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Actually I did know about Ritalia.it, I even blogged about it at the time. I forgot to link to it in related posts ;-)

You bring up another good point and a further example that without a champion owning the project the best of intentions fail.

maybe you don't know that the italia.it disaster had a bizzarre spinoff, with an attempt from italian blogosphere to re-write from the bottom the project or at least give advices, by a voluntary and loosed coupled team of web designer, consultants, etc.
For the launch of this alternative project, called ritalia.it, a crowdy barcamp was arranged, with a lot of talks and so on: but, apart of barcamp, no one took really on operative steps in the months after.
My wrap up: top-bottom project didn't work, bottom-up project didn't work. At least Italy should try some kind of mashup :)
cu soon

@Margherita - hope is the last to die, isn't it? I root for Italians helping Italy find its voice.

@Bruce - plenty of passion, I'm sure. What is hardest in a project of this scope is not deciding what to put in, rather what you take out. One vision would be a catalyst for corollary and complementary sites, I think. It's the white paper or blank screen syndrome. Gotta have something to react to! I will enjoy my time off for sure.

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