Sunday 13 February.

Traffic blocks were imposed in ten Italian cities where fine polluting dust exceeded legal limits.

Pope John Paul II, home from hospital, appeared at his window in the Vatican. He greeted and blessed the crowds, and asked for the release of Giuliana Sgrena, the Italian journalist kidnapped in Iraq.

Italian tax police announced that they would do spot checks on more than a million tax returns in 2005 as part of a crackdown on evasion.

Monday 14 February.

The Italian tourism trade fair closed in Milan, with all regions of Italy preparing to attract tourists from China. Rome city council tourist offices announced that they have already printed maps and guides in Chinese.

Franco Carraro was re-elected president of the Italian football federation. He declared his intention of serving only until the end of 2006, by which time he hopes that Italy will have been chosen to host the 2012 European football championships.

Tuesday 15 February.

Moses Pendleton, director of the American dance company Momix, opened a four-week season at Romes Teatro Olimpico, as guest of the Accademia Filarmonica for the 25th consecutive year.

The 2005 season at the Rome Opera House opened with Semiramide by Rossini.

Wednesday 16 February.

Video film of kidnapped Italian journalist, Giuliana Sgrena, was shown on the television news, in which she pleaded for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq.

The Italian state has received a collection of more than 2,000 pieces of oriental art from an anonymous donor. It includes statues, paintings, religious objects, golden jewellery, lacquer and enamelled items. They will be on display from May at the national museum of oriental art in the Palazzo Brancaccio in Rome. The little-known museum is already home to one of the most important European-based collections of art from Afghanistan, Nepal, Pakistan and Tibet.

Thursday 17 February.

Twice as many people vaccinated with this years flu vaccine have succumbed to the virus as in the previous year.

The chamber of deputies approved a law that would allow funeral ashes to be kept in places other than consecrated ground, or scattering of ashes according to the wishes of the deceased. The law must now be passed by the senate.

Friday 18 February.

Italian has been dropped as a language for European Commission press conferences. It will only be used on Wednesdays, when the European Unions other minor languages are also spoken. The official languages are English, French and German.

The Sri Lankan community in Rome will donate blood as a way of thanking Italy for the support provided to Sri Lanka in the immediate aftermath of the tsunami in December.

Saturday 19 February.

More than 300.000 people marched through the centre of Rome to call for peace and for the release of Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena.

A total 2.4 million passengers arrived in Rome on low-cost airlines in 2004, an increase of 44.6 per cent on 2003.