The collapse of Genoa’s Morandi Bridge has left 43 dead in a horrific loss of life. Investigations continue as to the reason for the structural failure of the bridge, with possible culprits being a broken cable rod, or a bridge crane whose heavy weight may have caused the bridge to buckle. The Morandi viaduct dates from the 1960s and has had numerous structural modifications over the past few decades. The sudden collapse of a portion of the roadway has left the country stunned, shaken and yearning for answers. Key landmarks such as Rome’s Colosseum switched off their lights as a sign of respect and a minute of silence for the victims was observed before games during the opening weekend of the Serie A soccer season. It is estimated that it will take eight months to build a new steel bridge in place of what was left of the viaduct, a portion of which is now slated for demolition.
Central and Southeast Italy Struck by Small Earthquakes
Two dozen earthquakes struck the region of Molise during a three-day period last week. An earthquake was also felt in Le Marche, near the port city of Ancona. A magnitude 5.2 earthquake struck three miles from the small town of Montecilfone in the Molise. More than 90,000 people live within 12 miles of the epicenter. Thankfully no injuries were reported, but some minor damage to structures was noted. A much smaller 2.6 magnitude earthquake was also registered about 6 miles from Ancona, along the coast in the region of Le Marche. No one was hurt and no damage was reported. Although local residents were justifiably apprehensive, seismologists feel that such small earthquakes are normally beneficial as a means of releasing stored energy from tectonic plate movements. Each plate movement registers as an earthquake, but smaller quakes over a series of days is like a slow exhaling by the Earth, creating far less damage to property and risk to life than when the shift occurs all at once, which usually results in a major seismic event.
Happenings at the Trevi Fountain
The Trevi Fountain, designed by architect Nicola Salvi and completed by Giuseppe Pannini in 1762, attracts millions of visitors each year. Finding the perfect spot for a selfie can sometimes be a challenge and last week, in a quest for perfection, a 19-year-old Dutch tourist got into a fight with an American woman at the famous fountain. The quarrel reportedly started after both wanted to take their selfies at a prime spot in front of the monument at the same time. The women exchanged shoves and slaps, with their respective family members soon joining in. Four police officers managed to quell the scrap. The tourists were left with a few bruises, plus citations for disorderly conduct. On the very next day, Rome police nabbed a 21-year-old Romanian tourist who was trying to carve his name on the marble of the famous fountain. After being caught in the act, the man made an unsuccessful bid to run away. He now faces charges of vandalism and resisting arrest.
Mt. Etna Wakes Up for Ferragosto
Scientists observing Italy’s Mount Etna are reporting new activity at the volcano and a gradual reawakening of the volcano. 14 months after its last major eruption, Mount Etna is again showing signs of a Vulcan reemergence, with activity concentrated particularly at the Bocca Nuova and the Northeast Crater. Bocca Nuova in particular has been producing a strong and continuous roaring which caused some moments of anxiety for a group of journalists that were visiting the new crater at the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Without warning, the volcano began ejecting lava skyward. Fortunately, except during periods of highly spectacular eruptions, the incandescent material occasionally thrown into the air, tends to fall back inside the crater. Etna is the largest and most active volcano in Europe and the second most active in the world. The fireworks displayed paled in comparison to its December 2015 eruption which was powerful enough to produce volcanic lightning as shown in the photograph.
A 20-year-old barista working at a water park near Rimini last week found a wallet containing over 4,000 euros inside and handed it over to police. The owner of the wallet was a very relieved scout master from Cesena. This is by no means an isolated case of a straight moral compass. The young man’s gesture was the third case of a sizable amount of money being handed in to police in Italy during the busy vacation month. Travelers often carry large sum of cash with them and at least three of those vacationers are grateful that their billfolds were found by such honest individuals!
80% of Italians Vacation in Italy
Roughly 57% of the Italian population, some 34.5 million people, have taken a summer vacation this year. The recent report estimated that the holidays would generate over 24 euros this year, up 9.5% over 2017. For anyone who is contemplating a trip to Italy, it seems as though Italians certainly know best. With countless spots to visit and the most beautiful beaches in the world, 80.2% of Italian vacationers elected to stay in the country, which is slightly above last year’s figure. The report also indicated that the number of people taking vacations in September was also on the rise, recognizing that the weather during the month is ideal for travel throughout the country.