Italy’s Emma Bonino was the first EU foreign minister to make an official visit to Tehran after Iran and the six powers signed an interim agreement on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. She landed in Tehran on December 21 after years when Western foreign ministers refused to set foot in the Iranian capital.

When it comes to Italy's enormous art heritage, officials are often faced with an unbearable choice: Which pieces should be saved when the government can't afford to save them all? Now, thanks to an online vote, it's up to Italian citizens to answer that tough question. In the end, some art will get a new lease on life, but many works that epitomize Western civilization remain seriously in danger.

In Italy's Alps, at the border with Austria, there's a land where people speak in German and dream of independence. Once part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, it was annexed by Italy at the end of World War I. But even today, not a single drop of Italian blood runs through the veins of its more than 500,000 inhabitants.

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who lost parliamentary immunity when he was expelled from the Senate last month, said on Thursday revolution would break out if he were arrested and thrown in prison. The 77-year-old media magnate was stripped of his Senate seat after he was convicted of tax fraud and sentenced to four years in jail. This was commuted to a year, likely to be spent performing community service.

Popular hazelnut and cocoa spread Nutella has become such a global product that the OECD decided to use it as a case study in its latest report on global value chains. Some 250,000 tons of Nutella are now sold across 75 countries around the world every year, according to the OECD. But that’s not what’s amazing about it. Nutella, it turns out, is a perfect example of what globalization has meant for popular foodstuffs: Not only is it sold everywhere, but its ingredients are sourced from all over the place too.

The collective mood of a nation mired in a prolonged economic recession shows many of the symptoms of clinical depression: despair, fatalism, an inability to make decisions, lack of motivation, and irritability. This is one of the impressions I got from a recent trip to Spain and Italy, two nations I know well and visit often. While both countries have recently made small strides on the path to recovery, I nevertheless came away with the strong sense that their economies are in recession and their societies are in depression.

October 19, 2013

Only the most gullible or optimistic Italians ever believed that the Phoenix Project launched with great fanfare five years ago would allow Alitalia, Italy’s bankrupt flag-carrier, to soar to profitability. Half-year results approved on September 26th showed a net loss of €294m ($386m), taking total losses since the end of 2008 to well over €1 billion. Its share capital eroded, bleeding cash, with only €128m left, including unused credit lines, Alitalia has run into near-terminal turbulence.

The Indian rupee's crash has swept away banker Nupur Sood's dream of a holiday in Venice: instead the 35-year-old will settle for cold beers on the beaches of Goa on India's west coast. "We are pampering ourselves with a leisurely holiday but it will be domestic. I guess it is the only way to compensate," said Sood, who plans to stay next month at the plush Grand Hyatt hotel in Goa, managed by Hyatt Hotels Corp, as a consolation for missing her holiday of a lifetime in Italy.