Flying to Italy was a much different experience than flying to the UK. First of all, there was no pre-check in security check at the airport - Virgin stops you when you're in line to check in and asks a bunch of questions and puts a stamp on your passport. That didn't happen with Alitalia. And all I needed was my passport - they just swiped it through their machine and out came my boarding pass. Very efficient. I can't say they're "warm and fuzzy" the way Virgin is - you take the seat they give you, people traveling together get split up, big deal. And really, what is the big deal? I will admit, I missed some of the comforts that Virgin gives you - the seatback videos for one (Alitalia still has the movie screen in the middle of the aisle and you watch what they show you). But, the food was good, and they gave us a "real" breakfast - a hot, and I mean hot sandwich and very good coffee!
Getting into Rome was another experience. I seriously thought I was going to be able to leave the airport without ever showing my passport to anyone - you get off the plane, pick up your bags and trek through the terminal - it's all clean, well thought out, very easy to get around, even for someone who doesn't speak Italian. Then, right at the exit, there's the passport control. But again, it's just, show your passport and out you go.