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Italy

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Italy’s earthquake death toll has risen to at least 247 as thousands of rescuers continue efforts to find survivors.

According to officials, dozens are believed trapped in ruined Amatrice, Accumoli and Pescara del Tronto, in mountainous central Italy.

The search went on through the night, and there was a strong aftershock which rocked already damaged buildings.

More than 4,300 rescuers are using heavy lifting equipment and their bare hands.

Many of the victims were children, the health minister said, and there were warnings the toll could rise further.

The 6.2-magnitude quake hit at 03:36 local time on August 24, at 65 miles north-east of Rome.

Photo Getty Images

Photo Getty Images

There were several hundred tremors after the quake, some of which were felt in Rome.

The latest death toll was given on Thursday morning – 190 deaths in Rieti province and 57 in neighboring Ascoli Piceno province.

Rescuers said they had pulled five bodies from the ruins of the Hotel Roma in the historic town of Amatrice. As many as 70 tourists were staying at the hotel when the quake struck. Many are feared to be in the rubble, though several were pulled out and given medical care.

Yesterday there were cheers in the village of Pescara del Tronto when a young girl was pulled alive from the rubble after being trapped for 17 hours. Almost all the houses there had collapsed, the mayor said.


The earthquake struck small towns and villages in the mountainous area where the regions of Umbria, Lazio and Le Marche meet.

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Rome’s iconic Trevi Fountain has been reopened to public after it underwent a 17-month €2.2 million renovation.

The world famous fountain, nearly 300 years old, is visited by millions of tourists every year.

The fountain’s poor structural condition was exposed in 2012 when bits of its elaborate cornice began falling off after an especially harsh winter.

It became famous in 1960 with the release of the film La Dolce Vita.

In the movie actress Anita Ekberg wades through the fountain’s pristine waters – her hopelessly infatuated male co-star in her wake – in what critics say is one of the enduring cinematic images of the 20th Century.Trevi Fountain renovation

A team of 26 restorers have not only given the Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi) a thorough cleaning, they have stopped it from crumbling away.

They have repaired cracks and steel supports with the aim of avoiding a repeat of the incident in 2012 when pieces of the fountain came crashing down.

Water once more tumbles from the base of the fountain’s sea-god scene and new lighting shows off its gleaming Baroque facade.

The repairs have been paid for by the Italian fashion house Fendi, founded as a leather goods business in Rome in the 1920s and now part of French luxury giant LVMH. It agreed a deal which allows it to hang a plaque near the monument for four years.

Fendi has also spent €320,000 cleaning up Rome’s lesser known Le Quattro Fontane (Four Fountains).

Fontana di Trevi was commissioned by Pope Clement XII in 1730 and it was last restored 23 years ago.

The fountain is the end point of one of the aqueducts that supplied ancient Rome with water. The Acqua Vergine runs for a total of 12 miles before flowing into the fountain.

According to legend, the water source was discovered in 19 BC by thirsty Roman soldiers directed to the site by a young virgin – which is why it is called Virgin Waters.

Tourists can drink from a special tap tucked away at one side.

The tradition of throwing coins into the Trevi Fountain was made famous by Frank Sinatra’s Three Coins in the Fountain in the 1954 romantic comedy of the same name.

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Italian comedian and leader of the Five-Star Movement party Beppe Grillo has been sentenced to a one year in jail for slandering a science professor.

Prof. Francesco Battaglia said that he had been threatened and his car vandalized after Beppe Grillo, who leads Italy’s second biggest party, criticized him for backing nuclear energy.

Beppe Grillo, who is unlikely to go to jail, also faces damages of €50,000 ($56,000).

He suggested people were afraid his party was getting close to government.Beppe Grillo sentenced to one year in jail

Beppe Grillo also likened himself to two other historical figures who had spent time in jail, Italian anti-Fascist campaigner Sandro Pertini and South Africa’s first black president, Nelson Mandela.

“If Pertini and Mandela ended up in prison, I can go there too for a cause I think is just and that has been supported by the overwhelming majority of Italians,” he wrote on his blog.

Francesco Battaglia said the maverick leader should carry out community service, just as ex-PM Silvio Berlusconi had done, and should take more care of what he said because of the large number of Italians who listened to him.

Beppe Grillo publicly insulted the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia professor at a rally in 2011, after a TV appearance in which Prof. Francesco Battaglia had supported nuclear energy.

“I’ll kick your backside and throw you off TV,” Beppe Grillo said, urging his supporters to refuse to pay their TV license fees.

Beppe Grillo, who was the driving force behind the Eurosceptic, anti-austerity protest party, is gradually handing over the reins of Five Star to a group of younger leaders.

The Five Star Movement is currently second in opinion polls behind PM Matteo Renzi’s center-left Democratic Party.

