- Recent unification; both countries are relatively "young".
- Fall of monarchy; both started as monarchies but these were replaced and both countries became republics.
- Allies; both countries were allied during the Second World War as major Axis powers. During this period there were very close relations between the respective leaders of the countries, Mussolini and Hitler.
- Strong Communist presence following the war and between the governments, both countries were in alliance during the Cold War.
Both countries supported the idea of a united Europe before other nations (an idea supported by both Mazzini and Nietzsche for example) and were strong supporters of European unity in the 1950s when the idea was first pushed. Both were original memebers of the EU and both adopted the euro when it was proposed.
There is considerable trade between the two countries (Italy is the fourth biggest importer of German produced goods, for example) and cultural exchange. German tourists make up a large proportion of all the tourists visiting Italy.
Germany is Italy’s principal trading partner. In bilateral trade, Italian imports from Germany fell by 18.7 per cent in 2009 as a result of the financial and economic crisis, Italian exports to Germany also declining (by 21.5 per cent). Germany’s still considerable balance of trade surplus shrank from EUR 13.7 billion in 2008 to just under EUR 12.5 billion in 2009. In 2009, 12.8 per cent of Italian exports went to Germany and 16 per cent of Italy’s imports came from Germany. The clear focus of German foreign investment is northern Italy.
Alongside joint involvement in various security and defence organizations such as NATO, the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the United Nations, bilateral relations between the two countries’ armed forces have traditionally been close, including regular talks at all levels of the military and permanent exchange and training programmes for troops. Of particular importance is the jointly run tactical training command for air forces in Decimomannu/Sardinia. There is also close cooperation on armaments production.
Cultural relations between Germany and Italy are globally unique in their intensity. In no other country does Germany have as many cultural institutions as in Italy, some the very first of their kind:
- five scientific/academic institutions (the German Archaeological Institute founded in 1829, the Biblioteca Hertziana founded in 1912, the German Institute of Art History in Florence founded in 1888; the German Historical Institute; and the German Study Centre in Venice)
- five houses providing scholarships for artists (Villa Massimo and Casa di Goethe in Rome, Villa Romana in Florence, Villa Serpentara and Casa Baldi in Olevano Romano and the European Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Montepulciano)
- seven branches of the Goethe Institute (Rome, Naples, Palermo, Milan, Turin, Genoa and Trieste)
- three German Schools (in Rome since 1851, Milan and Genoa)
- the above-mentioned Casa di Goethe, which was founded in 1997 and serves as a museum and exhibition venue
- the German-Italian Villa Vigoni Association
A globally unique network of nearly 40 German-Italian cultural societies also enables cultural offerings and language work to reach the provinces.
An important network for promoting German at Italian schools are the more than 20 partner schools (PASCH), including both the three German Schools (with a total of 2,500 pupils), 12 language diploma schools, five schools with bilingual sections and five partner schools under the supervision of the Goethe Institute. In the 2008/2009 school year, there were a total of approximately 350,000 pupils learning German at Italian schools (mostly as their second or third foreign language).
Since 2004, a German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) information centre in Rome has been offering Italian students, young academics and professors advice on Germany’s higher education system, on study and research opportunities and grants. The binational German-Italian Higher Education Centre (DIH) with offices in Bonn and Trient advises on German-Italian study programmes and graduate schools and organizes biennial German-Italian Higher Education Days. The DIH awards the Ladislao Mittner Prize enabling Italians to study in Germany and the Brentano Prize enabling Germans to study in Italy.
Since 2008, the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media have awarded the annual German-Italian Translation Prize alternately to Italian and German translators, the Italian Ministry of Culture also being involved from 2010 onwards.With a view to promoting youth exchange between Germany and Italy, a German-Italian Youth Office (Internet platform) is currently being set up, which is based at the Villa Vigoni on Lake Como and is funded by the Federal Foreign Office and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Notable Italian/German People
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