The Sanremo Music Festival, ‘Italy’s Eurovision,’ kicked off with a moving duet between Andrea Bocelli and his son. Bocelli, one of Italy’s most famous living singers, was the first guest to take the stage in the Ligurian seaside town of Sanremo, which has hosted the festival every year since 1951. After a duet with another stalwart of Italian pop, Claudio Baglioni, who was also the festival’s artistic director, Bocelli was joined by his son, Matteo, 21, for a rendition of ‘Fall On Me,’ a single from his 2018 album Sì and the closing track to the recent Disney version of The Nutcracker. The performance won them a standing ovation. Over 10 million viewers tuned in for the opening night of Sanremo, according to Rai. The festival has helped launch some of the country’s most successful pop songs and singers, including Bocelli, Mina and Domenico Modugno, who won the 1958 edition with ‘Nel blu dipinto di blu,’ better known as ‘Volare.’
Bond in Basilicata
Part of James Bond’s latest adventure will be filmed in one of Italy’s most distinctive landscapes: the ancient southern city of Matera. Shooting for the new Bond film begins shortly in the European Capital of Culture for 2019, with the movie set for a release in early 2020. Bond will be seen passing through the historic center of Matera, past its Romanesque cathedral and through some of its atmospheric stone streets and squares, before entering the Sassi – the millennia-old cave dwellings and UNESCO World Heritage site. Well-travelled in Italy by now, 007 had memorable escapades over the years in Venice, Rome, Siena, by Lakes Como and Garda, in the mountains of Cortina D’Ampezzo and on the Sardinian coast. But this will mark the first time that the secret agent has headed to the far south on the mainland. This will be the 25th Bond film.
A Rewarding Ride
The southern Italian city of Bari is testing a plan that pays residents to get on their bikes. Bari’s Mayor, Antonio Decaro, is seeking to double the number of bicycles in the city during 2019, starting with the four-month trial of a new initiative that pays residents to cycle. Those who ride their bikes to work or school will be paid 20 cents a kilometer, up to a maximum of 25 euros per month under the plan. Up to 1,000 Bari residents can register to take part in the trial. Their bikes will be fitted with a tracking device that records the length of journeys. For non-commuter bike journeys, participants will reportedly be paid four cents per kilometer. The city has also set aside funding to help pay for new bikes, including ebikes. Parents can also apply for funding for new bikes for their children, as well. The city will provide 100 euros towards buying a used bike, 150 euros to help with the cost of a new one or 250 euros towards an ebike.
More Music to Fit the Bill
A League Member of Parliament, Alessandro Morelli has submitted a bill that would require one in three songs played by radio stations in Italy to be Italian. His music bill states that national and private radio stations must reserve “at least a third of their daily programming for the Italian musical production, the work of Italian authors and artists, recorded and produced in Italy, during each 24 hours of programming.” An additional ten percent of the songs played must be by emerging local artists. The bill would also require that Italian music be considered cultural heritage protected by the Constitution. Morelli quoted government data showing that only 23 percent of the music played on Italy’s ten biggest radio stations currently fits his criteria. Morelli is currently chair of the Lower House transport committee, but was formerly the director of the League’s own radio station, Radio Padania. He said he hopes his proposal will “start a broad debate on Italian creativity.”
Low-cost airlines Ryanair and Wizzair have been slapped with fines by Italy for controversial baggage charges. Since last November, both companies began charging for passengers taking small suitcases into the plane’s cabin, with only small bags allowed for free. Now Italy’s Competition Authority (AGCM) issued a penalty of €3 million to Ryanair and €1 million to Wizzair, saying that the policy is deceptive and that the customers had been charged anywhere from €5-€25 to take large hand luggage into the cabins of the companies’ planes. “Hand baggage is an essential element of the air transport service and its transport must be permitted without incurring any additional costs,” said AGCM in a statement.
A Major Merger
Italian ship building giant Fincantieri is taking over the French shipbuilder Chantiers de l’Atlantique. Already the world’s largest cruise ship builder, last year Fincantieri had revenues of 5.5 billion euros (a 9% increase over 2016) and a backlog of orders totaling more than 35 billion euros. Chantiers de l’Atlantique is primarily owned by the French government, which has approved the deal. There are still a number of regulatory hurdles to clear, but Fincantieri CEO Giuseppe Bono said, “We will work with the EU to configure the acquisition and accelerate the process, which we are confident will come to a positive conclusion and enable us to create the Airbus of the seas.”