Italy makes quite a bit of sense for a semiconductor fab
Italy, meanwhile, to some may not be a natural choice to establish a semiconductor fab, yet Intel is in the midst of a $5.4bn acquisition of Tower Semiconductor, which has factories in Italy, America, and Japan.
I wouldn’t say Italy is such a strange location for a semiconductor production facility. Italy is a global top-ten manufacturing and exporting powerhouse with its biggest export category (around 18% of total export value) being ‘computers and machines’ (and no, those are not just Arduinos). That is three times as much as the export of their entire car industry.
Germany and Italy are probably the biggest suppliers of machinery to China’s manufacturing sector (it’s no surprise that some of the first cases of coronavirus were in northern Italy as there is high volume constant travel between China and Italy for this particular reason). My mother in law owns a factory in West Africa and whenever she’s in Europe to visit us in London she also tags on a trip to Germany and Italy to visit suppliers of machinery.
Then there is the huge car manufacturing business, being home to the world's second largest helicopter manufacturer, not insignificant train manufacturing and a sizeable defense industry.
Italy is quite a big player in large/supercomputing too. As of last year Bologna is the home of the supercomputer of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) when that facility had to leave Reading in the UK. Stock market operator EuroNext is moving their huge datacentre operations from Basildon near London to Bergamo near Milan. Italy is home to a number of globally competitive supercomputers, most notably the Marconi-100 and the Leonardo and hosts a bunch of computing nodes for CERN's Worldwide LHC Computing Grid.
And, last but not least, Italy has a big aerospace sector, the fourth biggest in Europe and seventh biggest in the world. Europe’s second biggest rocket (after the Ariane by ArianeSpace) is the Vega (Vettore Europeo di Generazione Avanzata) made by Avio.
That means that if you’re producing chips for customers that want to keep their supply lines literally short then Northern Italy is definitely one of the top locations in Europe.