Italy News: 01.04.09


Some news from Italy for your Sunday reading pleasure – the first of 2009!

  • For the 6th year in a row, Italy is the most-visited international destination for American travelers, according to the US Tour Operators Association.
  • Rome’s Colosseum will once again host gladiator battles for the first time in 2,000 years. But don’t freak out too much, they’ll be acting. Think of it as Roman dinner theatre, probably without the dinner part.
  • Lest you think Pisa is the only Italian city with a leaning tower, you need only look around the skyline of Venice to find several tilting towers. The best-known of all, the Campanile in front of St. Mark’s Basilica, was rebuilt after collapsing in the early 1900s – and it’s starting to tip again. Plans are now in place to stabilize it.
  • If an ad for non-Italian Prosecco-in-a-can featuring Paris Hilton naked and spray-painted with gold wasn’t enough to make you wonder about the quality of the Prosecco, Italian Prosecco makers want you to know that the newer producers aren’t regulated like the old-school producers. So buy Italian, people.
  • This story cracked me up (maybe because I don’t have kids?) – a priest in Italy decided that his sermon during a children’s mass in December would be the perfect time to tell the kiddies that Santa doesn’t exist.
  • First it was the earthquake in Calabria, then there was an earthquake in northern Italy. They were both just over 5.0 magnitude, but none of my friends felt the one in the south – while I know some people who felt the shaking in Milan.
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  • Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho, who started playing for AC Milan this year, just moved into his house in Milan. And then someone broke into it and stole thousands of dollars worth of jewelry and watches, though they left his 2005 Golden Ball trophy (seriously, that would have been a bitch to sell). What I find amazing is that the house Ronaldinho moved into was broken into twice before when other people lived there. I’m thinking either it needs a helluva lot better security system, or people need to stop moving into that place.
  • 176 tons of spoiled or “fake” seafood was confiscated in raids in Italy over the holidays in an operation that was called, I kid you not, “Transparent Fish.” I wasn’t quite sure what “fake” seafood was (imitation crab?) until I read the article – apparently it’s cheap fish being marketed as expensive fish.
  • Beleagured Italian national flag carrier Alitalia may be bankrupt, but that isn’t stopping it from taking over another Italian airline – AirOne. Which makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever.
  • Alex of Blog from Italy posted a note about a new bank that just opened in Italy, and included a couple of the TV ads they’re running. I don’t know about you, but they don’t look like any banking commercial I’ve ever seen.
  • This picture of a candy seller in Rome is great, with the model Colosseum overflowing with candy.
  • Traditionally, since 1929 anyway, the Vatican has automatically adopted Italian law as its own, even though it’s technically not Italy. But in an announcement on December 31, the Vatican says that it will no longer do that. From Jan. 1 forward, all new Italian laws will be looked at first “to determine the new laws are appropriate for the Vatican.”
  • A woman in Cagliari found a bank package with €160,000 in it, and turned it into the police. She’s been hailed for her honesty, but the rightful owner of the money hasn’t yet come forward.
  • The city of Venice hoped to set a record for the “world’s biggest collective kiss” on New Year’s Eve when they expect 70,000 people to converge on St. Mark’s Square to lock lips at midnight. (I’m posting this prior to the event, so I’ll have to check back to see if they actually accomplished their goal!)
  • The National Library of Florence is home to a special exhibit of 70 books which once belonged to Galileo Galilei; included in the collection are Galileo’s personal copy of Dante’s Divine Comedy and works by Petrarch, along with some of his scientific sketches. The collection will be on display through February 28, 2009.
  • Italian actor and director Roberto Benigni says that if he were casting Dante’s Inferno, he’d give Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi a “ring of his own” in hell (to be fair, Benigni didn’t have much nice to say about many other Italian politicians, either).
  • In Naples, it’s routine for pop culture icons to turn up among the figurines you can add to your nativity scenes (this year’s offerings included Barack & Michelle Obama, for instance), but a last-minute addition this year turned out to be footballer David Beckham, who’s going to be spending the first part of 2009 as part of the AC Milan team.
  • A new study reports that only 25% of Italians are happy at work.

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