giovedì 18 settembre 2014

Divisions open in Renzi's party over Jobs Act

Article 18 change 'from Mars' says Bersani

(ANSA) - Rome, September 18 - Premier Matteo Renzi's signature Jobs Act caused cracks in his Democratic Party (PD) Thursday because of a proposed change to a key element of job protection that has long been seen as a sacrosanct right by leftists and unions but a sacred cow by employers who say it stops firms growing and scares foreign investors.

The Jobs Act approved at committee stage progressively raises safeguards for new hires, slashes the plethora of temp contracts currently plaguing entry workers, establishes a minimum wage and universal unemployment benefit, and aims to make Italy's largely unused job centres effective tools for first-time job seekers and those who have lost their jobs. But it is the prospect of easier firings for new hires, because of a scaling back of Article 18 of the 1970 Workers' Statute, that poses the risk of a damaging split in the PD. Article 18, which critics have long depicted as a drag on employment, states that companies with over 15 employees that fire someone without just cause must give them their job back.

But an enabling law being presented to the Jobs Act seeks to change the regulations so that newly hired workers will not have the right to their jobs back, but will get compensation, if a court rules that they have been unjustly fired by their companies. Many past Italian governments have tried to amend Article 18 on the grounds that it makes companies reluctant to offer regular steady contracts, as it is so hard to get rid of a staff member once on the books. This has been blamed for high unemployment levels, especially among young people, and the fact that most new entrants to the job market are hired on freelance or temporary contracts that give few rights and low job security. Proponents of the change often claim that the clause has virtually become a dead letter, with only some 3,000 petitions filed each year. But that figure would be much bigger, experts say, if companies were not afraid of losing disputes. Liberal judges mostly find in favour of workers in most Italian regions, according to statistics.

Critics of the change argue that putting more workers out of a job is the last thing the economy needs with steepling jobless rates and flatlining consumption that had led to deflation. Unemployment in Italy has climbed to over 12% and more than four in 10 under-25s are out of work. In the past Italy's trade unions, backed by the PD and its Communist and Christian Socialist predecessors, have always managed to fend off attempts to change a regulation that they say guarantees a basic right. In 2012, then premier Mario Monti's plans to overhaul Article 18 were stymied in the first outright mutiny by the PD against his technocratic national unity government.

The revolt was led by Renzi's predecessor as PD chief, Pier Luigi Bersani, who backed a union alarm raised most loudly by the biggest and most leftwing federation, CGIL. On Thursday, amid union sabre-rattling about a general strike, Bersani again spearheaded the internal dissent against the reform. "It's absolutely indispensable that the government tells parliament what it intends to do in its enabling decree on the labour market because it's a serious issue," Bersani said. "I read intentions attributed to the government in the newspapers that look surreal to me. In some cases they describe Italy as it if were seen from Mars". PD Senator Francesco Scalia hit back on behalf of the government. "I don't find anything surreal about the intentions of the government in the enabling law," Scalia said. "What is very real are the unemployment figures".

But Bersani was not the only senior PD member worried about the reform plan. "Renzi's idea seems to be to cancel Article 18 and I don't agree with that," PD MP Cesare Damiano, the chair of the Lower House's labour committee, told financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore. "The party's position will have to be clarified at the meeting due to be held at the end of the month. I don't think it's right to give firms freedom to fire at this time of maximum unemployment". PD Chairman Matteo Orfini also expressed reservations. "The headlines of the Jobs Act can be agreed with, the details less so," said Orfini. "Mayor corrections are needed to the text". Despite the opposition - augmented by the leftist SEL and anti-establishment M5S parties storming off the committee - Labour Minister Giuliano Poletti said the government did not intend to amend its text, adding that now it was up to parliament to start examining it. The Senate labour committee OK'd the bill and Poletti said he was hopeful the reform could reach the floor of the Upper House next week. 

Genoa gears to host 54th Salone Nautico

More sailboats, Eataly among boat-show draws

(ANSA) - Genoa, September 18 - Boat lovers rejoice! Genoa is getting ready to host the 54th edition of the annual boat show, running this year October 1-6, a full day longer than previous editions. As always the fair - something of a hybrid business-to-business and consumer event - has something for everyone and for all budgets. Presenting the upcoming Salone Nautico in Milan on Thursday, organizers said some 750 exhibitors will display up to 1,000 sailboats, powerboats and mega-yachts. In particular, this year's show will be a real treat for sailboat lovers, with a record number of exhibitors and products, said Anton Francesco Albertoni, the president of the new company set up to organize the annual fair, one of the world's leading sector trade shows.

Exhibitors have up to 180,000 square meters of space to show off their wares, of which 100,000 square meters are in the water. Following the success of on-the-water "test drives" in previous editions, many more exhibitors will be offering prospective customers the possibility to try out boats and "experience the sense of freedom that being on the sea offers," said Alessandro Campagna, boat show organizer. A new layout has been created for the fair grounds this year allowing for 25% more sailboats and 50% more powerboats to be exhibited, Campagna said. The expansion of the "test drive" program, the show's extended schedule and the increased space dedicated to sailboats are some of the main changes organizers made to meet exhibitors' requests.

While fancy yachts and pretty models are certainly among the main draws for show visitors, its aim is to promote the industry and, especially, showcase the best of "made in Italy." In particular, said Massimo Perotti, the new head of boat industry trade group UCINA and chief executive of mega-yacht maker Sanlorenzo, the Salone aims to create export opportunities for the myriad small- and medium-sized enterprises which make up the backbone of the industry and which have suffered heavily since the global financial meltdown of 2008. In that year, the Italian nautical industry was worth some 6.4 billion euros, Perotti said, while today it is worth around 2.4 billion euros. The industry is again on a positive growth footing, Perotti said, but much depends on the economic outlook in Europe and on firms' success in internationalizing. Exporting for Italy's boat industry is - as for so many of the country's highly focused, small and often family-owned companies - a necessity. And the boat show is a key driver for companies looking to break out of Italy. Exports are important to firms of all sizes, including Sanlorenzo, with annual turnover of some 200 million euros. Perotti said that his company is looking to increase sales annually by 10 percent per year over the next three years and that all of the growth is expected to come form export markets, in particular the US, Latina America and Russia.

