Paolo Gentiloni is named as Italy's new prime minister

Matteo Renzi resigned earlier this month

Paolo Gentiloni is named as Italy's new prime minister

Paolo Gentiloni at an informal meeting of foreign affairs ministers in Bratislava | Image: © European Union

The Italian foreign minister has been named as the country's new prime minister, following Matteo Renzi's resignation.

Paolo Gentiloni, a close ally of the outgoing prime minister, has been asked to form a government by President Sergio Mattarella.

Mr Renzi announced his resignation last week after losing a key referendum on constitutional reform.

He had staked his future on a "yes" vote, vowing to quit if voters rejected his plans.

Opponents denounced them as dangerous for democracy - to reduce the role of the country's Senate and take back powers from regional authorities.

"The experience of my government ends here," Mr Renzi said in a televised address last week.

Mr Renzi, who came to power in 2014, said he took full responsibility for the "extraordinarily clear" defeat.

Projections suggested the "No" camp would win by a margin of 60% to 40%.