Economy of Italy, a Land Divided

Italy’s economy is divided into two main areas of industry and agriculture. These two contributors are divided by geography and income. While the North is highly developed and relatively well off, the South is less developed and has a high unemployment. This disparity is only one in a strange economic system that is full of extremes.


Industry is the main contributor to Italy’s economy. The major producers are small, family-owned companies. Italy’s most important industries include:

  • Machinery
  • Iron and steel
  • Cars
  • Textiles
  • Clothing
  • Ceramics

Most of Italy’s manufacturing plants are located in the North. The service sector, which has grown to contribute 73% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, (GDP), is also focused mainly in northern Italy.


While most of Italy’s agriculture is located in the less-developed South, Italy has a total of 2.6 million farms. Small family-run farms of less than 5 hectares comprise 94% of Italy’s farms, which contributes to the South’s higher unemployment rate.

Italy is the largest wine producer in the world and one of the leaders of olive oil production. Other crops that exist on Italian farms, North and South include:

  • Citrus
  • Corn
  • Rice
  • Sugar beets
  • Wheat
  • Dairy

Southern Italy is also known for its citrus and fruits in addition to grapes and olives. Overall, agriculture only contributes to 1% of the nation’s GDP and is hampered by Italy’s underground economy.

Italy’s Underground Economy

Italy has made great strides in trying to curb its underground economy, although some experts think it contributes 15% of the country’s GDP. The darker side of the economy of Italy is prevalent in agriculture, service industry and construction. The Italian government has tried to make changes in graft and other contributors to the black market, as well as create more employment opportunities for women and young men. They have made improvements, but the economic crisis that hit the rest of the world had an impact on Italy as well.

Current Economic Issues

The global economic crisis has hit Italy with high unemployment and financial issues. The national unemployment rate rose from 6% in 2008 to about 8.4% in 2010. The nation has suffered from high public debt that amounts to over 100% of its GDP. The Italian government has tried to curb spending, but the high debt issues make this difficult.Economy of Italy

Overall, the economy of Italy is the 8th largest in the world and the 4th largest in Europe in terms of its Gross Domestic Product. In terms of purchasing power or PPP, Italy is the 5th largest in Europe and ranks as the 10th largest globally.

Imports and Exports

Italy ranks 8th in the world for its imports and 9th for its exports. Italy’s export partners include Germany, France, Spain, China, Spain and Russia. As part of the European Union (EU), Italy has special relationships with member nations, especial in terms of its Wine exports.

Italy’s largest imports include:


  • Tobacco
  • Engineering products
  • Transport equipment
  • Energy Products
  • Minerals
  • Production machinery

Italy’s largest exports include:

  • Clothing
  • Machinery
  • Ceramics
  • Clothing
  • Beverages

Italy’s imports cost the country about $473 billion dollars a year, and its exports generate about $448 billion dollars in revenue.

The economy of Italy has through tough economic hardships similar to the other nations of the world due to global financial issues that began in 2008. The major strains on the country come from unemployment, national debt and the underground economy, which seems to hurt even while it helps. Over time, the unemployment rate will be the most detrimental drain on Italy’s economy.

Find Style and Class with Italian Clothes

Most people realize how popular France is in the world of fashion. It may surprise you to know, however, that Italian clothes also have been at the height of fashion for many centuries. From the Renaissance to the millennium and beyond, Milan and Rome have held their own against Paris, Los Angeles and Tokyo with designs that fashionistas are dying to wear.

Italian Clothes during the Renaissance

Italy became the center of fashion during the 11th century, when Milan, Venice, Florence and Rome produced clothes, shoes and jewelry that were sought after throughout Europe. When the Renaissance gave birth to art, culture and beauty, Italian designs were the height of fashion. Clothes worn by Queen Catherine de Medici and the Medici family were considered trendy in English, French and German royal courts.

The passion for Italian design waned in the 17th century, and France became known as the cultural center of Europe. Textiles, shoes and jewelry from Italy gave way to dresses and accoutrements worn by French courtiers. Silk was still a profitable market for Italian merchants, however, and their imports from Asia allowed Italian clothiers to maintain a healthy trade.

20th Century Rebirth of Italian Clothes

Italian ClothesIn the 1950’s, Giovanni Giorgini sought to revive the world’s interest in Italian fashion. After holding several fashion shows around the world, the fever began to take hold once again. In the United States, a number of Hollywood stars wore Italian designs in the 1960’s, and the American rich started to see Italy’s designers as a status symbol of wealth and fame.

Some of the people who made Italian clothes popular were:

  • First Lady Jackie Kennedy
  • Grace Kelly
  • Audrey Hepburn

The designers often created special clothing lines just for the stars who wore them. Gucci, Versace, Armani and Garavani all had their favorite stars, and went out of their way to create unique pieces. When Jackie Kennedy married Aristotle Onassis, Garavani created a special wedding dress.

This trend in expensive designs has continued over time. More recent stars who wear clothes from their favorite Italian designers include:

  • Madonna
  • Beyonce
  • Rihanna
  • Lady Gaga

Many designs are too expensive for the average person to purchase, but Italian designs haven’t always been exclusively for the rich. During the 70’s and 80’s, Italian clothiers became interested in everyday wear, such as jeans and miniskirts. While still more expensive than many jean designers, these jeans remained less expensive than many clothes put out by Armani and Gucci.

