, the empire finally broke into two parts in 285 AD: the Western Roman Empire and the Byzantine Empire in the East. The western part under the pressure of Goths finally dissolved, leaving the Italian peninsula divided into small independent kingdoms and feuding city states for the next 14 centuries, and leaving the eastern part sole heir to the Roman legacy.

Following a short recapture of the Italian peninsula by Byzantine Emperor Justinian in the 6th century AD from the Ostrogoths, a new wave of Germanic tribes, the Lombards, soon arrived in Italy from the north. For several centuries the armies of the Byzantines were strong enough to prevent Arabs, the Holy Roman Empire, or the Papacy from establishing a unified Italian Kingdom, but were at the same time too weak to fully unify the former Roman lands themselves. Nevertheless, during early Middle Ages Imperial dynasties such as the Carolingians, the Ottonians and the Hohenstaufens managed to impose their overlordship in Italy.

Italy's regions were eventually subsumed by their neighbouring empires with their conflicting interests and would remain divided up to the 19th century. It was during this vacuum of authority that the region saw the rise of the Signoria and the Comune. In the anarchic conditions that often prevailed in medieval Italian city-states, people looked to strong men to restore order and disarm the feuding elites. In times of anarchy or crisis, cities sometimes offered the Signoria to individuals perceived as strong enough to save the state, most notably the Della Scala family in Verona, the Visconti in Milan and the Medici in Florence.

Italy during this period became notable for its merchant Republics. These city-states, oligarchical in reality, had a dominant merchant class which under relative freedom nurtured academic and artistic advancement. The four classic Maritime Republics in Italy were Venice, Genoa, Pisa and Amalfi, listed in order of the temporal sequence of their dominance.

Venice and Genoa were Europe's gateways to trade with the East, with the former producer of the renowned venetian glass. Florence was the capital of silk, wool, banks and jewelry. The Maritime Republics were heavily involved in the Crusades, taking advantage of the new political and trading opportunities, most evidently in the conquest of Zara and Constantinople funded by Venice.

During the late Middle Ages Italy was divided into smaller city-states and territories: the kingdom of Naples controlled the south, the Republic of Florence and the Papal States the centre, the Genoese and the Milanese the north and west, and the Venetians the east. Fifteenth-century Italy was one of the most urbanised areas in Europe and the birthplace of Renaissance. Florence in particular, with the writings of Dante Alighieri (1265–1321), Francesco Petrarch (1304–1374) and Giovanni Boccaccio (c. 1313–1375), as well as the painting of Giotto di Bondone (1267–1337), is considered the centre of this cultural movement. Scholars like Niccolò de' Niccoli and Poggio Bracciolini scoured the libraries in search of works of classical authors, such as Plato, Aristotle, Euclid, Ptolemy, Cicero and Vitruvius.

The Black Death pandemic in 1348 left its mark on Italy by killing one third of the population. The recovery from the disaster led to a resurgence of cities, trade and economy which greatly stimulated the successive phases of Humanism and the Renaissance. In 1494 the French king Charles VIII opened the first of a series of invasions, lasting up to sixteenth century, in a competition between France and Spain for the possession of the country. Ultimately Spain prevailed through the Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis which recognised Spanish dominance over the Duchy of Milan and the Kingdom of Naples. The holy alliance between Habsburg Spain and the Holy See resulted in the systematic persecution of any Protestant movement. Austria succeeded Spain as hegemon in Italy under the Peace of Utrecht. Through Austrian domination, the northern part of Italy gained economic dynamism and intellectual fervor. The French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars (1796–1815) introduced the ideas of equality, democracy, law and nation. Italy’s population between 1700 and 1800 rose by about one-third, to 18 million.

The creation of the Kingdom of Italy was the result of efforts by Italian nationalists and monarchists loyal to the House of Savoy to establish a united kingdom encompassing the entire Italian Peninsula. In the context of the 1848 liberal revolutions that swept through Europe, an unsuccessful war was declared on Austria. Giuseppe Garibaldi, popular amongst southern Italians, led the Italian republican drive for unification in southern Italy, while the northern Italian monarchy of the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia whose government was led by Camillo Benso, conte di Cavour, had the ambition of establishing a united Italian state under its rule. The kingdom successfully challenged the Austrian Empire in the Second Italian War of Independence with the help of Napoleon III, liberating the Lombardy-Venetia. In 1866, Victor Emmanuel II aligned the kingdom with Prussia during the Austro-Prussian War, waging the Third Italian War of Independence which allowed Italy to annex Venice. In 1870, as France during the disastrous Franco-Prussian War abandoned its positions in Rome, Italy rushed to fill the power gap by taking over the Papal State from French sovereignty. Italian unification finally was achieved, and shortly afterwards Italy's capital was moved to Rome.

As Northern Italy was industrialized and modernized, the south became overcrowded, forcing millions of people to emigrate for a better life abroad. The Sardinian Statuto Albertino of 1848, extended to the whole Kingdom of Italy in 1861, provided for basic freedoms, but the electoral laws excluded the non-propertied and uneducated classes from voting. In 1913, male universal suffrage was adopted. The Socialist Party became the main political party, outclassing the traditional liberal and conservative organisations. Starting from the last two decades of the nineteenth century, Italy developed into a colonial power by forcing Somalia, Eritrea and later Libya and the Dodecanese under its rule. During World War I, Italy at first stayed neutral but in 1915 signed the Treaty of London, entering Entente on the promise of receiving Trento, Trieste, Istria, Dalmatia and parts of Ottoman Empire. During the war, 600,000 Italians died, and the economy collapsed. Under the Peace Treaty of Saint-Germain, Italy obtained just Bolzano-Bozen, Trento, Trieste and Istria in a victory described as "mutilated" by the public.

The turbulence that followed the devastations of World War I, inspired by the Russian Revolution, led to turmoil and anarchy. The liberal establishment, fearing a socialist revolution, started to endorse the small National Fascist Party, led by Benito Mussolini. In October 1922 the fascists attempted a coup (the Marcia su Roma, "March on Rome"), but the king ordered the army not to intervene, instead forming an alliance with Mussolini. Over the next few years, Mussolini banned all political parties and curtailed personal liberties, thus forming a dictatorship. In 1935, Mussolini subjugated Ethiopia after a surprisingly lengthy campaign. This resulted in international alienation and the exodus of the country from the League of Nations. A first pact with Nazi Germany was concluded in 1936, and a second in 1938. Italy strongly supported Franco in the Spanish civil war and Hitler's annexations of Austria and the Sudetenland.

On 7 April 1939 Italy occupied Albania, a de facto protectorate for decades, and entered World War II in 1940, taking part in the late stages of the Battle of France. Mussolini, wanting a quick victory like Hitler's blitzkriegs in Poland and France, invaded Greece in October 1940 via Albania but was forced to accept a humiliating defeat after a few months. At the same time, Italy, after initially conquering British Somalia, saw an allied counter-attack lead to the loss of all possessions in the Horn of Africa. Italy was also defeated by British forces in North Africa and was only saved by the urgently dispatched German Africa Corps led by Erwin Rommel. Italy was invaded by the Allies in June 1943, leading to the collapse of the fascist regime and the arrest of Mussolini. In September 1943, Italy surrendered. Immediately Germany invaded its former ally, with the country becoming a battlefield for the rest of the war. The country was liberated on 25 April 1945.

In 1946, Vittorio Emanuele III's son, Umberto II, was forced to abdicate. Italy became a republic after a referendum held on 2 June 1946, a day celebrated since as Republic Day. This was the first election in Italy allowing women to vote. The Republican Constitution was approved and came into force on 1 January 1948. Under the Paris Peace Treaties of 1947, the eastern border area was lost to Yugoslavia, and the free territory of Trieste was divided between the two states. Fears in the Italian electorate of a possible Communist takeover proved crucial for the first universal suffrage electoral outcome on the 18th of April 1948 when the Democrazia Cristiana, under the undisputed leadership of Alcide De Gasperi, won a resounding victory with 48 percent of the vote. In the 50s Italy became a member of the NATO alliance and an ally of the United States, which helped to revive the Italian economy through the Marshall Plan: until the 60s the country saw a period of prolonged economic growth termed the "Economic Miracle". In 1957, Italy was a signatory to the Treaties of Rome founding the European Economic Community (EEC), which became the European Union (EU) in 1993.

From the late 1960s till late 1980s the country experienced a hard economic crisis and the Years of Lead (Italy), a period characterised by widespread social conflicts and terrorist acts carried out by extra-parliamentary movements. The Years of Lead culminated in the assassination of the Christian Democracy (DC) leader Aldo Moro in 1978, bringing to an end the "Historic Compromise" between the DC and the Communist Party. In the 1980s, for the first time since 1945, two governments were led by non-Christian-Democrat premiers: a republican (Giovanni Spadolini) and a socialist (Bettino Craxi); the DC remained, however, the main force supporting the government. The Socialist Party (PSI), led by Bettino Craxi, became more and more critical of the Communists and of the Soviet Union; Craxi himself pushed in favour of US president Ronald Reagan's positioning of Pershing missiles in Italy, a move the Communists hotly contested.

From 1992 to 2009, Italy faced significant challenges, as voters, disenchanted with past political paralysis, massive government debt, extensive corruption, and organized crime's considerable influence (collectively called Tangentopoli after being uncovered by Mani pulite - "Clean hands") demanded political, economic, and ethical reforms. The scandals involved all major parties, but especially those in the government coalition: between 1992 and 1994 the DC underwent a severe crisis and was dissolved, splitting up into several pieces, while the PSI and the other governing minor parties completely dissolved. The 1994 elections put media magnate Silvio Berlusconi into the Prime Minister's seat. However, he was forced to step down in December when the Lega Nord Party withdrew its support. In April 1996, national elections led to the victory of a centre-left coalition under the leadership of Romano Prodi. Prodi's first government became the third-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 Massimo D'Alema, but in April 2000 he resigned. In 2001, national elections led to the victory of a centre-right coalition under the leadership of Silvio Berlusconi, the centre-right formed a government, and Silvio Berlusconi was able to remain in power for a complete five-year mandate, but with two different governments. The first one (2001–2005) became the longest-lived government in post-war Italy. Italy participated in the US-led military coalition in Iraq. The elections in 2006 were won by the centre-left, allowing Prodi to form his second government, but in early 2008 he resigned because of the collapse of his coalition. In the ensuing new early elections in April 2008, Silvio Berlusconi convincingly won to form a government for a third time.

Italy occupies an elongated boot-shaped peninsula, surrounded on the west by the Tyrrhenian Sea and on the east by the Adriatic Sea. It is bounded by France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia to the north. The Apennine Mountains form the peninsula's backbone; the Alps form its northern boundary. The largest of its northern lakes is Garda (143 sq mi; 370 km²); in the centre is Campotosto Lake. The Po, Italy's principal river, flows from the Alps on the western border and crosses the great Padan plain to the Adriatic Sea. Several islands form part of Italy; the largest are Sicily (9,926 sq mi; 25,708 km²) and Sardinia (9,301 sq mi; 24,090 km²). There are several active volcanoes in Italy: Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe; Vulcano; Stromboli; and Vesuvius, the only active volcano on the mainland of Europe.

The climate in Italy is highly diverse and can be far from the stereotypical Mediterranean climate depending on the location. Most of the inland northern areas of Italy, for example Turin, Milan and Bologna, have a continental climate often classified as humid subtropical (Köppen climate classification Cfa). The coastal areas of Liguria and most of the peninsula south of Florence generally fit the Mediterranean stereotype (Köppen climate classification Csa). The coastal areas of the peninsula can be very different from the interior higher altitudes and valleys, particularly during the winter months when the higher altitudes tend to be cold, wet, and often snowy. The coastal regions have mild winters and warm and generally dry summers, although lowland valleys can be quite hot in summer.

The politics of Italy take place in a framework of a parliamentary, democratic republic, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised collectively by the Council of Ministers, which is led by a President, informally referred to as "premier" or primo ministro (that is, "prime minister"). Legislative power is vested in the two houses of Parliament primarily, and secondarily in the Council of Ministers. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislative. Italy has been a democratic republic since 2 June 1946, when the monarchy was abolished by popular referendum (see "birth of the Italian Republic"). The constitution was promulgated on 1 January 1948.

The President of the Italian Republic (Presidente della Repubblica) is elected for seven years by the parliament sitting jointly with a small number of regional delegates. As the head of state, the President of the Republic represents the unity of the nation and has many of the duties previously given to the King of Italy. The president serves as a point of connection between the three branches of power: he is elected by the lawmakers, he appoints the executive, he is the president of the judiciary and he is also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The president nominates the Prime Minister, who proposes the other ministers (formally named by the president). The Council of Ministers must obtain a confidence vote from both houses of Parliament. Legislative bills may originate in either house and must be passed by a majority in both.

Italy elects a parliament consisting of two houses, the Chamber of Deputies (Camera dei Deputati), which has 630 members and the Senate of the Republic (Senato della Repubblica), comprising 315 elected members and a small number of senators for life). Legislation may originate in either house and must be passed in identical form by a majority in each. The houses of parliament are popularly and directly elected through a complex electoral system (latest amendment in 2005) which combines proportional representation with a majority prize for the largest coalition. All Italian citizens 18 years of age and older can vote. However, to vote for the Senate, the voter must be 25 or older. The electoral system for the Senate is based upon regional representation. As of 15 May 2006 there are seven life senators (of which three are former Presidents). Both houses are elected for a maximum of five years, but both may be dissolved by the President before the expiration of their normal term if the Parliament is unable to elect a stable government. In post-war history, this has happened in 1972, 1976, 1979, 1983, 1994, 1996 and 2008.

A peculiarity of the Italian Parliament is the representation given to Italian citizens permanently living abroad (about 2.7 million people). Among the 630 Deputies and the 315 Senators there are respectively 12 and 6 elected in four distinct overseas constituencies. Those members of Parliament were elected for the first time in April 2006, and they have the same rights as members elected in Italy.

The Italian judicial system is based on Roman law modified by the Napoleonic code and later statutes. The Supreme Court of Cassation is the court of last resort for most disputes. The Constitutional Court of Italy (Corte Costituzionale) rules on the conformity of laws with the Constitution and is a post-World War II innovation.

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 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade/World Trade Organization (GATT/WTO), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and the Council of Europe. Its recent turns in the rotating Presidency of international organisations include the Conference for Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE), the forerunner of the OSCE, in 1994; G8; and the EU in 2001 and from July to December 2003.

Italy supports the United Nations and its international security activities. Italy deployed troops in support of UN peacekeeping missions in Somalia, Mozambique, and East Timor and provides support for NATO and UN operations in Bosnia, Kosovo and Albania. Italy deployed over 2,000 troops to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in February 2003. Italy still supports international efforts to reconstruct and stabilize Iraq, but it has withdrawn its military contingent of some 3,200 troops as of November 2006, maintaining only humanitarian workers and other civilian personnel. In August 2006 Italy sent about 2,450 soldiers to Lebanon for the United Nations' peacekeeping mission UNIFIL. Furthermore, since 2 February 2007 an Italian, Claudio Graziano, is the commander of the UN force in the country.

