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Virus-hit Italy was outraged when a French television show included a spoof for something called “corona pizza,” in which a chef disgustingly coughs up green phlegm onto the country’s national dish. The tasteless French skit described it as Italy’s newest pizza that is going to spread around the world. Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio slammed a 10-second segment that appeared on the satirical Groland program as unacceptable. “Making fun of the Italians like that, with the coronavirus emergency we are facing is profoundly disrespectful,” Di Maio said. He insisted the media was “morally obliged” not to spread disinformation, saying the Italian economy was paying the price. Di Maio also invited the video’s makers “to come and eat pizza in Italy, a pizza like they have never eaten in their lives.” The very next day, French Ambassador Christian Masset, pictured right, apologized for the incident, then he and Di Maio, center, buried the hatchet by having a pizza together at a local eatery in Rome.

Fiat’s First Electric Car

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has unveiled the first fully electric Italian car, the Nuova 500. Fiat has gone in a different direction than other electric manufacturers, working on a quick charging system that is significantly faster and more flexible than its rivals. The car has a range of 199 miles and an 85kW charger that can add 31 miles of range in just five minutes. It can also take the battery from empty to 80% capacity in as little as 35 minutes. Fiat Brand Manager Olivier Francois indicated that the new car will begin to be sold in Brazil next year and ideally also in the USA in California. It is Fiat’s intent to become the leader in the global electric vehicle marketplace, but the company has been quiet about other cutting edge technology currently under development.

5,000 Year Old Sword

Exhaustive research and studies by a Ph.D. student from the University Ca’ Foscari in Venice has determined that a sword located in the Museum of San Lazzaro is 5,000 years old. The museum is located in a monastery on the island of San Lazzaro degli Armeni in the Lagoon City. This determination means that the sword is one of the oldest Anatolian weapons in the world. Scientific tests of the composition of the metal and evaluation of its shape confirmed that it is among the most ancient swords in the world, dating back to 3,000 BC. The weapon, approximately two foot long, is made of a very early alloy of copper and tin frequently used before it was perfected during the Bronze Age. It is believed that the monastery received the sword as a gift in the late 19th century. Up until now, the weapon had not been included within the museum’s catalog since its origin had never been established.

Artemisia Painting Authenticated

An Artemisia Gentileschi painting has now been ‘discovered’ after long being attributed to one of her father’s students. “David and Goliath” (1639), long believed to be the work of Giovanni Francesco Guerrieri, has now been recognized as the work of Italy’s most renowned female artist of the Baroque era. During a recent restoration of the work, an art historian found Artemisia’s signature on David’s sword. Artemisia is one of the most accomplished 17th century artists, working in the dramatic style of Caravaggio. In an era when women had few opportunities to pursue artistic training or work as professional artists, Artemisia was the first woman to become a member of the Accademia di Arte del Disegno in Florence and had an international clientele. The large oil on canvas was most recently sold at auction in 2018 for €104,000.

New Art Exhibitions

A number of major exhibits recently opened across Italy, despite precautions adopted amid the coronavirus emergency. “Raffaello 1520-1483” opened last week at Rome’s Scuderie del Quirinale to mark the 500th anniversary of the Renaissance artist, as well as “Oragio Borgianni: A restless Genius in Caravaggio’s Rome” at the Palazzo Barberini. Borgianni’s exhibit has two sections dedicated to the artist. The first showcases 18 signed artworks focusing on the historic and artistic experience of Borgianni, while the second displays 17 masterworks by great painters whom Borgianni influenced. “Una, nessua, centomila. Ritratti di donne nel Novecento” opened at the Galleria de’ Bonis in Reggio Emilia. The exhibit of portraits is an homage to the women who were the artistic inspiration and muses for artists. Included are works by Massimo Campigli, Renato Guttuso, Hyena, Massimo Lagrotteria, Marco Mengozzi, Fausto Pirandello, Andrea Saltini and Mario Tozzi. Also, the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria in Perugia opened the first monographic show dedicated to Taddeo di Bartolo (1362-1422). This exceptional exhibition presents 100 artworks by the painter from Siena, with many masterworks on loan from leading international museums. Pictured is di Bartolo’s “The Last Judgement” c. 1394.

Fibbing About the Flu

A woman ran a red light in Genoa and tried to get out of the fine by claiming she had the coronavirus. Police immediately called in a medical team which found she did not have the virus or the fever that she was pretending to have. The 59-year-old woman was then handed tickets for driving without a valid license and failure to stop at a red light. She was also cited for causing a false alarm with the authorities, who were not amused.