Italy was the first Western country to be dramatically overwhelmed by Covid-19, the first country outside of China to implement lockdown measures and, until mid-April 2020, the country in the world most affected in terms of number of victims. This article aims to sketch the evolution of the first phase of the Covid-19 crisis in Italy and demonstrates that the health crisis moved forward hand in hand with some typical shortcomings characterising the Italian political, administrative and institutional system. The incremental reaction by the unprecedented M5S-PD coalition government showed the huge difficulties in facing the most serious challenge since the end of WWII, with the institutional system already afflicted by its scarce capacity and the economy still recovering from the 2012 crisis.
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