Italy responded with shock and heartbreak at the tragic death of former NBA star Kobe Bryant, who lived in Italy from age six to 13, when his father played in the Italian basketball league. It was in Italy that he first played the game in the school leagues of Rieti, located in the central region of Lazio. The Bryant family also lived in southern Italy’s Reggio Calabria and in the northern city of Reggio Emilia, which intends to name a piazza after the NBA star. His Italian roots were deep and Bryant frequently returned to Italy to visit with old friends. He is pictured exchanging jerseys with his beloved AC Milan soccer team. Kobe also gave his two daughters Italian names, including Gianna Maria, the 13-year-old who tragically perished with him in the helicopter crash.
Milestone Genetic Discovery
A major study at Turin University and the University of Siena has identified over 1,000 genes associated with the autism spectrum disorder. The study was conducted on 35,000 people, in association with numerous hospitals, including Turin’s Città della Salute Hospital. The data “is just the tip of the iceberg” said Alfredo Brusco of the Città della Salute Hospital. The work will now continue on the new genes associated with the disorder and the various variants in genes that are important for neurological development. Autism is a developmental disorder characterized by difficulties with social interaction and communication and by restricted and repetitive behavior. Parents often notice signs during the first three years of the child’s life and may be associated with a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Cold Case File
Historians reportedly called in the Carabinieri police’s RIS forensic unit to help crack a 428-year-old case regarding the death of Alessandro Farnese, the third Duke of Parma and Piacenza. Farnese died at the age of 47 in 1592. There have long been suspicions that he did not die of natural causes, but was in fact poisoned. His body and that of his wife, Mary of Portugal, have been exhumed from Parma’s Santa Maria della Steccata Church and are set to be subjected to an autopsy by pathologists at the city’s Maggiore Hospital. During his lifetime, the Duke won a series of historic battles in France and Belgium, creating bitter adversaries and enemies along the way. When he died, it was thought that he was suffering from pneumonia, but there is suspicion that he may have been poisoned. It is a possible cold case crime four centuries in the making.
“My Brilliant Friend” Sequel
A new miniseries based on the second book in Elena Ferrante’s bestselling Neapolitan novels will premiere on February 10 in Italy on RAI. The miniseries, inspired by Ferrante’s “The Story of a New Name,” resumes where the first eight-episode miniseries “My Brilliant Friend” ended. Saverio Costanzo, the series director, delves deeper into the girls’ complex and changing bond as they become women. He co-wrote the screenplay with Ferrante and Francesco Piccolo. Award-winning director Alice Rohrwacher directed two of the eight episodes of the new miniseries; those set on the island of Ischia. The first miniseries gained a huge audience and garnered rave reviews. Ferrante became an international phenomenon with her four novels set in Naples: My Brilliant Friend (2012), The Story of a New Name (2013), Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (2014) and The Story of the Lost Child (2015). Watch for local listing for broadcast in America.
New Safeguards in Rome
After the latest incident of an Egyptian man climbing on the Trevi Fountain (as reported in these pages last week), Rome’s city council has voted to install a protective barrier around the basin of the fountain to prevent people from sitting on the iconic Roman monument. Police have been banning tourists from sitting on the Trevi Fountain for the past year, but according the council, the rule is ignored by many tourists, as shown in this picture. The council’s motion, which had no opposition, calls on Mayor Virginia Raggi and her city government to implement the move. The motion also calls for action to prevent unauthorized street sellers from hawking their goods in the access areas to the fountain and to the Colosseum. It also urged continuous patrols in the Roman Forum, shopping areas Via del Corso, Via del Babuino and Via Condotti and Piazza di Spagna, the Spanish Steps.
UNESCO Status for Arcades?
Visitors to the historic center of Bologna, the capital city of the Emilia Romagna region in northern Italy, are likely to find themselves walking beneath structures that are slated to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The board of the Italian National Commission for UNESCO recommended the picturesque Porticoes of Bologna as the country’s 2020 candidate for designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Locals are hopeful the nomination will receive final approval in 2021. Architecturally, the impressive, well-preserved porticoes define the cityscape. These stunning covered walkways are located throughout the medieval historic center and stretch for a total of 25 miles in length. Constructed over the course of a millennium, the porticoes reflect a diversity of styles and materials, ranging from the wooden porticoes of Via Marsala to the famous 13th century porticoes of Piazza Maggiore at the University of Bologna.