Italy News: 12.21.08

Some news from Italy for your Sunday reading pleasure:

  • My friend Sara over at Ms. Adventures in Italy is this year’s host for the Euro-centric prizes for the fifth annual Menu for Hope – and you Italophiles out there should go take a look at some of the Italy prizes you could bid on. Menu for Hope is a fundraiser for the World Food Program, and each raffle ticket you buy costs only $10. Seriously, if you like food at all, you’ll want to check out the prizes – there are prizes for other regions of the world, too, if you want to expand your raffle horizons. You have until December 24 to buy your tickets. I’ve already bought mine, so get over there & see what you want to win!
  • And speaking of great raffles, don’t forget the Passports With Purpose fundraiser for Heifer International that’s still going on – you’ve got until December 29 to buy those tickets (also $10 each) and a chance to win great travel prizes.
  • While the US government bails out banks and auto makers, Italy is putting its money toward a real Italian icon: parmesan cheese. (more here)
  • After much renovation and cleaning, the scaffolding has been removed from Bernini’s Four Rivers Fountain in the Piazza Navona in Rome.
  • Starting in early June 2009, Delta Air Lines will be offering nonstop service from Detroit Metro Airport and Rome’s Fiumicino Airport.


  • Getting around Italy by train has always been easy (except during a transportation strike, of course), but it’ll be even faster now with a couple new high-speed rail lines from Milan-Bologna and Milan-Rome. But according to the LA Times Italy writer, it’s certainly not cheap.
  • Italy’s biggest car manufacturer, Fiat, has halted production and shut down its plants until January 12, 2009, after a slowdown in sales.
  • Women in Italy were supposed to have access to the RU486, the so-called “morning after pill,” starting in January 2009 – but strong disapproval by the ruling party in government (not to mention the Vatican) has led to a bit of backpedaling on an exact date for release.
  • I’ve seen lists like this before, but this list of interesting abandoned places is particularly well-done – and includes two places in Italy, to boot. (Yes, pun intended.)
  • Police in Palermo arrested several suspected Mafia members this week, and one of them was found hanged in his cell hours after being arrested.
  • The Democratic Party in Italy is evidently being hit by scandal after scandal – the latest being the mayor of Naples being arrested for a “systematic looting of public resources.” Even if that sounds like gibberish, you can pretty much tell it’s a bad thing.
  • The Parmalat case in Italy has been ongoing since the dairy company collapsed in 2003, but reports now indicate that the founder has been convicted of “market rigging” and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
  • The soft spot I have in my heart for Milan doesn’t change the fact that it is, in fact, one of the world’s dirtiest cities.
  • Having said that, last year, Milan instituted a new “ecopass” system where drivers pay a premium based on the emissions their cars produce to try to cut down on the pollution levels; and 9 months on, it appears it’s actually working.
  • Christmas in Italy wouldn’t be Christmas without a traditional panettone; the husband used to make a variation on the original every year before life just got too busy, and we’d always include a little note about the history of this famous Italian sweet bread. If you’d like to learn more about panettone, check out Joanne’s two-part history here and here.
  • I know you’re done with your Christmas shopping already (insert ironic facial expression here), but just in case you’re looking for a few Italian things to get your kids in the mood for a trip to Italy, or just want to add a little variety to your usual gift selection for the young’uns, Karen’s got a great list of Italy gifts for kids on her blog.
  • Italian sparkling wines are apparently more popular abroad than they are at home, as exports are outpacing domestic sales this year.

Due to the holidays, and the fact that I’ll be traveling over much of the next week (not to Italy, sadly!), there won’t be an Italy news post on the 28th of December.