Article 11 of the Italian Constitution says: "Italy rejects war as an instrument of aggression against the freedoms of others peoples and as a means for settling international controversies; it agrees, on conditions of equality with other states, to the limitations of sovereignty necessary for an order that ensures peace and justice among Nations; it promotes and encourages international organizations having such ends in view".

The Italian armed forces are under the command of the Italian Supreme Defense Council, presided over by the President of the Italian Republic. The total number of military personnel is approximately 308,000. Italy has the eighth-highest military expenditure in the world. Italy shares nuclear weapons with NATO, in the form of US nuclear weapons leased to Italy.

The Italian Army (Esercito Italiano) is the ground defence force of the Italian Republic. It has recently become a professional all-volunteer force of active-duty personnel, numbering 115,687 as of 29 July 2004. Its best-known combat vehicles are the Dardo infantry fighting vehicle, the Centauro tank destroyer and the Ariete tank, and among its aircraft the Mangusta attack helicopter, recently deployed in UN missions. The Esercito Italiano also has at its disposal a large number of Leopard 1 and M113 armored vehicles.

The Italian Navy (Marina Militare) is one of the four branches of the military forces of Italy. It was created in 1946, as the Navy of the Italian Republic, from the Italian Royal Navy (Regia Marina). Today's Marina Militare is a modern navy with a strength of 35,261 and ships of every type, such as aircraft carriers, destroyers, modern frigates, submarines, amphibious ships, and other smaller ships such as oceanographic research ships.

The Marina Militare is now equipping itself with a bigger aircraft carrier (the Cavour), new destroyers, submarines and multipurpose frigates. In modern times, the Marina Militare, being a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), has taken part in many coalition peacekeeping operations around the world.

The Italian Air Force (Aeronautica Militare Italiana, or AMI) was founded as an independent service arm on 28 March 1923 by King Vittorio Emanuele III as the Royal Air Force (Regia Aeronautica). After World War II, when Italy was made a republic by referendum, the Regia Aeronautica was given its current name. Today the Aeronautica Militare has a strength of 45,879 and operates 585 aircraft, including 219 combat jets and 114 helicopters. As a stopgap and as replacement for leased Tornado ADV interceptors, the AMI has leased 30 F-16A Block 15 ADF and four F-16B Block 10 Fighting Falcons, with an option for more. The coming years also will see the introduction of 121 EF2000 Eurofighter Typhoons, replacing the leased F-16 Fighting Falcons. Further updates are foreseen in the Tornado IDS/IDT and AMX fleets. A transport capability is guaranteed by a fleet of 22 C-130Js, and some Aeritalia G.222s. Also, 12 planes of the newly developed G.222 variant called the C-27J Spartan will enter service replacing the G.222's. The Italian air force is also planning on purchasing F-35 strike fighters, but they have not been distributed around the world yet.

The Carabinieri are the gendarmerie and military police of Italy, providing the republic with a national police service. At the Sea Islands Conference of the G8 in 2004, the Carabinieri was given the mandate to establish a Center of Excellence for Stability Police Units (CoESPU) to spearhead the development of training and doctrinal standards for civilian police units attached to international peacekeeping missions.

Italy is subdivided into 20 regions (regioni, singular regione). Five of these regions have a special autonomous status that enables them to enact legislation on some of their local matters; these are marked by an asterisk (*) in the table below. The country is further divided into 109 provinces (province) and 8,101 municipalities (comuni).

In October 2007, the Italian population surpassed 59.8 million. Italy currently has the fourth-largest population in the European Union and the 23rd-largest population worldwide. Italy's population density, at 196.1 persons per kilometre, is the fifth highest in the European Union. The highest density is in northern Italy, as that one-third of the country contains almost half of the Italian population. After World War II, Italy saw an economic boom which lured the rural population to the cities, and at the same time it turned from a nation characterized by massive emigration to a net immigrant-receiving country. High fertility persisted until the 70s when it plunged below replacement, so that as of 2007, one in five Italians was a pensioner. Despite this, thanks mainly to the immigration of the 80s and 90s, in the 2000s Italy saw natural population growth for the first time in years.

Italy is a destination for immigrants from all over the world. At the end of 2007, foreigners comprised 5.8 percent of the population, or 3,432,651 persons, an increase of 16.8 percent over the previous year. In many northern Italian cities such as Milan, Brescia, and Padua, migrants can constitute close to one-tenth of the local populations or even more. In 2007, Italy saw a slight increase in births, some 563,933, which was brought about mostly by immigrants, as 11.4 percent of all newborns had at least one foreign-born parent.

Since the expansion of the European Union, the most recent wave of migration has been from surrounding European nations, particularly Eastern Europe, and increasingly Asia, replacing North Africa as a major source of migrants. Some 625,287 Romanians are officially registered as living in Italy, replacing Albanians and Moroccans as the largest ethnic minority group, but unofficial estimates put the actual number of Romanians at double that figure or perhaps even more. As of 2007, migrants came from other parts of Europe (52.02%), North Africa (16.17%), Asia (16.08%), the Americas (8.5%) and sub-Saharan Africa (7.06%).

Roman Catholicism is by far the largest religion in the country, although the Catholic Church is no longer officially the state religion. Fully 87.8% of Italians identified themselves as Roman Catholic, although only about one-third of these described themselves as active members (36.8%). Other Christian groups in Italy include more than 700,000 Eastern Orthodox Christians, including 470,000 newcomers, and some 180,000 Greek Orthodox, 550,000 Pentecostals and Evangelicals (0.8%), of whom 400,000 are members of the Assemblies of God, 235,685 Jehovah's Witnesses (0.4%), 30,000 Waldensians, 25,000 Seventh-day Adventists, 22,000 Mormons, 15,000 Baptists (plus some 5,000 Free Baptists), 7,000 Lutherans, 5,000 Methodists (affiliated with the Waldensian Church). The country's oldest religious minority is the Jewish community, comprising roughly 45,000 people. It is no longer the largest non-Christian group. As a result of immigration from other parts of the world, some 825,000 Muslims (1.4% of the total population) live in Italy, though only 50,000 are Italian citizens. In addition, there are 110,000 Buddhists (0.2%), 70,000 Sikhs, and 70,000 Hindus (0.1%) in Italy.

According to GDP calculations, Italy was ranked as the seventh-largest economy in the world in 2006, behind the United States, Japan, Germany, China, the United Kingdom, and France, and the fourth-largest in Europe. According to the OECD, in 2004 Italy was the world's sixth-largest exporter of manufactured goods. This economy remains divided into a developed industrial north dominated by private companies and a less-developed agricultural south. In the Index of Economic Freedom 2008 it ranked 64th of 162 countries, or 29th of 41 European countries, the lowest rating in the EU-15 and behind many ex-communist European countries. Italy has often been called a sick man of Europe, with governments having problems in pursuing reform programs.

According to World Bank data, Italy has high levels of freedom to invest, do business, and trade. On the other hand, Italy has inefficient bureaucracy, relatively low property rights and high levels of corruption (compared to other European countries), heavy taxes, and heavy public consumption at around half of GDP. Italy has been in economic decline compared to most other EU-15 countries. Most raw materials needed by Italian industries, and more than 75% of energy requirements, are imported. Over the past decade, Italy has pursued a tight fiscal policy in order to meet the requirements of the Economic and Monetary Union and has benefited from lower interest and inflation rates. Italy joined the Euro from its introduction in 1999.

Italy's economic performance has at times lagged behind that of its EU partners, and the current government has enacted numerous short-term reforms aimed at improving competitiveness and long-term growth. It has moved slowly, however, on implementing certain structural reforms favoured by economists, such as lightening the high tax burden and overhauling Italy's rigid labour market and expensive pension system, because of the economic slowdown and opposition from labour unions.

Italy has a smaller number of world-class multinational corporations than other economies of comparable size. Instead, the country's main economic strength has been its large base of small- and medium-sized companies. Some of these companies manufacture products that are technologically moderately advanced and therefore face increasing competition from China and other emerging Asian economies which are able to undercut them on labour costs. These Italian companies are responding to the Asian competition by concentrating on products with a higher technological content, while moving lower-tech manufacturing to plants in countries where labour is less expensive. The small average size of Italian companies remains a limiting factor, and the government has been working to encourage integration and mergers and to reform the rigid regulations that have traditionally been an obstacle to the development of larger corporations in the country. Nevertheless, Italian industry is envied for its advanced design and style, which often capitalize on the country's formidable artistic patrimony.

Italy's major exports are motor vehicles (Fiat Group, Aprilia, Ducati, Piaggio), chemicals, petrochemicals (Eni), electricity (Enel, Edison), home appliances (Merloni, Candy), aerospace and defense tech (Alenia, Agusta, Finmeccanica), and firearms (Beretta), but the country's more famous exports are in the fields of fashion (Armani, Valentino, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Roberto Cavalli, Benetton, Prada, Luxottica), food industry (Ferrero, Barilla Group, Martini & Rossi, Campari, Parmalat), luxury vehicles (Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini, Pagani) and motoryachts (Ferretti, Azimut).

Also tourism is very important to the Italian economy: with over 43.7 million tourists a year, Italy is ranked as the fifth major tourist destination in the world.

The railway network in Italy, operated by Ferrovie dello Stato, totals 16,627 kilometres (10,331 mi), ranking the country 17th in the world. High-speed trains include ETR-class trains, of which the ETR 500 travels at 300 km/h (190 mph). The version ETR 500 Y1 achieved 355 km/h (221 mph) on the Milan-Bologna line on 1 March 2008.

In 1991, Treno Alta Velocità SpA (TAV) was created, a special-purpose entity owned by Rete Ferroviaria Italiana (RFI), itself owned by Ferrovie dello Stato, for the planning and construction of high-speed rail lines along Italy's most important and saturated transport routes. These lines are often referred as "TAV" lines. The purpose of TAV construction is to aid travel along Italy's most saturated rail lines and to add tracks to these lines, namely the Milan-Naples and Turin-Milan-Venice corridors. One of the focuses of the project is to turn the rail network of Italy into a modern and high-tech passenger rail system in accordance with updated European rail standards. A secondary purpose is to introduce high-speed rail to the country and its high-priority corridors. When demand on regular lines is lessened with the opening of dedicated high-speed lines, those regular lines will be used primarily for low-speed regional rail service and freight trains. With these ideas realised, the Italian train network can be integrated with other European rail networks, particularly the French TGV, German ICE, and Spanish AVE systems.

There are approximately 654,676 km (406,797 mi) of serviceable roadway in Italy, including 6,957 km (4,323 mi) of expressways. There are approximately 133 airports in Italy, including the two hubs of Malpensa International near Milan and Leonardo Da Vinci International near Rome. There are 27 major ports in Italy, the largest in Genoa, which is also the second-largest in the Mediterranean Sea after Marseille. Italy is traversed by 2,400 km (1,500 mi) of waterways.

Italy did not exist as a state until the country's unification in 1861. Due to this comparatively late unification, and the historical autonomy of the regions that comprise the Italian Peninsula, many traditions and customs that are now recognized as distinctly Italian can be identified by their regions of origin. Despite the political and social isolation of these regions, Italy's contributions to the cultural and historical heritage of Europe remain immense. Italy is home to the greatest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites (43) to date.

Italian painting is traditionally characterized by a warmth of colour and light, as exemplified in the works of Caravaggio and Titian, and a preoccupation with religious figures and motifs. Italian painting enjoyed preeminence in Europe for hundreds of years, from the Romanesque and Gothic periods, and through the Renaissance and Baroque periods, the latter two of which saw fruition in Italy. Notable artists who fall within these periods include Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Donatello, Botticelli, Fra Angelico, Tintoretto, Caravaggio, Bernini, Titian and Raphael. Thereafter, Italy was to experience a continual subjection to foreign powers which caused a shift of focus to political matters, leading to its decline as the artistic authority in Europe. Not until 20th century Futurism, primarily through the works of Umberto Boccioni and Giacomo Balla, would Italy recapture any of its former prestige as a seminal place of artistic evolution. Futurism was succeeded by the metaphysical paintings of Giorgio de Chirico, who exerted a strong influence on the Surrealists and generations of artists to follow.

The basis of the modern Italian language was established by the Florentine poet Dante Alighieri, whose greatest work, the Divine Comedy, is considered amongst the foremost literary statements produced in Europe during the Middle Ages. There is no shortage of celebrated literary figures in Italy: Giovanni Boccaccio, Giacomo Leopardi, Alessandro Manzoni, Torquato Tasso, Ludovico Ariosto, and Petrarch, whose best-known vehicle of expression, the sonnet, was invented in Italy. Prominent philosophers include Giordano Bruno, Marsilio Ficino, Niccolò Machiavelli, and Giambattista Vico. Modern literary figures and Nobel laureates are nationalist poet Giosuè Carducci in 1906, realist writer Grazia Deledda in 1926, modern theatre author Luigi Pirandello in 1936, poets Salvatore Quasimodo in 1959 and Eugenio Montale in 1975, satirist and theatre author Dario Fo in 1997. Regarding the Italian theatre, it can be traced back to the Roman tradition which was heavily influenced by the Greek; as with many other literary genres, Roman dramatists tended to adapt and translate from the Greek. For example, Seneca's Phaedra was based on that of Euripides, and many of the comedies of Plautus were direct translations of works by Menander. During the 16th century and on into the 18th century, Commedia dell'arte was a form of improvisational theatre, and it is still performed today. Travelling troupes of players would set up an outdoor stage and provide amusement in the form of juggling, acrobatics, and, more typically, humorous plays based on a repertoire of established characters with a rough storyline, called canovaccio.

In science, Galileo Galilei made advancements toward the scientific revolution, and Leonardo da Vinci was the quintessential Renaissance Man. Italy has been the home of scientists and inventors: the physicist Enrico Fermi, leader of the team that built the first nuclear reactor; the astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini; the physicist Alessandro Volta, inventor of the electric battery; the mathematicians Lagrange and Fibonacci; Nobel Prize in Physics laureate Guglielmo Marconi, inventor of the radio; and Antonio Meucci, candidate for inventor of the telephone.

From folk music to classical, music has always played an important role in Italian culture. Having given birth to opera, Italy provides many of the foundations of the classical music tradition. Instruments associated with classical music, including the piano and violin, were invented in Italy, and many of the prevailing classical music forms, such as the symphony, concerto, and sonata, can trace their roots back to innovations of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Italian music. Italy's most famous composers include the Renaissance composers Palestrina and Monteverdi, the Baroque composers Alessandro Scarlatti, Corelli and Vivaldi, the Classical composers Paganini and Rossini, and the Romantic composers Verdi and Puccini. Modern Italian composers such as Berio and Nono proved significant in the development of experimental and electronic music.