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The Italian anti-trust authority has fined travel website TripAdvisor €500,000 ($625,000) for publishing misleading information in its reviews.

The competition watchdog began a seven-month investigation following a complaint from a consumer group and hotel owners.

TripAdvisor was accused of presenting its reviews as “authentic and genuine” despite not taking measures to avoid contributors publishing false opinions.

The US company said it disagreed with the decision and would appeal.TripAdvisor fined in Italy

TripAdvisor publishes reviews of hotels and restaurants, and other travel information. But there has been criticism that the reviews cannot always be trusted.

The regulator said TripAdvisor and its Italian arm should stop “publishing misleading information about the sources of its reviews”, adding that the practice started in September 2011.

However, the company said in a statement: “Our systems and procedures are extremely efficient in protecting consumers from a small minority of people who try to con our system.

“We firmly believe that TripAdvisor is a force for good, both for consumers and the hospitality industry.”

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Southern Switzerland and northern Italy have been hit by deadly landslides following days of torrential rain.

Two women died when a wall of mud destroyed a house near the Swiss town of Lugano on November 16.

Over the border, a pensioner and his granddaughter were killed when a mudslide engulfed their home.

The heavy rain is expected to continue across the region, and both countries have issued major flood alerts.

The levels of lakes Lugano and Maggiore are already dangerously high.

Homes and businesses near Italy’s Lake Maggiore have been cut off by rising waters.

The region has had more rain in a few days than it would normally expect in a year.

The Ticino river burst its banks near Vigevano in northern Italy.

Further north, in the Ticino region of Switzerland, rescue workers were searching for survivors on Sunday after mud swept down a hillside and destroyed an apartment building.

Swiss authorities said two women, aged 34 and 38, had died when the mudslide hit the building in the village of Davesco-Soragno.

A third person, a 44-year-old Italian, was rescued from the rubble and taken to hospital.

Relatives were also mourning the deaths of a 70-year old man and his 16-year-old girl in Cerro di Laveno in Italy.

Their house, near Lake Maggiore, was hit by a landslide late on Saturday night.

The weekend’s landslides are the latest of many to have hit northern Italy and southern Switzerland amid incessant rainfall over recent weeks.

High volumes of water gushed down the Ticino river, seen here in the town of Giornico in southern Switzerland, last week.

At least 11 people have been in killed Italy because of extreme weather over the last month.

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Soccer’s global governing body FIFA has rejected Luis Suarez’s appeal against a four-month ban from all football-related activities for biting Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini.

Uruguay’s Luis Suarez was also banned for nine international matches after the incident at the World Cup in Brazil.

The Uruguayan FA had described FIFA’s ruling as an “excessive decision” for which “there was not enough evidence”.

Luis Suarez can now make a further appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

FIFA also imposed a fine of 100,000 Swiss Francs ($105,000) on Luis Suarez, who has apologized for his behavior.

FIFA rejects Luis Suarez's appeal against bite ban

FIFA rejects Luis Suarez’s appeal against bite ban

Under the terms of the suspension, Luis Suarez cannot train with his club and is prohibited from entering the confines of any stadium, although players’ union FIFpro argue the details “lack clarity”.

Should Luis Suarez and the Uruguayan FA decide to appeal further, ordinarily the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) would sit and hear the matter while the player adheres to the terms of his ban.

However, as the World Cup is still ongoing, they could apply to the CAS “ad-hoc” division, which exists for the duration of the tournament to hear matters such as this.

The ad-hoc division could suspend the sanctions pending a full hearing later in the year, allowing Suarez to play and take part in “football related activities” in the meantime.

Since Luis Suarez was suspended, Liverpool has been in transfer negotiations with Spanish giants Barcelona, who have told the Anfield club they are willing to meet a buy-out clause of $120 million to sign the 27-year-old.

He has now been found guilty of biting three opponents in his career.

Luis Suarez was banned for 10 games for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic during a Premier League match in 2013 and was also suspended for seven games for biting PSV Eindhoven’s Otman Bakkal while playing for Ajax in 2010.

Including this latest punishment, Luis Suarez will have missed 32 games through four separate bans since arriving at Liverpool in 2011.

The ban is the biggest in World Cup history, beating the eight games given to Italy’s Mauro Tassotti for elbowing Spain’s Luis Enrique in 1994.

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Luis Suarez has received support from World Cup winner Diego Maradona, while his biting victim, Giorgio Chiellini, branded the ban “excessive”.

The Uruguayan is not allowed to train with his club or enter a football stadium yet Spanish side Barcelona remains interested in signing the player from Liverpool.

For their part, Liverpool are seeking legal advice after being denied the services of last season’s leading Premier League scorer until the end of October.

