Italy News: 01.18.09

Some news from Italy for your Sunday reading pleasure:




  • So, the film that Italy submitted to the foreign language category for this year’s Oscars, the critically-acclaimed “Gomorra,” didn’t even make the short list for consideration (which Italian film industry folk are none too pleased about). The film is based on a book of the same name about the Naples Mafia, and won one of the top prizes at Cannes last year. Which begs the question – d’you think the mob got to the Oscar nominating committee? Inquiring minds wanna know.
  • A colleague of mine seems to think that the Carnival in Nice is the oldest carnival celebration on earth, but them’s fightin’ words! I think carnival migrated to France from Italy. In my book, it’s the Venice carnival that predates Nice’s celebrations.
  • American student Amanda Knox’s trial began this past week in Perugia. She and her Italian ex-boyfriend are on trial for the death of Knox’s former roommate in Perugia, Meredith Kercher. A recap of the first day is here. Meanwhile, Knox’s attorneys are trying to block the release of a book about her sex life on the grounds that it might influence her trial. Yeah, you think so?
  • If you’ve taken a tour of the Vatican Museums, you’ve no doubt had the significance of the famous Laocoön sculpture pointed out to you. While it’s long been accepted as a great work of the 1st century BCE, some people are now theorizing that it was actually carved by Michelangelo and passed off as the ancient sculpture.
  • There are plenty of Italian celebrities who were born in Italy, but there are a couple of celebrities you might not expect to have la bella Italia on their birth certificates. Check out this list of celebrities born in surprising parts of the world to find out who they are.
  • It seems that while the number of tourists visiting Rome hasn’t abated during the recent economic slowdown, the folks who are visiting aren’t spending as much as tourists in the past.
  • Prince has been convicted of plagiarism in an Italian court in a case that’s been going on for 15 years. He was found guilty of having “borrowed heavily” from an Italian song released in 1983 for his 1994 song “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World.”
  • Next time you wonder why more Italians don’t have air conditioning in the hot summertime, remember that the price of power in Italy is the highest in Europe.
  • I’m sure there are more vague-sounding job titles than “adviser on value-adding for museums,” but that one sure ranks right up there. The fellow in this soon-to-be-created position will be serving under Italy’s Culture Minister, and hopefully he’ll be able to accomplish one of his top goals – increasing attendance at Italy’s museums.
  • Brazil has granted asylum to an Italian man who was convicted (in absentia) for the murder of four people and sentenced to life in prison. Needless to say, that isn’t sitting well with Italian officials.
  • If you’ve got an American expat friend living in Italy and you’re wondering what to bring them as a gift when you visit, Cherrye has some suggestions.
  • A new museum has opened in Italy, but this one has nothing to do with art or Roman ruins. This museum, outside Lecce in Puglia, is dedicated to Jewish refugees who traveled through Italy en route to Israel after being freed from concentration camps.
  • The Italian police branch whose sole purpose is to recover lost and stolen Italian artwork is celebrating its 40th anniversary by showing off some of the many artistic treasures they’ve had a hand in bringing back to Italy. Exhibits will be in Naples, Rome, and Florence.