While the classical music tradition still holds strong in Italy, as evidenced by the fame of its innumerable opera houses, such as La Scala of Milan and San Carlo of Naples, and performers such as the pianist Maurizio Pollini and the late tenor Luciano Pavarotti, Italians have been no less appreciative of their thriving contemporary music scene. Introduced in the early 1920s, jazz took a particularly strong foothold in Italy, and remained popular despite the anti-American cultural policies of the Fascist regime. Today, the most notable centers of jazz music in Italy include Milan, Rome, and Sicily. Later, Italy was at the forefront of the progressive rock movement of the 1970s, with bands like PFM and Goblin. Today, Italian pop music is represented annually with the Sanremo Music Festival, which served as inspiration for the Eurovision song contest, and the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto. Singers such as classical crossover artist Andrea Bocelli, Grammy winner Laura Pausini, and European chart-topper Eros Ramazzotti have attained international acclaim.

The history of Italian cinema began a few months after the Lumière brothers began motion picture exhibitions. The first Italian film was a few seconds long, showing Pope Leo XIII giving a blessing to the camera. The Italian film industry was born between 1903 and 1908 with three companies: the Roman Cines, the Ambrosio of Turin and the Itala Film. Other companies soon followed in Milan and in Naples. In a short time these first companies reached a fair producing quality, and films were soon sold outside Italy. The cinema was later used by Benito Mussolini as a form of propaganda during World War II.

After the war, Italian film was widely recognised and exported until an artistic decline around 1980. World-famous Italian film directors from this period include Vittorio De Sica, Federico Fellini, Sergio Leone, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Michelangelo Antonioni and Dario Argento. Movies include world cinema treasures such as La dolce vita, Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo and Ladri di biciclette. In recent years, the Italian scene has received only occasional international attention, with movies like La vita è bella directed by Roberto Benigni and Il postino with Massimo Troisi.

Popular sports include football, basketball (2nd national team sport since the 1950s), volleyball, waterpolo, fencing, rugby, cycling, ice hockey (mainly in Milan, Trentino-Alto Adige and Veneto), roller hockey and F1 motor racing. Winter sports are most popular in the northern regions, with Italians competing in international games and Olympic venues. Turin hosted the 2006 Winter Olympic Games. Sports are incorporated into Italian festivities like Palio (see also Palio di Siena), and the gondola race (regatta) that takes place in Venice on the first Sunday of September. Sports venues have extended from the gladiatorial games of Ancient Rome in the Colosseum to the Stadio Olimpico of contemporary Rome, where football clubs compete.

The most popular sport in Italy is football, the Serie A being one of the most famous competitions in the world. Italy's national football team is the second-most-successful team in the world, with four world cup victories, the first one of which was in 1934. Italy is also and the current (2006) FIFA world champion. Cricket is also slowly gaining popularity; the Italian national cricket team is administered by the Federazione Cricket Italiana‎ (Italian Cricket Federation). They are currently ranked 27th in the world by the International Cricket Council and are ranked fifth amongst European non-Test teams.

The modern Italian cuisine has evolved through centuries of social and political changes, with its roots reaching back to the 4th century BC. Significant change occurred with the discovery of the New World, when vegetables such as potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, and maize became available. However, these central ingredients of modern Italian cuisine were not introduced in scale before the 18th century.

Ingredients and dishes vary by region. However, many dishes that were once regional have proliferated in different variations across the country. Cheese and wine are major parts of the cuisine, playing different roles both regionally and nationally with their many variations and Denominazione di origine controllata (regulated appellation) laws. Coffee, and more specifically espresso, has become highly important to the cultural cuisine of Italy.

1 Has part of its territory outside Europe.  2 Entirely in West Asia but having socio-political connections with Europe.  3 Has dependencies or similar territories outside Europe. 4 Name disputed by Greece; see Macedonia naming dispute. 5 Declared independence from Serbia on February 17, 2008 and is recognised by 55 United Nations member states.

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Kingdom of Italy (1861–1946)

Gabriele d'Annunzio, a prominent nationalist revolutionary who was a supporter of Italy joining action in the First World War.

The Kingdom of Italy (Italian: Regno d'Italia) was a state forged in 1861 by the unification of Italy under the influence of the Kingdom of Sardinia; it existed until 1946 when the Italians opted for a republican constitution.

During the time of the regime of the National Fascist Party under the dictatorship of Benito Mussolini from 1922 to his ousting in 1943, the name often given by historians to the Kingdom of Italy during this period is Fascist Italy. Under fascism, the Kingdom allied with Nazi Germany in World War II until 1943. In the remaining two years of World War II, the Kingdom of Italy switched sides to the Allies after ousting Mussolini as Prime Minister and banned the Fascist party. The remnant fascist state that continued fighting against the Allies was a puppet state of Nazi Germany, the "Italian Social Republic", still led by Mussolini and his loyalist Fascists in northern Italy. Shortly after the war, civil discontent led to a referendum in 1946 on whether Italy would remain a monarchy or become a republic. Italians decided to abandon the monarchy and form the Italian Republic, which is the present form of Italy today.

The Kingdom of Italy claimed all of the territory which is modern-day Italy. The development of the Kingdom's territory progressed under Italian unification until 1870. The state for a long period of time did not have Trieste or Trentino-Alto Adige, which are in Italy today, and only received them in 1919. After the Treaties of Versailles and St Germain, the state was given Gorizia, Trieste and Istria (now part of Croatia and Slovenia), and small parts of modern-day northwestern Croatia as well as a minuscule portion of the Croatian province of Dalmatia. During the second World War, the Kingdom gained more territory in Slovenia and more territory from Dalmatia. After the Second World War, the borders of present-day Italy were founded and the Kingdom abandoned its land claims.

The Kingdom of Italy also held colonies and protectorates and puppet states, such as modern-day Eritrea, Somalia, Libya, Ethiopia (occupied by Italy in 1936, and then occupied by the British in World War II), Albania, Greece (occupied in World War II), Croatia (Italian and German puppet state in World War II), Kosovo (occupied in World War II), and Montenegro (occupied in World War II), and a small 46 hectare section of land from China in Tianjin (see Italian concession in Tianjin).

The Kingdom of Italy was theoretically a constitutional monarchy. Executive power belonged to the monarch, as executed through appointed ministers. Two chambers of parliament restricted the monarch's power – an appointive Senate and an elective Chamber of Deputies. The kingdom's constitution was the Statuto Albertino, the former governing document of the Kingdom of Sardinia. In theory, ministers were solely responsible to the king. However, in practice, it was impossible for an Italian government to stay in office without the support of Parliament.

Members of the Chamber of Deputies were elected by majority (winner-take-all) elections in large, regional, multi-seat electoral districts. A candidate needed the support of 50% of those voting, and of 25% of all enrolled voters, to be elected on the first round of balloting. If not all seats were filled on the first ballot, a runoff was held shortly afterwards for the remaining vacancies.

Between 1925 and 1943, Italy was in fact a fascist dictatorship, though the constitution formally remained in effect.

The creation of the Kingdom of Italy was the result of concerted efforts of Italian nationalists and monarchists loyal to the House of Savoy to establish a united kingdom encompassing the entire Italian Peninsula. The last state to encompass the Italian peninsula was the Roman Empire and was the beginning of the modern Italian state.

After the Revolutions of 1848, the apparent leader of the Italian unification movement was Italian liberal-nationalist Giuseppe Garibaldi. He was popular amongst southern Italians and in the world was renowned for his extremely loyal followers. Garibaldi led the Italian republican drive for unification in southern Italy, but the northern Italian monarchy of the House of Savoy in the Kingdom of Sardinia, a de facto Piedmontese state, whose government was led by Camillo Benso, conte di Cavour, also had ambitions of establishing a united Italian state. Though the kingdom had no physical connection to Rome (deemed the natural capital of Italy, but still capital of the Papal States), the kingdom had successfully challenged Austria in the Second Italian War of Independence, liberating Lombardy-Venetia from Austrian rule. The kingdom also had established important alliances which helped it improve the possibility of Italian unification, such as Britain and France in the Crimean War. Sardinia was dependent on France being willing to protect it and in 1860, Sardinia was forced to cede territory to France to maintain relations.

Cavour moved to challenge republican unification efforts by Garibaldi by organizing popular revolts in the Papal States. He used these revolts as a pretext to invade the country, even though the invasion angered the Catholics, whom he told that the invasion was an effort to protect the Roman Catholic Church from the anti-clerical secularist nationalist republicans of Garibaldi. Only a small portion of the Papal States around Rome remained in the control of Pope Pius IX. Despite their differences, Cavour agreed to include Garibaldi's Southern Italy allowing it to join the union with Piedmont-Sardinia in 1860. Subsequently Cavour declared the creation of the Kingdom of Italy on February 18, 1861, composed of both Northern Italy and Southern Italy. King Victor Emmanuel II of Piedmont-Sardinia from the House of Savoy was then declared King of Italy. This title had been out of use since the abdication of Napoleon I of France on April 6, 1814.

Following the unification of most of Italy, tensions between the monarchists and republicans erupted. In April 1861, Garibaldi entered the Italian parliament and challenged Cavour's leadership of the government, accusing him of dividing Italy and spoke of the threat of civil war between the Kingdom in the north and Garibaldi's forces in the south. On June 6, 1861, the Kingdom's strongman Cavour died. During the ensuing political instability, Garibaldi and the republicans became increasingly revolutionary in tone. Garibaldi’s arrest in 1862 set off worldwide controversy.

In 1866 Prussian Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck offered Victor Emmanuel II an alliance with the Kingdom of Prussia in the Austro-Prussian War. In exchange Prussia would allow Italy to annex Austrian-controlled Venice. King Emmanuel agreed to the alliance and the Third Italian War of Independence began. Italy fared poorly in the war with a badly organized military against Austria, but Prussia's victory allowed Italy to annex Venice. The one major obstacle to Italian unity remained Rome.

In 1870, Prussia went to war with France starting the Franco-Prussian War. To keep the large Prussian army at bay, France abandoned its positions in Rome - which protected the remnants of the Papal States and Pius IX - in order to fight the Prussians. Italy benefited from Prussia's victory against France by being able to take over the Papal States from French authority. Rome was captured by the kingdom of Italy after several battles and guerilla-like warfare by Papal Zouaves and official troops of the Holy See against the Italian invaders. Italian unification was completed, and shortly afterward Italy's capital was moved to Rome. Economic conditions in the united Italy were poor:, there were no industry or transportation facilities, extreme poverty (especially in the Mezzogiorno), high illiteracy, and only a small percent of wealthy Italians had the right to vote. The unification movement had largely been dependent on the support of foreign powers and remained so afterwards.

Following the capture of Rome in 1870 from French forces of Napoleon III, Papal troops and Zouaves, relations between Italy and the Vatican remained sour for the next sixty years with the Popes declaring themselves to be prisoners in the Vatican. The Catholic Church frequently protested the actions of the secular and anticlerical-influenced Italian governments, refused to meet with envoys from the King and urged Catholics not to vote in Italian elections. It would not be until 1929, that positive relations would be restored between the Kingdom of Italy and the Vatican after the signing of the Lateran Pacts.

After unification, Italy's politics favoured liberalism: the right was regionally fragmented, and conservative Prime Minister Marco Minghetti only held on to power by enacting revolutionary and left-leaning policies (such as the nationalization of railways) to appease the opposition. In 1876, Minghetti was ousted and replaced by liberal Agostino Depretis, who began the long Liberal Period. The Liberal Period was marked by corruption, government instability, continued poverty in southern Italy, and use of authoritarian measures by the Italian government.

Depretis began his term as Prime Minister by initiating an experimental political idea called Trasformismo (transformism). The theory of trasformismo was that a cabinet should select a variety of moderates and capable politicians from a non-partisan perspective. In practice, trasformismo was authoritarian and corrupt, Depretis pressured districts to vote for his candidates if they wished to gain favourable concessions from Depretis when in power. The results of the 1876 election resulted in only four representatives from the right being elected, allowing the government to be dominated by Depretis. Despotic and corrupt actions are believed to be the key means in which Depretis managed to keep support in southern Italy. Depretis put through authoritarian measures, such as banning public meetings, placing "dangerous" individuals in internal exile on remote penal islands across Italy and adopting militarist policies. Depretis enacted controversial legislation for the time, such as abolishing arrest for debt, making elementary education free and compulsory while ending compulsory religious teaching in elementary schools.

In 1887, Francesco Crispi became Prime Minister and began focusing government efforts on foreign policy. Crispi worked to build Italy as a great world power though increased military expenditures, advocacy of expansionism, and trying to win Germany's favour. Italy joined the Triple Alliance which included both Germany and Austria-Hungary in 1882 and which remained officially intact until 1915. While helping Italy develop strategically, he continued trasformismo and was authoritarian, once suggesting the use of martial law to ban opposition parties. Despite being authoritarian, Crispi put through liberal policies such as the Public Health Act of 1888 and establishing tribunals for redress against abuses by the government.

Italian society after unification and throughout most of the Liberal Period was sharply divided along class, linguistic, regional, and social lines.

Common cultural traits in Italy in this time were social conservative in nature, including a strong belief in the family as an institution and patriarchal values. In other areas, Italian culture was divided. Aristocratic, noble, and upper middle-class families in Italy at this time were highly traditional in nature, with the upper middle-class even being known to often settle differences between each other by duels. After unification, a number of descendents of former royal nobility became residents of Italy, numbering at 7,387 nobile families upon unification. Many of Italy's elites were wealthy landowners who maintained a feudal society in regards to their agricultural system's utilization of large numbers of peasants. Italian society in this period remained highly divided along regional and local sub-societies which often had historical rivalries with each other.

Upon unifying, Italy effectively did not have a single national language as official Italian was only commonly used in Rome while outside of Rome, regional dialects were dominant. Even the kingdom's first king, Victor Emmanuel II was known to speak almost entirely in Piedmontese, even to his cabinet ministers. In addition to this, literacy was extremely poor in this era with an 1871 census indicating that 61.9 percent Italian men were illiterate and 75.7 percent of women were illiterate. This illiteracy rate was far higher than that of western European countries in the same time period. Some historians have claimed that census at this time for literacy were very lax as they only rated whether someone could write their own name and read a single passage, which may indicate that literacy in Italy was worse than what census projected. The level of illiteracy was compounded by the fact that Italy had very few public schools upon unification and no popular press was available across Italy due to the language division of the regional dialects. The Italian government in the Liberal Period attempted to reduce illiteracy by establishing state-funded schools to teach the official Italian language. Literacy and illiteracy variated in levels in the different regions of Italy where there were different levels of quality of public education, with the worst being in Southern Italy at the time which received minimal funding.

