Find out more about what made headlines in Italy in 2018.

Italy’s first populist government

Italy’s March 4 general election resulted in a hung parliament in which no single party or coalition commanded an overall majority, leaving few options for any new government.

Following 88 days of negotiations, the nation finally swore in a new government in April: the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) and the far-right League joined forces to form a coalition government.

On June 1, Giuseppe Conte – a law professor with no prior experience in politics – became Italy’s 58th Prime Minister.

Matteo Salvini of the League and M5S leader Luigi Di Maio were both appointed as vice premiers.

Salvini was then named Interior Minister and Di Maio became Minister of Economic Development, Labour and Social Policies.

Not long after the new government came to power, Salvini enforced the coalition’s anti-migrant stance with tough new policies: in June, he barred the French NGO-run rescue ship Aquarius, carrying 629 immigrants, from docking in Italy, triggering an EU-wide dispute.

Salvini made headlines again in August, when he refused to let Italian coast guard ship Diciotti dock at the Sicilian port of Catania, leaving the 177 migrants aboard stranded at sea for six days.

He eventually let the ship dock, but refused to let its passengers off until other European countries pledged to take them in.

Ireland and Albania offered their assistance.

The new government also sparked controversy when its budget plan for 2019 was rejected by the EU in an unprecedented move.

In October, the European Commission rejected Italy’s budget plan and demanded the government reduce its proposed deficit of 2.4 per cent due to the nation’s high debt.

Italy initially refused to back down and change its budget, leading EU officials to threaten disciplinary action and financial consequences.

Following a months-long standoff, Rome and Brussels finally reached a deal just this Wednesday, with Italy agreeing to reduce its deficit target to 2.04 per cent.

The deal is yet to be approved by the Italian parliament.

A year of wild weather

Italy experienced some unusual weather patterns this year, beginning with a bitter cold snap back in February, caused by an icy wind from Siberia.

On February 26, Rome awoke to its first snowfall in six years.

Photo: ANSA

Some areas of the Eternal City were covered in five centimetres of snow, and locals made the most of the winter wonderland by skiing, sledding and building snowmen in the capital’s famous parks and piazzas.

However, it wasn’t all fun and games: many schools were ordered shut and transport across the nation was disrupted during the cold snap, which lasted into the first week of March.

One the other end of the spectrum, Italy sweltered once summer arrived.

Europe experienced a heatwave which caused dry conditions and widespread bushfires throughout spring and summer.

Italy issued red alerts — the highest of three warning levels — across the centre and north, indicating widespread health risks in cities including tourist magnets Rome, Florence and Venice.

The stifling heat was followed by storm and flash floods, in which 10 hikers died at Calabria’s Pollino National Park.

Wild weather lashed Italy again in late October, as torrential rains and winds of up to 180 kilometres an hour swept across the country.

Meanwhile, hundreds of tourists were left stranded in Venice, as severe storms put three-quarters of the lagoon city under water.

Photo: ANSA

In Liguria, more than 20,000 locals were left without power during the storms, while Genoa airport was ordered to close as masses of flooded debris crowded its runways, leaving hundreds of tourists stranded.

On November 3, two families were killed in the Sicilian province of Palermo when the severe weather caused a river to burst its banks.

Nine people, including three children, died.

Eleven Italian regions declared a state of emergency in the wake of the storms, which killed 32 people in total.

A natural miracle

A 56-year-old woman from Treviso in Veneto made headlines in January, when she defied nature by giving birth without assisted fertility treatment.

According to reports in the Italian press, the unidentified woman gave birth to a girl, called Beatriz, at Angelo di Mestre hospital in late December 2017.

The woman already had two other daughters, aged 34 and 28 years.

Osteria Francescana lauded on the global stage

Italian restaurant Osteria Francescana was named the top restaurant across the globe at the World’s 50 Best Restaurants ceremony, held in Spain on June 19.

Three other Italian restaurants made the list: Piazza Duomo in Alba, Piedmont (no. 16), Le Calandre in Rubano, Veneto (no. 23) and Reale in Castel Di Sangro, Abruzzo (no. 36).

From local restaurant to coffee giant

On September 7, Italy was divided in two when international coffee giant, Starbucks, opened its first store in the nation.

Photo: Starbucks

The “roastery” is located in Milan’s Palazzo delle Poste, in Piazza Cordusio, just streets away from iconic landmarks such as the Duomo di Milano, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and Teatro alla Scala.

The Milan store created nearly 300 jobs in Italy and has been described as “the most beautiful Starbucks in the world” in a press release.

However, many argued that the store’s opening was a slap in the face to Italy’s local coffee culture.

And the best region goes to...

In October, Italy made headlines again... only this time it was for a region and not a restaurant.

Towards the end of the month, the north-western Italian region of Piedmont was crowned the world’s best region to visit in 2019 in Lonely Planet’s annual collection of the best travel destinations.

The publication listed its main attractions as: Turin’s museums, cafes and historical buildings; the Langhe, an area of rolling, vine-covered hills where humans have been cultivating wine for so long that they’re protected by Unesco; the dramatic scenery of Lago D’Orta; the medieval village of Orta San Giulio; Alba’s famous white truffles; Ivrea’s Battle of the Oranges, Italy’s largest food fight; and the region’s baroque palaces.

In the world of sport

There was both a tragedy and a buona notizia this year in Italy’s favourite sport: soccer.

On March 4, the nation awoke to the news that Fiorentina captain Davide Astori had died of cardiac arrest overnight.

Photo: ANSA

The 31-year-old international defender was found dead in his hotel room in Udine, ahead of Fiorentina’s match against Udinese.

On a brighter note, Italy went into meltdown in July, when it was announced that Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo had signed with Juventus.

Ronaldo joined the Italian champions from Real Madrid on a four-year contract for €100 million, marking the end of nine years with the Spanish giants.

Rome escalator incident goes viral

On October 23, more than 20 people were injured after an escalator malfunctioned and ran out of control at a Rome’s Repubblica metro station.

Many of the victims were Russian football fans heading to a Champions League match between AS Roma and CSKA Moscow.

Footage of the incident went viral in the following days.

A murder case which shook the nation

In October, Italy mourned the rape and murder of 16-year-old Desirée Mariottini.

Photo: ANSA

A resident of Cisterna di Latina, the teenager was found dead early on October 19 at an abandoned building in the Roman district of San Lorenzo, two days after she’d called her grandmother to say she’d missed the last bus home and would be staying with a friend overnight.

Investigators believe she fell unconscious for several hours after being given drugs by several people, and died of an overdose.

She was sexually abused more than once before she died.

Nightclub stampede

Six people were killed and dozens injured on the morning of December 8, in a stampede at an overcrowded nightclub in the central Italian region of Marche.

More than 1000 people, predominantly teenagers, were inside the Lanterna Azzurra club, in the town of Corinaldo, attending a concert by Italian rapper Sfera Ebbasta.

Local media reported panic broke out at around 1:00 am local time after a teenager fired pepper spray inside the club.

Eight people were probed following the incident, including the owners of the venue and the managers of the club.

Terror takes an Italian’s life

Sadly, the end of the year saw another violent attack which took the life of innocent people.

Italian reporter Antonio Megalizzi died on December 14 after being shot during the December 11 attack at the Strasbourg Christmas market.

Photo: ANSA

Megalizzi, a 28-year-old radio reporter from Trento, was the fourth victim of the attack.

He had been kept in a pharmacologically-induced coma after being shot by the attacker and a bullet lodged at the base of his skull.

Medics were unable to operate due to the location of the bullet.