Sunday 13 March.

Police discovered that 24 out of 100 petrol stations between Milan and Florence were delivering 49 litres of petrol for every 50 litres shown on the pump.

Monday 14 March.

Favourable weather conditions led to an increase in illegal immigrants trying to get into Italy from North Africa. More than 780 boat people arrived at the reception centre at Lampedusa, the southern-most Italian island.

Umberto Veronesi, Italys leading oncologist, said that smog was not a leading cause of tumours, with only four per cent of cancers attributable to polluted air, while 30 per cent were triggered by foods such as milk and polenta which contained natural toxins.

Tuesday 15 March.

The Italian national statistics institute, ISTAT, recorded a two per cent fall in industrial production in January 2005 compared to the same month in 2004 and a fall of 19.8 per cent in the number of cars manufactured in the country in 2004 compared with the previous year.

Italian and Spanish were re-instated as languages to be used at press conferences of the European Union commission after protests from both countries when the commission attempted to reduce translations to only three languages, English, German and French.

Unions and the government opened negotiations on renewing public sector contracts. The government is offering no more than a 4.3 per cent pay increase while the unions are seeking an 8 per cent increase.

Wednesday 16 March.

Research commissioned for the Agency for Mobility in Rome discovered that one family in three owns a motor bike and 700,000 use these vehicles regularly 23 per cent of the population.

Unions at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan called for the resignation of the artistic director Riccardo Muti. The opera house has been in turmoil since the dismissal of the superintendent Carlo Fontana in February, eight months before the end of his contract, and the appointment of Mario Miele as his successor. Muti did not resign and a senate inquiry into management of opera house continues.

Thursday 17 March.

The Italian Bioethics committee, which advises the government on ethical medical questions, has recommended that homeopathic medicines be given to children only for minor illnesses. Nine million Italians regularly turn to alternative medicine and it is estimated that 10.4 per cent of Italian children receive alternative treatments.

Peregrine falcons have returned to nest in Rome. The Bioparks documentary One hundred Birds living in the city of Rome shows two pairs of these birds nesting on city rooftops in the past two years.

Friday 18 March.

Ministry of the national heritage figures show that one million more tickets were sold for state-owned sites in the Lazio region in 2004 compared with the previous year, bringing the total to 10 million. The most popular site remains the Colosseum and Forum, followed by the Castel S. Angelo and then by the Villa dEste in Tivoli.

Saturday 19 March.

Italians, who are among the biggest cell phone users in the world, spent 140 million on ring tones and songs for their telephones last year. The average young Italian cell phone owner changes ring tone once a month.

Italy was beaten by France in the final game of the six nations cup rugby championship which was played in Rome. The final score was 13 56.