Italian Clothes as a part of their culture

Italian men and women have always considered clothing to be an important part of their lives. Creating a good first impression is paramount for Italians, and the way they dress is a part of that impression. This is why Italian designers have always stressed the importance of material and design in their creations.

Many of the famous design houses are native to Italy. In addition to Gucci and Armani, other newer designers have established themselves in the fashion world. Benetton, Miu Miu, and Etro have joined the ranks of famous Italian designers. Luxottica and Bulgari are jewelry brands that are also based in Italy and considered the height of fashion.

Milan and Rome remain vital cities in the world of fashion. In fact, Milan and Rome are in the top five most important cities for fashion in the entire world and beat out London for the title. New York and Paris are also in that group, so Rome and Milan are in very prestigious company.

Italy also has some of the most famous shopping districts in the world. The Via Montenapoleone fashion district is located in Milan and the Via de Condotti is in Rome. The Via de Tornabuoni is another vital shopping district. This fashion epicenter is in Florence, another important city in the world of fashion, although not as famous as Rome or Milan.

Italy’s desire to be the best dressed has led to the popularity of Italian clothes around the world. For nearly nine centuries, those who sought expensive clothes have sought designs from some of the oldest Italian fashion houses. Hollywood stars, the rich and powerful, and even famous politicians of the 60’s through the 2000’s have been proud wearers of Gucci, Versace, Armani, and Garavani. Some of these modern-day courtiers have requested special designs that cost thousands of dollars. One of the kind dresses for weddings, award ceremonies and other occasions are worn by American stars, dazzling the paparazzi and public alike.

When shopping for the latest trends, don’t just search for them in Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, or Christian Dior. You should learn to speak Prada, the Italian design house from Milan that has become the language of fashionistas the world over.

Italian Furniture Manufactures-Find What’s Right for You

Italian furniture comes in many different styles for those with tastes ranging from the exquisite to the eclectic. Italian leather has a reputation for quality while Renaissance furniture and Tuscany styles speak to the artistic and the opulent. The new minimalist look is evident as well, with brands such as Edra, Minotti and Cappellini. Whatever your taste or décor, Italian furniture manufacturers produce a line of furniture that speaks to you.

Renaissance Style

Like its namesake, the Renaissance style is ornate, creative and every piece is a work of art. Carved with birds, rich materials, and paintings that could be considered a masterpiece in its own right, this furniture tends to dominate a room. Because these pieces tend to be large and heavy, they aren’t for small rooms, or rooms with little natural light.


Tuscany is lighter, warm and welcoming. Where the Renaissance is formal, Tuscany is meant to be used, and has the feel of the Italian countryside. This style is great for airy rooms and country kitchens with its warm colors and rustic looks.


This style actually covers a portion of the 20th century from the 1920’s to the 1970’s. This type of furniture may have an art-deco look (1920’s), the open warmth of the 1950’s, known as mid-century, or the more humble Scandinavian look of the 70’s.

Le Corbusier is the epitome of 20th century design. Named after Swiss architect Jeanneret, this line of armchairs and chaises have distinctive names such as LC1 or LC3. This line of furniture is sold exclusively by Cassina, who bought the rights from Jeanneret himself in 1964.Italian Furniture Manufactures


The contemporary look is simple and minimalistic. Famous brands like Edra and Poltrona Frau contrast greatly with more modern designs like Poliform, Flexform and Zanotta. They are sleeker and devoid of the heavy look and whimsical designs of the Renaissance style, and lack the warmth of Tuscany. Despite the stark nature of this furniture, it is very popular with the wealthy and the famous throughout the world.


Natuzzi is one of the Italian furniture manufacturers who has a more modern style. Their Italsofa brand is known for its quality and durability. They make leather sofas, and Italian leather is famous for its quality. They also carry a range of armchairs, tables and other accessories to help create a complete look.

The founder of the company, Pasquale Natuzzi, was only 19 years old when he began making furniture in 1959. Coming from a long line of cabinet makers, Pasquale sold armchairs and end tables to local Italian customers.

It wasn’t until the 1970’s that Natuzzi began to export his furniture, and he didn’t market to the US until the 1980s. At that time, his first piece to be sold in America went for about $1,000, and his popularity in the states grew rapidly. His Italsofa brand is very popular in the United States, as well as the rest of the world.


Cassina didn’t have to wait as long to become popular as Natuzzi. Created by two brothers in 1927, they created custom pieces for cruise lines and hotel chains early in their careers, allowing them to earn a reputation for quality. The sale of the rights of the Le Corbusier line was in recognition for their dedication to taste and creativity. This reputation has continued over time, and they continue to work with well-known designers around the world. Vico Magistretti and Gaetano Pesce are just two of the many top designers who have worked with Cassina.

Italy is known for its taste and opulent products. Whether it is cars, wine, furniture or clothes, if it is Italian made it is a status symbol of wealth and taste. This appeal goes beyond design, and extends to quality. Many manufacturing companies in Italy are family owned, and the way they make their products today, stems from knowledge that has been passed down through the generations.

There are types of furniture out there that are expensive but not comfortable or durable. Italian furniture manufacturers such as Natuzzi and Cassina use quality products and pay attention to details to make a product that will last. So, whether your style is Renaissance, Tuscany or the modern flair of Le Corbusier, look to Italian furniture to give you the look and comfort that is meant to be used.