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A Travellers Guide to Italy

Italy, a founder member of the EU, is a relatively young country which was only unified as a nation in 1861. It has land borders with Austria, France, San Marino, Slovenia, and Switzerland while the Vatican City is a separate state within Rome.

The country's long coastline, stretching some 7,600km, has contributed to problems with immigration control. Besides deep rooted problems, such as the need to import most raw materials, the country is also plagued by corruption and crime.

The economy is divided by the industrial north and less developed and poorer agricultural south.

As in much of Europe, property prices have been rising. According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyor's European Housing Review 2005, the housing market has been on 'a sustained upward swing for five years'. Last year 'agents were reporting that market activity was still brisk - although it had fallen below its peak'.

Most Italian property is sold as freehold although Italian property law recognises various other property rights and tenures. Usufruct is a right to use the property of another for a fixed period but not to change its nature.

Leasehold rights, which may be for a fixed period of 20 years or more or in perpetuity, allow the lessor to use the property as if he or she were the owner, subject to a requirement to improve the land and pay a rent. Building rights entitle the holder to construct a building on land belonging to a third party, or maintain a building standing on land belonging to a third party.

Building rights may be for a limited or unlimited period of time, but if for a fixed period, ownership of the building reverts to the owner of the land on their expiry.

Italian property transfer processes have some similarities to France. Based on land registration, the state regulated process involves both purchaser and seller using the same state appointed notary to complete the transaction.

The process begins with a formal and nominally binding offer to purchase arranged through an estate agent. If accepted during the set period of the offer, this is followed by a preliminary contract signed by both parties (at which point a deposit will be paid). Finally comes formal completion.

The notary, in front of whom the completion documents must be signed, will verify that the documentation is correct, that the property is free from registered encumbrances and checks the identities of the parties involved. Searches beyond what is included in the registry are unlikely to be exhaustive.

The notary also collects the taxes and duties involved. These vary between Non-resident property purchasers are treated differently to resident purchasers in a number of ways. In particular they will be obliged to pay higher registration fees, although residence can be claimed within a fixed time subsequent to the purchase.

Total fees and charges are likely to amount to between 5 per cent and 20 per cent, including estate agents fee, if applicable, registration fees or VAT if a new property, and the notary's fee. Fees in the order of 8 to 10 per cent are also payable on sale of a property.

Some charges are based on the registered value of the property, which is likely to be less that the actual purchase price. This also applies to local property taxes, the amount of which varies from region to region. The Imposta Comunale surgli Immobili is paid by both resident and non resident owners - although the amount is halved for property that is not habitable. In addition there are likely to be charges for local services.

Italian taxation is undergoing reform. From the start of 2005 personal tax rates have been set on a graduating scale ranging from 23 per cent to 39 per cent, with a 4 per cent supplement for income in excess of 100,000 euro.

Property owners are obliged to file annual tax returns but are only taxable on income arising in Italy. However, there tax is levied on the notional rental value of the property (based on its registered value) whether or not it is rented out.

Both residents and non-resident property owners are subject to Italian inheritance law and tax. But the good news is that currently there is no capital gains tax to pay on property gains.


World Football Challenge Tickets - Team Profile: Inter Milan

The World Football Challenge is coming to the United States of America this July, so you'd better be ready for all the action with a lucky club jersey, some tickets and all your facts in a row. While most Americans will spend the summer paying attention to the national sport, baseball, European soccer clubs get neglected at the expense of the more popular sports in the States. For that reason we're here to help you get re-acquainted with one of the four clubs coming to the World Football Challenge, Inter Milan. StubHub can help you get the right World Football Challenge tickets before the games begin, and you'll need to pull that lucky Inter jersey out of the closet by the time the games begin. Here are some cliff notes about Inter Milan.

Club Basics
Football Club Internazionale Milano, or Inter Milan to most English speaking soccer fans, is a professional A-league soccer team based out of Milan, Italy. AC Milan, another team in the World Football Challenge (Club America and Chelsea are the others), is based out of Milan, Italy as well. In fact, both clubs use the same home stadium, the San Siro. The two teams are fierce rivals, so the situation is comparable to a hypothetical baseball situation, where the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox both play in Boston and both use Fenway Park as their home. Things would get heated. Inter and AC's rivalry much more intense than the Lakers and the Clippers, who share the Staples Center. Inter Milan has won numerous Italian League championships, several European club team championships, and are known around the world for attracting some of the most famous, most successful and most popular soccer stars on the planet.

