Even in Sandro Botticelli's painting The Birth of Venus, the goddess's belly resembles a plump, firm tortellino. Wikimedia.org hide caption

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Cecile Kyenge's appointment in April as integration minister was hailed as a landmark for diversity in Italy. But since then, she's been the target of death threats and vicious racial slurs. Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Egyptian cleric Osama Mustafa Hasan Nasr, photographed in 2007. Better known as Abu Omar, he was allegedly kidnapped by CIA agents in Italy in 2003 and taken to Egypt for interrogation. Amr Nabil/Associated Press hide caption

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A massive cruise ships towers over Venice. Some 650 cruise ships now visit the Italian city annually, and critics say they threaten the city's fragile architecture. Courtesty of the No Big Ships Committee hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesty of the No Big Ships Committee

Thousands of students from around the world flock to courses near Bologna, in central Italy, at the headquarters of Carpigiani, the leading global manufacturer of gelato-making machines. Giuseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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A portrait of Italian philosopher, writer and politician Niccolo Machiavelli (Florence, 1469-1527) by Antonio Maria Crespi. Half a millennium after he wrote The Prince, the slim volume continues to play an important role in political thought and evoke strong response. Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana/De Agostini/Getty Images hide caption

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Italian marines Massimilian Latorre (left) and Salvatore Girone, who are at the center of a diplomatic row between India and Italy, return to Rome on Feb. 23. The two men have been charged in India with killing two fishermen, whom they mistook for pirates. India is demanding their return. Angelo Carconi/AP hide caption

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Workers open ballots in a polling station in Rome on Tuesday following Italy's general elections. The initial results showed a close race with no clear-cut winner, a development that made financial markets jumpy. Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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