Attendees and exhibitors will certainly be pleased with another key change at this year's Salone: the selection of Eataly as the official caterer. All the eateries - from a formal restaurant, to a more relaxed one and "street food" stands - will be managed by the chain, which has become one of the most well-known purveyors of quality Italian food and wines. Salone organizers and Eataly see the partnership as another way to promote the best of the "made in Italy" lifestyle to consumers, both Italian and - especially - foreign. "People don't ask themselves what they are going to eat at a trade show, nor do they recall what they ate when they leave," said Eataly chief executive Piero Bagnasco. "We want to change this." 

Italy has 17,000 practitioners of ancient crafts, study

Carpenters, cobblers, picture framers 'most common' trades

(ANSA) - Milan, September 18 - Basket weavers, blacksmiths, knife grinders and practitioners of other traditional trades are holding out in Italy, the Milan chamber of commerce said Thursday. There are some 17,000 artisanal businesses across the country, including almost 7,000 carpenters, 5,000 cobblers and 3,000 picture framers, a survey said.

Some 1,725 small businesses specialise in embroidery, lacework and crochet. Traditional trades are most common in Rome (6.4%), Bolzano (5%) and Milan (4%). Rome is the city with the highest number of shoemakers, while Bolzano is in the lead for chimney sweeps and Milan for blacksmiths. 

Abruzzo griffon vulture population on the rise

180 Old World vultures now live in mountains

(ANSA) - L'Aquila, September 18 - Four adult griffon vultures have been released into the wild in the central Abruzzo region as part of a project to reintroduce the Old World vulture into the mountainous area, the state forest corps (CFS) said Thursday.

The release takes to over 180 the number of specimens that now populate the region as a result of the CFS's Griffon in Abruzzo Project, which this year marks 20 years. The expanding griffon vulture population is centred on the region's national and regional parks, but specimens can also be spotted in neighbouring Marche, Lazio and Molise. The first griffon vultures were imported to Abruzzo from Spain in 1994 when Sardinia was the only Italian region that could still boast a population. The news of the repopulation comes after three beached sperm whales died on the Abruzzo coast and a rare Marsican bear was shot dead in the Abruzzo countryside last week. 

Armani denies contact with Ferrari over luxury hub

Designer sides with 'yes' camp in Scottish independence vote

(ANSA) - Milan, September 18 - Fashion designer Giorgio Armani on Thursday denied having been approached by sports car manufacturer Ferrari and its parent company Fiat over plans to create a hub for luxury Italian goods, athough he said he was not opposed to the idea per se. "It is clear that my situation generates a great deal of curiosity, it is fairly unique," said 80-year-old Armani, whose brand turns 40 next year. "I have been the object of much flirting, but not from Ferrari," he continued, speaking after the presentation of his Emporio spring-summer 2015 collection at Women's Fashion Week underway in Milan. "Not that I am against them getting in touch with me," concluded Armani.

Separately, the designer told journalists that if he were Scottish he would vote for independence in today's referendum. "I cannot not make a clear stand," Armani said. "A Scotsman is a Scotsman," he added. 

The 1970s are in the air at Gucci and Alberta Ferretti

Spring-summer 2015 women's collections showcased in Milan

(ANSA) - Milan, September 18 - Gucci's Frida Giannini tapped into the 1970s to showcase what she described as a "very contemporary and cosmopolitan woman" on the first day of the spring-summer 2015 women's wear shows in Milan. The era showcased Wednesday was a Gucci heyday and, after last season's swing through the 1960s, Giannini turned for inspiration to the glamour of two icons - Ali MacGraw and Jimi Hendrix, who were at the center of the 'mood board' shaping the collection. This time, however, she gave her vintage inspiration a contemporary spin by emphasizing the quality of handiwork and the edge of clean lines and patterns that have made the brand's take on everyday luxury desirable for decades.

Patchwork patterns were a trademark of Gucci's prints, which the designer used for crepe de chine dresses. The vintage feel of boho print dresses was highlighted by gilets in deluxe patchworks crafted from a mixture of furs including fox, goat and Mongolian lamb. Oriental-style dresses with precious embroideries and Mandarin collars oozed understated elegance. Dazzling gold marine buttons made a statement on slim-fitting, button-through A-line dresses and skirt suits.

The quality of the glove-leather and suede or the broderie anglaise inserts used for the collection's dresses brought sass to the 1970s silhouettes. Giannini's beloved blue denim shaped cropped culottes - a must over the next couple of seasons - and dresses with statement shoelaces plunging down a neckline. Laces also crisscrossed up the sleeve and over the shoulder on white and bottle-green dresses. Marching band jackets in blue and green with gold braid trims worn over a shirt and jeans successfully reworked the uniform details with boho vibes. Hemlines were short, taking floor-skimming evening gowns off the agenda for now.

Accessories, notably stacked heel suede boots and leather saddle bags in antique tan, gave the couture workmanship of the collection a relaxed quality. And the spirit of the 1970s was also in the air at Alberta Ferretti, whose spring-summer collection was rich in craftsmanship yet sublimely ethereal. Nymphs in sheer blush colored gowns with petal appliqué had a bohemian feel as did suede fringed gilets and shifts. Accessories included hippy sandals and crocheted moccasins. Ferretti worked her trademark romantic take on femininity in nude-tone chiffons and mousselines shaping slip dresses, jumpsuits and floor-length gowns.

The workmanship in a number of the collection's pieces was intricate yet never weighed down the lightness of clothes, like a strapless dress with flowered vines made from paillettes. Pocahontas made an appearance on the catwalk with tan, ankle-grazing waistcoats with whip-stitching as well as in tan-colored fringed dresses with floral appliquè - showcasing that all-Italian craftsmanship that always gets a share of the limelight at Ferretti. Edgier looks included a fringed shift in lilac suede and a denim skirt and pants with laser-cut flowers. Overall, it was the bohemian side of the 1970s that oozed through part of the collection - a vintage tune for a new take on Ferretti's masterful interpretation of femininity, tailored to suit any occasion on a woman's agenda. 

UniCredit among Italian banks borrowing billions from ECB

Eurozone banks take up 82.6bn euros in ECB TLTRO loans

(ANSA) - Rome, September 18 - UniCredit and Intesa Sanpaolo were among the Italian banks to take advantage Thursday of a new targeted lending program, borrowing billions of euros in inexpensive loans from the European Central Bank (ECB) on condition they pass the cash on via loans to business and consumers. A spokesman for UniCredit said the bank, which borrowed 7.75 billion euros, will likely participate again in December when the ECB is next scheduled to offer loans under its new targeted lending program called the TLTRO.

