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‘Garibaldi’s Shield’ Recovered

Italy’s Carabinieri art cops have tracked down a sculpture known as ‘Garibaldi’s Shield’ in the home of a Rome architect. The shield is a sculpture that was given as a gift to Giuseppe Garibaldi from the Sicilian people. Garibaldi was the hero of the Risorgimento movement that reunified Italy in the 19th century. It was made by Antonio Ximenes, the father of the famous sculptor Ettore Ximenes and has a diameter of almost four feet and weights roughly 100 pounds. The shield was subsequently donated to the city of Rome, which was kept in the Capitoline Museums before it was transferred to the National Risorgimento Museum in the capital’s Vittoriano complex. The work disappeared in the early 2000s. Carabinieri are investigating to get to the bottom of how it vanished and ended up in an architect’s apartment.

Marmolada Glacier Disappearing

One of the Dolomites’ most famous and iconic glacier, Marmolada, is shrinking at such a drastic rate that it will likely disappear within the next 30 years, announced Italy’s National Research Council (CNR). Between 2004 and 2015, the glacier shrank by 30 percent in volume and 22 percent in area. The report, based on two 3-D models, was drawn up by the CNR-Ismar lab and the universities of Trieste and Genoa, as well as by the environmental agency (ARPA) of Veneto, where the glacier is located. The report indicates that even if temperatures remain at present seasonal levels, the glacier’ fate appears to be sealed.

Holiday Travels

It is estimated that over 18 million Italians took vacations between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, equal to 30.3% of the population. This figure marks a 10 percent increase over last year. Also on the rise was the amount spent on the holiday vacations – over 13 billion euros, an increase of 12.5 percent, according to the Federation of Italian Hotels & Tourism Associations. Almost 10 million Italians traveled for Christmas, with 90 percent staying in Italy, while 8.5 million traveled for New Year’s Eve, with 30 percent traveling abroad.

Royal Gardens Restored

Venice’s Royal Gardens have been restored and given back to the city, thanks to generous funding from private donors and volunteer work, announced Culture Minister Dario Franceschini. “The Royal Gardens are in the heart of Venice,” said the minister. “They were an abandoned place but thanks to a perfect restoration and the work of volunteers and companies that donated important sums, this space has been given back to the city,” he continued. He also pointed out that it was a win not only for the visitors and residents of Venice, but a win for those who contributed to the project and received tax deductions, as well knowing that they have made Venice even more beautiful.

New Life for Bari Bank

Premier Giuseppe Conte’s government has approved a 900-million-euro bailout of the southern Italian lender Banca Popolare di Bari. The money has been allocated to Invitalia to finance Mediocredito Centrale (MCC), which will enable it to buy a stake in Banca Popolare di Bari. The aim is to create an investment bank that can support business in Italy’s less wealthy southern regions. Banca Popolare di Bari urgently needed a significant infusion of capital and the government move was not without skeptics. The the 5-Star Movement (M5S) political party has been highly critical of bank bailouts in the past, but in this present case, it has taken a wait and see approach. Previous bailouts have primarily involved banks in the northern part of the country and a stable banking environment in the south is seen as one of the keys to increasing sustained economic growth in the southern regions.

Unusual Tourists

It seems that everyone, regardless of country of origin or species, for that matter, cannot resist a walk through historic Venice. Just last week, two South American rheas, a relative to the ostrich, were found roaming though the streets of the canal city, to the astonishment of both locals and tourists alike. The two-legged birds had escaped from a Slovenian circus in nearby San Donà del Piave and somehow managed to board a train to Venice. In the photograph, one of the tall birds can be seen calmly standing among a crowd in Venice. The rheas, named Nina and Nande, were by all accounts very pleasant (they had been bred and trained to play with children) and wandered among tourists along the streets of the Canareggio area. They were apprehended near the train station. The birds were not cited, although the two circus owners were handed fines of 400 euros each.

In Case You Missed It

If you love chocolate, Turin was the place to be on January 6th. Marking the end of the holiday season, historic Caffè al Bicerin offered customers a 10 pound specialty ‘gianduiotto’ chocolate drop on Monday, marking the Epiphany and also in celebration of the cafe’s 256 years in business.