Recently, we wrote about the top German publishers of the last year, to see which were the most engaged, and what articles had driven engagement. That series continues here, with our look at Italian content. 

Engagement to Italian content over time 

Engagement to Italian content was fairly stable throughout most of 2019, hovering at around 40 million engagements per week. This changed in 2020 quite dramatically.

Line graph of engagement to Italian publishers in 2020

Generally, Italian content saw a huge boost in 2020 that began even before the coronavirus took hold in the country. However, there is a clear and obvious spike once the pandemic was declared and the country began to shut down. Italy was the first European country to see a mass outbreak of the virus, so peak engagement occurred a week or two earlier than it did in other countries. 

Engagement peaked in early March, when weekly engagement reached over 140 million engagements. This was more than triple the engagements of any week since May 2019. 

But what were the websites driving this engagement? 

Top Italian publishers

There was one publisher that stood out above all others in Italy over the last year, and that was La Repubblica. 

Histogram of the top Italian publishers by engagement

Compared to its peers, the website received nearly double the number of engagements of even its closest rivals, with almost 300 million engagements to its web content.  

In second place came Fanpage, which with 150 million engagements was still significantly ahead of any in the following pack. Third was Il Corriere, which was the only other publisher to see more than 100 million engagements to its content.

Others in the top ten included Mediaset, Il Fatto Quotidiano, Il Giornale, and La Stampa, among others. 

We’ll look at the articles that saw success for the top publishers later, but first, which articles saw success more generally among Italian media. 

Top Italian articles 

The top article overall actually did come from the top publisher, La Repubblica, who had a piece which saw more than a million engagements.

Chart showing the most engaged Italian articles of the last year

This was about a woman, Silvia Romano, who was freed from the terrorist group Al Shabaab and returned to Italy. Romano had been imprisoned for a year and a half, and returned home on May 9th of this year. 

Many of the rest of the top articles were in some way related to COVID-19, by which Italy was particularly hard hit. 

The first among these came from Il Faro, and was a post simply thanking Italian medical professionals, and specifically nurses, for all that they do. There was also an article citing Antonio Pesenti, which claimed that all cases would go away if everybody stayed home for 15 days. Both of these articles received more than 1.3 million engagements.

Other highlights included Chinese doctors arriving in Italy to help the coronavirus fight, calls for medals for hospital staff, and the death of pianist Ezio Bosso, all of which saw more than a million engagements. Six of the top ten articles overall were related in some way to the coronavirus.

But what about the top articles specifically from the top publishers? Let’s narrow the focus a little to just include those.

Italian publisher spotlight 

The top three publishers were La Repubblica, Fanpage, and Il Corriere. We’ll begin with La Repubblica.

La Repubblica

As we said previously, La Repubblica had the top article overall from the past year, with their piece on the freeing of Silvia Romano. 

Most engaged articles in La Repubblica

The other article that received more than a million engagements for the publisher was from the beginning of May, well after the peak of the coronavirus in the country, showing large crowds in Milan just before dinner time, with very few masks in sight. This occurred in Milan just a few days after they began phase two of their reopening plan.

The third biggest article was about the death of Chilean writer Luis Sepulveda, who had contracted coronavirus. In total, eight of the top ten articles for La Repubblica were about the coronavirus, and all of them received more than half a million engagements. 


For Fanpage, the top article was about the arrival of Chinese doctors in Italy to aid the fight against COVID-19, which was also one of the top articles overall as mentioned above. It received almost 1.25 million engagements.

Chart showing the most engaged articles in Fanpage

The second most engaged article was about a young woman with dyslexia who graduated school, and wrote a letter to the site encouraging people to believe in themselves, because if you do that, you have a chance of achieving your goals, no matter how difficult they may seem. 

The vast majority of the rest of the articles were about coronavirus, with eight of the top ten being related in some way to the virus. The only other article that was not to do with it was about people pledging not to attend Sanremo 2020, which received more than 400k engagements.

Il Corriere

For Il Corriere, the top article was the aforementioned death of Ezio Bosso, a pianist who had been diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disease and died aged 48.

Chart showing the most engaged articles in Il Corriere

There were a few different local stories that came through for the publisher, with events in Milan, Turin, and Bergamo all making it into the national spotlight, mostly due to the coronavirus fight.

Il Corriere only saw two articles receive more than 500k engagements, with the rest of their top stories all getting between 350k and 450k interactions. 

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