Living standards were low during the Liberal Period, especially in southern Italy due to various diseases such as malaria and epidemics that occurred during the period. As a whole, there was initially a high death rate in 1871 at 30 people dying per 1000 people, though this reduced to 24.2 per 1000 by the 1890s. In addition, the mortality rate of children dying in their first year after birth in 1871 was 22.7 percent while the number of children dying before reaching their fifth birthday was very high at 50 percent. The morality rate of children dying in their first year after birth decreased to an average of 17.6 percent in the time period of 1891 to 1900.

With unification, the new kingdom faced serious economic problems and economic division along political, social, and regional lines. In the Liberal Period, Italy remained highly economically dependent on foreign trade and the international price of coal and grain.

Upon unifying, Italy had a predominantly agricultural society as 60 percent of the active population worked in agriculture. Advances in technology, the sale of vast Church estates, foreign competition along with export opportunities rapidly transformed the agricultural sector in Italy shortly after unification . However these developments did not benefit all of Italy in this period, as southern Italy’s agriculture suffered from hot summers and aridity damaged crops while the presence of malaria prevented cultivation of low-lying areas along Italy’s Adriatic coast.

The overwhelming attention paid to foreign policy alienated the agricultural community in Italy which had been in decline since 1873. Both radical and conservative forces in the Italian parliament demanded that the government investigate how to improve agriculture in Italy. The investigation which started in 1877 and was released eight years later, showed that agriculture was not improving, that landowners were earning revenue from their lands and contributing almost nothing to the development of the land. Lower class Italians were hurt by the break-up of communal lands to the benefit of landlords. Most of the workers on the agricultural lands were not peasants but short-term labourers who at best were employed for one year. Peasants without stable income were forced to live off meager food supplies, disease was spreading rapidly, plagues were reported, including a major cholera epidemic which killed at least 55,000 people.

The Italian government could not deal with the situation effectively because of overspending by the Depretis government that left Italy heavily in debt. Italy also suffered economically as a consequence of overproduction of grapes by their vineyards. In the 1870s and 1880s, France's vineyard industry was suffering from vine disease caused by insects. Italy time prospered as the largest exporter of wine in Europe. But following the recovery of France in 1888, southern Italy was overproducing and had to cut back, which caused greater unemployment and bankruptcies.

The Italian government invested heavily in developing railways in the 1870s, more than doubling the existing length of railway line between 1870 and 1890.

Italy’s population remained severely divided between wealthy elites and impoverished workers especially on regional lines. An 1881 census found that over 1 million southern day-labourers were chronically under-employed and were very likely to become seasonal emigrants in order to economically sustain themselves. Southern peasants as well as small landowners and tenants often were in a state of conflict and revolt throughout the late 1800s. There were exceptions to the generally poor economic condition of agricultural workers of the south, as some regions near cities such as Naples and Palermo as well as along the Tyrrhenian coast. The 1910 Commission of Inquiry into the South indicated that the Italian government thus far had failed to ameliorate the severe economic differences and the limitation of voting rights only to those with sufficient property allowed rich landowners to exploit the poor.

A number of colonial projects were undertaken by the government. These were done to gain support of Italian nationalists and imperialists, who wanted to rebuild a Roman Empire. Already, Italy had large settlements in Alexandria, Cairo, and Tunis. Italy first attempted to gain colonies through negotiations with other world powers to make colonial concessions. These negotiations failed. Italy also sent missionaries to uncolonized lands to investigate the potential for Italian colonization. The most promising and realistic of these were parts of Africa. Italian missionaries had already established a foothold at Massawa (in present day Eritrea) in the 1830s and had entered deep into Ethiopia.

On 5 February 1885, shortly after the fall of Egyptian rule in Khartoum, Italy took advantage of Egypt's conflict with Britain by landing soldiers at Massawa. In 1888, Italy annexed Massawa by force, creating the colony of Italian Eritrea.

In 1895, Ethiopia led by Emperor Menelik II abandoned an agreement signed in 1889 to follow Italian foreign policy. Italy used this renunciation as a reason to invade Ethiopia. Ethiopia gained the help of Russia, whose own interests in East Africa led Russia's government to sent large amounts of modern weaponry to the Ethiopians to hold back an Italian invasion. In response, Britain decided to back the Italians to challenge Russian influence in Africa and declared that all of Ethiopia was within the sphere of Italian interest. On the verge of war, Italian militarism and nationalism reached a peak, with Italians flocking to the Italian army, hoping to take part in the upcoming war.

The Italian army failed on the battlefield and were overwhelmed by a huge Ethiopian army at the Battle of Adwa. Italy was forced to retreat into Eritrea. The failed Ethiopian campaign was an international embarrassment to Italy.

From November 2, 1899, to September 7, 1901, Italy participated as part of the Eight-Nation Alliance forces during the Boxer Rebellion in China. On September 7, 1901, a concession in Tientsin was ceded to the Italy by the Qing Dynasty. On June 7, 1902, the concession was taken into Italian possession and administered by an Italian consul.

In 1911, Italy declared war on the Ottoman Empire and invaded Tripolitania, Fezzan, and Cyrenaica. These provinces together formed what became known as Libya. The war ended only a year later, but the occupation resulted in acts of discrimination against Libyans such as the forced deportation of Libyans to the Tremiti Islands in October 1911. By 1912, a third of these Libyan refugees had died from a lack of food and shelter. The annexation of Libya led nationalists to advocate Italy's domination of the Mediterranean Sea by occupying Greece and the Adriatic coastal region of Dalmatia.

In 1892, Giovanni Giolitti became Prime Minister of Italy for his first term. Although his first government quickly collapsed a year later, Giolitti returned in 1903 to lead Italy's government during a fragmented period that lasted until 1914. Giolitti had spent his earlier life as a civil servant, and then took positions within the cabinets of Crispi. Giolitti was the first long-term Italian Prime Minister in many years because he mastered the political concept of trasformismo by manipulating, coercing and bribing officials to his side. In elections during Giolitti's government, voting fraud was common, and Giolitti helped improve voting only in well-off, more supportive areas, while attempting to isolate and intimidate poor areas where opposition was strong. Southern Italy was in terrible shape prior to and during Giolitti's tenure as Prime Minister. Four-fifths of southern Italians were illiterate and the dire situation there ranged from problems of large numbers of absentee landlords to rebellion and even starvation. Corruption was such a large problem that Giolitti himself admitted that there were places "where the law does not operate at all".

In 1911, Giolitti's government sent forces to occupy Libya. While the success of the Libyan War improved the status of the nationalists, it did not help Giolitti's administration as a whole. The government attempted to discourage criticism by speaking about Italy's strategic achievements and inventiveness of their military in the war: Italy was the first country to use the airship for military purposes, and undertook aerial bombing on the Ottoman forces. The war radicalized the Italian Socialist Party: anti-war revolutionaries led by future-Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini called for violence to bring down the government. Giolitti returned as Prime Minister only briefly in 1920, but the era of liberalism was effectively over in Italy.

In the lead-up to the First World War, the Kingdom of Italy faced a number of short-term and long-term problems in determining its allies and objectives. Italy's recent success in occupying Libya had sparked tension and jealousy with its allies, Germany and Austria-Hungary. In Munich, Germans reacted to Italy's aggression by singing anti-Italian songs. Italy's relations with France also were in bad shape: France felt betrayed by Italy’s support of Prussia in the Franco-Prussian War, opening the possibility of war erupting between the two countries. Italy's relations with Britain had also been impaired by constant Italian demands for more recognition in the international stage following the occupation of Libya, and its demands that other nations accept its spheres of influence in East Africa and the Mediterranean.

In the Mediterranean, Italy’s relations with Greece were aggravated when Italy occupied the Greek-populated Dodecanese Islands and Rhodes from 1912 to 1914. These islands had been formerly controlled by the Ottoman Empire. Italy and Greece were also in open rivalry over the desire to occupy Albania.

King Emmanuel III himself was uneasy about Italy pursuing distant colonial adventures, and said that Italy should prepare to take back Italian-populated land from Austria-Hungary, as the "completion of the Risorgimento". This idea put Italy at odds with Austria-Hungary.

A major hindrance to Italy's decision on what to do about the war was the political instability throughout Italy in 1914. After the formation of the government of Prime Minister Antonio Salandra in March 1914, the government attempted to win the support of nationalists and moved to the political right. At the same time the left became more repulsed by the government after the killing of three anti-militarist demonstrators in June. Many elements of the left including syndicalists, republicans and anarchists protested against this and the Italian Socialist Party declared a general strike in Italy. The protests that ensued became known as "Red Week" as leftists rioted and various acts of civil disobedience occurred in major cities and small towns such as seizing railway stations, cutting telephone wires, and burning tax-registers. However only two days later the strike was officially called off, though the civil strife continued. Militarist nationalists and anti-militarist leftists fought on the streets until the Italian Royal Army forcefully restored calm after having used thousands of men to put down the various protesting forces following the invasion of Serbia by Austria-Hungary in 1914, World War I broke out. Despite Italy's official alliance to the German Empire and in the Triple Alliance, she initially remained neutral, claiming that the Triple Alliance was only for defensive purposes.

Mussolini used his new newspaper Il Popolo d'Italia and his strong oratorical skills to urge nationalists and patriotic revolutionary leftists to support Italy's entry into the war to gain back Italian populated territories from Austria-Hungary, by saying "enough of Libya, and on to Trent and Trieste". Mussolini claimed that it was in the interests of socialists to join the war to tear down the aristocratic Hohenzollern dynasty of Germany which he claimed was the enemy of all European workers. Mussolini and other nationalists warned the Italian government that Italy must join the war or face revolution and called for violence against pacifists and neutralists. Left-wing nationalism also erupted in southern Italy, socialist and nationalist Giuseppe De Felice-Giuffrida saw joining the war as essential to relieving southern Italy of the rising cost of bread which had caused riots in the south, and advocated a "war of revolution".

With nationalist sentiment firmly on the side of reclaiming Italian territories of Austria-Hungary, Italy entered negotiations with the Triple Entente. The negotiations ended successfully in April 1915 when the London Pact was brokered with the Italian government. The pact ensured Italy the right to attain all Italian-populated lands it wanted from Austria-Hungary, and even land in the Balkans and German colonies in Africa. The proposal fulfilled the desires of Italian nationalists and Italian imperialism, and was agreed to. Italy joined the Triple Entente in its war against Austria-Hungary and Germany.

The reaction in Italy was divided: former Prime Minister Giovanni Giolitti was furious over Italy's decision to go to war against its former defence allies Austria-Hungary and Germany. He claimed that Italy would fail in the war, predicting high numbers of mutinies, Austro-Hungarian occupation of more Italian territory, and that the failure would produce a catastrophic rebellion that would destroy the liberal-democratic monarchy and the liberal-democratic secular institutions of the state.

The outset of the campaign against Austria-Hungary looked initially to favour Italy: Austria-Hungary's army was spread to cover its fronts with Serbia and Russia, and Italy had a numerical superiority against the Austro-Hungarian army. However, this advantage was never fully utilized because Italian military commander Luigi Cadorna insisted on a dangerous frontal assault against Austria-Hungary in an attempt to occupy the Slovenian plateau and Ljubljana. This assault would put the Italian army not far away from Austria-Hungary's imperial capital, Vienna. After eleven failed offensives with enormous loss of life, the Italian campaign to take Vienna collapsed.

Upon entering the war, geography was also a difficulty for Italy, as its border with Austria-Hungary was along mountainous terrain. In May 1915, Italian forces at 400,000 men along the border outnumbered the Austrian and Germans almost precisely four to one. However the Austrian defenses were strong even though they were undermanned and managed to hold off the Italian offensive. The battles with the Austro-Hungarian army along the Alpine foothills in the trench warfare there were drawn-out, long engagements with little progress. Italian officers were poorly trained in contrast to the Austro-Hungarian and German armies, and Italian artillery was inferior to the Austrian machine guns and the Italian forces had dangerously low supply of ammunition, this shortage would continually hamper attempts to make advances into Austrian territory. This combined with the constant replacement of officers by Cadorna resulted in few officers gaining the experience necessary to lead military missions. In the first year of the war, poor conditions on the battlefield led to outbreaks of cholera causing a significant number of Italian soldiers to die. Despite these serious problems, Cadorna refused to back down the offensive. Naval battles occurred between the Italian Royal Navy (Regia Marina) and the Austro-Hungarian navy. Italy's warships were outclassed by the Austro-Hungarian fleet and the situation was made more dire for Italy in that both France and the United Kingdom refused to send their navies into the Adriatic Sea which they saw has far too dangerous to operate due the concentration of the Austro-Hungarian fleet there. Morale fell among Italian soldiers who lived a tedious life when not on the front lines: they were forbidden to enter theatres or bars even when on leave. However when battles were about to occur, alcohol was made freely available to the soldiers in order to reduce tension before the battle.In order to escape the tedium after battles, some groups of soldiers worked to create improvised brothels. In order to maintain morale, the Italian army had propaganda lectures of the importance of the war to Italy, especially in order to retrieve Trent and Trieste from Austria-Hungary. Some of these lectures were carried out by popular nationalist war proponents such as Gabriele D'Annunzio. D'Annunzio himself would participate in a number of paramilitary raids on Austrian positions along the Adriatic coastline during the war and lost an eye one of the battles. Prominent pro-war advocate Benito Mussolini was prevented from giving lecture by the government, most likely because of his revolutionary socialist past.

The Italian government became increasingly aggravated in 1915 with the passive nature of the Serbian army which had not engaged in a serious offensive against Austria-Hungary for months. The Italian government blamed Serbian military inactiveness for allowing the Austrians to muster their armies against Italy. Cadorna suspected that Serbia was attempting to negotiate an end to fighting with Austria and addressed this to foreign minister Sidney Sonnino who himself bitterly claimed that the Serbia was an unreliable ally. Relations between Italy and Serbia became so cold that the other Entente members were forced to abandon the idea of forming a united Balkan front against Austria-Hungary. In negotiations, Sonnino remained willing to allow Bosnia to join Serbia, but refused to discuss the fate of Dalmatia which was claimed by Italy and Pan-Slavists in Serbia. As Serbia fell to the Austro-Hungarian and German forces in 1915, Cadorna proposed sending 60,000 men to land in Salonika to help the Serbs now in exile in Greece and Albania to fight off the opposing forces, but the Italian government's bitterness to Serbia resulted in the proposal being rejected.

