Italy has come 10th in Monocle magazine's 2013 "soft power" list, which ranks the world's most influential nations in areas including politics, culture, education, sport, diplomacy and financial clout.
“Congratulations Silvio Berlusconi. By leaving politics in disgrace, you have almost single handedly lifted Italy into the top 10 for the first time,” the survey said.
The magazine, however, took a prophetic tone in suggesting that Berlusconi, who resigned as prime minister in November 2011 when the Italian economy was on the verge of collapse, has left politics entirely.
The 77-year-old is still leader of the People of Freedom (PdL) party and a strong political force in Italy. This could, however, be about to change as senators cast their votes next Wednesday on whether to expel him from parliament following a tax conviction.
Monocle said that, "free from Berlusconi…Italy has the spirit and culture to become a soft superpower", adding that the country is on the up despite its fragile economy and volatile politics.
“Italy is the only country that can challenge France when it comes to the triumvirate of food, art and culture,” while also having the upper hand in sport and “an unrivalled fashion industry”.
That said, Italy still has to play catch up with France, which came six places ahead due to its "luxury art and retail". The Francophone nation was also praised for its ability to promote French around the world as it stubbornly refuses to accept English as the world’s lingua franca.
European countries performed well in the survey, with Sweden scoring highly “on the boring stuff” such as good governance, education and gender equality.
The UK, despite constant squabbling with its European counterparts, came second thanks to its ability to host international sporting events such as the Olympics in 2012 and its top-notch galleries.
Germany came first, for being “excellent at pursuing its ideas, values and aims using diplomatic, cultural and economic tools”.