The Italian patient

The Italian patient

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Policeman checking fire at refuse dumping demonstration in Naples

What is the state of health of the Italian nation today?

Is Italy in crisis or undergoing a new Renaissance? The answer to the question depends on who you ask. Italian journalist, Annalisa Piras, returns home to find out.

For the Italian right, the overwhelming victory of Silvio Berlusconi as Prime Minister in the April elections provided a welcome shake-up of a chaotic, sclerotic economy and political system.

It heralds a return to a proud, Catholic national identity; a country with strong family values and secure borders.

For the Left, however, this means Italy is now in crisis. Since Berlusconi's election, they claim, xenophobia and political corruption are on the rise and, they say, the country is showing dangerous fascist tendencies.

Annalisa Piras travels the country investigating the key issues dividing Italy today - immigration, organised crime, the judiciary, the media and the Church.

She asks tough questions of Italy's leaders and opinion-makers, visiting four current hotspots:

Naples - where a refuse crisis has been crippling the city.

Verona - which has witnessed a spate of extreme right wing violence.

Rome - where politicians and judges are once again trading accusations of bribery and corruption.

Milan - which claims now to be the real capital of Italy.

Annalisa asks some of the top names in politics and the economy - on both the Right and Left - to assess the state of their nation today. What can be done to restore The Italian patient to full health?

First broadcast on Friday 10th October 2008.

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