After 1916, the situation for Italy grew steadily worse, the Austro-Hungarian army managed to push the Italian Army back into Italy as far as Verona and Padua in their Strafexpedition. At the same time Italy faced a shortage of warships, increased attacks by submarines, soaring freight charges threatening the ability to supply food to soldiers, lack of raw materials and equipment, and Italians faced high taxes to pay for the war. Austro-Hungarian and German forces had gone deep into northern Italian territory, and finally in November 1916, Cadorna ended offensive operations and began a defensive approach. In 1917, France, the United Kingdom and the United States offered to send troops to Italy to help it fend off the offensive of the Central Powers, but the Italian government refused, as Sonnino did not want Italy to be seen as a client state of the Allies and preferred isolation as the more brave alternative. Italy also wanted to keep Greece out of the war, as the Italian government feared that should Greece join the war on the side of the Allies, it would intend to annex Albania, which Italy wanted as its own. Fortunately for Italy, pro-war advocates in Greece failed to succeed in pressuring the Greek King to bring the country into the conflict, and Italian aims on Albania remained unthreatened.

With the collapse of the Russian Empire and the arrival of the communist Bolshevik regime of Vladimir Lenin in Russia in 1917, more Austro-Hungarian and German forces arrived on the front against Italy. Internal dissent against the war grew with increasingly poor economic and social conditions in Italy due to the strain of the war. Much of the profit of the war was being made in the cities while rural areas were losing income. The number of men available for agricultural work had fallen from 4.8 million to 2.2 million, though through the help of women, agricultural production managed to be maintained at 90 percent of its pre-war total during the war. Many pacifist and internationalist Italian socialists turned to Bolshevism and advocated negotiations with the workers of Germany and Austria-Hungary to help end the war and bring about Bolshevik revolutions. The newspaper Avanti! of the Italian Socialist Party declared "Let the bourgeoisie fight its own war". Leftist women in northern Italian cities led protests demanding action against the high cost of living and demanding an end to the war. In Milan in May 1917, Bolshevik revolutionaries organized and engaged in rioting calling for an end to the war, and managed to close down factories and stop public transportation. The Italian army was forced to enter Milan with tanks and machine guns to face Bolsheviks and anarchists who fought violently until May 23 when the army gained control of the city with almost fifty people killed (three of which were Italian soldiers) and over 800 people arrested.

After the Battle of Caporetto in 1917, Italian forces were forced far back into Italian territory, and the humiliation led to the arrival of Vittorio Orlando as Prime Minister who managed to solve some of Italy's wartime problems. Orlando abandoned the previous isolationist approach to the war and increased coordination with the Allies and the use of the convoy system to fend off submarine attack, allowed Italy to be able to end food shortages from February 1918 onward, and Italy received more raw materials from the Allies. Also in 1918, began the official repression of enemy aliens and Italian socialists were increasingly repressed by the Italian government. The Italian government was infuriated with U.S. President Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points as the advocation of national self-determination meant that Italy would not gain Dalmatia as had been promised in the Treaty of London. In parliament, nationalists condemned Wilson's fourteen points as betraying the Treaty of London, while socialists claimed that Wilson's points were valid and claimed the Treaty of London was an offense to the rights of Slavs, Greeks, and Albanians. Negotiations between Italy and the Allies, particularly the new Yugoslav delegation (replacing the Serbian delegation), agreed to a trade off between Italy and a new Yugoslav state, which was that Dalmatia as claimed by Italy would be accepted as Yugoslav, while Istria as claimed by the Yugoslavs would be accepted as Italian.

At Piave the Italian army managed to hold off the Austro-Hungarian and German armies. The opposing armies repeatedly failed afterwards in major battles such as Battle of Asiago and the Battle of Vittorio Veneto. The Italian Army crushed the Austrian offensive in the latter battle. Austria-Hungary ended the fighting against Italy with the armistice on 11 November 1918 which ended World War I.

During the war, the Italian Royal Army increased in size from 15,000 men in 1914 to 160,000 men in 1918, with 5 million recruits in total entering service during the war. This came at a terrible cost: by the end of the war, Italy had lost 700,000 soldiers and had a budget deficit of twelve billion lira. Italian society was divided between the majority pacifists who opposed Italian involvement in the war and the minority of pro-war nationalists who had condemned the Italian government for not having immediately gone to war with Austria in 1914.

As the war came to an end, Italian Prime Minister Vittorio Emanuele Orlando met with British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, French President Georges Clemenceau, and United States President Woodrow Wilson in Versailles, to discuss how the borders of Europe should be redefined to help avoid a future European war.

The talks provided little territorial gain to Italy because Wilson, during the peace talks, promised freedom to all European nationalities to form their own nation states. As a result, the Treaty of Versailles did not assign Dalmatia and Albania to Italy, as had been promised in the Treaty of London (1915). Furthermore, the British and French decided to divide the German overseas colonies into mandates of their own, with Italy receiving none of them. Despite this, Orlando signed the Treaty of Versailles, which caused uproar against his government. Civil unrest erupted in Italy between nationalists who supported the war effort and opposed the "mutilated victory" (as nationalists called it) and leftists who were opposed to the war.

Furious over the peace settlement, Italian nationalist revolutionary Gabriele D'Annunzio led nationalists to form the Free State of Fiume in September 1919. His popularity among nationalists led him to be called Il Duce (The Leader) and he used blackshirted paramilitary in his assault on Fiume, the blackshirt paramilitary uniform would later become synonymous with the fascist movement of Mussolini. The demand for annexation of Fiume spread to all sides of the political spectrum, including Mussolini's revolutionary fascists. D'Annunzio’s stirring speeches drew Croatian nationalists to his side. He also kept contact with the Irish Republican Army and Egyptian nationalists.

The occupation ended one year later, but Fiume later was annexed by Italy in 1924. Mussolini learned from D'Annunzio the ways to arouse patriotism in order to gain support from nationalists, socialists, anarchists, and army veterans.

In 1914, Benito Mussolini was forced out of the Italian Socialist Party after calling for Italian intervention against Austria. Prior to World War I, Mussolini had opposed military conscription, protested Italy's occupation of Libya, and was the editor of the Socialist Party's official newspaper, Avanti!. Over time, he simply called for revolution, without mentioning class struggle. Mussolini's nationalism enabled him to raise funds from Ansaldo (an armaments firm) and other companies to create his own newspaper Il Popolo d'Italia to convince socialists and revolutionaries to support the war. France, Britain, and Russia, wanting to draw Italy to the Entente, helped finance the newspaper. This newspaper became Fascist Italy's officially-supported newspaper years later. During the war, Mussolini served in the Italian army and was wounded once during the war. The wound is widely believed to be the result of an accident in grenade practice, although he claimed to have been wounded in battle.

Following the end of the war and the Treaty of Versailles, in 1919, Mussolini created the Fasci di Combattimento or Combat League. It was originally dominated by patriotic socialist and syndicalist veterans who opposed the pacifist nature of the Italian Socialist Party. The Fascists initially had a platform far more inclined to the left, promising social revolution, proportional representation, women's suffrage, and dividing private property held by estates. On 15 April 1919, the Fascists made their debut in political violence, when a group of members from the Fasci di Combattimento attacked the offices of Avanti! Recognizing the failures of the Fascists' initial revolutionary and left-leaning policy, Mussolini moved the organization away from the left and turned the revolutionary movement into an electoral movement in 1921 named the Partito Nazionale Fascista (National Fascist Party). The party copied the nationalist themes of D'Annunzio and rejected parliamentary democracy while still operating within to destroy it. Mussolini changed his original revolutionary policies, such as moving away from anti-clericalism to supporting the Catholic Church and abandoned his public opposition to the monarchy. Fascist support and violence began to grow in 1921 and Fascist-supporting army officers began taking arms and vehicles from the army to use in counterrevolutionary attacks on socialists.

In 1920, Giolitti had come back as Prime Minister in an attempt to solve Italy's deadlock. One year later, Giolitti's government had already become unstable, and a growing socialist opposition further endangered his government. Giolitti believed that the Fascists could be toned down and used to protect the state from the socialists. He decided to include Fascists on his electoral list for the 1921 elections. In the elections, the Fascists did not make large gains, but Giolitti's government failed to gather a large enough coalition to govern and offered the Fascists placements in his government. The Fascists rejected Giolitti's offers and joined with socialists in bringing down his government. A number of descendants of those who had served Garibaldi's revolutionaries during unification were won over to Mussolini's nationalist revolutionary ideals. His advocacy of corporatism and futurism had attracted advocates of the "third way". But most importantly he had won over politicians in Italy like Facta and Giolitti who did not condemn him for his Blackshirts' mistreatment of socialists.

In October 1922, Mussolini took advantage of a general strike by workers in Italy, and announced his demands to the Italian government to give the Fascist Party political power or face a coup. With no immediate response, a small number of Fascists began a long trek across Italy to Rome which was called the March on Rome, claiming to Italians that Fascists were intending to restore law and order. Mussolini himself did not participate until the very end of the march, with d'Annunzio at being hailed as leader of the march until it was learned he had been pushed out of a window and severely wounded in a failed assassination attempt, depriving him of the possibility of leading an actual coup d'état orchestrated by an organization originally founded by himself. The Fascists, under the leadership of Mussolini demanded Prime Minister Luigi Facta's resignation and that Mussolini be named Prime Minister. Although the Italian Army was far better armed than the Fascist paramilitaries, the Italian government under King Victor Emmanuel III faced a political crisis. The King was forced to choose which of the two rival movements in Italy would form the government: Mussolini's Fascists, or the anti-monarchist Italian Socialist Party. He selected the Fascists.

On October 28, 1922, Victor Emmanuel III selected Mussolini to become Italian Prime Minister, allowing Mussolini and the Fascist Party to pursue their political ambitions as long as they supported the monarchy and its interests. Mussolini was a very young political leader (at the age of 39) compared to other Italian prime ministers and world leaders at the time. Mussolini was called Il Duce, or "The Leader" by his supporters, an unofficial title that was commonly used to describe Mussolini's position during the Fascist era. A personality cult was developed that portrayed him as the nation's saviour which was aided by the personal popularity he held with Italians already which would remain strong until Italy faced continuous military defeats in World War II.

Upon taking power, Mussolini formed a legislative coalition with nationalists, liberals and populists. However goodwill by the Fascists towards parliamentary democracy faded quickly: Mussolini's coalition passed the electoral Acerbo Law of 1923, which gave two thirds of the seats in parliament to the party or coalition that achieved 25% of the vote. The Fascist Party used violence and intimidation to achieve the 25% threshold in the 1924 election, and became the ruling political party of Italy.

Following the election, Socialist deputy Giacomo Matteotti was assassinated after calling for an annulment of the elections because of the irregularities. Following the assassination, the Socialists walked out of parliament, allowing Mussolini to pass more authoritarian laws. In 1925, Mussolini accepted responsibility for the Fascist violence in 1924, and then declared a Fascist dictatorship in which he would be the unopposed Prime Minister of Italy with the assent of the King.

The result of Mussolini's take over of the government was the creation of a diarchy in Italy, with Mussolini wielding enormous political powers as the effective ruler of Italy, while the King remained a figurehead, though he retained some rights including the ability to remove the Prime Minister which was seen as a minor power but would be pivotal in the fall of Mussolini from power years later.

The Fascist conception of the State is all-embracing; outside of it no human or spiritual values can exist, much less have value. Thus understood, Fascism is totalitarian, and the Fascist State—a synthesis and a unit inclusive of all values—interprets, develops, and potentiates the whole life of a people. Doctrine of Fascism, 1935.

With the concept of totalitarianism, Mussolini and the Fascist regime set an agenda of improving Italian culture and society based on ancient Rome, personal dictatorship, and some futurist aspects of Italian intellectuals and artists.

Under Fascism, the definition of the Italian nationality rested on a militarist foundation and the Fascist's "new man" ideal in which loyal Italians would rid themselves of individualism and autonomy and see themselves as a component of the Italian state and be willing to sacrifice their lives for it. Under such a totalitarian society, only Fascists would be considered "true Italians" and membership and endorsement of the Fascist Party was necessary for people to gain "Complete Citizenship", those who did not swear allegiance to Fascism were banished from public life and could not gain employment. The Fascist regime also reached out to Italian expatriates living abroad to endorse the Fascist cause and identify with Italy rather than their place of residence. Despite efforts to mould a new culture for fascism, Fascist Italy's efforts were not as drastic or successful in comparison to other one-party states like Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in creating a new culture.

In Fascist Italy, Mussolini was idolized as the nation's saviour. In public and in propaganda the Fascist regime attempted to make him omnipresent in Italian society. Much of Fascism's appeal in Italy was based on the personality cult around Mussolini and his popularity. Mussolini's passionate oratory and personality cult was displayed at huge rallies and parades of his Blackshirts in Rome which served as an inspiration to Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist German Workers Party (Nazi Party) in Germany.

The Fascist regime established propaganda in newsreels, radio broadcasting, and a few feature films deliberately endorsing Fascism. In 1926, laws were passed to require that propaganda newsreels be shown prior to all feature films in cinemas. These newsreels were more effective in influencing the Italian public than propaganda films or radio, as few Italians had radio receivers at the time. Fascist propaganda was widely present in posters and state-sponsored art of the time. Art and literature in Fascist Italy were not strictly controlled, and were only censored if they were blatantly against the state.

Relations with the Roman Catholic Church improved significantly during Mussolini's regime. Despite earlier opposition to the Church, after 1922, Mussolini made an alliance with the pro-church Partito Popolare Italiano or Italian People's Party. Mussolini negotiated with the Pope over granting sovereignty to the territory of the Vatican as part of a "conciliazione" (conciliation) in a concordat called the Lateran Treaty to improve Italy's official relations with the Church. The negotiations however were initially tense: the Vatican and the Fascist regime engaged in bitter arguments over what such a pact would mean and how it should be interpreted. Giovanni Montini (the future Pope Paul VI), who was involved with pro-Catholic politics in Italy, questioned the value of the concordat in ensuring Vatican sovereignty, once saying "If the liberty of the Pope cannot be guaranteed by the strong faith of a free people, and especially by the Italian people, then no territory and no treaty will be able to do so.".

The Fascist regime nevertheless proceeded with its intent to resolve the problem of Vatican sovereignty. A plebscite was held in March 1929 in which Italians were asked to vote on the government's proposed recognition of Vatican sovereignty. Those who opposed the concordat felt intimidated by the Fascist regime: the Catholic Action party (Azione Cattolica) instructed Italian Catholics to vote for Fascist candidates to represent them in positions in churches, Mussolini claimed that "no" votes were of those "...few ill-advised anti-clericals who refuse to accept the Lateran Pacts". In the French newspaper Le Monde, Guido Miglioni spoke of the attitude of the Fascist regime and what he saw was the nature of the Lateran pact: "These two years have witnessed the gradual but inexorable submission of the Pope to the demands of the Regime" Despite opposition to the nature of the negotiations, many Italians feared that a "no" vote would incite Fascist reprisals and attacks on the individuals who opposed the concordat. When the plebiscite was held, 8.63 million Italians or 90 per cent of the registered electorate voted. Of this number, only 135,761 voted "no". The Lateran Treaty was signed and the Vatican's sovereignty was recognized. Despite earlier troubles, relations between the Church and the regime and moreover Italy itself, improved significantly. The Lateran Treaty remains in place to this day.