Meanwhile, online gambling firm 888poker says it has terminated its relationship with Suarez with immediate effect.

Suarez, who flew back to the Uruguayan capital Montevideo in the early hours of Friday morning, denied the allegations following his clash with Giorgio Chiellini, claiming the centre-back had bumped into him.

However, FIFA decided he was guilty and gave him the longest ban in World Cup history.

Luis Suarez has received support from World Cup winner Diego Maradona

Luis Suarez has received support from World Cup winner Diego Maradona (photo Telesur)

Luis Suarez also received a nine-match international suspension and a fine of 100,000 Swiss francs.

Writing on his personal website, Giorgio Chiellini, 29, said: “I have always considered unequivocal the disciplinary interventions by the competent bodies but, at the same time, I believe that the proposed formula is excessive.

“Now inside me there’s no feelings of joy, revenge or anger against Suarez for an incident that happened on the pitch and that’s done. There only remains the anger and the disappointment about the match.

“At the moment my only thought is for Luis and his family, because they will face a very difficult period.”

Former Argentina captain and coach Diego Maradona declared his support for Luis Suarez on his television show De Zurda on Thursday night.

“The FIFA sanction is shameful, they have no sensitivity towards the fans, they might as well handcuff him and throw him in Guantanamo,” said Diego Maradona, who was wearing a T-shirt bearing the message, “Luis, we are with you”.

“It hurts that they have cut short the career of a lad who is a winner. It’s an excessive suspension, FIFA cannot talk about morals to anyone.

“Suarez didn’t kill anyone. This is an unjust punishment, the act of an incredible mafia.”

Diego Maradona interviewed Uruguay’s president Jose Mujica during the program, broadcast on Telesur TV.

“We Uruguayans are full of anger, those coming from below do not understand anything,” said Jose Mujica.

“We kicked out Italy and England, no doubt they lost a lot of money.”

Jose Mujica claimed FIFA used “a different standard” to judge certain countries.

“That’s what hurts and angers us the most,” he added.

Uruguay will play Colombia in the last 16 on Saturday after qualifying from Group D behind Costa Rica.

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FIFA has banned Uruguay striker Luis Suarez for nine matches after being found guilty of biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini.

FIFA has banned Uruguay striker Luis Suarez for nine matches after being found guilty of biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini

FIFA has banned Uruguay striker Luis Suarez for nine matches after being found guilty of biting Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini

Luis Suarez was also suspended from any football-related activity for four months and fined 100,000 Swiss francs ($111,000).

The ban means Luis Suarez will not play in Uruguay’s game on Saturday.

FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer made the announcement at a news briefing in Rio de Janeiro.

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Luis Suarez’s World Cup biting inspired plenty of hilarious memes in honor of soccer’s most famous flesh eater.

Luis Suarez appeared to bite Giorgio Chiellini during Uruguay’s 1-0 win over Italy at the World Cup.

Luis Suarez's World Cup biting inspired plenty of hilarious memes

Luis Suarez’s World Cup biting inspired plenty of hilarious memes (photo Twitter)

The Uruguayan striker could now face a long ban.

FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings after Luis Suarez was seen pressing his mouth into the shoulder of the Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini on Tuesday.

Luis Suarez has been suspended twice before for biting at club level, once with Ajax and once with Liverpool.

Some of the most popular memes appeared within minutes of the incident.

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FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against Uruguay striker Luis Suarez after he appeared to bite Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini during a World Cup match.

Luis Suarez, 27, and the Uruguayan Football Association have until 17:00 Brazilian time on Wednesday to respond to FIFA.

The Liverpool forward clashed with Giorgio Chiellini during Tuesday’s Group D game, which Uruguay won 1-0 to qualify for the last 16.

The referee took no action at the time.

Uruguay’s Luis Suarez appeared to bite Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini during a World Cup match

Uruguay’s Luis Suarez appeared to bite Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini during a World Cup match

The maximum ban Luis Suarez could face if FIFA takes retrospective action is 24 matches or two years.

Luis Suarez has defended himself in an interview with Uruguayan television, saying: “These are just things that happen out on the pitch.”

“It was just the two of us inside the area and he bumped into me with his shoulder.

“There are things that happen on the pitch and you should not make such a big deal out of them.”

Giorgio Chiellini, 29, described Luis Suarez as “a sneak”.

He added: “I’d love to see if FIFA has the courage to use video evidence against him. The referee saw the bite mark, but he did nothing about it.”

After the clash between the players, Luis Suarez went to ground holding his mouth, apparently suggesting he had been elbowed.

Giorgio Chiellini ran after Mexican referee Marco Rodriguez in an attempt to show him the alleged bite mark, pulling his shirt down to bare his left shoulder.