Intesa Sanpaolo borrowed four billion euros and the ECB has said banks will receive the money September 24. Overall, 255 commercial banks in the eurozone took up 82.6 billion euros from the ECB as part of the TLTRO program that aims to push cash into European economies through increased loans.

Thursday's four-year loans were offered at rates of just 0.15%, but analysts said that the number of banks participating was lower than expected and these took up less cash than anticipated. Some may be waiting until the December offer and also may want to see what other measures the ECB has in mind to kick-start the sluggish eurozone economy, analysts said. The eurozone's third-largest economy, Italy, has fallen into its third recession in six years with reports of deflation last month.

ECB President Mario Draghi announced the TLTRO plan in June, with the central bank planning to conduct eight such loan operations by June 2016. The TLTRO builds on an earlier long-term loan program offered by the ECB, which is also planning to purchase asset-backed securities and covered bonds to try to inject more liquidity into the eurozone economy to stimulate growth. 

Stolen Etruscan sphinx recovered north of Rome

Artifact stolen from Cerveteri museum in May

(ANSA) - Rome, September 18 - Finance police on Thursday recovered an Etruscan sphinx stolen from a museum at a UNESCO world heritage site in May. The winged marble sculpture was found hidden among vegetation on a rural property north of Rome. It had been stolen from the museum at Cerveteri, a major Etruscan site in northern Lazio, on the night of May 14 by three masked thieves captured on surveillance camera. The artifact was considered one of the most important Italian missing works of art. The Etruscan Necropolises of Cerveteri and Tarquinia were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2004. 

Italy's president concerned over justice stalemate

MPs in 12th vote to fill Constitutional Court vacancies

(ANSA) - Rome, September 17 - Italian President Giorgio Napolitano said Wednesday that "serious issues" have been raised by the impasse in parliament over the election of new members for the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Council of Magistrates (CSM), the judiciary's self-governing body. His statement came shortly after Justice Minister Andrea Orlando said that he was "concerned" about the stalemate as 856 MPs voted for the 12th time on who is to fill two Constitutional Court vacancies.

They must also elect the two remaining of a total of eight justices to the 24-member CSM. Six CSM candidates have been approved despite the logjam. The quorum to elect Constitutional Court judges is of 570 votes, or three-fifths of parliament, while the quorum to elect members of the CSM is of 514 votes. The impasse in filling the vacancies means a delay in implementing crucial reforms proposed by center-left Premier Matteo Renzi, including justice reforms that could result in an increased workload for the CSM, said Orlando.

Italy's political parties have failed to find agreement on the appointments despite repeated pleas from institutional leaders including Lower House Speaker Laura Boldrini and Senate Speaker Pietro Grasso for them to put aside their differences and break the stalemate. The Left Ecology Freedom (SEL) party and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) announced earlier in the day they would submit blank ballots. "We will continue to do so until we are presented with credible, independent names that come from outside the political realm," Senate M5S whip Vito Petrocelli said.

Hopes of a solution that would break the stalemate were pinned briefly on a meeting between the premier and the head of the centre-right opposition Forza Italia (FI) party, Silvio Berlusconi, to discuss the government's reform moves and the parliamentary logjam. However, no new candidates emerged from the meeting, said the deputy chief of Renzi's Democratic Party (PD). 

Renzi Jobs Act ready to tackle unions' sacred cow

Poletti says no decision made on Article 18 job protections

(ANSA) - Rome, September 17 - Labour Minister Giuliano Poletti tried to calm angry trade unions Wednesday by saying that no decision has been made as yet on scaling back job protections contained in existing Italian law. "When the time comes, we will discuss this," he told the Lower House after unions threatened strikes if job protections contained in Article 18 of the 1970s Worker's Statute are eliminated in the new Jobs Act. Premier Matteo Renzi was widely reported to have threatened to scale back Article 18 by decree to override parliamentary objections, although Cabinet Secretary Graziano Delrio denied this on a Tuesday night talk show.

Businesses have long argued that the article is a major stumbling block for creating permanent jobs because they say it makes it impossible to lay off employees once they have been hired. Such arguments have gained considerable attention in recent years given the long-running weakness in the Italian economy, now in its third recession since 2008. But unions say that Article 18 is sacred and they will fight to protect provisions that say companies with over 15 employees that fire someone without just cause must give them their job back.

Abrogating Article 18 of the Worker's Statute to lower job protection is "a scalp to take to the EU's free-market hawks," said Susanna Camusso, leader of Italy's largest union federation CGIL. A rapporteur added fuel to the fire Wednesday when he said that under a new provision, the Jobs Act would require compensation - but not the rehiring - of workers judged by a court to have been unjustly fired from companies with more than 15 employees. "There is a revision of the protection (for workers) with open-ended contracts," said Maurizio Sacconi, the rapporteur of an enabling law linked to the government's Jobs Act. Many past Italian governments have tried to amend Article 18 but unions have always managed to fend off these attempts. Meanwhile, Renzi's government presented two other amendments to its Jobs Act which the government said are aimed at increasing worker protection.

One stipulated that the eventual introduction of "a minimum hourly payment" for Italian workers would also apply to freelancers who regularly work for a company under a so-called Co.Co.Co contract. The amendment added that this would apply even if the minimum wage were introduced "on an experimental basis". Another amendment was designed to reward seniority by providing for increased job protections as an employee's tenure increases. That amendment called for "open-ended contracts" rather than the temporary or freelance contracts that are very popular now with employers. 

Brunello Cucinelli's 'optimistic' new collection

Humanist CEO sees 'moral, civil, economic' rebirth in Italy

(ANSA) - Milan, September 15 - The new Brunello Cucinelli collection features relaxed urban shapes in fluid silks and knits in a mostly off-white and yellow palette with strong dashes of powder pink. "We can't not see things in a rosy light," says the Umbrian entrepreneur. Cucinelli, who prides himself on a humanist business ethic that calls for "reinvesting to improve the lives of workers, to enhance and restore the beauty of the world" is a fan of philosophers and spiritual leaders such as Seneca, Socrates, St.

Francis of Assisi - and Pope Francis. A philanthropist as well as a businessman, Cucinelli is fond of quoting the Argentine pontiff, saying that applying even just 10% of the pope's tenets improves life. With earnings up 11% in the first semester of the year and forecasts of "healthy two-digit growth in profits and turnover by the end of the year", Cucinelli's blend of ethics and esthetics has proven fruitful in spite of the ongoing economic downturn.