In 1933, Italy made multiple technological achievements. The Fascist government spent large sums of money on technological projects such as the construction of the new Italian ocean liner SS Rex which in 1933 made a transatlantic sea crossing record of four days. as well as funding the development of the Macchi M.C.72 seaplane which became the world's fastest seaplane in 1933 and retained the title in 1934. In 1933, Fascist government member Italo Balbo, who was also an aviator made a transatlantic flight in a flying boat to Chicago for the World's Fair called the Century of Progress. The flight symbolized the power of Fascist leadership and the industrial and technological progress the state had made under Fascist direction.

On the issue of anti-Semitism, the Fascists were divided on what to do, especially with the rise of Adolf Hitler in Germany. A number of Fascist members were Jewish, and Mussolini himself did not personally believe in anti-Semitism, but to appease Hitler, anti-Semitism within the Fascist party steadily increased. In 1936, Mussolini made his first written denounciation of Jews by claiming that anti-Semitism had only arisen because Jews had become too predominant in the positions of power of countries and claimed that Jews were a "ferocious" tribe who sought to "totally banish" Christians from public life. In 1937, Fascist member Paolo Orano criticized the Zionist movement as being part of British foreign policy which designed to secure British hold of the area without respecting the Christian and Muslim presence in Palestine. On the matter of Jewish Italians, Orano said that they "should concern themselves with nothing more than their religion" and not bother boasting of being patriotic Italians. In 1938 under pressure from Nazi Germany, Mussolini made the regime adopt a policy of anti-Semitism, which was extremely unpopular in Italy and in the Fascist Party itself. As a result of the laws, the Fascist regime lost its propaganda director, Margherita Sarfatti, who was Jewish and had been Mussolini's mistress. A minority of high-ranking Fascists were pleased with anti-Semitic policy such as Roberto Farinacci who claimed that Jews through intrigue had taken control key positions of finance, business and schools and he noted that Jews sympathized with Ethiopia during Italy's war with it and that Jews had sympathized with Republican Spain during the Spanish Civil War. In its alliance with Nazi Germany, the Fascist regime aided the Nazis in the deportation of Jews to concentration camps, labour camps, and extermination camps during the Holocaust. In 1938, Farinacci became the minister in charge of culture, and adopted racial laws designed to prevent racial intermixing which included anti-Semitism. Italy itself established a number of concentration and internment camps across its held territories, but these camps were not like those of Nazi Germany, as families were allowed to stay together and there no campaign of deliberate mass murder as what was happening in German held territory.

The Fascist government endorsed a stringent education policy in Italy aiming at eliminating illiteracy which was a serious problem in Italy at the time and improving loyalty of Italians to the state. To reduce drop-outs, the government changed the minimum age of leaving school from twelve to fourteen and strictly enforced attendance. The Fascist government's first minister of education from 1922 to 1924, Giovanni Gentile recommended that education policy should focus on indoctrination of students into Fascism, and to educate youth to respect and be obedient to authority. In 1929, education policy took a major step towards being completely taken over by the agenda of indoctrination. In that year, the Fascist government took control of the authorization of all textbooks, all secondary school teachers were required to take an oath of loyalty to Fascism, and children began to be taught that they owed the same loyalty to Fascism as they did to God. In 1933, all university teachers were required to be members of the National Fascist Party. From 1930s to 1940s, Italy's education focused on the history of Italy displaying Italy as a force of civilization during the Roman era, displaying the rebirth of Italian nationalism and the struggle for Italian independence and unity during the Risorgimento. In late 1930s, the Fascist government copied Nazi Germany's education system on the issue of physical fitness, and began an agenda that demanded that Italians become physically healthy.

Intellectual talent in Italy was rewarded and promoted by the Fascist government through the Royal Academy of Italy which was created in 1926 to promote and coordinate Italy's intellectual activity.

A major success in social policy in Fascist Italy was the creation of the Opera Nazionale Dopolavoro (OND) or "National After-work Program" in 1925. The OND was the state's largest recreational organizations for adults. The Dopolavoro was so popular that, by the 1930s, all towns in Italy had a Dopolavoro clubhouse and the Dopolavoro was responsible for establishing and maintaining 11,000 sports grounds, over 6,400 libraries, 800 movie houses, 1,200 theatres, and over 2,000 orchestras. Membership in the Dopolavoro was voluntary but had high participation because of its nonpolitical nature. In the 1930s under the direction of Achille Starace the OND became primarily recreational, concentrating on sports and other outings. It is estimated that by 1936 the OND had organized 80% of salaried workers. Nearly 40% of the industrial workforce had been recruited into the Dopolavoro by 1939 and the sports activities proved popular with large numbers of workers. The OND had the largest membership of any of the mass Fascist organizations in Italy. The enormous success of the Dopolavoro in Fascist Italy was the key factor in Nazi Germany creating its own version of the Dopolavoro, the Kraft durch Freude (KdF) or "Strength through Joy" program, which was even more successful than the Dopolavoro.

For security of the regime, Mussolini advocated complete state authority, and created the Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale or National Security Volunteer Militia in 1923, which are commonly referred to as the Blackshirts for the colour of their uniforms. Most of the Blackshirts were members from the Fasci di Combattimento. A secret police force called the Organizzazione di Vigilanza Repressione dell'Antifascismo (Organisation for Vigilance and Repression of Anti-Fascism) or OVRA was created in 1927. It was led by Arturo Bocchini to crack down on opponents of the regime and Mussolini (there had been several near-miss assassination attempts on Mussolini's life in his early years in power). This force was effective, but unlike the Schutzstaffel (SS) in Nazi Germany or the NKVD of the Soviet Union, the OVRA caused far fewer deaths of political opponents. However Fascists methods of repression were cruel which included physically forcing opponents of Fascism to swallow castor oil which would cause severe diarrhea and dehydration, leaving the victim in a painful and physically debilitated state which would sometimes would result in death.

To combat organized crime, especially the Mafia in Sicily and other parts of southern Italy, the Fascists gave special powers in 1925 to Cesare Mori, the prefect of Palermo. These powers gave him the ability to prosecute the Mafia, forcing many Mafiosi to flee abroad (many to the United States) or risk being jailed. Mori was fired however, when he began to investigate Mafia links within the Fascist regime. He was removed from his position in 1929, and the Fascist regime declared that the threat of the Mafia had been eliminated. Mori's actions weakened the Mafia, but did not destroy them. From 1929 to 1943, the Fascist regime completely abandoned its previously aggressive measures against the Mafia, and the Mafiosi were left relatively undisturbed.

Mussolini and the Fascist Party promised Italians a new economic system called corporatism. Corporatism was the fusion of capitalism and socialism into a new economic system that would retain class hierarchy and class divisions while allowing workers to be able to negotiate on equal grounds with business owners on wages, hours of work, working conditions, etc.

In 1935, the Doctrine of Fascism was published under Mussolini's name, although it was most likely written by Giovanni Gentile. It described the role of the state in the economy under corporatism. By this time, Fascism had been drawn more towards the support of market forces being dominant over state intervention.

The corporate State considers that private enterprise in the sphere of production is the most effective and useful instrument in the interest of the nation. In view of the fact that private organisation of production is a function of national concern, the organiser of the enterprise is responsible to the State for the direction given to production. State intervention in economic production arises only when private initiative is lacking or insufficient, or when the political interests of the State are involved. This intervention may take the form of control, assistance or direct management. Doctrine of Fascism, 1935.

Fascists claimed that this system would be egalitarian and traditional at the same time. The economic policy of corporatism quickly faltered: the left-wing elements of the Fascist manifesto were opposed by industrialists and landowners who supported the party because it pledged to defend Italy from communism and socialism. As a result, corporatist policy became dominated by the industries. Throughout the Mussolini era, economic legislation mostly favoured the wealthy industrial and agrarian classes by allowing privatization, liberalization of rent laws and dismantling of non-Fascist unions. While the Fascist unions could not protect workers from all economic consequences, they were responsible for the handling of social security benefits, claims for severance pay, and could sometimes negotiate contracts that benefited workers.

After the Great Depression hit the world economy in 1929, the Fascist regime followed other nations in enacting protectionist tariffs and attempted to set direction for the economy. In the 1930s, the government increased wheat production, and made Italy self-sufficient for wheat, ending imports of wheat from Canada and the United States. However the transfer of agricultural land to wheat production reduced the production of vegetables and fruit. Despite improving production for wheat, the situation for peasants themselves did not improve. 0.5% of the Italian population (usually wealthy), owned 42 percent of all agricultural land in Italy, and income for peasants did not increase while taxes did increase. The Depression caused unemployment to rise from 300,000 to 1 million in 1933. It also caused a 10 percent drop in real income and a fall in exports. Italy fared better than most western nations during the Depression: its welfare services did reduce the impact of the Depression. Its industrial growth from 1913 to 1938 was even greater than that of Germany for the same time period. Only the United Kingdom and the Scandinavian nations had a higher industrial growth during that period.

Italy's colonial expansion into Ethiopia in 1936, proved to have a negative impact on Italy's economy. The budget of the colony of Italian East Africa in the 1936-37 fiscal year requested from Italy 19.136 billion lire to be used create the necessary infrastructure for the colony. At the time Italy's entire revenue that year was only 18.581 billion lire.

Benito Mussolini and the Fascist Party promised to bring Italy back as a Great Power in Europe, making it a "New Roman Empire". Mussolini promised that Italy would hold power over the Mediterranean Sea. In propaganda, Fascists used the ancient Roman "Mare Nostrum" (Latin for "Our Sea") to describe the Mediterranean. The Fascist regime increased funding and attention to military projects, and began plans to create an Italian Empire in Africa, and reclaim dominance in the Mediterranean and Adriatic Sea. The Fascists considered wars to conquer Dalmatia, Albania and Greece for the Italian Empire.

Colonial efforts in Africa began in the 1920s, as civil war plagued Italian North Africa (Africa Settentrionale Italiana, or ASI) as the Arab population there refused to accept Italian colonial rule. Mussolini sent Marshal Rodolfo Graziani to lead a punitive pacification campaign against the Arab nationalists. Omar Mukhtar, led the Arab resistance movement. After a much-disputed truce on 3 January 1928, the Fascist policy in Libya increased in brutality. A barbed wire fence was built from the Mediterranean to the oasis of Al-Jaghbub to sever lines critical to the resistance. Soon afterwards, the colonial administration began the wholesale deportation of the people of the Jebel Akhdar to deny the rebels the support of the local population. The forced migration of more than 100,000 people ended in concentration camps in Suluq and Al-'Aghela where tens of thousands died in squalid conditions. It's estimated that the number of Libyans who died - killed either through combat or starvation and disease - is at a minimum of 80,000 or even up to half of the Cyrenaican population. After Al-Mukhtar's capture September 15, 1931 and his execution in Benghazi, the resistance petered out. Limited resistance to the Italian occupation crystallized round the person of Sheik Idris, the Emir of Cyrenaica.

Negotiations occurred with the British government on expanding the borders of the colony of Libya. The first negotiations began in 1925 to define the border between Libya and British-held Egypt. These negotiations resulted in Italy gaining previously undefined territory. In 1934, once again the Italian government requested more territory for Libya from British-held Sudan. Britain allowed Italy to gain some territory from Sudan to add to Libya. These concessions were probably allowed because of the relatively good relations between Italy and Britain prior to 1935.

In 1935, Mussolini believed that the time was right for Italy to invade Ethiopia (a.k.a. Abyssinia) to make it a colony. As a result, the Second Italo-Abyssinian War) erupted. Italy invaded Ethiopia from the Italian colonies of Eritrea and Italian Somaliland. Italy committed atrocities against Ethiopians during the war, including the use of aircraft to drop poison gas on the defending Ethiopian soldiers. Ethiopia surrendered in 1936, completing Italy's revenge for its failed colonial conquest of the 1880s. King Victor Emmanuel III was soon proclaimed Emperor of Abyssinia. The international consequences for Italy's belligerence resulted in its isolation at the League of Nations. France and Britain quickly abandoned their trust of Mussolini. The only nation to back Italy's aggression was Nazi Germany. After being condemned by the League of Nations, the Grand Council of Fascism declared Italy's decision to leave the League on December 11, 1937 and Mussolini denounced the League as a mere "tottering temple".

After pressure was placed on Italy by Nazi Germany to promote a racist agenda, the Fascist regime moved away from its previous promotion of colonialism based on the spread of Italian culture to a directly racist colonial agenda. The Fascist regime declared that it would promote mass Italian settlements in the colonies that would in the Fascist regime's terms, "create in the heart of the African continent a powerful and homogeneous nucleus of whites strong enough to draw those populations within our economic orbit and our Roman and Fascist civilization". Fascist rule in its Italian colonies differed from region to region. Rule in Italian East Africa (Africa Orientale Italiana, or AOI), a colony including Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Italian Somaliland, was harsh for the native peoples as Fascist policy sought to destroy native culture. In February 1937, Rodolfo Graziani ordered Italian soldiers to pillage native settlements in Addis Ababa, which resulted in hundreds of Ethiopians being killed and their homes being burned to the ground. After the occupation of Ethiopia, the Fascist regime endorsed racial segregation to reduce the number of mixed offspring in Italian colonies which they claimed would "pollute" the Italian race. Marital and sexual relationships between Italians and Africans in its colonies were made a criminal offense when the Fascist regime implemented decree-law No. 880 of April 19, 1937 which gave sentences of one to five years imprisonment to Italians caught in such relationships. The law did not give any sentences to native Africans, as the Fascist government claimed that only those Italians were to blame for damaging the prestige of their race. Despite racist language used in some propaganda, the Fascist regime accepted recruitment of native Africans who wanted to join Italy's colonial armed forces and native African colonial recruits were displayed in propaganda. In Italian Libya, Mussolini downplayed racist policies as he attempted to earn the trust of Arab leaders there. Individual freedom, inviolability of home and property, right to join the military or civil administrations, and the right to freely pursue a career or employment were guaranteed to Libyans by December 1934. In famous trip to Libya in 1937, a propaganda event was created when on March 18 Mussolini posed with Arab dignitaries who gave him an honorary "Sword of Islam" (that had actually been made in Florence) which was to symbolize Mussolini as a protector of the Muslim Arab peoples there. In 1939, laws were passed that allowed Muslims to be permitted to join the National Fascist Party and in particular the Muslim Association of the Lictor (Associazione Musulmana del Littorio) for Muslim Libya, and the 1939 reforms allowed the creation of Libyan military units within the Italian army.

