Italy Country Report
The 4 March general election has produced a parliamentary gridlock that will complicate government formation for the next three months. The election result has produced a rightward shift in Italy's political landscape, primarily benefiting anti-establishment protest parties such as the Five Star Movement or the anti-immigrant League. However, constitutional hurdles will make it difficult for the ascending populist parties to usher in a radical policy shift, including an exit from the Eurozone. Nevertheless, growing populism will push Italy towards a collision course with the EU over fiscal policy and immigration.
The incumbent is seeking to bridge the developmental divide between Italy’s south and the richer northern regions with a EUR95-billion infrastructure investment programme. This focuses on upgrading the railway system in Sardinia and Sicily and constructing a high-speed railway on the Adriatic and Tyrrhenian coasts. Bureaucracy in Italy is complex and corruption rife. Attempts to address these issues are likely to be held up by special interests in parliament until at least the next general election, which is scheduled to be held in spring 2018.
The Italian government’s participation in the US-led coalition against the Islamic State, Rome’s symbolic significance in Islamist discourse, and Italy’s geographic proximity to a destabilised Libya has increased the risk of terrorist attacks by jihadists on Italian soil. Italian authorities have responded by increasing security measures and monitoring capabilities Large-scale immigration from war-torn and poverty-stricken countries has fuelled anti-immigrant sentiments and increased the risk of far-right attacks, as evidenced by the Macerata shooting on 3 February that resulted in six Africans being wounded by a far-right sympathiser.
The main war risk to Italy stems from the violence in Libya, where the emergence of Islamic State-affiliated groups has prompted Italy to militarise the Mediterranean and deploy Italian ground troops in the western city of Misrata. A further deterioration of the security situation in Libya would increase the risk of a more extensive intervention involving maritime operations and offensive air support in Sirte.
Political polarisation and large-scale immigration has contributed to a growing number of far-right rallies and leftist counter-protests across the country, often resulting in violence between protesters and police. These protests increased in number and intensity in the run-up to the 4 March general election, concentrated in large cities such as the capital Rome, Milan, and Palermo. Italy's underlying problem with immigration and high youth unemployment suggests such protests will continue to be commonplace in the foreseeable future.
Vaccinations required to enter the country
No vaccinations are required to enter the country.
Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.
Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).
For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.
Italy has a high risk of seismic activity and earthquakes are frequently reported throughout the country. In August 2016, an earthquake measuring 6.2 magnitude on the Richter scale occurred in the town of Amatrice, around 100 km (60 mi) northeast of Rome, in which 292 people were killed and 400 injured. Hundreds of aftershocks followed the initial earthquake. The regions of Umbria, Lazio, and Marche were the hardest hit, particularly in the areas surrounding the towns of Accumoli, Posta, Arquata del Tronto, and Amatrice. Numerous minor earthquakes have occurred since, including at least one deadly tremor.
There are 13 volcanoes in Italy, spread across three zones: the bay of Naples, the area northeast of Sicily, and near the Mediterranean island of Pantelleria. Three of these volcanoes remain active and are liable to erupt: Mount Vesuvius (famous for its destruction of the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum in 79 AD) on the border of the Bay of Naples; Stromboli in the archipelago of the Aeolian Islands to the north of Sicily; and Etna, situated close to the city of Catania.
Furthermore, avalanches often occur in the Alps and periodic flooding impacts some regions. In June 2017, heavy rains occurred in Alpine regions of Italy as well as in the south and Sicily, causing rivers to overflow and leading to several casualties.
Forest fires also occur in Italy. Southern Italy, including Sicily and Sardinia, often suffers from arson attacks in summer, sparking wildfires that are exacerbated by heat waves and dry weather.
Strikes are frequently carried out by public transportation workers (air, rail, and inner-city) and can cause disruption. It is advisable to remain informed of all strike actions.
Taxis are generally white in Italy. Ensure that the taxi has a meter or that the price is agreed in advance. Supplementary costs may be imposed for luggage, night services, or bank-holiday services.
Cars are not permitted in many historical centers, particularly in northern towns, where access is limited to bicycles and pedestrians. Many of the large towns and cities maintain efficient public transportation systems (metro, tram, bus).
The use of headlights is required in non-urban areas in Italy during both day and night. Drivers unfamiliar with the country may find that the system of traffic lights lacks, at times, the same clarity found in other western European countries.
The rail network is reliable between large cities and the trains are comfortable.
The climate in the north is continental, with hot summers and cold winters. The coasts enjoy a Mediterranean climate. Temperatures can reach as high as 40°C in certain regions.
Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz