HuffingtonPost Launches Italian Edition, 9 Months After Announcing It. UK Now Has 4.1M Monthly Users

HuffingtonPost continues ahead with its international expansion: the news blog today formally announced its Italian edition, L’Huffington Post, in partnership with Italian newspaper publishers Gruppo Espresso, adding to a stable that includes, in addition to the U.S., sites in the UK, Canada, France and Spain. But for a company that has built its business partly on a quick turnaround of the most viral Internet content, it’s moved fairly slow on this one: the plans for Italy were first made public more than 9 months ago. “I feel a kinship with a fellow Mediterranean land where someone is always trying to get you to eat something and nothing starts on time,” the sites’ editor-in-chief, Arianna Huffington notes, perhaps somewhat ironically, at the top of her post announcing the news.

The site also announced some updated audience figures for its UK business — its first international foray outside the U.S.

It says that in the year since it launched (HuffPost UK went live in the summer of 2011) its audience has tripled and is now at more than 4.1 million monthly unique visitors — that’s the August 2012 figure, according to comScore.

The Italian HuffPost is kicking off today with an interview with the controversial media tycoon and politician Silvio Berlusconi. Oddio.

HuffPost has developed a brand based around a huge group of bloggers, mostly unpaid, with unknowns complemented by well-known names, primarily in politics and media. The UK site is no different: it now has 4,000 bloggers writing alongside David Cameron, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Nick Clegg, David Beckham, Ricky Gervais and Noel Gallagher.

Obligatory disclaimer: HuffPost is owned by AOL, which also owns TechCrunch, and that fact has been the source of much drama in TC’s past.

Huffington notes that the site is being launched in partnership with Italian newspaper publisher Gruppo Espresso, publisher of la Repubblica and the weekly L’Espresso. That follows a pattern of teaming up with local partners in non-English-speaking countries; others have included The Le Monde Group and Les Nouvelles Editions Indépendante in France and El Pais in Spain.

Financial terms of those partnerships have not been disclosed.

The partnership follows a wider AOL strategy to build up more of its international footprint among its media properties, to help grow the reach of its advertising network. Italy is a fertile ground for that strategy. The country has 35.8 million internet users — 59% of its population — and has been shown to be one of the more engaged consumer bases in Europe when it comes to responding to online and mobile advertising.

Lucia Annunziata has been named L’HuffPost’s editorial director, with Gianni Del Vecchio, formerly the editor of L’Espresso, as editor-in-chief.