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Italian News Snippets: 06.22.08

Some Italian news for your Sunday reading pleasure:

  • Yay! After a disastrous start, the Italian soccer team has actually made it out of the first round at the Euro 2008 soccer tournament. They have to play Spain today, and it’s win or go home. Keep your fingers crossed…
  • Well, you don’t hear this everyday. A dentist in the Ligurian city of Genoa has announced that he’ll perform his dental services for free in return for sex.
  • Italian actress Asia Argento seems to regret having French-kissed a dog for a scene in the movie, “Go Go Tales,” and isn’t showing up at press events for the film. My question is this – shouldn’t she have had reservations about it before, y’know, the cameras were rolling??
  • I think this is exceptionally clever – if you’re interested in walking in Italy, but don’t know the area well enough to know where to go, this cool website lets you look up user-submitted walks for various points around the country. You simply look up the city you’re visiting and then select a mapped-out walk from among those uploaded. There are just over 100 walks listed in Italy so far, so it’s not comprehensive, but it’s a great start. Add your own walks, too!
  • One Italian couple last year was denied the right to name their son Friday by an Italian court. Now, another Italian court has denied another couple the right to name their daughter Andrea, because in Italy, that’s a boy’s name. Wow.
  • Even though it’s the Campania region that’s been in the headlines recently for its garbage problems, it’s actually Tuscany that produces the most trash of any Italian region.
  • If you’re an opera lover touring Italy this summer, be sure to check out the Puccini Festival happening in his hometown of Torre del Lago in Tuscany. It runs from June 15 through August 23.
  • Florence has made this list of the best cities to explore on foot, and I heartily agree. One note, however – while the article says Dante is buried in the same Florence church as Michelangelo, Machiavelli and Galileo, he’s actually buried in Ravenna. Dante, the father of the Italian language, was exiled from Florence and the folks in Ravenna are understandably keen to point out that they were happy to take him in. The big tomb-like thing in the Florence church is a monument to a (now) favorite son, but if you’re looking for Dante himself – he ain’t there.
  • According to this article, “Italy is Iran’s No. 1 trading partner in Europe,” so Italian PM Berlusconi has offered US President Bush “inside knowledge” to help with the issue of Iran’s perceived nuclear threat.
  • These folks in Sicily are proof that the Mafia doesn’t always win.
  • Even Italy’s biggest cities have city parks which are popular green escapes – this list has some of the nicest ones in the country, but check any city map for the parks where you are.
  • Interested in a cooking tour in Italy? Academia Barilla (yes, the pasta people) seems to get high marks.
  • Not only is new budget Italian airline Air One picking up some of Alitalia’s slack, they’re also being pretty environmentally progressive (especially for an airline).
  • The Italian government has approved a loan of €300 million to help keep Alitalia afloat – but this solution is not without its detractors.
  • Two gelaterie in Italy made it onto this list of the best places to get ice cream in the world. Of course, I kind of think that all ten should be in Italy, but then again you know me to be heavily biased toward Italian gelato.
  • I met some born-and-bred Venetians the last time I visited, but there aren’t as many as you might think – some of them are marketing themselves as the last of a dying breed, and are trying to keep Venice from turning into one giant hotel.
  • You might think the top Italian exports to the US were things like olive oil and pasta, right? Well, according to this list the top export is medicinal, dental, and pharmaceutical preparations, followed closely by industrial machines. Things like wine and footwear do make the top 10.
  • The genes of some Italian tomatoes are getting catalogued to “conserve the taste and smells of Italy’s different tomato varieties.”
  • If you can afford a hotel splurge in Italy, check out this new book full of cool (read: expensive) hotels in Italy.
  • Ron Howard was denied in his attempts to film scenes for his upcoming movie, “Angels & Demons,” in Rome’s churches. They’re currently filming in Rome now, and will shoot the church exteriors in the city before creating the interiors with the magic of Hollywood.
  • I’m still not sure the NY Times’ “Frugal Traveler” always deserves the “frugal” title, but this story about getting off the beaten path in Rome is nice.
  • A writer for the Times took a trip to Sicily in the Spring, and thinks there really is something for everyone on the island.
  • A new report says that Italy is the world leader for organic wine production.
  • Interested in architecture & visiting Turin later this month? Check out the World Congress of Archicture, taking place from June 29-July 3.
  • Not surprisingly, cruise ships are reportedly having a devastating effect on the Venice lagoon, which is having enough trouble fighting Mother Nature. My advice? If you’re going to take a cruise in Europe, make sure it doesn’t dock in Venice.
  • For anyone who’s figuring that a US-based vacation will cost much less than an Italian vacation this year, here’s an interesting comparison of some vacation expenditures in Florence vs. Philadelphia (obviously, the airfare could be the big killer here that sways you in the US direction as opposed to Italy, but if you find travel deals on Italy airfare, then this list skews in favor of Italy).
  • If you’re taking your pooch with you on vacation, you’ll want to check out the list of the five best dog beaches in Italy.
  • I know you’ll be as shocked as I was when I read the title of this article: “Berlusconi defends measure that would suspend his trial in Milan.” Always lookin’ out for #1, Silvio. At least you’re consistent.