As he did so, Uruguay forward Gaston Ramirez tried to stop Giorgio Chiellini by pulling the Italian’s jersey back into place.

The incident occurred towards the end of the game, shortly before Luis Suarez’s team-mate Diego Godin scored the only goal of the match.

Diego Godin’s winner eliminated four-time champions Italy from the World Cup and secured Uruguay, semi-finalists in South Africa four years ago, a match against Colombia in the next round.

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Uruguay’s striker Luis Suarez appeared to bite Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini during their Group D clash at the World Cup tournament in Brazil.

Luis Suarez pushed his head towards Giorgio Chiellini in the penalty area just before Diego Godin’s Uruguay winner.

Giorgio Chiellini pulled his shirt down to show the referee an apparent mark on his shoulder made during the clash.

“It was ridiculous not to send Suarez off. It is clear, clear-cut,” Giorgio Chiellini told Italian television station Rai TV.

“Then there was the obvious dive afterwards because he knew very well that he did something that he shouldn’t have done.”

Uruguay's striker Luis Suarez appeared to bite Italy's Giorgio Chiellini during their Group D clash at the World Cup tournament in Brazil

Uruguay’s striker Luis Suarez appeared to bite Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini during their Group D clash at the World Cup tournament in Brazil (photo Reuters)

After the clash between the players, Luis Suarez, 27, went to ground holding his mouth, apparently suggesting he had been elbowed.

As the Italian ran after referee Marco Rodriguez, Uruguay forward Gaston Ramirez attempted to get Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini, 29, to cover his shoulder.

Luis Suarez has twice been banned for biting and, at the 2010 World Cup, committed a handball on the line to stop Ghana from scoring.

FIFA will wait to receive the referee’s report. The disciplinary committee of world football’s governing is responsible for “sanctioning serious infringements which have escaped the match officials’ attention”.

Any suspension could range from “up to three matches or up to two months”.

Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez tried to play down the incident and believes there is a vendetta from certain media towards Luis Suarez.

“I’d like to see the images first before making any comment. If it happened, then the referee probably didn’t see it,” said Oscar Tabarez.

“Despite mistakes Suarez has made, he is the target of certain media, a certain press.”

Italy manager Cesare Prandelli said he was resigning after the defeat by Uruguay, which eliminated his side from the tournament in Brazil.

“I didn’t see the images of Suarez but I did see the bite marks in Chiellini’s shoulder,” said Cesare Prandelli.

Liverpool’s Luis Suarez was banned for 10 games for biting Branislav Ivanovic in a Premier League match in April 2013.

Luis Suarez was also banned for seven games for biting PSV Eindhoven midfielder Otman Bakkal’s shoulder while Ajax captain in 2010.

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Two stolen paintings by Paul Gauguin and Pierre Bonnard have been found hanging on an Italian factory worker’s kitchen wall for almost 40 years, police have revealed.

The artworks – now worth at least 10.6 million euros – were stolen from a collector’s London home in 1970 and left on a train in Italy, with no indication of origin.

At a lost-property auction in 1975, the unsuspecting Fiat worker paid 45,000 Italian lire (23 euros) for them.

He hung them in his Turin home before taking them to Sicily when he retired.

The worker only grew suspicious about their origins when his son saw another Gauguin in a book and noticed similarities with the painting in his father’s kitchen.

The man consulted experts and police were eventually alerted.

Stolen Gauguin and Bonnard paintings have been found hanging on an Italian factory worker's kitchen wall

Stolen Gauguin and Bonnard paintings have been found hanging on an Italian factory worker’s kitchen wall

The Gauguin painting, titled Fruits sur une table ou nature au petit chien (Fruits on a table or still life with a small dog), had been painted in 1889 and was thought to be worth between 10 million and 30 million euros, police said.

The Bonnard, La femme aux deux fauteuils (Woman with two armchairs), is valued at 600,000 euros.

According to a New York Times report published in June 1970, the two pieces were stolen from a property by Regent’s Park in London by three men posing as burglar alarm engineers.

The men asked the housekeeper to make them a cup of tea. By the time she returned, the paintings had been taken from their frames and the men had made their escape.

Italian culture minister Dario Franceschini said: “It’s an incredible story, an amazing recovery. A symbol of all the work which Italian art police have put in over the years behind the scenes.”

Mariano Mossa, commander of Italy’s heritage police, said he believed the paintings had been discarded on a train travelling from Paris to Turin after they were stolen.

“They were bought by an art-loving worker, who hung them for 40 years in his kitchen, first in Turin then in Sicily, after he retired,” he added.

Paul Gauguin was a post-impressionist master known for his creative relationship with Vincent van Gogh. His fellow Frenchman Pierre Bonnard is regarded as one of the greatest colorists of modern art.

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Venice and the surrounding region are voting on whether to break away from Italy.

