Fun fact for the Tour Italy Now community: Did you know that Italy is the world’s 8th largest exporter? Don’t groan, this is not a rehash of Econ 101. Ok maybe a tiny bit of Econ 101, but with an Italian twist.
There is a lot of talk of austerity and crisis in Italy these days. In late 2011 Mario Monti, the current Prime Minister was appointed, not elected, to rescue the country from grave economic crisis. He billed his reform plan “Save Italy.” This plan introduced dramatic tax and pension reforms. We are now at the close of 2012 and Monti’s technocratic term is approaching an end. The term has been shortened slightly because of former three time elected Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s removal of his political support. The general consensus is that the difficult reforms that have been implemented are a step in the right direction, but it remains to be seen if his successor can maintain momentum and continue to move Italy forward.
Despite this time of global economic difficulties, Italy remains a global economic leader.
Italy has Europe’s second-largest largest manufacturing and industrial base, after Germany’s, and is one of the biggest export-oriented economies in the euro zone. A majority of these companies are still privately held and controlled by Italian families.You probably recognize many of these major exporters and companies names, especially the lifestyle ones notably fast cars and leading fashion names.
By sector here is a list of Italy’s leading exports:
Chemicals and petrochemicals (Eni)
Energy and electrical engineering (Enel, Edison)
Home appliances (Candy, Indesit)
Aerospace and defense technologies (Alenia, Agusta, Finmeccanica)
Motor vehicles (Fiat Group, Aprilia, Ducati, Piaggio)
Fashion (Armani, Valentino, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Roberto Cavalli, Benetton, Prada, Luxottica)
Food processing (Ferrero, Barilla Group, Martini & Rossi, Campari, Parmalat, Eataly)
Sport and luxury vehicles (Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini, Pagani, Fiat, )
yachts (Ferretti, Azimut).
And now for the fun facts:
Founded in 1899 in the Northern industrial capital of Torino, Fiat manufactures the adorable 500 – CinqueCento car. It also purchased Chrysler in 2009.
Piaggio is the company behind the iconic and chic Vespa scooter.
Luxottica is the worlds largest eyeglass company. Did you know Luxottica owns The Sunglass Hut, Lenscrafters and Ray Bans? They also manufacture sunglasses for luxury brands including Chanel, Prada and recently signed on Tory Burch.
Ferrero, founded in 1946 this Piedmonte based company is the inventor of the very popular hazelnut and chocolate spread best known worldwide as Nutella. They also produce Tic Tacs.
You know that some of the best pasta and olive oil and chocolate is produced in Italy, but did you know that Italy produces roughly 10% more kiwifruit than New Zealand? The majority of kiwi farms are just outside of Rome.
Eataly is the idea of Oscar Farinetti and is the largest artisanal Italian food and wine market in the world. It is part grocery store part restaurant part exhibition space. How many grocery stores that you know have a Manifesto? Eataly’s is Eat. Shop. Learn. Eataly’s stores in Italy, New York and Japan are second only to Apple in per square foot profit.
In 2012 figures indicate that Italian wine producers have now overtaken both italian automotive exports and French wine production. The Italian wine market currently holds 22% of the global market. Prosecco, grown and bottled in the Veneto, leads the way with wines produced in Piedmont and Tuscany following close behind.
Tour Italy now can arrange tours to visit these places, factories and vineyards. Some of the places you can visit are the Barilla Pasta factory in Parma, The Ferrari test track near Modena and one of Eataly’s eight locations trough Italy.
During your visit to Italy, you can shop on the the famous fashion streets of via Condotti in Rome, Via Monte Napoleone in Milan and Via Tornabuoni in Florence to stock up on the latest Prada, Gucci and Valentino shoes, bags and fashion.
Looking to save a few Euros? You can take an outlet tour near Florence or Rome. For inspiration, take Tour Italy Now’s Virtual Tour of Florence.