The Fascist regime also engaged in interventionist foreign policy in Europe. In 1923, Italian soldiers captured the Greek island of Corfu as part of the Fascists' plan to eventually take over Greece. Corfu was later returned to Greece and war between Greece and Italy was avoided. In 1925, Italy forced Albania to become a de facto protectorate which helped Italy's stand against Greek sovereignty. Corfu was important to Italian imperialism and nationalism due to its presence in the former Republic of Venice which left behind significant Italian cultural monuments and influence, though the Greek population there, especially youth, heavily protested the Italian occupation. Relations with France were mixed, the Fascist regime consistently had the intention to eventually wage war on France to regain Italian-populated areas of France, but with the rise of Hitler, the Fascists immediately became more concerned of Austria's independence and the potential threat of Germany to Italy, if it demanded the German-populated areas of Tyrol. Due to concerns of German expansionism, Italy joined the Stresa Front with France and the United Kingdom against Germany which existed from 1935 to 1936. The Fascist regime held negative relations with Yugoslavia, as they long wanted the implosion of Yugoslavia in order to territorially expand and increase Italy's power. Italy pursued espionage in Yugoslavia, as Yugoslav authorities on multiple occasions discovered spy rings in the Italian Embassy in Yugoslavia such as in 1930. In 1929, the Fascist government accepted Croatian extreme nationalist Ante Pavelić as a political exile to Italy from Yugoslavia. The Fascists gave Pavelić financial assistance and a training ground in Italy to develop and train his newly formed fascist militia and terrorist group, the Ustaše. This organization later became the ruling force of the Independent State of Croatia, and murdered hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews and other minorities during World War II. In 1936 in Spain, the Fascist regime made its most significant pre-war military intervention. The Spanish Republic was divided in the Spanish Civil War between the anticlerical socialist Republicans and the Church-supporting, monarchy-backed nationalists led by Francisco Franco under his fascist Falange movement. Italy sent aircraft, weapons, and a total of over 60,000 troops to aid the Spanish nationalists. The war helped train the Italian military for war and improve relations with the Catholic Church. It was a success that secured Italy's naval access in and out of the Mediterranean to the Atlantic and its ability to pursue its policy of Mare Nostrum without fear of opposition by Spain. The other major foreign contributor to the Spanish Civil War was Nazi Germany. This was the first time that Italian and German forces fought together since the Austro-Prussian War in the 1860s. During the 1930s, Italy built many large battleships and other warships to solidify Italy's hold on the Mediterranean.

After Germany annexed Czechoslovakia, Mussolini decided to capture Albania to avoid becoming second-rate member of Axis. On April 7, Italy invaded Albania. After short campaign Albania was occupied, and its parliament crowned Victor Emmanuel III King of Albania. The historical justification for the annexation of Albania laid in the ancient history of the Roman Empire in which the region of Albania had been an early conquest for the Romans, even before northern Italy had been taken by Roman forces. But obviously by the time of annexation, little connection to Italy remained amongst Albanians. In actuality, the annexation of Albania was far from a military conquest as the country had been a de facto protectorate of Italy since the 1920s and much of its army were commanded by Italian officers sent from Italy and the occupation was not appreciated by King Emmanuel III, who feared that it had isolated Italy even further than its war against Ethiopia.

When the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP, a.k.a. Nazi Party) attained power in Germany in 1933, Mussolini and the Fascist regime in public showed approval of Hitler's regime, with Mussolini saying "The victory of Hitler is our victory". The Fascist regime also spoke of creating an alliance with the new regime in Germany. In private, Mussolini and the Italian Fascists showed disapproval of the Nazi government despite ideological similarities and Mussolini had a disapproving view of Hitler. The Fascists distrusted Hitler's Pan-German ideas which they saw as a threat to territories in Italy that previously had been part of Austria. Although other Nazis disapproved of Mussolini and Fascist Italy, Hitler had long idolized Mussolini's oratorical and visual persona, and adopted much of the symbolism of the Fascists into the Nazi Party, such as the Roman, straight-armed salute, dramatic oratory, the use of uniformed paramilitaries for political violence, and the use of mass rallies to demonstrate the power of the movement. In 1922 Hitler tried to ask for Mussolini's guidance on how to organize his own version of the March on Rome which would be a "March on Berlin" (which came into being as the failed Beer Hall Putsch in 1923). Mussolini did not respond to Hitler's requests as he did not have much interest in Hitler's movement and regarded Hitler to be somewhat crazy. Mussolini did attempt to read Mein Kampf to find out what Hitler's National Socialist movement was but was immediately disappointed, saying that Mein Kampf was "a boring tome that I have never been able to read" and remarked that Hitler's beliefs were "little more than commonplace clichés." While Mussolini like Hitler believed in the cultural and moral superiority of whites over coloured peoples, he opposed Hitler's anti-Semitic beliefs. A number of Fascists were Jewish, including Mussolini's mistress Margherita Sarfatti, the director of Fascist art and propaganda and there was little support amongst Italians for anti-Semitism. Mussolini also did not evaluate race as being a precursor of superiority, but rather culture.

Hitler and the Nazis continued to try to woo Mussolini to their cause, and eventually Mussolini gave financial assistance to the Nazi party and allowed Nazi paramilitaries to train in Italy in the belief that despite differences, a fascist regime in Germany could be beneficial to Italy. Suspicion of the Nazis increased after 1933, Mussolini sought to insure that Nazi Germany would not become the dominant fascist state in Europe. To do this, Mussolini opposed German efforts to annex Austria after the assassination of fascist Austrian President Engelbert Dollfuss in 1934, and promised the Austrians military support if Germany were to interfere. This promise helped save Austria from annexation in 1934.

Public appearances and propaganda constantly portrayed the closeness of Mussolini and Hitler and the similarities between Italian Fascism and German National Socialism. While both ideologies had significant similarities, the two factions were suspicious of each other, and both leaders were in competition for world influence. Hitler and Mussolini first met in June 1934, as the issue of Austrian independence was in crisis. In private, after the visit in 1934, Mussolini said that Hitler was just "a silly little monkey".

With no significant opposition from Italy, Hitler proceeded with Anschluß, the annexation of Austria in 1938. Germany later claimed the Sudetenland, a province of Czechoslovakia inhabited mostly by Germans. Mussolini felt he had little choice but to help Germany to avoid isolation. With the annexation of Austria by Germany in 1938, the Fascist regime began to be concerned about the majority ethnic German population in southern Tyrol, and whether they would want to join a Greater Germany. The Fascists were also concerned about whether Italy should follow Nazi anti-Semitic policies in order to gain favour from those Nazis who had mixed feelings about Italy as an ally. In 1938, Mussolini pressured fellow Fascist members to support the enacting of anti-Semitic policies, but this was not well taken, as a number of Fascists were Jewish and anti-Semitism was not an active political concept in Italy. Nevertheless, Mussolini forced through anti-Semitic legislation even while his own son-in-law and prominent Fascist Count Galeazzo Ciano personally condemned such laws. In turn for enacting the extremely unpopular anti-Semitic laws, Mussolini and the Fascist government demanded a concession from Hitler and the Nazis. In 1939 the Fascists demanded from Hitler that his government willingly accept the Italian government's plan to have all Germans in south Tyrol either leave Italy or be forced to accept Italianization. Hitler agreed and thus the threat to Italy from the south Tyrol Germans was neutralized.

As war approached in 1939, the Fascist regime stepped up an aggressive press campaign against France claiming that Italian people were suffering in France. This was important to the alliance as both regimes mutually had claims on France, Germany on German-populated Alsace-Lorraine and Italy on the mixed Italian and French populated Savoy and Corsica. In May 1939, a formal alliance was organized. The alliance was known as the Pact of Steel which obliged Italy to fight with Germany if war broke out against Germany. Mussolini felt obliged to sign the pact in spite of his own concerns that Italy could not fight a war in the near future. This obligation grew from his promises to Italians that he would build an empire for them and from his personal desire to not allow Hitler to become the dominant leader in Europe. Mussolini was repulsed by the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact agreement where Germany and the Soviet Union agreed to partition the Second Polish Republic into German and Soviet zones for an impending invasion. The Fascist government saw this as a betrayal of the Anti-Comintern Pact, but decided to remain officially silent.

When Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939 beginning World war II, Mussolini publicly declared on September 24, 1939, that Italy had the choice of entering the war or to remain neutral which would cause the country to lose its national dignity. Nevertheless, despite his aggressive posture, Mussolini kept Italy out of the conflict for many months. Mussolini told his son in law, Count Ciano, that he was personally jealous over Hitler's accomplishments and hoped that Hitler's prowess would be slowed down by Allied counterattack. Mussolini went as far to lessen Germany's successes in Europe by giving advanced notice to Belgium and the Netherlands of an imminent German invasion, of which Germany had informed Italy.

In drawing out war plans, Mussolini and the Fascist regime decided that Italy would aim to annex large portions of Africa and the Middle East to be included in its colonial empire. Hesitance remained from the King and military commander Pietro Badoglio who warned Mussolini that Italy had too few tanks, armoured vehicles, and aircraft available to be able to carry out a long-term war and Badoglio told Mussolini "It is suicide" for Italy to get involved in the European conflict. Mussolini and the Fascist regime took the advice to a degree and waited as France was invaded by Germany before deciding to get involved.

As France collapsed under the German Blitzkrieg, Italy declared war on France and Britain on 10 June 1940, fulfilling its obligations of the Pact of Steel. Italy hoped to quickly conquer Savoy, Nice, Corsica, and the African colonies of Tunisia and Algeria from the French, but this was quickly stopped when Germany signed an armistice with the French commander Philippe Petain who established the puppet state of Vichy France which retained control over Savoy, Nice, Corsica, Tunisia and Algeria. This decision by Germany angered the Fascist regime.

The one Italian strength that concerned the Allies was the Italian Royal Navy (Regia Marina), the fourth largest navy in the world at the time. In 1940, the British Royal Navy launched a surprise air attack on the Italian fleet at Taranto which crippled Italy's major warships. Although the Italian fleet did not inflict serious damage as was feared, it did keep significant British Commonwealth naval forces in the Mediterranean Sea. This fleet had to fight the Italian fleet to keep British Commonwealth forces in Egypt and the Middle East from being cut off from Britain. In 1941 on the Italian-controlled island of Kastelorizo, off the coast of Turkey, Italian forces succeeded in repelling British and Australian forces attempting to occupy the island during Operation Abstention. In December 1941, a covert attack by Italian forces took place in Alexandria, Egypt, in which Italian divers attached explosives to British warships resulting in two British battleships being sunk. This was known as the Raid on Alexandria. In 1942, the Italian navy inflicted a serious blow to a British convoy fleet attempting to reach Malta during Operation Harpoon, sinking multiple British vessels. Over time, the Allied navies inflicted serious damage to the Italian fleet, and ruined Italy's one advantage to Germany.

To gain back ground in Greece, Germany reluctantly began a Balkans Campaign alongside Italy which resulted also in the destruction of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1941 and the ceding of Dalmatia to Italy. Mussolini and Hitler compensated Croatian nationalists by endorsing the creation of the Independent State of Croatia under the extreme nationalist Ustaše. In order to receive the support of Italy, the Ustaše agreed to concede the main central portion of Dalmatia as well as various Adriatic islands to Italy, as Dalmatia held a significant number of Italians. The ceding of the Adriatic islands by Croatia was a minimal loss for their government, as in exchange for those cessions, Croatia was allowed to annex all of modern-day Bosnia and Herzegovina and to persecute the Serb population there to make way for future Croat habitation there. Officially, Croatia was a kingdom and an Italian protectorate, ruled by Italian House of Savoy member Tomislav II of Croatia, however he never personally set foot on Croatian soil, and the government was run by Ante Pavelić, the leader of the Ustaše. Italy did however hold military control across all of Croatia's coast, which combined with Italian control of Albania and Montenegro, gave Italy complete control of the Adriatic Sea, thus completing a key part of the Mare Nostrum policy of the Fascists. The Ustaše movement proved valuable to Italy and Germany as a means to counter Royalist Chetnik guerrillas and the communist Yugoslav Partisans under Josip Broz Tito who opposed the occupation of Yugoslavia.

In 1940, Italy invaded Egypt and was soon driven far back into Libya by British Commonwealth forces. The German army sent a detachment to join the Italian army in Libya to save the colony from the British advance. German army units in the Afrika Korps under General Erwin Rommel were the mainstay in the campaign to push the British out of Libya and into central Egypt in 1941 to 1942. The victories in Egypt were almost entirely credited to Rommel's strategic brilliance. The Italian forces received little media attention in North Africa because of their dependence on the superior weaponry and experience of Rommel's forces. For a time in 1942, Italy from an official standpoint controlled large amounts of territory along the Mediterranean. With the collapse of Vichy France, Italy gained control of Corsica (which had a mixed population of French and Italians), Nice and other portions of southwestern France. Italy also oversaw a military occupation over significant sections of southern France. But despite the official territorial achievements, the so called "Italian Empire" was a paper tiger by 1942: it was faltering as its economy failed to adapt to the conditions of war, and Italian cities were being bombed by the Allies. Also, despite Rommel's advances in 1941 and early 1942, the campaign in North Africa began to collapse in late 1942. Complete collapse came in 1943 when German and Italian forces fled North Africa to Sicily.

By 1943, Italy was failing on every front, by January of the year, half of the Italian forces serving on the Eastern Front had been destroyed,, the African campaign had collapsed, the Balkans remained unstable, and Italians wanted an end to the war. King Victor Emmanuel III urged Count Ciano to overstep Mussolini to try to begin talks with the Allies. In mid 1943, the Allies commenced an invasion of Sicily in an effort to knock Italy out of the war and establish a foothold in Europe. Allied troops landed in Sicily with little initial opposition from Italian forces. The situation changed as the Allies ran into German forces, who held out for some time before Sicily was taken over by the Allies. The invasion made Mussolini dependent on the German Armed Forces (Wehrmacht) to protect his regime. The Allies steadily advanced through Italy with little opposition from demoralized Italian soldiers, while facing serious opposition from German forces.

By 1943, Mussolini had lost the support of the Italian population for having led a disastrous war effort. To the world, Mussolini was viewed as a "sawdust caesar" for having led his country to war with ill-equipped and poorly trained armed forces which failed in battle. The embarrassment of Mussolini to Italy led King Victor Emmanuel III and even members of the Fascist Party to desire Mussolini's removal. The first stage of his ouster took place when Fascist Party's Grand Council under the direction of Fascist member Dino Grandi voted to remove Mussolini as the party's leader. Days later, Emmanuel III officially removed Mussolini from the post of Prime Minister and replaced him with Marshal Pietro Badoglio. Upon resigning, Mussolini was immediately arrested. The new "Badoglio government" stripped away the final elements of Fascist rule by banning the Fascist Party. Italy then signed an armistice with the Allied armed forces and the Kingdom of Italy joined the Allies in their war against Nazi Germany. The new Royalist government of Victor Emmanuel III and Marshal Badoglio raised an Italian Co-Belligerent Army, an Italian Co-Belligerent Navy, and an Italian Co-Belligerent Air Force. The Bagdolio government attempted to establish a non-partisan administration and a number of political parties were allowed to exist again after years of ban under Fascism. These ranged from liberal to communist parties which all were part of the government. Italians celebrated the fall of Mussolini and as more Italian territory were taken by the Allies, the Allies were welcomed as liberators by Italians, who opposed the German occupation.