Recent opinion polls suggest that two thirds of the 4 million electorate favor splitting from Rome, but the vote will not be legally binding.

The poll was organized by local activists and parties, who want a future state called Republic of Veneto.

This would be reminiscent of the sovereign Venetian republic that existed for more than 1,000 years.

Venice and the surrounding region are voting on whether to break away from Italy

Venice and the surrounding region are voting on whether to break away from Italy

A focal point for culture, architecture and trade, Venice lost its independence to Napoleon in 1797.

Online voting is due to continue until Friday.

The vote received very little coverage in Italy’s national media but the organizers said they expected as many as two million people to take part.

It also reflects a growing separatist mood in parts of Europe, such as Spain’s Catalonia region and Scotland, which votes on whether to become independent in September.

Moves towards independence often evoke more sympathy in wealthy northern Italy, where many resent what they see as the poorer south’s waste and corruption.

Luca Zaia, governor of Veneto, the Venice region, rejected suggestions that the Italian constitution would prevent secession.

Italian PM Matteo Renzi has called on business people to fund repairs to the ancient city of Pompeii.

Matteo Renzi made the plea after heavy rainfall caused flooding the UNESCO World Heritage site, damaging walls and buildings.

Pompeii, where volcanic ash smothered a Roman city in AD79, has suffered slow degradation for many years.

On Tuesday, Italy’s culture minister said he would unblock 2 million euros ($2.7 million) “to get the machine working”.

Priority will also be given to work to reduce the risk of flooding in unexcavated areas.

Italian PM Matteo Renzi has called on business people to fund repairs to the ancient city of Pompeii

Italian PM Matteo Renzi has called on business people to fund repairs to the ancient city of Pompeii

Matteo Renzi made the request for funding at a news conference on Wednesday.

The Italian government has already called upon the private sector to help restore other ancient monuments, including the Colosseum in Rome and the Trevi fountain.

Italy’s culture budget has suffered from cutbacks in recent years, leading the UN and EU to issue warnings about the state of the country’s historical sites.

The ancient city of Pompeii is one of the world’s greatest archaeological treasures. Every year, some 2.5 million tourists visit the site, near the southern city of Naples.

A 105 million-euro ($145 million) “Great Pompeii” rehabilitation project was launched in 2013, with the EU contributing 41.8 million euros. However, one Italian newspaper said on Tuesday that only 588,000 euros had been spent.

Italy will unblock 2 million euros ($2.7 million) in emergency funding to save the ancient city of Pompeii, after flooding caused walls to collapse.

A number of structures, including the Temple of Venus and Roma, were damaged by heavy rainfall on Sunday and Monday.

The decay prompted calls for action from the EU and the UN.

The site, where volcanic ash smothered a Roman city in AD79, has suffered slow degradation for many years.

Pompeii is one of the world’s greatest archaeological treasures.

Wall of ancient Pompeii collapses after heavy rain

Wall of ancient Pompeii collapses after heavy rain

Every year, some 2.5 million tourists visit Pompeii, which sits near the southern city of Naples.

Despite the money they generate, there have been allegations that the city – designated a World Heritage site by the UN cultural organization UNESCO – has been neglected and underfunded.

The new plan was adopted at an emergency meeting on Tuesday.

Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said he was “unblocking many measures which will get the machine working”.

He added the EU could be “sure that Italy is taking care of Pompeii, both in terms of emergency measures and in the long term”.

The money will be used for routine maintenance. In addition the government will take steps to protect vulnerable areas of the landmark site.

Pompeii’s degradation has been a source of constant concern and embarrassment for the Italian authorities.

The EU has made substantial funds available for the care and restoration of the site, but the money does not appear to have been put to use swiftly.

A new Italian government led by Matteo Renzi has been sworn in Rome ceremony.

Centre-left Matteo Renzi, 39, will be the youngest prime minister in Italy’s history, and one of its least experienced.

Matteo Renzi, nicknamed Il Rottamatore (the Scrapper) rose to prominence as the mayor of Florence, but has never been elected to parliament or served in a national government.

He has chosen a comparatively young cabinet team, about half of them women.

Unemployment in Italy currently stands at a nearly 13% – and above 40% among the young.

Matteo Renzi has promised to overhaul the jobs market and the tax and education systems within four months, but our correspondent adds that he leads an awkward coalition that will not make his task easy.

Matteo Renzi is the youngest prime minister in Italy's history, and one of its least experienced

Matteo Renzi is the youngest prime minister in Italy’s history, and one of its least experienced

The new prime minister has named the chief economist at the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Pier Carlo Padoan, as his finance minister.

Angelino Alfano, who heads the New Centre Right party, one of the Democratic Party’s coalition partners, remains as interior minister.

