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Italy News: 09.21.08

Some news from Italy for your Sunday reading pleasure:

  • Y’know how I keep mentioning that Italy’s national airline, Alitalia, is on the brink of collapse? Well, it is again. If you’re an Alitalia ticket-holder, you’d better have a backup plan.
  • There aren’t any laws against being non-Catholic in Italy, but apparently telling a joke about the Pope could lead to jail time.
  • A group of Italophiles recently got together on Twitter to finish the sentence, “You know you’re in Italy when…” – and the results are pretty amusing.
  • I’ve mentioned before that I’m an AC Milan fan, and that the guy I like to refer to as My Boyfriend (a term coined by the husband, actually) is Andrea Pirlo, so I was completely crushed to learn that Pirlo’s suffered a torn muscle in his thigh and could be out for two months. Yes, that’s the sound of my heart breaking, thanks for asking.
  • In other soccer news, remember the infamous head-butt of World Cup 2006? Whatever I might think about Materazzi (like, that I don’t like him and he might have deserved it), it was an un-classy move – and now apparently Zidane says he’s sorry.
  • Italian soccer is testing out the idea of giving electronic cards to “true fans,” the ones who won’t, say, cause riots or whatever. I applaud the idea of keeping the hooligans out, I just don’t get how they’re going to keep the hooligans from getting the cards.
  • The title of this article says it all – “Italian model offers virginity for $1.5M” – and although I shouldn’t say any more, I can’t help myself. If the “o” in her last name were an “a,” it would just be the height of irony, wouldn’t it? Italian speakers, are you with me?
  • As if the previous story isn’t enough to prove this point, it turns out that Italy is second-worst among European countries when it comes to women’s rights issues, but I guess that means there’s lots of room for progress (trying to see the positive side of things, can you tell?) – for instance, L’Unita’s got its first female editor. Nevermind that some people think the paper will now contain nothing but “easy recipes for working mothers.” Yeah, we’ve still got a long way to go, baby.
  • Many of the winners of a recent raffle in San Marco in Lamis have come forward to claim their prizes, but whoever was holding the ticket for the “all-included” funeral has yet to come forward.
  • If you’re in Florence and you’ve got a sweet tooth, check out the show that features some “lost Medici desserts” recreated in paintings – which are, according to the story, “daintily framed by recreated Renaissance-era biscuits.” It just sounds too weird to miss.
  • A new exhibit in Milan includes a reconstruction of an authentic brothel to mark the anniversary official closing of the last Italian brothel in 1958.
  • A 90-year-old former Nazi is on trial in Munich for allegedly killing 14 civilians in Tuscany during World War II.
  • The murder trial in the Meredith Kercher case opened this past week in Perugia.
  • There’s a whole population of people living in limbo in Italy – they aren’t Italians, but don’t have countries to return to.
  • If you want to speak Italian, don’t start out like this.
  • Italians have co-opted so many English words, I’m not surprised that they ran a survey to find out which English words Italians find most ugly. The winner? “Il weekend.” Yeah, it’s not pretty (especially compared to the Italian equivalent), but there are other English words I’m less fond of, personally. (And here’s more about the call to eliminate English from Italian altogether.)
  • There are lots of reasons to visit Italy in the off-season – and this article about seeing the Amalfi Coast in October just proves that point.
  • The LA Times’ Susan Spano continues her great series with a look at a “hidden gem” in Rome – the Palazzo Colonna.
  • Two shootings near Naples resulted in seven deaths, including six non-Italians, according to the police. The shoot outs were believed to be related to drugs.
  • Visitors to Piacenza in Umbria will get to check out the combined amazing art collections of two different collectors – the pieces will be on display at the Palazzo Baldeschi through mid-January.
  • Venice‘s new high-tech bridge looks interesting, but I have to admit it looks completely out of place in a city in which time seems to have stopped long ago.
  • An immigrant was beaten to death in Milan last week.
  • I love Milan’s trams, so I’m totally loving that a couple recently got married in the city and used the trams for their post-wedding banquet.
  • A Vatican spokesperson has said that “evolutionary theory is not incompatible … with the teaching of the Catholic Church.” Really? And here I thought they were diametrically opposed.
  • All the stone-jarring work that’s going on in Florence – including the construction of a new tram-line through the city center – is apparently potentially damaging one of the city’s most famous attractions: Michelangelo’s David.
  • Another David in Florence, this one by Donatello, has been undergoing restorative work for the last 1.5 years – and during the final phase going on now, it’s being closed to visitors. The newly restored statue will be unveiled on November 28.
  • Each year at about this time, the citizens of Naples watch patiently (and often not-so-patiently) to see if the Miracle of San Gennaro – in which the blood of St. Gennaro, who lived in the 3rd century and a small amount of whose dried blood is kept in a phial in Naples, liquifies momentarily – will be repeated. The blood didn’t disappoint this year.
  • Should you have any interest in keeping an eye on the traffic in the Grand Canal in Venice, there’s a new service that’ll let you do just that.
  • Do you think you can absorb the history of Sicily in 100 seconds? These folks are ready to let you give it a try.
  • Remember Italy’s last prime minister Romano Prodi? Well, he may no longer be leading Italy, but he won’t be bored – his new gig is to lead a UN panel on Africa peacekeeping.