The entrepreneur, whose business flourishes abroad while posting 18% of its turnover in Italy, is also a firm believer in his country's potential. "I can feel a moral, civic, and economic rebirth is taking place here," said the 61-year-old fashion designer and CEO of his eponymous brand based in Solomeo, a medieval hamlet nestled in the Umbrian hills. "I talk to a lot of 30- and 40-somethings. Thanks to them, we are returning to healthier patterns of consumption and eliminating useless surplus from our lives," said Cucinelli, who dropped out of engineering school at age 24 to read philosophy on his own. He went on to found his clothing company at age 25 with the Italian lira equivalent of $550, reportedly becoming a billionaire after the initial public offering of Brunello Cucinelli SpA. "By surplus I mean that which is useless, wasted, misused.

This is the kind of consumerism that must be eliminated," said the philanthropic businessman. "Increased awareness is leading us to buy better products, and as Italians we are expected to provide quality and uniqueness," said Cucinelli, adding that many of Italy's best and brightest who expatriated to make their dreams come true abroad are now returning to produce in the Bel Paese. This, he says, will help remedy Italy's biggest problem, which is the fact that over one in four youths are unemployed. "Italy is seen as a special place," Cucinelli said. "People want to dress like us and live like us". 

Safe, healthy food is universal right, says Barilla

Chairman warns of stress on ecosystems of modern production

(ANSA) - Rome, September 17 - Guido Barilla, the chairman of Italian food giant Barilla, has said that access to healthy food is a universal right. Barilla, who is also president of the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition (BCFN) foundation, highlighted the challenges the world faces in trying to feed a rising global population in a sustainable way while adjusting to the effects of climate change.

"Everyone has the right to be free from hunger and have access to a sufficient quantity of food that is both safe and health," Guido Barilla said. Barilla was speaking with less than a year to go to the start of Milan Expo 2015 and the launch of the Milan protocol, an initiative spearheaded by the BCFN that aims to help the fights against hunger and obesity, see global food waste cut by half in 2020 and promote sustainable agriculture and food education. "As we have sought to meet the demand for food, drinking water, fuel and material, we have influenced the ecosystems in a irreversible way, putting them under too much stress, and today we are paying the price," said Barilla. "Climate change, people's health and the earth's capacity to generate raw materials and water in sufficient quantities depend closely on the management of our food systems". Barilla's comments came after the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said in a report on Tuesday that 805 million people in the world, or one in nine, suffer from hunger.

But the annual report on food insecurity, published with the FAO's sister Rome-based food agencies, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP), added that the Millenium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the proportion of hungry people in the world by 2015 was "within reach". The report said the number of hungry people worldwide has declined by more than 100 million over the last decade and by more than 200 million since 1990-92. The trend in hunger reduction in developing countries means that the MDG of halving the proportion of undernourished people by 2015 is within reach, "if appropriate and immediate efforts are stepped up," the report said. Up to now 63 developing countries have reached the MDG target and six more are on track to reach it by 2015. The goals of the Milan Protocol and the issues it raises will be at the centre of debate at the sixth international forum on food and nutrition in Italy's business capital December 3-4.

This will help put the subject on the agenda ahead of Milan Expo 2015, which kicks off on May 1 under the theme 'Feeding the planet. Energy for life'. "The real scandal of today is that people die of hunger," said Carlo Petrini, the founder and president of the Slow Food Movement that is backing the Milan Protocol. "It's necessary to take decisions to end this tragedy. It is necessary to rebuild the subsistence economy so that it is based on happiness, the right of everyone to food and respect of the environment. "It's necessary to defend biodiversity, promote the culture of farm traditions, and encourage and support low-environmental impact agriculture". 

Some 100,000 children in Italy have 'complex disorders'

Psychiatrists say care needs 'outstanding'

(ANSA) - Milan, September 17 - Around 100,000 children in Italy have "complex neuropsychiatric disorders with outstanding needs", experts announced on Wednesday at a Milan convention on child psychiatry. Experts revealed approximately 100,000 children were "in a situation of particular complexity and their care needs are still too often outstanding" and 3.6 million children had neuropsychiatric disorders overall.

Antonella Constantine, President of the Italian Society of Childhood Neuropsychiatry (SINPIA), said that children and families "run the risk of being confused by the different responses that they receive depending on the service to which they are addressed or workers they rely". Specialists emphasized that patient's health needs require coordinated and skilled answers and investigations in order to proceed forward with appropriate care. The convention was held at the Mario Negri Institute in Milan.

Italy open to multinationals says Renzi

'Globalisation must become a friend' says PM at L'Oreal plant

(ANSA) - Turin, September 17 - Italy wants to attract multinationals and must now see globalisation as a friend rather than an enemy, Premier Matteo Renzi said Wednesday. "Italy is open to multinationals," he said on a visit to the Settimo Torinese plant of L'Oreal, one of the French cosmetics global leader's biggest facilities outside France. "For years we have thought that globalisation was the enemy of Italy while it is a friend," he said on his way out of the factory, alluding to government plans to lure foreign groups with its privatisation programme. Renzi said it was important to "keep small and medium-sized businesses together and at the same time attract multinationals".

mercoledì 17 settembre 2014

Renzi jeered, applauded as presents 1,000-day programme

'Last chance' for Italy says reformist premier

(ANSA) - Rome, September 16 - Premier Matteo Renzi on Tuesday got a standing ovation as well as opposition jeers while presenting his 1,000-day reform program in successive speeches before each house of parliament. He told the Lower House that his government's 1,000-day reform programme was Italy's last chance to make up for wasted time that should have been used to combat the country's economic decline. "I am willing to lose popularity to carry out reforms," added the premier, the leader of the centre-left Democratic Party (PD). "The severity of our approach stems from the strong, widespread awareness that at the end of this road we will not only have turned around the current parliamentary term, we will also have put Italy back on track".

He touched on all the major points of his sweeping reform package, which seeks to overhaul Italy's justice system, electoral law, schools, and labor laws in an effort to modernize the country, cut red tape, attract foreign investments, and pull the country out of what is its longest postwar recession and its third in six years. A new jobless benefits system must be in place as of 2015, and while the government wants to reduce the cost of labor, this does not mean it will reduce wages, he told the Senate. "Our labor law needs radical change, so that ideological derbies no longer take center stage," he said. "We must also simplify jobless benefits rules, and guarantee unequivocal and identical safeguards for all". The government's reforms will help Italians "make peace" with their civil justice system, Renzi went on.

