A five-year-old boy was fined for riding his scooter too fast in St. Mark’s Square in Venice after the toy was deemed an outlawed “velocity accelerator.” Two inflexible traffic officers made the boy’s father pay a fine of 66 euros. The incident created a bit of a social media uproar. Most commenters sided with the child and thought that the Venetian officers were far too strict in their handling of the incident. Even Venice City Council member Monica Sambo said that it seemed to be an absurd sanction. She also added, “Piazza San Marco mustn’t become an amusement park, but what harm can a five-year-old boy have caused?” Toy scooters and roller skates are banned by Venice by-laws. The boy’s father said he would appeal.
Competition for Nutella
The Italian chocolate spread Nutella has long held an important place on both supermarket and home pantry shelves, but will soon face competition from an Italian rival usually found in the pasta section. Barilla is preparing to launch a chocolate spread next year in a major challenge to the brand that became a global phenomenon in the 1980s. Nutella, invented by the family-owned firm Ferrero, generates annual sales of more than 2 billion euros, accounting for 54% of the global market for chocolate spreads. Its closest competitor has a market share of only 2%, but if Barilla has its way that would all change in the future. Barilla decided to mount a challenge to Nutella after realizing that Ferrero was planning on encroaching into the pasta-maker’s lucrative bakery business. Ferrero will launch a Nutella-filled cookie next year, a direct challenge to Barilla’s own chocolate cookie brand, Baiocchi. Barilla, also a family-owned firm, has presented its spread called Crema Pan di Stelle, to buyers at major supermarket chains and could launch it as soon as January in Italy.
Michelangelo Bronze Statues
A four-year research project that included painstaking examination of the toes and highly defined abdomens of two bronze sculptures have helped to convince academics that Michelangelo is responsible for the two works known as the Rothschild Bronzes. It was first claimed in 2015 that Michelangelo made the two bronzes depicting men riding panther-like creatures. Last week the results of the study were released, claiming the evidence proves that Michelangelo created the works and should be as revered for his bronze work as he is for his marble carvings and fresco painting. The study also concluded that Michelangelo must have dissected bodies and had an anatomical knowledge that was decades ahead of its time. There is compelling evidence that Michelangelo made bronze sculptures on a colossal scale, including a 12 foot tall portrait statue of Pope Julius II, which was melted down to become part of a cannon only three years after it was made. Apart from the Rothschild Bronzes, no other Michelangelo bronze work survives.
Bunga Bunga’s Back
Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi just cannot get away from the legacy of his infamous “Bunga Bunga parties.” He is to go on trial, yet again, in this latest instance for allegedly paying a witness to give false testimony about his notorious parties. The case dates back to 2008-2009 when ambitious businessman Giampolo Tarantini brought escort girls to parties at Berlusconi’s residences in Rome and Sardinia. The billionaire is accused of having paid Tarantini to keep quiet about the more salacious details of his parties. Prosecutors say that Berlusconi provided Tarantini with “hundreds of thousands of euros, legal assistance and a job” so that he would lie in court. The media magnate has never denied making the payments, but said they were to help “somebody or a family with children that was in serious financial difficulty.” A judge in Bari has set the first hearing in the witness tampering trial for early February.
Archaeologists have unearthed a fresco depicting the ancient myth of Leda on a bedroom wall in Pompeii. In an astonishingly well preserved fresco revealed to the public last week, it depicts Leda reclining while a swan perches on her lap. The mural was brought to light in a house along the Via del Vesuvio in the Regio V section of Pompeii, the area that has yielded some of the doomed city’s most exciting new discoveries in decades since archaeologists began excavating it earlier this year. Pompeii’s researchers are considering removing both frescoes and placing them in a museum where they can be better protected.
Molinari Crowned Champion
Italian golfer Francesco Molinari was officially crowned champion of the year-long Race to Dubai competition. “It’s incredible,” Molinari said, reflecting on his achievement. “Now I’m going to have time to sit down and relax and really think about the last few months.” And what a last few months it has been for the golfer! A huge win in a star-studded field at the BMW PGA Championships was quickly followed by his first major win at The Open, before he produced three days of faultless golf to spearhead the European team’s assault on the Ryder Cup. His turnaround has been nothing short of remarkable and many are expecting a similarly spectacular array of performances from Molinari in 2019. The hype unsurprisingly, has not gone to the golfer’s head. “It’s going to take a while to get used to, but I’m looking forward to next year,” he said, in characteristically modest fashion.