Page last updated at 15:20 GMT, Saturday, 8 May 2010 16:20 UK

Italy holds its first divorce fair

Wedding ring
Divorce rates in Italy have increased in recent years

Italy is holding its first divorce fair, to help couples facing marriage break-ups.

Organisers say the event in Milan aims to help divorcing couples with legal proceedings and how to start afresh.

Services include life coaching, beauty tips and advice on how to get rid of ex-spouses who turn into stalkers.

Divorce levels in the traditionally Catholic country have been relatively low until recently, but there has been a dramatic rise in the last few years.

The fair, Ex? Punto e a capo, meaning "Ex? Stop, and start again", includes workshops and stalls on not just the process of divorce, but how to adapt to living alone again.

There will be a special speed-dating evening, as well as art therapy and spa offers to raise self-esteem, say organisers.

Franco Zanetti, the fair's founder, says that he got the idea from Austria and has adapted it for his own country.

"Us Italians are not very used to divorce, it's still seen as very negative," he told the BBC.

"So we want to help people see how to start over again, and maybe learn from the errors they made in the past."

The BBC's Emma Wallis in Rome says divorce in Italy is not easy.

Although it was made legal in the 1970s, it is still frowned upon by the Catholic Church and can take three years, including two years of separation and a year more for the legal process, our correspondent says.

More than 130,000 couples in Italy split up or divorced in 2007.

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