He also promised to ensure that judges are able to do their work without harassment - including from media outlets. "We will fight in every quarter for judges' right to autonomy," Renzi said. He went on to say that while a snap election would almost certainly benefit his Democratic Party (PD) party, Italy comes first. "We think that the country's interests comes before a party's needs," he said as the PD rides higher than ever in opinion polls thanks to the young premier's reformist drive. The latest poll showed the PD well ahead of all other parties with 40.5% support, while Beppe Grillo's anti-establishment 5-Star Movement (M5S) stood at 21% and Silvio Berlusconi's center-right Forza Italia party garnered 15.5%.

Renzi went on to to tell the Senate that although the Italian economy has stopped falling, it may be some time before healthy growth resumes. Lawmakers must look beyond the short term, because the entire eurozone is stagnating and action is needed to kick-start growth. And while his remarks on reform garnered him a standing ovation in the Lower House earlier in the day, as he spoke before the Senate the premier was forced to raise his voice as members of M5S frequently shouted "shame" while giving him the thumbs-down signal of rejection. Renzi at one point paused in describing his planned economic reforms to retort, "I understand that someone is afraid of voting". Senators from the separatist, xenophobic Northern League party brought gelato in reference to a recent cover story in Britain's The Economist, which focused on the serious problems within the eurozone economy. On the cover, Renzi was pictured eating an ice cream aboard a sinking boat along with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, with European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi bailing out the boat. 

Imperial Forums to shine in Oscar winner's light

Vittorio Storaro working with Rome mayor on ambitious project

(ANSA) - Rome, September 16 - The Imperial Forums will shine under a new nocturnal lighting project designed by three-time Oscar winner Vittorio Storaro and his daughter, Francesca Storaro, in a scheme presented on Tuesday by Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino.

Marino had said in January 2014 said that a lighting project in the area was "absolutely urgent" and the lighting needed to demonstrate creativity and impart "feeling" to visitors. "The area of the Imperial Forums is the only one of its kind in the world, and it's unbelievable that it's not illuminated at night in order to make it more visible," Marino said at Tuesday's presentation. Marino said the project was scheduled for completion by April 21, 2015, Rome's birthday.

The lights will be LED and will illuminate three of the forums, those of Augustus, Trajan, and Nerva. Vittorio Storaro, named the project's "light creator" and artistic supervisor, is an Italian cinematographer and author of the book "Writing with Light", and took home Oscars for his work on the films Apocalypse Now, Reds, and The Last Emperor. In describing the lighting, Storaro said, "The permanent departure point is in the relationship between light and shadow with many points in-between, gifted with great expressive ability".

Storaro's daughter Francesca, an architect, is the lighting designer and artistic director of the project. In addition to the creative and artistic aspect of the lighting, the illumination will also serve as added security in an area whose safety has been criticized in the past due to poor nocturnal lighting. Initial funding for the project, 100,000 euros, was donated by multinational consumer goods company Unilever, headed in Italy by company president Angelo Trocchia.

Marino said the city is still securing the final funding needed for the project, a sum between 1 and 1.5 million euros, which he said he expects to conclude by the end of September. As well as his three Oscar winners, Storaro boasts a longtime collaboration with Bernardo Bertolucci, working on The Conformist, Last Tango in Paris, Novecento, La Luna and The Sheltering Sky. 

Swimming: Pellegrini drops Lucas, set to focus on 200m

Italian star says still friends with Frenchman

(ANSA) - Rome, September 16 - Italy's former Olympic and world swimming world champion Federica Pellegrini announced Tuesday that she is parting company with French coach Philippe Lucas. The 26-year-old also said that should would focus on the 200 metres freestyle from now on, at the expense of her other main event, the 400m freestyle.

Pellegrini was the first woman to break the four-minute barrier when she won the 400m freestyle at the 2009 world championship in Rome with a time of 3:59.15. But on several occasions she has also experienced panic attacks while taking part in the 400m and she prefers the 200m, the event she won the gold medal in at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Furthermore, while her 400m freestyle record was beaten last month by America's Katie Ledecky, her 2009 world record in the 200m still stands. "I met Philippe in Narbonne and we talked about all the technical issues," Pellegrini said in a statement on Tuesday. "After carefully considering the options, we agreed not to continue together. "I'm sorry that we came to this conclusion, because I adore Philippe as a person and as a coach. "But the best thing is that we are both sure that our friendship will not end with this change, which will see me focus on preparing principally for the 200 freestyle". Italy's Matteo Giunta will take over as Pellegrini's coach ahead of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Pellegrini has changed coach many times since the death of her longstanding mentor Alberto Castagnetti in 2009.

Lucas, the former coach of Pellegrini's ex-rival Laure Manaudou, prepared her for the 2011 world championships in Shanghai, where she retained both the 200m and 400m freestyle titles she won in Rome in 2009 with world record times. But they separated after Shanghai as Pellegrini no longer wanted to live in France to work with Lucas and the coach refused to move to the swimmer's base in Verona.

She returned to Lucas during the semi-sabbatical she took after doing no better than fifth in the 200m and 400m freestyle finals at the London Olympics in 2012. She returned to form at the 2013 world championships, winning a surprise silver medal in the 200m freestyle, despite not having originally planned to compete in the event. She won gold in the individual 200m freestyle and the 4x200m relay at the European championships in Berlin last month, but came a disappointing fourth in the final of the 400m. 

martedì 16 settembre 2014

Padoan says govt has 'worked like crazy' on reforms

Economy minister denies complaints of too many promises

(ANSA) - Berlin, September 16 - The Italian government has been "working like crazy on reforms," Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan said in an interview published Tuesday in German newspaper Handeslblatt.

Padoan denied allegations that the Italian government has promised too much and under-delivered, saying that it was necessary to set out an ambitious reform plan for his troubled country. "Italy has completed much more than is recognized," Padoan said in the published interview. "I was surprised when respectable commentators have reproached us for producing only announcements," he added.

The interview came as Premier Matteo Renzi appeared before both houses of the Italian Parliament to discuss his government's 1,000-day program. Numerous reforms to labour laws, taxation, education, election regulations, and dramatic changes to the Senate have all been announced by Renzi's government but implementation is taking time.

