Sunday 6 February.

Pope John Paul II, suffering from complications of influenza, appeared at the open hospital window to bless pilgrims and patients waiting below.

Ireland beat Italy in the first match of the Six Nations Rugby Championship, played at the Flaminio stadium in Rome. The final score was 28 17.

Monday 7 February.

Al Jazira, the Arab television station transmitting from Qatar appealed for the release of the 57 year-old Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena, kidnapped in Baghdad on 4 February.

American Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, arrived in Rome for meetings with Italian government and the Vatican officials.

Tuesday 8 February.

New labelling rules for fresh milk were approved by the government. Milk packers will have to give detailed information about where the milk was processed and packaged, whether it is of Italian or foreign origin and, if Italian, the name of the dairy where it was produced.

Italian minister for the economy, Domenico Siniscalco, told a government commission on public services that between 25 and 30 per cent of the state broadcaster RAI might be privatised in the autumn of this year.

Wednesday 9 February.

For the first time in his pontificate Pope John Paul II did not distribute the holy ashes to mark the beginning of Lent.

The number 53 was finally drawn in the state lottery in Venice after an absence of 183 draws. It is estimated that 600 million will be paid out to winning players but the treasury has gained three times that sum from the betting on this number over the past 21 months.

Thursday 10 February.

A four-hour strike by Italian airline employees led to the cancellation of 141 national and international flights.

Pope John Paul II returned to the Vatican in his glass popemobile after spending 9 days in hospital..

A wild-cat strike by a small TV crew working for RAI the Italian state broadcaster, caused a 24 hour postponement of the giant slalom event at the world ski championship in Bormio, in northern Italy.

Friday 11 February.

Railway unions claimed that 90 per cent of their members came out on a one-day strike. Trenitalia the railways operator replied that two out of three trains ran on time.

Saturday 12 February.

Italian president, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, left for a promotional trip to India, Last year Italian exports to India amounted to 3 billion, 500 million less than was paid for goods imported into Italy from India. The Italian delegation is particularly keen to arrange links with Indian filmmakers and to sell technology for aquaculture and the restoration of historic monuments

The Italian rugby team lost again in the Six Nations Championship; to Wales 8 38.