The government will have to win a vote of confidence in parliament, expected on Monday, before it starts work officially.

On Friday, Matteo Renzi formally accepted the mandate to lead a new government and named his cabinet.

Announcing his team, he said: “It’s a government that will start to work from tomorrow morning.”

The swearing-in took place on Saturday in the ornate presidential palace in Rome as the new prime minister and his cabinet – with the exception of Pier Carlo Padoan, who had not returned from Australia in time for the ceremony – took the oath of office from President Giorgio Napolitano.

Matteo Renzi ousted prime minister and party colleague Enrico Letta, who had led Italy for just 10 months, in a vote at a party meeting on February 13.

He argued that a change of government was needed to end “uncertainty”. He had accused Enrico Letta of a lack of action on improving the economic situation, with unemployment at its highest level in 40 years and the economy shrinking by 9% in seven years.

Matteo Renzi also accused Enrico Letta of failing to implement promised reforms of what is seen as an often corrupt and wasteful bureaucracy.

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Matteo Renzi is expected to be offered to become Italian prime minister, as talks begin on forming a new government.

Italy’s President Giorgio Napolitano is starting consultations following the resignation of Enrico Letta.

Enrico Letta was ousted in a vote called by Florence mayor Matteo Renzi at a meeting of their centre-left Democratic Party.

Matteo Renzi, 39, would become Italy’s youngest prime minister.

Enrico Letta was under increasing pressure over Italy’s poor economic performance.

After accepting the prime minister’s resignation, Giorgio Napolitano’s office said talks would begin with political leaders on finding a replacement.

Matteo Renzi is expected to be offered to become Italian prime minister, as talks begin on forming a new government

Matteo Renzi is expected to be offered to become Italian prime minister, as talks begin on forming a new government

The consultations would be conducted swiftly to find an “efficient solution” and they would conclude on Saturday, the statement added.

Enrico Letta’s position became untenable once the Democratic Party backed a call for a new administration.

Matteo Renzi had argued that a change of government was needed to end “uncertainty”.

A new government should take over until the end of the current parliamentary term in 2018, he said.

Matteo Renzi had accused Enrico Letta of a lack of action on improving the economic situation, with unemployment at its highest level in 40 years and the economy shrinking by 9% in seven years.

Enrico Letta, 47, was also accused of failing to implement promised reforms of what is seen as an often corrupt and wasteful bureaucracy.

Youth unemployment has risen and Italians have grown increasingly impatient of the slow pace of reform and the continuing decline of families’ income and living standards.

Enrico Letta only lasted 10 months in the post after forming a coalition government with the centre-right last year. The prime minister, who drove himself from the presidential palace after resigning, took to Twitter to thank “all those who have helped me”.

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Italy’s PM Enrico Letta has said he will resign on Friday after his Democratic Party backed a call for a new administration.

Party leader Matteo Renzi had earlier called for a change of government at a party meeting, saying the country could not go on in “uncertainty”.

Speculation has been rife that Matteo Renzi wants to take over as prime minister.

Matteo Renzi is eight years younger than Enrico Letta and was elected leader of the party in December.

Enrico Letta said in a statement that his decision followed “the decision taken today by the national leadership of the Democratic Party”.

He said he would formally submit his resignation to President Giorgio Napolitano at the presidential palace on Friday.

Enrico Letta has said he will resign on Friday after his Democratic Party backed a call for a new administration

Enrico Letta has said he will resign on Friday after his Democratic Party backed a call for a new administration

Matteo Renzi has previously accused Enrico Letta of a lack of action on improving the economy, with unemployment at its highest level in 40 years and the economy shrinking by 9% in seven years.

Correspondents say that although the prime minister has kept a careful lid on public expenditure, he has not been able to carry out much-needed administrative reforms and stimulate economic growth.

The latest political turmoil has so far had little impact on financial markets, in contrast with the volatility seen before the current coalition was formed.

Enrico Letta did not attend Thursday’s party meeting, which had been brought forward from next week.

At the meeting, Matteo Renzi thanked Enrico Letta for his “remarkable work” but said the country could not go on in “uncertainty”.

He said his proposal – a new government to take over until the end of the current parliamentary term in 2018 – was a way out of the “morass”.

Enrico Letta, 47, formed a coalition with the centre-right last year but there had been mounting speculation over his future after Matteo Renzi was elected party leader in December.

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Former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi has decided to return to the centre of the political stage, striking a reform deal with a centre-left rival.

Silvio Berlusconi, 77, was thrown out of parliament in 2013 after a tax fraud conviction.

The former prime minister still heads the opposition Forza Italia party and held lengthy talks with Democratic Party (PD) leader Matteo Renzi late on Saturday.