For example, his government passed a law changing the rules for temporary employment contracts, but its broader reform of the labour market continues with its so-called Jobs Act, which is making its way through Parliament. "In the last six months, we have worked like crazy and enacted many laws," Padoan said. "We have a huge reform program, maybe too big. But we are convinced that the reforms will lead to good results," he added.

The country cannot wait along longer for significant reforms, said Padoan. Italy is in its third recession in six years, with high unemployment, low consumer confidence and the beginnings of deflation.  

Appeals court cuts alimony for Berlusconi ex-wife

Newspaper says Veronica Lario must repay 36 million euros

(ANSA) - Milan, September 16 - A Milan appeals court has ruled in favour of ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi and against his former wife in an alimony dispute case, cutting Veronica Lario's monthly support payments and ordering her to repay 36 million euros, an Italian newspaper reported Tuesday. Berlusconi, one of Italy's richest men, had initially been ordered to pay Lario three million euros per month in alimony, but that has been reduced to a two-million euro monthly payment, reported the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

The Court of Appeal of Milan also made the order retroactive, thus requiring Lario, who had been married to Berlusconi for more than 20 years, to repay the one million euro difference for each of the previous 36 months. She can appeal the latest decision to Italy's top Cassation Court. Berlusconi had asked the appeals court to cut Lario's alimony from an initial award of three million per month set in December 2012. A separate court ruling had suggested payment should be 1.6 million euros monthly.

The couple's divorce was officially finalized in February, leaving Berlusconi,77, free to marry his 29-year-old fiance Francesca Pascale, a former shop assistance from Naples. Their wedding would be the third trip to the altar for Berlusconi who, with Pascale, is a regular on Italian TV and in Berlusconi-owned gossip mags where they project a cozy image of a besotted couple, often petting their dog, Dudu', who has become a celebrity in his own right. Berlusconi has been married twice and has five children, three of those with Lario, 58, a former actress.

He married her in 1990 after being smitten several years previously when he saw her perform topless in a Milan play about a philandering husband called The Magnificent Cuckold. Lario, who was born Miriam Raffaela Bartolini, completed her divorce from Berlusconi on February 17 after keeping out of the limelight since denouncing her then husband's eye for the girls in 2009, claiming "maidens are being fed to the dragon".

20 mn euro face-lift for world's oldest botanical garden

Padua university funding upgrading for seed research

(ANSA) - Padua, September 15 - The world's oldest botanical garden in the northern Italian city of Padua will receive a 20-million-euro face-lift to become a 'biodiversity garden' with zero impact on the environment, Padua University said Monday.

The plant-growing area at Padua's botanical garden, founded more than 450 years ago, will be expanded to 37,000 square metres to 22,000 square metres to allow the cultivation inside an enormous greenhouse of every species of vegetation from tropical forests to savanna, Mediterranean climate or desert, according to Giorgio Strapazzon, who is planning the revolutionary transformation.

The greenhouse also will serve as laboratories for seed research and biology. The 20 million euros cost of the face-lift will be borne by the University of Padua, said Rector Giuseppe Zaccaria. 

Milan Expo tickets go on sale to public

Average price for visit to Universal Fair to be 22 euros

(ANSA) - Milan, September 15 - Tickets to Milan Expo 2015 went on sale to the general public for the first time on Monday. The tickets can be bought via the Universal Fair's website and its official app and they will soon also be available through a number of other channels, including branches of Intesa Sanpaolo bank.

Expo is offering a variety of special packages with discounts, including those for families with children, over 65s, groups and schools. Children under four and carers of people with disabilities are entitled to free tickets. The average ticket price will be 22 euros, Milan Expo said.

The Expo 2015 theme 'Feeding the planet. Energy for life' focuses on nutrition, sustainability, and fighting hunger and, among other things, will give Italy the chance show off its culinary delights.

Last month Premier Matteo Renzi set organizers the target of selling 10 million tickets for the six-month event before it kicks off on May 1, 2015. Organizers hope to attract 20 million visitors from around the world in total. Five million tickets have already been sold to tour operators, including one million in China. 

Italy only G7 nation in recession, says OECD

Calls for flexibility in EU budget rules to boost growth

(ANSA) - Rome, September 15 - Italy will be the member of the Group of Seven major industrialized nations in recession this year, with shrinking of 0.4%, and faring only a little better in 2015, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said Monday.

The Paris-based research agency also chided the other two largest eurozone nations - Germany and France - for their "disappointing" economic results and urged the European Union to apply more "flexibility" in its budget rules to encourage greater economic expansion. A loss of 0.4% this year in Italy will be followed by growth of just 0.1% in 2015 - well below the OECD's earlier forecasts of a 0.5% expansion this year and 1.1% next year, the agency said in a report on its outlook for the global economy. Gross domestic product (GDP) across the eurozone is now expected to expand by just 0.8% this year, down from the OECD's spring forecast of 1.2% growth, said the report. "Continued slow growth in the euro area is the most worrying feature of the projections," said the agency, forecasting an expansion this year of 1.5% for Germany and just 0.4% for France.

In 2015, Germany will again grow by 1.5% while France will edge up to 1.0% for a eurozone average of only 1.1%, said the OECD. In contrast, the massive United States economy will expand next year by 3.1% after it posts 2.1% growth in 2014, said the OECD. The Italian economy, the third-largest in the eurozone, returned to recession in the second quarter of this year, its third downturn since 2008.

The government of Premier Matteo Renzi has been announcing a range of reforms, most designed at cutting red tape and improving the investment climate of Italy in the hopes of pulling the country out of the current downturn. But a steady stream of negative economic data have been discouraging for many in Italy. A severe blow fell last Friday with reports from national statistical agency Istat that Italy slipped into deflation in August for the first time since 1959. With extremely low inflation in much of Europe, reflecting the widespread economic weakness, the European Central Bank has announced a series of measures aimed to injecting more funding into the eurozone area to try to boost growth and raise inflation closer to the bank's target of about 2%.

ECB President Mario Draghi said last week that to enjoy the full benefits of monetary policy measures, it would be essential that governments match ECB action with significant structural reforms. Draghi also suggested that flexibility existing in European Union budget rules be fully applied to ensure adequate investments are made to boost growth, repeating a message that Renzi has frequently sent and which was reiterated by the OECD in Monday's report.

