The Italian government has reacted to the news of the downgrade by saying it believes the decision was dictated more by media stories than by economic reality.
But some ordinary Italians, already feeling the biting reality of austerity measures, seem only too aware of how serious the situation is.
“These politicians, this joke that is Berlusconi, we’ve had enough,” said Rome resident Romana Tinto. “They should all be sacked. All Italian politicians should go home! I am a grandmother and we should be helping the youngsters, because if we don’t, Italy will be finished.”
“What is clear is that at the moment Italy has proved herself to be quite fragile and uncertain. This austerity package has been seen not to be decisive in Europe’s eyes. There were so many changes to it,” said Danilo Fazi, another resident.
Another woman said: “I don’t know why, but we all share the same very bad opinion. The image we give to the world is terrible. But even the image of our country we give to ourselves is terrible.”
Italy’s finance minister is meeting bankers and employers to discuss ways to boost growth. The sluggish economy was identified by Standard & Poor’s as a major underlying problem.