Under their agreement, Silvio Berlusconi will back electoral and constitutional proposals aimed at making Italy more governable.

The current electoral system has left Italy with a series of shaky coalitions.

Last year’s general election left no party strong enough to govern alone, until a broad coalition emerged, headed by Enrico Letta of the PD.

Silvio Berlusconi has agreed with centre-left rival Matteo Renzi over a reform deal

Silvio Berlusconi has agreed with centre-left rival Matteo Renzi over a reform deal

Silvio Berlusconi was initially part of the government but later pulled out. Several key former allies abandoned him to form the New Centre Right party while he became a more marginalized figure.

But he remained head of Italy’s biggest opposition faction, Forza Italia.

Matteo Renzi’s talks with the former centre-right prime minister have divided the coalition, and the PD in particular.

His car was hit with an egg and he was booed as he arrived at PD headquarters.

After the talks Silvio Berlusconi said the deal would “consolidate the biggest parties and simplify the political system”.

Matteo Renzi said the two leaders had backed a law that “favors governability and a bi-polar system, and eliminates the blackmail power of the smallest parties”.

Silvio Berlusconi is keen to make a political comeback despite his fraud conviction and a separate conviction for paying an underage prostitute. He is appealing against a seven-year jail term.

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Italian and Greek coast guards saved more than 300 migrants from rough waters in two separate incidents.

The Italian navy said it picked up 233 people, mostly from African countries, who had been stuck in an “overcrowded” vessel south of Sicily.

Meanwhile Greek coast guards rescued 85 migrants off the island of Astypalaia.

Every year thousands of African and Arab migrants fleeing war and poverty risk their lives trying to reach the Europe.

Greece and Italy are both main entry points for those who attempt to make the dangerous sea crossing.

In October more than 400 people drowned in two shipwrecks near the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Many of them were from Eritrea and Somalia, but the civil war in Syria has also resulted in an increased flow of migrants trying to reach Europe.

Italian and Greek coast guards saved more than 300 migrants from rough waters in two separate incidents

Italian and Greek coast guards saved more than 300 migrants from rough waters in two separate incidents

Italian officials said on Thursday that the migrants were rescued from a 33ft-long boat about 80 miles from Lampedusa.

“Considering the rough seas, the overcrowded boat and the precarious conditions, a situation of emergency was declared,” the Italian navy said in a statement.

It added that the migrants were in good health and had been ferried to Sicily.

They are reported to have come from Eritrea, Nigeria, Somalia, Zambia, Mali and Pakistan.

Greek authorities said they picked up migrants near Astypalaia after receiving a distress signal from the vessel’s captain because of bad weather.

Women and children were among those rescued.

In the past, human rights organizations, including the UN refugee agency UNHCR, have strongly criticized Italy and Greece countries for “push-backs” – a policy of sending migrants back to their point of departure.

In the aftermath of the Lampedusa shipwrecks, the Italian government launched an operation called “Mare Nostrum”, mobilizing warships and aircraft to prevent further tragedies.

Italy has also called for help from other EU states to deal with the migrant influx.

The European Commission has asked for more resources for joint sea patrols, and more co-ordination with countries that migrants embark from, such as Libya.

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Tens of thousands of Italians have protested in Naples against illegal dumping of toxic waste blamed on the local mafia.

Demonstrators carried photos of relatives who they said had died of cancer as a result of the pollution.

Locals call the area between Naples and Caserta the “Triangle of Death” because of toxic fumes after waste burning.

Some 10 million tonnes of industrial waste has reportedly been dumped in the region over the past 20 years.

Tens of thousands of Italians have protested in Naples against illegal dumping of toxic waste blamed on the local mafia

Tens of thousands of Italians have protested in Naples against illegal dumping of toxic waste blamed on the local mafia

Environmental group Legambiente, which organized Saturday’s protest, said nearly 440 businesses in central and northern Italy had been taking part in the illegal activity.

“It is essential that in addition to waste we find also the truth about who is responsible,” Legambiente’s director Rossella Muroni was quoted as saying by the Associated Press.

The demonstrators also demanded an immediate clean-up of the contaminated land.

As more and more illegal dumps are found, the Italian government says it is starting an extensive project of cleaning the contaminated area.

The local mafia, the Camorra, is suspected of securing lucrative contracts to dispose of waste and then dumping much of it illegally.

Two decades ago doctors noticed that incidences of cancer in towns around Naples were on the rise.

Since then, the number of tumors found in women has risen by 40%, and those in men by 47%.

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The European Commission has warned Italy and Spain that their draft budgets for 2014 may not comply with new eurozone debt and deficit rules.

The European Union’s executive arm also said French and Dutch plans only just passed muster.

Non-complying countries may have to revise their tax and spending plans before re-submitting them to national parliaments.

It is the first time the Commission has done this.