However, Mussolini's reign in Italy was not over. A German paratrooper division rescued Mussolini from the mountain hotel where he was being held under arrest. Hitler instructed Mussolini to establish the Italian Social Republic in German-held northern Italy. The Italian Social Republic was a German puppet state. The Fascist state's armed forces were a combination of Mussolini loyalist Fascists and German armed forces. However Mussolini had little power, Hitler and the German armed forces led the campaign against the Allies and saw little interest in preserving Italy as little more than a buffer zone against an Allied invasion of Germany.

Life for Italians under German occupation was hard especially in Rome. Rome's citizens by 1943 had grown tired of the war and upon Italy signing an armistice with the Allies on September 8, 1943, Rome's citizens took to the streets chanting "Viva la pace!" ("Long live the peace!) but within hours, German forces raided the city, and attacked anti-Fascists, royalists, and Jews. Roman citizens were harassed by German soldiers to provide them food and fuel and German authorities would arrest all opposition and many were sent into forced labour. Rome's citizens upon being liberated reported that during the first week of German occupation of Rome, crimes against Italian citizens took place, as German soldiers looted stores and robbed Roman citizens at gunpoint. Martial law was imposed on Rome by German authorities requiring all citizens to obey a curfew forbidding people to be out on the street after 9 p.m. During winter of 1943, Rome's citizens were denied access to sufficient food, firewood and coal which were taken by German authorities to be given to German soldiers housed in occupied hotels. These actions left Rome's citizens to live in the harsh cold and were on the verge of starvation. German authorities began arresting able-bodied Roman men to be conscripted into forced labour. On June 4, 1944, the German occupation of Rome came to an end as German forces retreated as the Allies advanced.

Mussolini was captured by communist Italian partisans while trying to escape Italy. On 28 April 1945, the communist partisans executed him. Afterwards, the bodies of Mussolini, his mistress, and about fifteen other Fascists were taken to Milan where they were brutally abused and disfigured by mobs of angry Italians. The mauled bodies were then hung up on meat hooks for public display. Days later on 2 May 1945, the German Army (Wehrmacht Heer) in Italy surrendered.

The aftermath of World War II left Italy with a destroyed economy, a divided society, and anger against the monarchy for its endorsement of the Fascist regime for the previous twenty years. Anger flourished as well over Italy's embarrassment of being occupied by the Germans and then by the Allies.

Even prior to the rise of the Fascists, the monarchy was seen to have performed poorly, with society extremely divided between the wealthy north and poor south. World War I resulted in Italy making few gains and was seen as what fostered the rise of Fascism. These frustrations compacted into a revival of the Italian republican movement.

Following Victor Emmanuel III's abdication as king in 1946, his son, the new king Umberto II, was pressured by the threat of civil war to call a referendum to decide whether Italy should remain a monarchy or become a republic. On 2 June 1946, the republican side won 54% of the vote and Italy officially became a republic. Umberto II abdicated the Italian throne, and a new republic was born with bitter resentment against the House of Savoy. All male members of the Savoy family were barred from entering Italy in 1948. This ban was only repealed in 2002.

King of Italy – Supreme commander of the Italian Royal Army, Navy, and later Air Force, from 1861 to 1938 and 1943 to 1946.

First Marshal of the Empire - Supreme commander of the Italian Royal Army, Air Force, Navy, and the Voluntary Militia for National Security from 1938 to 1943 during the Fascist era, held by both Victor Emmanuel III and Benito Mussolini.

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Italy national rugby union team

Italy rugby.png

The Italy national rugby union team represent the nation of Italy in the sport of rugby union. The team are also known as the Azzurri (the Blues). Italy have been playing international rugby since the late 1920s, and today are considered one of the best rugby nations in Europe and compete annually in the Six Nations Championship with England, France, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Italian Rugby really came to prominence in 2000 when they became a part of the Five Nations, making it the Six Nations. Originally on the end of some heavy defeats, the side has grown in competitiveness, recorded a fourth place finish in 2007, and even in defeat, lop-sided losses are becoming far less frequent.

Italy have also competed at every Rugby World Cup since the first tournament in 1987, but have yet to progress beyond the first round. Their best showing thus far has been in 2003 and 2007 where they managed two wins during the pool stages.

The current head coach is Nick Mallett.

Forms of football involving both hands and feet have long been played in Italy from Roman times to the medieval era. It is normally said that Rugby union was first introduced into Italy by French students at Milan University in 1911 but it has been established that British communities brought rugby to Genoa between 1890 and 1895. It remains stronger in the North of Italy than elsewhere.

The first documented rugby union match played in Italy was a demonstration game played in 1910 in Turin between Racing Club París and Servette of Geneva. The society that organised the game didn't have a long life and dissolved after this first game but the game became known in Milan. The first match played by an Italian team was a year later US Milanese against Voiron of France. On July 25 of the same year the "Propaganda Committee" was formed which in 1928 became the Federazione Italiana Rugby (FIR). There was a further game in 1928 when Ambrosiana Milano beat R.C.T. Bucharest 15-3.

The first Italian championship, won by Ambrosiana Milano, took place in 1929, with 6 of the 16 teams that existed in Italy. In May of the same year Italy played their first international losing 9-0 against Spain in Barcelona. After the formation of FIRA in 1934, which brought together the national teams of Italy, France, Spain, Czechoslovakia, Romania and Germany rugby union spreads through Italy, especially the cities of Milan, Rome, Turin, Bologna, Padua, Naples, Genoa, Brescia, Treviso, Rovigo and Parma. France was the first of the Championship countries to play Italy at senior level and the inaugural match took place in 1937, France winning 43-5.

The Second World War interrupted Italian rugby union, as it did in other rugby-playing nations. Post-war, there was a desire to return to normal and Italian rugby union entered a new dimension thanks to the help of Allied troops in Italy. Very soon the Veneto (Rovigo, Padua and Treviso) came to assume a prominent position in the Italian rugby union scene earning the name "Republic of the Italian rugby union". Parma and L'Aquila also became main centres for rugby union.

In the 1970s and 1980s rugby union made enormous progress thanks to great foreign players (John Kirwan, Botha, Campese, Lynagh) and coaches (Saby, Bish, Greenwood, Nelie Smith) in the Italian championship. Even foreign coaches were and continue to be chosen for the national team, like Bertrande Fourcade and Georges Costes. In 1973, the national team went on a tour of South Africa, coached by ex-Springbok prop Amos Du Ploony. Tours of England and Scotland followed, as well as games against Australia and New Zealand, the masters of their day.

Since 1980, the Italian National side had been pursuing the ambition of playing in an expanded Five Nations Championship. Consistently good results against nations that now play in the European Nations Cup (Romania, Spain, Georgia, etc.), and the occasional win against the major nations such as France, Scotland, Wales and Ireland meant that they were often talked about as strong candidates.

The Azzurri took part in the first-ever Rugby World Cup match against New Zealand on 22 May 1987. The match proved a one-sided affair with New Zealand convincing 70-6 winners against a young Italian side. John Kirwan, later to become the Italian national coach, scored one of the tournament’s greatest-ever tries for the All Blacks. Italy did, however, manage to beat Fiji and finished third in their pool; failing to make the finals.

At the 1991 World Cup, Italy were grouped in a tough pool with the likes of England and the All Blacks. They lost both of these games but beat the USA. At the 1995 World Cup in South Africa, Italy came close to beating England; losing 20-27, but recovered to beat Argentina. They finished third in their pool again below England and Western Samoa, but above the Argentines.

The 1990s saw the Italians build a formidable side and record Test victories over Five Nations opposition. In 1996, a deal between British Sky Broadcasting and the Rugby Football Union meant that England home games were exclusively shown on Sky. England were threatened with being expelled from the Five Nations to be replaced by Italy. This threat was never carried out as a deal was worked out.

Italy recorded two consecutive victories over Ireland in 1997; on January 4, 37-29 at Lansdowne Road, and on December 20, 37-22 in Bologna. On March 22, 1997 they recorded their first and so far only win over France 40-32 (in Grenoble). In January 1998, Scotland were the victims with Italy winning 25-21 (in Treviso); in the same year in the Rugby World Cup Qualifiers, they narrowly lost 23-15 against England at Huddersfield, but they argued for a try by Alessandro Troncon disallowed by the referee.

At the 1999 World Cup, Italy were drawn with New Zealand for the third time and lost again. They did not win a single pool match and went home before the knock-out stage.

Italy finally joined the Six Nations Championship in 2000 but their admission coincided with the departure of some of their best players. Nevertheless they won their opening game against the reigning champions Scotland 34-20. Since then they have struggled to compete against the other nations and their participation was called into question, however they answered their critics by playing a more disciplined game. The 2001 and 2002 tournaments were particularly disappointing as they did not win a single game. Coach Brad Johnstone was sacked in 2002 after an alleged show of 'player power'.

John Kirwan was then appointed coach. Italy won two pool games at the 2003 World Cup, defeating both Canada and Tonga, but lost to the All Blacks and Wales. They managed to get their second Six Nations win in 2003 30-22 against Wales and Italy avoided the wooden spoon. They followed up by winning two games at the World Cup, another first, though the tournament was ultimately disappointing as the Welsh gained revenge with a 27-15 success that meant that Italy were the only Six Nations country not to advance to the knock-out stage. Their third win came against Scotland in 2004.

With many of their top players also involved in European club competition, the overall standard of play is improving constantly but it is likely to be a long time before Italy win their first Six Nations Championship. More and more Italians are coming to watch rugby union games and whereas before most of the fans at the Stadio Flaminio were away fans, now Italy has a good home crowd. One cause for optimism in Italian rugby is that their star players tend to be young and are likely to improve with time. Moreover, the budget of F.I.R. has grown impressively: currently €21 million is available.

Italy, along with other nations, had made good use of IRB rules which allowed them to select foreign born players if they had Italian ancestry or had lived in Italy for a qualifying period of 3 years. From 2004 they announced that they would only pick three such 'non-Italians' per team in order to develop their own domestic players.

In 2005 Italy finished bottom of the table again and failed to win a single game. Kirwan was sacked and replaced with Pierre Berbizier. Italy then went on a tour of Argentina where they surprised many by beating the Pumas 30-29 and drawing the series 1-1 (the only 2005 victory of a northern hemisphere team visiting a southern hemisphere team). However the Pumas had their revenge when they visited Genoa and beat Italy 39-22.

In the 2006 Six Nations Championship the Italian team performed strongly against every team, leading against both England and France in the first half, but lost their first three games. They did, however, get a creditable 18-18 draw away to Wales, their first ever away point in the tournament, and were unlucky not to draw with Scotland in Rome in the final game, losing 10-13 courtesy of a late Scottish penalty.

In the 2007 Six Nations Championship, Italy started poorly, losing to France 3-39. However, Italy's performance improved considerably, and they held reigning World champions England to a 20-7 result at Twickenham, with the Italian's Alessandro Troncon being named man of the match. Italy followed with a stunning start to their match at Murrayfield against Scotland, with Mauro Bergamasco scoring a try courtesy of a charged-down kick in the first minute, and Andrea Scanavacca and Kaine Robertson scoring interception tries within the next five. Scotland's shocking start gifted Italy a 21-0 lead after 7 minutes, and the Azzurri went on to record a 37-17 victory; their first-ever away win in the Six Nations. Italy's next match was against Wales in Rome. In a close match, Bergamasco scored a try in the last two minutes to give a winning score of 23-20, their second Six Nations victory over Wales, first consecutive victory in the competition and help them achieve their highest-ever position in the competition. However, the victory was not without controversy, as a last-minute penalty over the line by Wales was later deemed out of time by referee Chris White. Wales were told by White there was "10 seconds" remaining but as Wales kicked to touch, under the instruction of the TMO, White blew the whistle for full-time. They therefore could have taken a penalty kick to draw the game.

The domestic interest in rugby reached new heights with Italy's new success front page media coverage and the sport being held up as a model of fair play. Media and public interest in the national team was very high during the side's new found success. Despite losing their last game to Ireland, the headline on page one of the national sport newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport read "To lose like this is beautiful," and 10,000 fans later greeted the national team at Rome's Piazza del Popolo.

The 2008 Six Nations Championship saw the Italians again finish in last place, albeit by only a three point margin. They took part in close matches against Ireland, England and France respectively and managed a sole victory, defeating Scotland 23-20 in Rome in the last round of matches.. In the summer tests they lost to South Africa but again managed to surprise 3rd ranked Argentina with a 13-12 victory. At the 2008 end of year spring tour Italy pushed the Wallabies all the way in their clash in Padova but the Australians eventually went on to win 30 points to 20. A week later the Italians were defeated by Argentina, 14-22. Since then the Italian team has dropped in the IRB World Rankings to 11th spot, behind Fiji.

Italy play in blue jerseys; as of 2007, the strip is manufactured by Kappa and the Italian bank Cariparma & Piacenza is the shirt sponsor.

Since entering the Six Nations Championship in 2000, Italy have yet to win the tournament. Italy got off to a positive start to the Six Nations in their first year; defeating Scotland in their first match of competition. Italy finished fifth in the 2003 competition above Wales. The following year Italy managed to finish fifth again, above Scotland in the final standings. In the 2007 Six Nations Italy defeated Scotland at Murrayfield for their first win away from home (Rome) in the competition. Two weeks later Italy defeated Wales for the second time in the history of the tournament in Rome: it was the first time the team won two games in the championship, and finished in 4th place. The winner of the Italy-France game is also awarded the Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy.

Italy have competed at every Rugby World Cup since the competition's inception in 1987. Italy finished third in their pool at their first World Cup, defeating Fiji, but not making the finals. They did not make the finals in 1991, grouped in a tough pool with the likes of England and the All Blacks. At the 1995 World Cup in South Africa, they finished behind England and Western Samoa, but above Argentina in their pool.

In 1999 they did not make the finals, with their defeats to the All Blacks and Tonga. Italy won two pool games at the 2003 World Cup, defeating both Canada and Tonga, but lost to the All Blacks and Wales. Italy played the Rugby World Cup 2007 in Pool C, against New Zealand, Scotland, Romania and Portugal (who had been beaten 83-0 by Italy in the qualifiers) and had a very good chance of making the quarter finals and even the semi finals for the first time. However, Italy were undone by indiscipline in the crucial group match against Scotland in St. Etienne. Chris Paterson kicked all of Scotland's points in an 18-16 victory, despite Italy crossing the line for the game's only try. Bortulussi missed a match-winning kick in an even contest that Scotland arguably deserved to win in the end.

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Source : Wikipedia