Italy and other European countries have called on the EU to exclude certain major spending programs, such as infrastructure investments, from calculating a nation's ratio of deficit-to-GDP. In a separate report Monday, ratings agency Standard and Poors said that although the eurozone economy is fragile, the ECB actions will be helpful in encouraging expansion. “Economic conditions in the eurozone remain fragile, but some positive signals are emerging," said S&P. Still, it forecast zero growth in the Italian economy this year, down from a June forecast of 0.5% expansion. 

MotoGP: 'Eternal' Rossi hailed after San Marino triumph

Nine-time world champ still capable of winning

(ANSA) - Rome, September 15 - Valentino Rossi was hailed in his Italian homeland on Monday for proving he is still capable of winning over 18 years after he first reached the top of a grand prix podium. The nine-time world champion's victory at Sunday's San Marino Grand Prix was his first since his victory over a year ago at Assen.

It was also a resounding response to those who said he was past it after two winless seasons at Ducati in 2011 and 2012 and last year's unspectacular return to Yamaha, with whom he had won five of his premium class world titles. "Eternal Vale," read the front page of Monday's La Gazzetta dello Sport. Giovanni Malagò, the president of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), also paid tribute to the 35-year-old rider on Monday. "I makes me laugh that only a few months ago some people said that this lad had ended his career," Malagò said. "I say thank you to Valentino in the name of Italian sport because he is truly unique". Rossi is a resurgent force this season after changing his diet and fitness regime and bringing in Silvano Galbusera as his crew chief after ending his long relationship with Jeremy Burgess.

This has not enabled him to break the dominance of Spain's 21-year-old world champion Marc Marquez. But he is challenging for the runner-up slot as he is third in the standings, just one point behind Dani Pedrosa in second. 

Italian stores see 18% jump in Chinese shoppers

Helps offset decline in Russian tourists, says industry group

(ANSA) - Rome, September 15 - Retailers in Italy may need to learn to speak Chinese, as the number of shoppers from that country jumped by 18% in the first six months of this year, a national organization said Monday. The Italian Fashion Federation reported that the jump in Chinese shoppers between January and June helped to offset a 13% decline in spending by tourists from Russia over the same period. Russians had previously been the single most important foreign shoppers in Italy, said the organization. That may reflect economic sanctions imposed by Europe and North America against some parts of the Russian economy over Moscow's role in the conflict in Ukraine.

Overall, the fashion industry reported a small drop of 1% in earnings in the first half of this year compared to the same time last year, the federation said. Sales in the less-expensive accessories sector showed the only signs of annual growth, rising by 6.7% between January and June. "The budget balance for the first half of the year for fashion shops was still bleak," said Renato Borghi, president of the fashion federation. "You cannot reverse the trend of losses on our invoices for at least the past three years," he added.

Even measures such as an 80-euro monthly tax bonus for low-income Italians introduced in the spring by Premier Matteo Renzi has been of little help because so many of those receiving the bonus must commit almost half their income to fixed expenses, he added. Among the hardest-hit fashion items in the first six months of this year were fur garments, which dropped almost 11% and leather luggage, down 13%. At the same time, spending on clothing has been falling across most of Italy, with an average drop of 10% compared with the same time last year.

One exception was the northern Trentino region where fashion spending rose by 6% in the first six months, said the group. When people do shop, they are more likely to pay cash rather than using their plastic - credit card purchases fell by 3.4% compared with one year earlier. Still, the very high-end fashion houses do not seem to be suffering but are keeping pace with rising rents on the most stylish streets, according to the federation.

Chic boutiques in Milan, Rome, Venice and Florence, are paying rental rates of as much as 670,000 euro per year per 100 square meters - the price for a premium spot on store on Milan's Via Montenapoleone. Second spot went to Rome's storied via dei Condotti, where annual rents run at 650,000 euro for 100 square meters.

domenica 14 settembre 2014

Exhibit marks celebrates artist, critic Dino Formaggio

Show of little-known artworks in museum Formaggio founded

(ANSA) - Rome, September 12 - The life and works of the late artist, art critic and philosopher Dino Formaggio will be celebrated at an exhibition in the small town of Teolo to mark the centenary of his birth. The exhibit recalls the hard life of Formaggio (1914-2008), who went to work in a factory at the age of 12, putting himself through night school until he became a high school teacher and, eventually, a professor of esthetics at Pavia and Milan universities.

During World War II, he joined the armed anti-Fascist resistance movement. The exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art in the town nestling in the Euganean hills in the province of Padua from September 20 to November 2 includes watercolours, oil paintings and sculptures by the artist, who helped found the museum itself. The exhibit will feature some of his lesser-known works, including watercolours of landscapes from his childhood as well as oil portraits of his parents and of his students. 

Campania products debut at Eataly in NYC, Chicago

High-quality Italian food showcased on famed Fifth Avenue

(ANSA) - Napoli, September 12 - High quality Italian food products from the Campania region south of Rome will be featured until the end of October at Eataly food shops in New York City first, and later in Chicago. The promotion of regional agribusinesses in these American markets has been organized by regional officials as well as Unioncamere, representing Italy's chambers of commerce, working with the Eataly retail chain.

Campania food and wine from 37 producers will appear in New York City on Monday and remain there until the end of the month, when the focus will then be transferred to Eataly in Chicago through the month of October. "Companies in the gourmet food and wine sector will have an important commercial opportunity in collaboration with Eataly," said Maurizio Maddaloni, Unioncamere's regional president in Campania. "But there will also be opportunities for training for those dedicated to food, with starred Italian chefs," he added. "This (promotional) work is aimed at export markets that even in this moment of crisis, is one of (Italy's) strengths," said Maddaloni. "There is a 'minus' sign in front of many sectors (showing losses), but in agribusiness and tourism sectors there is growth, which is in turn promoted by the visibility of our gastronomic products of excellence".

The promotion of products from Campania in the US is "another" step in raising the profile of the region, said Fulvio Martusciello, president of the regional council. "The international promotion of our excellent 'Made in Campania' products is an important force with which we will restart the market," hurt by the global financial crisis, said Martusciello. To select the producers taking part in the promotional event, Unioncamere began with a list of 70 businesses that was eventually narrowed down to the final 39 participants. Initially, Eataly wanted only 30 producers involved but eventually expanded that number by nine, said Dante Del Vecchio of Eataly. That included some companies that Eataly has had previous relations with.

