Year in review: Italy's major stories in 2015

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Images are projected on the 18th-century Baroque-style Trevi fountain to promote Rome's candidacy for the 2024 Olympic Games. Photo: Gabriel Buoys/AFP
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From trials that made international headlines and Vatican scandals to crazy weather and new discovery at the ruins of Pompeii, 2015 has been another eventful year for Italy. The Local recaps.

As anticipated towards the end of last year, all attention turned to who would follow in the footsteps of Giorgio Napolitano after he stepped down as president in January.

Several names were mooted as speculation mounted over his successor, including the former premiers Romano Prodi and Giuliano Amato, Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan, Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti and former Rome mayor Walter Veltroni.

But the man eventuallly elected for the job was Sergio Mattarella, a judge from Sicily.

Photo: Gerry Penny/AFP

It was another big year for Italy in terms of its fight against terrorism, with security stepped up and anti-terrorism laws tightened in the wake of the January attacks at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine in Paris and even more so after the Paris attacks in November.

A total of 259 people were arrested on terror charges over the past 12 months, with 67 of them being expelled from the country.

At the same time it's been another significant year for the flow of migrants into Italy from conflict zones, with hundreds of thousands arriving since the start of the year.

Come February, and the so-called ‘Captain Coward’, Francesco Schettino, got his comeuppance when he was sentenced to 16 years and one month in prison for causing the 2012 Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster which claimed 32 lives.

Photo: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

The other major ruling of the year came in March, when Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito were finally acquitted of the murder of British student Meredith Kercher by Italy’s Supreme Court.

Photo: Filippo Montefore/Tiziana Fabi/AFP

Also in March, one of Italy’s oldest and most famous brands, Pirelli, was sold to Chinese investors.

In what is the worst disaster yet involving migrants crossing the Mediterranean to Europe, some 800 people died in April as they tried to make their way to Italy in rickety boats.

But as anti-immigration regions in the north rallied, refusing to accommodate those who manage to survive the crossing, in May we reported the heartwarming story about the migrant who saved a woman from drowning in Rome’s Tiber River. It was one of our most popular stories of the year.

Photo: Polizia di Stato

It was a crazy year for weather, with heatwaves coming and going between May and August, broken up in some areas by torrential rain, hailstones and tornadoes.

The country then basked in warm temperatures over the final few months, enabling people to flock to the beach as late as mid-November.

Photo: The Local Italy

For the first full year in a while Italy’s government actually managed to stay in tact, with Matteo Renzi being praised for the economy’s uptick and a slight drop in unemployment as he heads towards his third year as prime minister.

But things haven’t been so calm in Rome politics, with mayor Ignazio Marino ousted in October and the so-called ‘mafia capitale’ corruption trial getting underway in November.

And there’s never a dull moment where Silvio Berlusconi is concerned, even if his political popularity is waning.

He’s been trying to orchestrate a comeback ever since being let off community service duties at a home for Alzheimer’s sufferers in Milan - his punishment for his tax fraud conviction - early for “good behaviour”.

But he’s only really managed to make headlines for his outings with Russian President Vladimir Putin - who didn’t keep his pal waiting as long as he did Pope Francis during a visit to Italy in June.

Photo: Adem Altan/AFP

The pair got together in Crimea again in September, a trip that got Berlusconi banned from entering Ukraine, and sparked a probe after the friends allegedly quaffed a vintage bottle of wine.

The other Berlusconi headlines mostly revolved around his alleged links to the latest Vatileaks scandal, a potential ‘bunga bunga’ retrial...and his debut on Instagram.

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The Italian rugby team might have failed to leave their mark at the rugby World Cup, but it’s been quite a positive year for Italy in the world of sport. Two Italian women tennis players made it to the final at the grand slam at the US Open in August, with Flavia Pennetta claiming victory.

Photo: AFP

In September it was announced that Rome is in the running to host the Olympics in 2024.

Meanwhile, the Italian football team will get another chance to prove themselves in a major tournament after they qualified for the 2016 European Championships in October.

There is still so much to be discovered about Italy, so it probably comes as no surprise that some of our most-read stories this year were about fascinating archaeological finds.

Among them was the pre-Roman tomb that was unearthed in Pompeii in September, the discovery of a frescoed Roman room in November, and more recently, the sunken haul of Roman fish sauce found off the Italian coast.

Photo: Archaeological Site of Pompeii

The Local Italy would like to take this opportunity to thank you for reading the website over the past year and wish you a very happy 2016!

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