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Weekly News – Feb 21, 2019

A First in Space

Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano, the current commander of the International Space Station (ISS), has led one of the most challenging spacewalks ever to take place. It was the first of a series of at least four needed to service the cosmic-particle-hunting Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02). It is considered to be the toughest spacewalk series since work to repair the Hubble Space Telescope took place. Parmitano and his spacewalking partner, NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan, went outside the ISS and had to get to a hard-to-reach area on top of the Station’s S3 Truss structure between a pair of solar arrays and radiators. The entire spacewalk took six hours. Parmitano, who is widely known by his Twitter name AstroLuca, is the first European to lead a spacewalk.

Driving Without a License

A 77-year-old Italian woman has been fined more than 5,000 euros after it was discovered that she had been driving without a license for 50 years. The woman’s lack of a license was only discovered after she was involved in a traffic accident. She told police she had misplaced her license many years ago and never bothered to get a replacement. The incident took place in the town of Pravisdomini, located in the northeastern Province of Pordenone (Friuli-Venezia Giulia). The senior citizen indicated that she intends to appeal the hefty fine, especially given her unblemished, albeit unrecorded, driving record.

Unusual Convent Closing

An Italian nun has fallen in love forcing her convent near Arezzo in Tuscany to close. The 40-year-old nun’s only companion in the convent was an 80-year-old sister. Sadly, the religious order has ruled that the elderly nun is too old to run the facility alone and she was forced to relocate to a different convent. It was reported that the 40-year-old had suffered “a vocational crisis” and then fell in love with a local man.

Less Plastic, More Pasta

In Italy, an ingenious biodegradable alternative to plastic straws is catching on in a big way. With many European countries now questioning whether to outlaw plastic straws and revert to paper ones, Italians have solved the problem without the need for any legislation – they simply have begun using bucatini! The long hollow pasta, best known for its pairing with Amatriciana sauce, has been popping up in bars and restaurants throughout the country. Although a foreign-based company is offering its own pasta, specially designed to be used as a straw, it has no plans to market the product in Italy, where a box of bucatini costs 1/30 the price of the designer pasta!

Italy Trounces Competition

In Italy, football (or soccer, as we prefer to call it in the U.S.) is the most popular sport in the country. This fall saw the preliminary matches of the 2020 European Cup take place. As the matches unfolded to determine the seeding for the matches, Italy has emerged as a force to be feared. Italy defeated its rivals in each of the ten matches, scoring 37 goals, while giving up only four. The team is also sporting a new look; the new jersey is royal green, said to be inspired by the Renaissance and features motifs and patterns interwoven through the fabric.

A Good Deed Indeed

A young unemployed man from the town of Colorno in the Province of Parma, was in Mantua for a job interview. Afterwards, while on his way to the train station, he found a gold Rolex watch on the ground. Rather keeping the valuable watch, he turned it into the police, who were able to locate the owner. The 21-year old did not get the job he had interviewed for, but when the owner of the watch, a Mantua-area businessman, found out that the young man was unemployed, he immediately called and hired him on the spot!

Marriage Rate Rises

According to the Italian statistical agency ISTAT, 195,778 marriages were celebrated in Italy last year. This represents roughly 4,500 more marriages than had been reported in the previous period, or about a 2.3% increase. The report also showed that the trend to marry at a later age has continued. The average age for a groom in Italy is just over 33 ½, while for a bride, the average age is now 31 ½. That means that in the past decade, the average age for grooms has risen by 18 months and for brides, their average age has increased by just over two years. The percentage represented for second marriages remained stable at just under 20 percent of the total.