The European Commission has warned Italy and Spain that their draft budgets for 2014 may not comply with new eurozone debt and deficit rules

The European Commission has warned Italy and Spain that their draft budgets for 2014 may not comply with new eurozone debt and deficit rules

Under EU rules, eurozone member states are obliged to cut deficits until they achieve a balanced budget or go into surplus.

They also have to reduce public debt levels.

The European Commission does give countries some flexibility if their deficit is below the EU ceiling of 3% of gross domestic product (GDP) and their debt levels are falling.

But when Italy, the eurozone’s third largest economy, asked for such leniency over its 2014 budget plans, the Commission refused because its public debt is still rising.

France, which has slipped back into recession, has taken steps to cut its deficit to below the 3% threshold, but its structural reform plans were only making “limited progress”, the Commission said.

Other countries at risk of breaking EU rules included Finland, Luxembourg and Malta.

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Raffaele Sollecito, who was convicted and later cleared of killing British student Meredith Kercher in Perugia in 2007, has appeared in court in Florence, Italy.

The Italian is due to make a statement over the death of Amanda Knox’s room-mate Meredith Kercher.

Raffaele Sollecito and his then-girlfriend, Amanda Knox, were convicted in 2009 of murder but acquitted on appeal in 2011.

However, in March Italy’s highest court overturned the acquittals, and ordered a new appeal.

Amanda Knox is now in the US and is not expected to attend court.

“He has come to show that he is not running away,” Raffaele Sollecito’s lawyer, Luca Maori, told reporters before the start of the hearing.

The new appeal was ordered after the prosecution took the case to the Supreme Court.

Raffaele Sollecito is due to make a statement over the death of Amanda Knox’s room-mate Meredith Kercher

Raffaele Sollecito is due to make a statement over the death of Amanda Knox’s room-mate Meredith Kercher

The court strongly criticized the way the appeals court had dismissed important DNA evidence, ordering the whole process to begin all over again.

One of the key pieces of forensic evidence that helped to convict the pair in the first place was a kitchen knife found in Raffaele Sollecito’s kitchen, which was said to have Meredith Kercher’s DNA on the blade.

But the DNA sample was tiny, and the appeal judge thought the evidence was unreliable, so he rejected a forensic scientist’s suggestion to have it tested again.

Tuesday’s hearing will focus on a minute trace of DNA found on the murder weapon but not previously tested.

Meredith Kerceher’s family was not in court. But their lawyer, Francesco Maresca, said the evidence was clear for all to see.

“I think that this court has all the elements to take its decision. Another court has determined why that knife was in Knox’s hands,” said Francesco Maresca.

Both Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox spent four years in prison before their acquittal, and have always insisted they are innocent.

Another man – Rudy Guede from Ivory Coast – was convicted in a separate trial and sentenced to 16 years for the killing.

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Silvio Berlusconi has been ordered to stand trial for the alleged bribery of Senator Sergio De Gregorio.

Former Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi is accused of paying left-wing Senator Sergio De Gregorio 3 million euros ($3.9 million) to defect to his right-wing People of Freedom party (PDL) in 2006 and help bring down the government.

Silvio Berlusconi has been ordered to stand trial for the alleged bribery of Senator Sergio De Gregorio

Silvio Berlusconi has been ordered to stand trial for the alleged bribery of Senator Sergio De Gregorio

Senator Sergio De Gregorio was sentenced in an earlier plea bargain.

Silvio Berlusconi has been embroiled in a number of trials and says he is the victim of a campaign by the judiciary.

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Italian officials have revealed that divers scouring the site of the Costa Concordia wreck off the coast of Italy have recovered what could be more human remains.

It comes days after Italy’s civil protection agency said it had found remains that could belong to the last two missing victims of the disaster.

All the remains have been sent for DNA testing.

The cruise ship ran aground and partially sank off Giglio island last year with the loss of 32 lives.

Divers scouring the site of the Costa Concordia wreck off the coast of Italy have recovered what could be more human remains

Divers scouring the site of the Costa Concordia wreck off the coast of Italy have recovered what could be more human remains

It was raised upright last month in a major salvage operation.

“Other remains have also been found and are currently undergoing DNA tests,” the agency’s chief Franco Gabrielli told reporters on Wednesday.

“We are waiting for the results of the analysis,” he added.

Costa Concordia’s captain, Francesco Schettino, is on trial over the disaster.

Francesco Schettino is accused of manslaughter, causing the shipwreck and abandoning ship, but says he is being made a scapegoat for the errors of others.

Two people were reported missing, presumed dead, after the disaster – Indian waiter Russel Rebello and Italian passenger Maria Grazia Trecarichi.

It was thought they had been trapped beneath the ship and the rocks, correspondents say.

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