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Italy News: 08.17.08

Some Italian news for your Sunday reading pleasure:

  • Okay, folks, this is just too good… Wondering what to give that friend in your life who has everything? I’ve got just the thing – the CD of Neapolitan love songs that’s being recorded by Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi. No, I’m not kidding. Frankly, I wish I were. His song-writing partner says, however, that it won’t be ready in time for Christmas if Berlusconi keeps getting distracted by his pesky day-job of being Prime Minister. (Update – I found a video of Silvio singing with the guy who’s playing on his forthcoming CD; it’s at the bottom of the post!)
  • Two senators in Italy have proposed a bill that would make homemade grappa legal. How many house fires should we expect if it passes?
  • Oh, lordy, I hope they’re kidding – officials in Rome are thinking that a “Disneyland-style theme park” is just what the city needs.
  • A cat that apparently hopped into a crate in Italy ended up in the U.K. five days later. He’s been nicknamed Versace, and when he’s done with his six-month quarantine they’re going to try to adopt him out. Interested? There’s a phone number to call at the end of this video.
  • A family in Sicily is featured in this cool picture essay about what the world eats – each photo shows a family with the food they consume in a week, and what it costs them.
  • Apparently some Italian authorities think that a granita can cause “congestion” that can kill you.
  • A British tourist in Sicily went to the police after being charged €10 each for three small sandwiches. Yes, that’s crazy-expensive, but it also seems to me he should have asked about the price before devouring them.
  • The proposed addition to the Uffizi in Florence isn’t sitting well with the Italian culture minister.
  • Many of Leonardo da Vinci’s designs were light years ahead of their time, including a something the museum dedicated to Lenardo in his hometown of Vinci has just unveiled – an artificial leg the great artist and scientist designed in 1508.
  • While Italy was the first euro-zone country to report an economic slow-down during the last quarter, it’s not expected to be the last.
  • Tripe in Florence ranks among the best street foods in the world, according to this article. Personally, I think I’ll stick to the gelato.
  • Rick Steves’ daughter Jackie is on her first Euro-trip sans parents, and she’s blogging about it (naturally). She wrote a bit about her stops in Italy, including a post about why Venice didn’t charm her immediately and how she spent some time in her dad’s favorite Cinque Terre town, Vernazza.
  • Boeing is getting a slap on its wrist for delivering four aerial refueling tankers to the Italian government more than three years later than they said they would.
  • Tripso lists their favorite gelaterie in Venice. I’ll have to make a note to try these two next time I’m there.
  • A spa resort in Siena makes this list of the 7 best luxury spa resorts in the world.
  • Here’s one way to get away from the tourist crush in Venicetake the to water with a houseboat.
  • The illegal immigration numbers for Italy have doubled in the first 7 months of 2008, as compared to the first 7 months of 2007.
  • Millions of Italians hit the road this weekend to celebrate the long Ferragosto holiday.
  • And at least some of those millions of Italian vacationers headed for farm holidays.
  • Last week there was a big festival on the island of Sardinia, in the town of Sassari – the Festa dei Candelieri has been going since medieval times.
  • There are lots of beaches and islands in Italy, many of which are packed this August – here are the top three small islands in the country.
  • The first singing contest dedicated do the memory of Luciano Pavarotti drew 250 contestants in Modena.
  • In a country famous for its labor strikes, the Alitalia union will go on a one-minute strike on September 6, 2008.
  • If you’re out dancing in Italy this summer and you hear something that sounds like a PSA mixed in with the disco tracks, you’re not crazy – DJs in Italy are mixing “don’t drink & drive” messages in with the music.
  • The Italian Olympic soccer team was out to have fun this time, but sadly they lost to Belgium and won’t be moving on to the semifinals.
  • Italy’s Federica Pellegrini beat her own world record and won the gold medal in the 200-meter freestyle swim at the Olympics.
  • Italy won another gold in Beijing in women’s fencing, where Valentina Vezzali got her third individual gold medal in three straight games.
  • The former mayor of Abruzzo, under investigation for corruption, has been assigned to house arrest now that the judge thinks he’s not going to be able to manipulate the evidence anymore.
  • Here’s a look at some of the arts exhibits that are going on throughout the country.
  • According to a new poll, the majority of Italians feel that the best symbol of their country isn’t the art, and it’s not the culture – it’s the food. Hear hear.
  • Italy’s projecting a serious downturn in tourism numbers this year, as the summer numbers are lower than last year’s.
  • The number of marriages ending in separation in Italy is going down, according to a new report.
  • The church bells in Rome are no longer rung by hand – they’re triggered by computers. But at least they’re still real bells and not computerized ones!
  • Summer heat getting you down? Why not try some of these Tuscan summer recipes?
  • The average folks holidaying on the coast of Sardinia took out their frustration with the millionaire arrivals recently by throwing sand at them.
  • Catherine Zeta-Jones & hubby Michael Douglas didn’t swing through Italian immigration before docking their boat in Liguria, but it’s the boat captain who got fined.

Here’s the video of Berlusconi singing…