The company has invested more than $100,000 in the promotion of Campania products which will also be featured on the shelves of eight Eataly restaurants in the US. "The export of Campania products comes thanks to the strong efforts of entrepreneurs who are committed to succeed in the world," said Del Vecchio. "We hope that the project can continue to (Milan) Expo 2015," he added. Campania products will also be used in Eataly recipes to be prepared by some Michelin-starred chefs, including Rosanna Marziale and Vitantonio Lombardi. Their dishes will include a creative 'pizza in black' featuring three different types of fresh truffles, caviar and pecorino ricotta. "We're going to New York to tell of Campania region - a previously unknown region - with those excellent cooking products that for us mean lamb, veal, sausage, vegetables," said Lombardi.

The chefs will prepare a series of dinners in the context of the Identità Golose international cooking event dedicated to high-end food preparation, scheduled for October 9 to 12 in New York. "It is important to show the terms of comparison (of Campania products) to the world: if you put mozzarella from abroad beside Italian buffalo mozzarella, you can taste the difference and then understand," said Paolo Marchi, of the Identità Golose. "This, we will do in the USA with our chefs". 

Villa of Livia, beloved wife of Augustus, now open to public

Restored on 2,000th anniversary of emperor's death

(ANSA) - Rome, September 12 - The Villa of Livia, home of the beloved wife and trusted adviser of the Emperor Augustus, has opened its doors to the public after being partially restored to its former splendor on the occasion of the 2,000-year anniversary of the emperor's death in 14 BC. "It was the imperial family's place of rest and relaxation," explained Rome Archeology Superintendent Mariarosaria Barbera of the villa on in the Prima Porta suburb on the outskirts of Rome, which Livia Drusilla (37 BC-14 AD) made her domain after becoming Augustus' third wife.

Legend has it that Augustus fell in love with Livia at first sight, while he was still married to his second wife, Scribonia, and she was married and six months pregnant. Augustus divorced his wife, and persuaded Livia's husband to divorce as well. The couple married three days after she delivered a son, waiving the traditional waiting period, and remained married for the next 51 years.

The emperor was often on hand to visit Livia at the lovely villa whose famous illusionistic fresco of a garden view, in which all the plants and trees flower and fruit at once, has been removed and is on view in Rome's Palazzo Massimo. The villa's alternating mix of architectural and cultivated areas, open and enclosed spaces, would later become the model for Renaissance villas and can still be experienced in its sequence of rooms with sky-blue painted ceilings opening onto an internal garden where Livia grew her famous yellow daisies, fig trees, and herbs for her husband's tisanes, while hallways decorated in black and white geometric mosaics lead to the thermal baths and the guest rooms, their walls frescoed in Pompeian red.

On the vast terrace overlooking Rome in the distance, restorers have placed 90 potted laurels, for Livia's villa was famed in antiquity for its laurel grove. At least a third of the villa remains to be excavated, but funds have run out, officials said. 

Italy's arms for Kurdish forces arrive in Baghdad

Weapons for Peshmerga fighting ISIS 'proceeding to plan'

(ANSA) Rome, September 12 - A consignment of weapons Italy sent to Iraq for distribution to Kurdish forces fighting Islamic State (ISIS) extremist guerrillas has arrived in Baghdad ready for Iraqi authorities to hand to Peshmerga fighters, Italian defence ministry sources said Friday. "Everything is proceeding according to what was communicated recently to Parliament by Defence Minister (Roberta) Pinotti," the sources said.

The weapons earmarked for the Kurdish troops include thousands of AK 47 assault rifles and ammunition that were held in store in Sardinia after being confiscated from a ship in the Mediterranean during the Balkan wars in the 1990s. The Peshmerga have been outdone in several battles by better-armed ISIS militia. 

Hundreds of migrants, including pregnant women, reach Sicily

Some left off shore by fast boat, swim to safety

(ANSA) - Palermo, September 12 - Hundreds of migrants landed in southern Italy Friday, some on their own but as many as 442 people, including women and children, were arriving on a rescue ship that plucked them from the Strait of Sicily. Authorities said 110 migrants swam and waded onto the beach of Sampieri, near the city of Scicli, early Friday morning after they were left about 100 metres from the shore by a fast boat likely operated by migrant traffickers.

Meanwhile, a Navy ship arrived at the port of Taranto with 1,722 migrants including 274 women - 19 of them pregnant - and 256 children, rescued from the seas as they tried to reach safety. Their countries of origin include Syria, Palestinian Territories, Pakistan, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Bangladesh and Nigeria. Some will remain at reception centres on Sicily but many will be sent to Puglia and other regions of Italy, authorities said.

Another 442 migrants from Libya and the Middle East who had been rescued by another Navy vessel were expected to arrive in Palermo later Friday. Hundreds of thousands of desperate people fleeing war in Africa and the Middle East have been attempting the dangerous crossing to Europe with Italy usually their first stop. Many have been rescued under Italy's Mare Nostrum (Our Sea) search-and-rescue programme, established almost one year ago after the deaths of 400 migrants in two sea disasters. 

Prices down 0.1% Aug, deflation confirmed

First since Sep 1959

(ANSA) - Rome, September 12 - The consumer price index fell an annual 0.1% in August, Istat said Friday, confirming that deflation had hit the Italian economy for the first time since September 1959 when, in stark contrast to today, the country was roaring into a long boom.

The price index had risen 0.1% in July. Fuel prices, 1.2% lower than August 2013, led the downward price spiral, Istat said in confirming estimates issued two weeks ago. The 'shopping trolley' of most commonly bought goods went into deflation in August too, Istat said. The prices of food, household goods and personal care goods fell by 0.2% over the year, it said.

The Italian economy recently dipped back into its third recession in six years amid fears Japanese-style stagnation may be lurking. Premier Matteo Renzi has readied a raft of pump-priming measures. 

Italy prepares for flu season

Vaccines available by end of October

(ANSA) - Rome, September 11 - Italy is preparing for flu season by introducing vaccines in late October, virologists from the University of Milan reported on Thursday. "The vaccination season will officially open in late October, even if the ideal time to get vaccinated is by the end of November", Fabrizio Pregliasco, University of Milan virologist and medical superintendent of the Galeazzi Institute, said.

Three strains of the flu are expected to hit up to four million Italians starting in early November but are not predicted to be aggressive as all three strains are well-known and addressed in the upcoming vaccine. "The true influenza is characterized by sudden fever, muscular pains and at least one respiratory symptom", Pregliasco said, adding that the elderly and people with heart disease and respiratory illnesses are more susceptible. Experts are also expecting "cousin" viruses to rebound by the summer season, which could affect another 6 million Italians.