To get the count of a string I usually do something a bit hack-ish such as the following:
:%substitution on the string in question, such as:
# how many times does the string "<Item " occur in the file? :%s/\<Item //g
Read the output:
2009 substitutions on 2009 lines
Do an undo to go back to the original state of things.
Is there a more straightforward way to get the count of occurrences of a string in vim?