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Italian News Snippets: 07.13.08

Some Italian news for your Sunday reading pleasure:

  • An Etruscan tomb has been discovered in Perugia, removing one thing from what I imagine is still a miles-long list of really cool stuff still underground in Italy.
  • Do you have a spare €220,000 burning a hole in your designer pockets? Here are three properties in Italy with that price tag. And if that’s too rich for your blood, we’ve got other options for Italy real estate – both to rent and to buy.
  • The Italian government has declared a state of emergency for Pompeii, and not because Vesuvius is going to blow again – this time, it’s because the popular tourist attraction is in a serious state of disrepair.
  • Rastafarians in Italy can now legally keep a stash of marijuana because they smoke it for religious purposes. So says the Italian Supreme Court.
  • Although the European Commission says Italy’s plans to fingerprint Gypsies isn’t legal, the Italian government doesn’t care and the fingerprinting seems to be moving foward at full-steam.
  • The UNESCO folks met last week, and they added 27 new sites to their famous World Heritage list – including two in Italy and one in San Marino (which is pretty much in Italy). New to the list are Mantua & Sabbioneta in Italy, the Rhaetian Railway in the Albula / Bernina Cultural Landscape in Switzerland & Italy, and San Marino Historic Centre and Mount Titano in San Marino.
  • This article lists Bologna’s food market as one of the 9 best street markets in the world, and I couldn’t agree more.
  • Two towns in Italy make this list of 20 abandoned cities – Balestrino sits on a hill in Liguria and was abandoned in 1953, but is set to be redeveloped; and Craco, a Basilicata town in the arch of the boot, was all but a ghost town by the early 1920s when most locals left for more hospitable places (it was finally abandoned completely in the 1960s when earthquakes destroyed more of the buildings, and Craco now has zero residents).
  • Three Italy hotels make this list for best European hotels under €100 – one in Portofino (which means this hotel is a great deal, as Portofino’s one of those Italian Riviera towns that always seems more expensive than it should be), one in Marostica (outside Venice, this little town is adorable and has a living chess tournament every two years), and one in the hills of Tuscany.
  • How dare these folks rank Italian food only second on a list of the most tasty cuisines in the world?!? Clearly, I beg to differ. And yes, I’m totally biased.
  • The “made in China” tag may be replaced by “made in Italy” on some British designers’ merchandise.
  • Italy’s judges are threatening a strike after Prime Minister Berlusconi’s government has slashed their budget. In case you hadn’t heard, Berlusconi’s not a big fan of judges. Or the law.
  • Oprah spent time in Portofino recently, apparently, and enjoyed the food. Who can blame her?
  • Transportation workers in Italy staged a 24-hour strike from the evening of Sunday the 6th through the evening of Monday the 7th in order to call attention to the fact that their labor contracts have expired and that they’d like the contracts renewed.
  • 15,000 people protested in Rome last week against the latest laws Berlusconi is trying to enact – the ones that will insulate him from the corruption trials he’s currently involved in.
  • The Parliament in Italy has approved Berlusconi’s proposed solution to the Naples garbage crisis. Now we get to wait and see if it actually works.
  • Next year’s climate summit will be held in Italy.
  • You’ve heard of heirloom tomatoes, right? Well, in Italy there are people trying to save heirloom grape varietals from extinction.
  • If you’re looking for a list of the best Chianti wines to buy this year, look no further.
  • Some people really get into the whole haunted house thing, even when they travel – and luckily, Italy has plenty of (allegedly) haunted places. Here’s one about a ghost that’s supposed to wander the halls in a Padua castle.
  • Your Italian mobile phone is more than just a communication device – it can help you find out what beaches are closest to your current location, too.
  • Ooh, I just love catacombs and crypts and cemeteries… Dunno why. But here’s yet another that I want to visit – the Capuchin Catacombs in Palermo.
  • The fight against fake parmigiano and prosciutto continues in Italy.
  • Visiting Milan this month? There’s a music festival going on featuring the likes of REM and Paul Simon.
  • If you can’t get to Italy this year, you can enjoy a 3-D look at some places in Italy with a little help from Google.
  • Animal rights activists are trying to improve conditions for the horses which pull tourist buggies in Rome.
  • Certain dog breeds are currently not allowed as pets in Italy, including Rottweilers and pit bulls, but that could be changing.
  • Two doctors who had issued false medical documents for prisoners – documents which allowed the inmates to get out of jail – have now themselves been arrested. One presumes their ability to issue their own medical documents will be curtailed now.
  • Do you like the novel or movie “The Leopard?” Then you should plan a trip to Sicily, says the NY Times.