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Italian News Snippets: 07.06.08

Some Italian news for your Sunday reading pleasure:

  • World happiness studies indicate that people in Italy aren’t as happy as some of their European neighbors – Italy ranks only 45th in overall happiness, whereas Ireland is 6th. Britain comes in at 21st, the United States is 16th, France is 36th, Spain is 43rd and Portugal is 46th. Denmark is listed as the happiest country, with Puerto Rico, Colombia, Iceland and Northern Ireland rounding out the top 5.
  • One of those celebrities who lives in Italy that I wrote about some time ago, Debi Mazar, sometimes posts cooking videos with her husband on their website, Under the Tuscan Gun. Their latest offering is for Spaghetti all’Amatriciana, and now I’m hungry. When you’re watching the video, check out how many stovetop moka pots they’ve got to choose from – there are six different sizes on the ledge above the stove. And I used to think the husband & I were silly to have two!
  • Among the hostels listed as the 20 “Craziest Party Hostels” in the world are two in Italy which I visited recently, and have reviewed here: The Yellow in Rome, and Ostello Archi Rossi in Florence.
  • Among the 10 things you can do in Europe that (this writer thinks) will make you smarter, you’ll find learning to cook in Sicily and doing a creative writing course in Sardinia (the latter is with my blogging buddy Emma of How to Italy!). I’ll add that part of what makes you smarter about doing those things is the fact that you’re getting off the Italian mainland.
  • No one I know could afford the luxury of the places listed in this article, but it’ll give you a sense of where Presidents and Royalty stay when they visit Italy.
  • Apparently Japanese tourists have been leaving their mark in Florence in a bad way – they’ve been writing their names on the walls of the Florence Duomo. Two newspapers in Japan have apologized for the vandalism, and several people have been forced to admit they were responsible after being named by anonymous tip-offs.
  • If you’re looking for Italy’s contributions to the sexiest parties of the summer, look no further than Capri and the island of Sardinia – at least according to this article. This married woman didn’t find out personally about sexy parties, trust me.
  • The NY Times’ Daniel Wakin covered the Spoleto Festival of Two Worlds, and you can check out all his articles from this year’s festival here.
  • Roughly nine months after Luciano Pavarotti’s death, his family has finally reached an agreement regarding his estate.
  • I’m not even sure what to say about this… From the article: “Italy’s highest appeal court has ruled that it is acceptable to discriminate against Roma on the grounds that they are thieves.” Wow. That’s taking racism to a whole new level.
  • Among this writer’s idea of 25 wonderful places to visit in your lifetime is Venice – and while I’m all kinds of infatuated with Venice, I’m enough of an Italophile to also be surprised that it’s the only Italian destination to make the list.
  • A group of Italian scientists has stumbled upon something that may be what causes SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
  • Here’s a list of the top Italian lake resorts, if you’re looking for a place to escape the heat this summer.
  • You can win a trip from London to Venice (how you get to London is up to you) if you nominate your favorite Green Space to The Times’ 2008 Green Space Travel Awards. You have until September 1 to send in your nominations.
  • Worry not about buying Brunello, says the Italian agriculture ministry – they’ll be checking it to make sure it’s the real deal.
  • There’s a proposal to privatize management of the Valley of the Temples in Sicily, but it’s not being met without a fight.
  • Pope Benedict XVI is set to be the first Pope ever to read a whole chapter of the Bible for a television program. He’ll read the first chapter of Genesis on October 5, so if you’re in Italy then, you can tune into RAI to see it.
  • A new report says that the population of Italy is nearly 60 million as of December 2007. I hope they’re willing to accept a couple more people this year. We’re nice, I promise.
  • The wine harvest in Piedmont may be half of 2007’s harvest due to bad weather this past Spring.
  • When Italian film icon Sofia Loren comes out and says the Naples trash crisis must be solved, you know things have gotten bad.
  • Berlusconi now says he’s going to clean up Naples’ trash problem by mid-July. I don’t know about you, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
  • And, as part of the solution to the Naples garbage crisis, Berlusconi is bringing in psychologists who are “trained in counseling disaster survivors” to help the locals who have had to live with piles of trash in their streets for months.
  • Milan will host the first International Short Film Festival in late September, and none other than Rutger Hauer is behind the effort. Expect to also see the likes of Richard Gere and Ridley Scott – if you’re lucky to catch them ducking in or out of a Prada or Armani store during their stay in the city.
  • I continue to be amazed when I hear about even more ancient discoveries being dug up in and around Italy. Talk about an embarrassment of riches. Anyway, an “extremely rare Roman bronze rostrum” was found last week off the coast of Sicily. I didn’t know what a rostrum was, either, but apparently it was used for “ramming enemy ships.” Cool.
  • German film director Wim Wenders will lead the international jury at this year’s Venice Film Festival, which runs from August 27-September 6.
  • Unbelievable – Italy’s cabinet has voted to give immunity to the person who is prime minister while he is in office. It still has to be approved by the parliament (don’t be surprised if it passes), but if it does it says a sitting PM can’t be prosecuted. Surprise, surprise, did anyone expect anything else from Signor Berlusconi’s government, which seems more intent on saving the PM’s ass than fixing the country’s problems? No wonder Italians don’t trust their politicians.
  • As part of a crackdown on illegal immigration, 38 Egyptians were expelled from Italy recently.
  • The European Commission says that Italy’s plans to fingerprint the Roma people isn’t allowed under EU rules.
  • Taking a stroll down the Via Giulia in Rome with the NY Times.
  • Eva Longoria and hubby Tony Parker visited Florence recently, and there was much kissing.
  • Workplace safety is a major issue in Italy lately, with lots of on-the-job deaths in the last few months.