A Romance of Adversaries: Italy

How well do you know your neighbors? We looked into the Alpine Republic’s special relationship with each of them

“So it’s Spaghetti alla Bolognese as the first course, then Wiener Schnitzel – and then I’ll prepare some Kaiserschmarrn to have with our espresso later. OK?”. This is my mum. I was back home for a short visit and she was already in high gear cooking all my favorite dishes, to make sure I’d head back to Vienna with a few extra kilos under my belt.

A staggering 430 km of Alps divide Austria from Italy, a high barrier of mountains that splits our country from the bel paese. The border is guarded by the Dolomites’ Marmolada peak and charming villages like San Candido, some of the most fascinating and spectacular mountain landscapes in Europe.

Every year, Italians travel to Vienna, Salzburg and Innsbruck to sample the Strudel, listen to great music and go skiing, while Austrians spend their summers sailing on the Lago di Garda, visiting the Romeo and Juliet balcony in Verona or sampling the gelato on a Grado beach while trying to get a tan. The Austrian Southern Railway (Südbahn) from Vienna to Trieste opened in 1857 and connected Austrian trade to the Mediterranean, making the coast accessible to the middle class for the first time. Christened the Austrian Riviera, the Adriatic coast shared with Croatia and Slovenia is still a holiday favorite.

Austria and Italy turned bitter enemies in WWI and left behind the knotty issue of South Tyrol, but today all this has been resolved through diplomacy and the EU’s open borders.

Austrians love Italian design and fashion, while Italy imports Austrian machinery and raw materials to produce dresses, jewels and furniture to sell to its northern neighbor. The story of Austria and Italy is a tale of empire, war, differences and competition but, the future promises a lively exchange of goods, ideas and people. It’s about architecture and music, sun and style … and liberal splotches of Bolognese.

Border with Austria: 404 km, bordering Carinthia, Tyrol and Salzburg

Population:60,532,000 people

Size: 301,340 km2

Trade Volume with Austria:

Imports from Italy: €8.4 billion
Exports to Italy: €8.4 billion
Balance: -€21 million

Fun fact:

Italy is said to have more masterpieces per square mile than
any other country.

Click here to read up on Austria’s next neighbor.

Claudia Paccosi
Claudia Paccosi is half Italian and half Austrian, studied in Rome and was a journalist for Storyful in Dublin. She loves to see almost everything under a poetic veil, that's why she moved to Vienna, where she can learn to dance Walzer and experience its cold snowy winter.

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