GALLERY: The biggest stories of 2013 in Italy

At one point this year Italy appeared on the edge of collapse with no government, no pope and an ever-fragile economy. As the country faces 2014, The Local looks back on a year filled with trials, tragedy, and a few new hopeful faces.

GALLERY: The biggest stories of 2013 in Italy
Enrico Letta became prime minister in April. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

Election fever struck Italy at the start of the year, although this quickly turned into political paralysis as there was no clear winner to the February elections. 

With a political stalemate in full swing, Pope Benedict XVI resigned as leader of the Catholic Church – the first pope to do so in 600 years. To add to the turmoil, President Giorgio Napolitano's term was coming to an end and MPs had to beg for him to stay on and hold the country together.

But by the end of April things were looking up for Italy. Little-known Enrico Letta had been sworn in as prime minister, leading a coalition government, and Pope Francis had swept into the Vatican with the winds of change.

VIEW THE GALLERY: Italy's top news stories of 2013

Italy was however not free from tragedy. In July a bus crash killed 39 people, while later in the year a cyclone left 16 dead in Sardinia.

Silvio Berlusconi continued to hit the headlines in 2013, first being convicted over his notorious "bunga bunga" parties and then being thrown out of parliament for a tax fraud conviction.

After a nerve-wracking year for Italians, an air of cautious optimism accompanies the new year with a prime minister ready to "fight with everything I have to avoid our country being thrown back into chaos".

IN PICTURES: The biggest stories of 2013 in Italy

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