Jersey Sponsor
Inter Milan have a unique uniform design. The jerseys have vertical black and blue stripes, except when the team is wearing their alternates jersey, in which case the jerseys look like an old England National Team jersey, all white with a red cross in the center of the shirt. The team's jersey logo sponsor is Pireli, not Firelli, as their logo might seem if you don't look too closely. Pirelli & C. SpA is a multinational company that's headquartered in Milan. Although it's invested in several businesses, the most famous Pirelli brand products are tires, technology and real estate. As far as brands go, Inter Milan could have picked a worse one to wear across their chests, as this company looks like a solid one. It's also a good thing that the company is Italian, because you've got local pride with you when you wear the black and blue.

Star Players
Zlatan Ibrahimovic - One of the two highest paid soccer players in the world (the other being Kaka of AC Milan), Zlatan is a forward from Sweden who has a knack like few in the business for finding the back of the net. He plays on the Sweden National Team.

Adriano - A Brazilian National Team star, Adriano plays forward. In 2005 he had 28 goals in 42 appearances.

Patrick Viera - A French National Team member, Viera has been captain of Arsenal, one of the top British clubs. He's also played stints for AC Milan and Juventus.

Luis Figo - A veteran Portuguese National Team member, Luis Figo is a famous midfielder and winger. He was named the European Player of the Year in 2000 and the FIFA World Player of the Year in 2001.

Hernan Crespo - A veteran member of the Argentinean National Team, Crespo is a pure striker who can still get a good knock on the ball when he's in the game, although some of the young guns have stepped father into the spotlight these days.


History of Ferrari

Which car is the greatest supercar? Many would argue Ferrari.

Ferrari is one of the best sports car brands in the world. Enzo Ferrari, based in Marenello, Italy founded the company in 1947. Initially, known as Scuderia Ferrari, the company sponsored race drivers and manufactured racecars, before they started the production of street-legal vehicles in the year 1947 as Ferrari S.p.A. However, till date the company still continues with its racing ventures, especially formula one.

The first Ferrari road car was the "1947 125 Sport", powered by a 1.5 L V12 engine. The idea of manufacturing and selling road cars by Enzo was to fund Scuderia Ferrari. This car soon gained popularity and a reputation for excellence. Despite the gaining popularity, Enzo was reluctant in selling road cars. He believed that people were buying his cars for mere prestige and not for performance.

Ferrari soon emerged as a leading racecar manufacturer and a leading race team. Despite the success of the company, the internal tensions amongst the senior managers had reached boiling points. "Giralamo Gardini" the sales manager had problems with the interference of Enzo's wife Laura in the company. Their disputes and arguments finally led to the resignation of Gardini. Gardini had a strong support in the company. Scuderia manager, "Romolo Tavoni", chief engineer "Carlo Chitti" and many others had to leave the company alongside Gardini. As a revolt against Ferrari these men formed a new company ATS, to compete with Ferrari. This was known as "The Great Walkout". With the outburst of this walkout, the company lost one of their best racing customers the "Scuderia Serenissima".

Before the big walkout, the company was working on the "250GTO". This project then landed in the hands of a young engineer "Mauro Forghieri" and a long time racecar body maker, "Sergio Scaglietti". This project soon managed to improve things for Ferrari. The Dino road cars and legendary models such as the "F275" and "Daytona" made their way in the market and were amongst the best sellers.

The company witnessed a lot of competition in the early 60s due to the emergence of V8 engine powered "Shelby Cobra". Ford also tried to buy the company, but failed in their motives. In the year 1966 Fords, "GT-40 Mark 2" engines dominated the "24 Hours Le Mans race". After 1967, the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) banned the use of prototype engines over 3000cc, which heavily affected the upcoming Ferrari 330P models. To protest this, Scuderia did not take part in the event.

The company also witnessed great challenges by Porsche in 1968 with models such as the "Porsche908". However, the Ferrari 312PB models dominated the World Sports Car Championship in 1972.

Enzo died in the year 1988 and as a result, the company saw a huge rise in the old car values as well as sales of the new models. The signing of Michael Schumacher was a comeback for the Ferrari F1 Team. From 2004 till date, Fiat Group controls Ferrari and owns 56% stakes of the company.


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