Italy’s airline Alitalia went into administration last May, but has seen a rise in passenger turnover for the second month in a row. The results prove that the company is on the right track, said one of the heads appointed by the government to steer the financially vulnerable airline into solvency. The company posted a 10.6% increase in passenger numbers for June, following a 7.6% increase in May. This means that the company broke even for the second quarter (excluding paper write-offs), which compares favorably to a $100 million loss during the same period in 2017. The airline, which employs more than 11,000 people, has struggled to compete with low-cost European rivals. It has been the subject of three purchase offers; the deadline for the sale, initially set for April, has been postponed until late October.
Genoa Wants Royalties from Royals
The mayor of Genoa has asked the Queen of England for more than two centuries’ worth of royalties for the use of St. George’s Cross, the original symbol of the northern Italian port. The red cross on a white ground has flown in England since the Middle Ages, but its association with Genoa goes back much further. References to the St. George’s Cross flying over the city state’s formidable fleet of ships goes back to the 11th century. Such was the might of the navy that the site of the flag would dissuade would-be attackers. English traders sought permission from the Genovese to fly the flag on their own ships from 1190, to show raiders that they were under Genoa’s protection within the Mediterranean. The English monarch payed an annual fee to the ruler of Genoa for the privilege. Sometime around 1771, England stopped paying the royalties. Recently, Mayor Marco Bucci of Genoa sent a lighthearted message (in English) to Queen Elizabeth II which read, “Your Majesty, I regret to inform you that from my books it looks like you didn’t pay for the last 247 years.” It is fair to assume that the mayor will not be pursing the claim for back payments too strenuously.
Europe’s Oldest Woman Relinquishes Title
Giuseppina Projetto recently passed away in the village of Montelupo Fiorentino at the age of 116 years and 37 days. She had become Europe’s oldest living person in April and celebrated her 116th birthday little more than one month ago. Affectionately known as ‘Nonna Pino,’ she was born to Sicilian parents in Sardinia in 1902. A native of La Maddalena near Sassari in Sardinia, she had been living at Montelupo, near Florence since the 1960s.
Tomatoes, Not Just for Southern Italy Anymore
Tomatoes have long been associated with southern Italy, but the northern regions of the country are now increasing their productivity, thanks to new technologies. The number of acres devoted to tomatoes in the north have almost doubled during the last three years. Processing tomatoes are mainly grown around Parma and Piacenza, but still fall far behind the Puglia region, which produces more than half of Italy’s processing tomatoes. Organic tomato production is also rapidly expanding in the north, which saw a 15% increase in 2017 over the previous year’s level. The organic segment alone represents a $4 billion market.
Last year, Pope Francis received a gift from Lamborghini of a specially designed Huracan. One might imagine the Pontiff driving through the streets of Vatican City, putting the fear of God into people, but the Pope placed the car up for auction, with the proceeds going to various charities. The supercar was specially painted in the colors of the Vatican: Bianco Monocerus white with Gallo Tiberino gold leaf accents. The Pope even signed the car at the special ceremony. When the car came up for auction, there was a frantic bidding war and a large number of potential buyers, which drove the price up to an astounding $970,000, about five times that of the base price of the car and twice the high pre-auction estimate. The buyer was a Spanish car rental agency that will allow the car to be rented with all proceeds going to charity. The car has a top speed of 202 miles per hour with 610 horsepower on tap. It was listed in the auction as being virtually as-new condition. One can assume that it was not driven on Sundays.
Moving a Mountain
Its shape is unmistakable: Marmolada is an imposing massif with a spectacular glacier and a height of 11,000 feet, the highest in the Dolomites. Marmolada is often referred to as the Queen of the Dolomites and its rich history has seen many tourists, as well as tragedy during World War I as the scene of clashes between Italian and Austrian soldiers. In 2002, a deal was cut to include the mountain in the region of Veneto. Now it has been returned to the region of Trentino Alto Adige. The territorial gerrymandering was conducted by a territorial agency in Rome. “Hands off the Marmolada. We will defend it tooth and nail,” said Veneto Governor Luca Zaia. The president of the autonomous province of Trento, Ugo Rossi, replied saying, rather ironically “mountains should not divide people.”