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Italian News Snippets: 08.19.07

Some Italian news for your Sunday reading pleasure:

  • Italian police at Fiumicino Airport recently found a catalog of weapons in a passenger’s suitcase which led them to uncover an enormous arms deal between people in Italy and Iraq for Russian-made weapons. This secret deal apparently involved members of the Iraqi government, without the knowledge of the United States.
  • Six Italians were murdered in Germany last week in what police believe was an execution-style massacre linked to a Calabrian mafia family. Not surprisingly, this has led to renewed calls for an end to mafia violence.
  • Venice’s new bridge is being put into place, even though it is being criticized by some who think the banks of the Grand Canal will not bear its weight.
  • Four Roma children died in a fire last weekend, prompting some people in Italy to re-evaluate how these Gypsy people are treated in the country. Adding insult to injury, the parents of the children were arrested after the fire which killed their children and destroyed the shack where they lived was doused.
  • A German ace which had been shot down over Italy during World War II was unearthed last week in a farmer’s field north of Modena. The plane had been removed from the ground in July, but the pilot’s remains had sunk deeper into the earth and were apparently “well-preserved.”
  • Instead of being consumed at home, most of the Tuscan olive oil that’s produced is exported – and the majority of the exports go to the United States.
  • Nuclear energy has the Pope’s blessing. Or at least the blessing of those close to the Pope, which has got to kind of be the same thing.
  • Some Italian police are already wearing uniforms designed by Giorgio Armani, and now the famous fashion designer will be outfitting the Chelsea soccer squad.
  • A beautiful Roman palazzo has been restored and opened to the public after the former inhabitants, an Italian army officer’s club, were kicked out after 50 years. Palazzo Barberini now houses works by Caravaggio, Raphael and Fra Filippo Lippi, among others.
  • Premier Romano Prodi would like to revive the old pilgrimage routes once used by medieval pilgrims making their way to Rome. Prodi got the idea after riding his bicycle along parts of the famous Santiago di Compostela in Spain. The part Prodi would like to restore begins in Canterbury, winds through France and Tuscany and eventually ends in Rome. (I had no idea medieval pilgrims could walk on water to cross the English Channel.)
  • And now, a group of cyclists has just announced that they’ll be riding the route between Canterbury and Rome, the very same one Prodi is working on restoring, in an effort to raise money for the project.
  • Three Italian motorcyclists are making their way from Venice to Hiroshima carrying a message of peace in the form of a thousand paper cranes.
  • Milan is polluted, there’s no two ways around that. But to help get Milan’s fashionistas to understand that pollution is a bad thing, someone has finally figured out how to make the point clear – they’re doing smog checks on people’s hair.
  • It seems that passenger numbers at Pisa Airport are way up – I wonder if people are already catching on the idea that every tourist flying into one overloaded airport in Rome is a bad idea?
  • Making a blog is a good way to practice a language you’re learning – so here is the English blog of a group of students in the small Italian town of Macerata, presenting you with their walking tour of Macerata. Be sure to comment on the posts, you can help these students learn English!
  • A fire damaged part of Rome’s famous Cinecitta film studio a little over a week ago. Most of the studios were unharmed, but the set for HBO’s “Rome” series was destroyed.
  • The exotic creatures that live in the “Blue Grotto” on Italy’s Amalfi coast are in danger of dying out thanks to the increased numbers of tourists who want to go into the cave to see them.
  • Italy’s motorcycling star Valentino Rossi is defending himself against tax fraud allegations while also trying to win the championship. But the picture that accompanies this article is what is the best part.
  • Here is a list of links for people who are interested in becoming expats by retiring in Italy.
  • Fans of the adorable English car the Mini and the fun movie “The Italian Job” have joined forces to re-create the movie (without all the stealing, of course) for charity. The Italian Job (which is the name of the charity) organizes the annual rally event in an effort to raise money for the National Children’s Homes charity in the UK. This year the rally begins in late October.
  • Sognatrice of Bleeding Espresso has written her “Top 5 Hidden Advantages of Being an Expat” here and has also been interviewed for more in-depth information about what it’s like to be an expat in Italy here. Both are worth reading.
  • Over a Bottle has a good post about what life is really like in August in Italy when much of the country shuts down. Many tourists don’t notice, of course, as the main sights are still open, but in non-touristy towns (and industries) all over Italy, the “Closed” signs outnumber “Open” ones by a wide margin.