- The Premier Italian American Newspaper Since 1931 -

17 Homes Are Now Available for a Pittance in Sicily

Are you dreaming of buying a house in Sicily? How about one that costs less than the price of an espresso? Perhaps you should look at a new plan unveiled in the village of Sambuca, in western Sicily. The town is located roughly an hour away from the Palermo and Trapani airports, with the beach about five miles away. The town recently announced it was selling off vacant houses for just €1 in a bid to boost its shrinking population. It promptly found itself inundated by inquiries! Seventeen houses are available in total, but as one would expect, each is small and requires renovation. Pictures of all properties can be found on Sambuca’s official website, where you will also find a list of frequently asked questions (available in English). Buyers do not need to be Italian citizens or make the property their primary residence; however, renovations to the property must be completed within three years.

Rovere to Receive Filmmaker of the Year

Roman director Matteo Rovere will receive the Filmmaker of the Year award on February 21 at the awards ceremony of the Italia film festival in Hollywood, for his ancient Rome epic “The First King.” Rovere, 37, has already won acclaim as a director for various films, including the 2016 film “Veloce Come Il Vento” starring Stefano Accorsi. He will also bring his most recent work as a producer, “Croce e Delizia,” directed by Simone Godano and starring Alessandro Gassman, Fabrizio Bentivoglio and Jasmine Trinca, to the festival. The film festival begins on Sunday, February 17 with the film “Piranhas” (La Paranza dei Bambini), directed by Claudio Giovannesi. This year’s festival will be dedicated to Italian American director Francis Ford Coppola and the town of his grandparents, Matera, which is the 2019 European Capital of Culture.

Hospital Robots on the Way

Humanoid robots are set to make their debut in Italian hospitals. A pilot plan lasting up to three years is set to start at the Puglian hospital in San Giovanni Rotondo, near Foggia. The church was originally built due to the efforts of St. Padre Pio. If the program proves to be as successful as anticipated, additional robots will be appearing in other Italian hospitals. One robot, whose name is Pepper, will control wards and alert doctors to emergencies. Another robot, called R1, will ‘dialogue’ with patients, gathering information in order to gauge their emotions and to make the initial diagnoses.

20-Month-Old Boy Saved

One month after an operation at Rome’s Bambino Gesù Hospital on a 20-month-old child afflicted with a rare genetic disease, the bone-marrow transplant from his parents using an innovative manipulation of stem cells has proven to be successful. The Vatican-run pediatric hospital said that the boy, known as Alex, will be returning with his parents to London. The young boy was suffering from a grave genetic disorder and travelled to Italy in November to have a bone-marrow transplant from his parents. His father’s cells were manipulated and infused. One month after the transplant, the cells had taken root perfectly without any complications. A life-saving drug treatment (emapalumab) was used to keep the disease under control by regulating the child’s immune system. Following the latest tests, that medication has been discontinued. Alex had a rare condition said to affect just 0.002% of children, hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, commonly known as HLY.

Pets with Owners for Eternity

Pets are often regarded as a part of the family and increasingly their needs are accounted for in planning decisions. In the U.S., there are health insurance plans for pets and “pet trusts” to ensure that they will be cared for after the owner has passed, but as far as burials, that is one area where the owner and pets are kept separate. That is no longer the case in the region of Lombardy. Pets will be allowed to be buried in the tombs or vaults of their owners under an amendment from Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party approved last week in the Lombardy regional government’s health committee. Now owners and pets can spend eternity together.

New Developments at Herculaneum

With announcements of new discoveries occurring almost weekly in Pompeii last year, it should come as no surprise that the archaeological park at Herculaneum, the ancient sister city of Pompeii, has several new initiatives and changes in store for 2019. The site saw a nine percent increase in visitors in 2018 and this year will feature the permanent opening of the ancient theater, exhibitions throughout the area, as well as “archeo-aperitif” events that combine educational seminars with tastings. One of the pre-established goals is to complete the overall restoration of the domus and initiate a project to stabilize the area of the Villa of the Papyri and to connect the ancient city with the modern one. “It opens the park to exhibitions throughout the area so that everyone can enjoy the growth of this UNESCO site,” said Park Director Francesco Sirano.