A series of earthquakes have been recorded near Mount Vesuvius, sparking fears that the volcano could be ready to erupt. The strongest of the 34 quakes over 24 hours woke up residents in Pozzuoli shortly before 5:30 in the morning. The 2.5 magnitude shock was also felt in Fuorigrotta, Pianura, Quarto and Bagnoli. Francesca Bianco, director of the Vesuvius Observatory, explained that there is a yellow alert in place for the mega-volcano in Naples, but stated that it is part of the volcano’s life and there is nothing to be alarmed about. No damage to buildings or injuries were reported. Still, Vesuvius is one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes, with 3 million people living nearby in the metropolitan Naples area. The volcano is famous for its eruption in 79AD which sent a cloud of stone, ash and volcanic gas 21 miles into the sky. The thermal energy released in that eruption was on the order of 100,000 times that of the first atomic bomb. The 4,200 foot tall volcano has actually erupted many times, most recently in During WWII in 1944 (pictured), but none have been as powerful as the first century catastrophe.
Thieves Foiled by Switched Painting
An audacious group of robbers recently made off with a prized 17th century painting by Flemish painter Pieter Brueghel the Younger from a Church in northern Italy, or so they thought. After a tip-off, Italian police covertly switched the painting, called the Crucifixion, valued at $3.4 million, for a copy in the church of Santa Maria Maddalena in Castelnuovo Magra, about 90 minutes from Genoa. The mayor of the small town of around 8,500 residents was in on the secret and a few vigilant members of the congregation, who noticed the picture looked out of place, are reported to have kept silent. Using a hammer to break the case, the thieves lifted the worthless copy picture and made off in a car. Police believe two people were involved in the attempted heist. The town’s mayor, Daniele Montebello, said “I thank the police but also some of the churchgoers, who noticed that the painting on display wasn’t the original but kept up the secret.” Italy remains a popular destination for thieves because of its rich cultural heritage and plethora of churches filled with art that remain free and open to the public.
Automotive Alphabet Soup
FCA shares recently surged on the Milan stock exchange amid rumors that the Italo-American carmaker may merge with PSA of France. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles were up about 5.5% for the day and although analysts for the industry said that they do not see a merger in the short run, with many billions of dollars at stake, this would not be a deal that could be completed quickly. The PSA Group was formerly known as PSA Peugeot Citroën and is France’s largest automaker. Two markets that are conspicuously absent from PSA’s portfolio are the U.S. and Canada. Although the company has previously indicated its intent to get back into the markets in 2020, a merger with FCS might just be the way that it intends to leverage the might of FCA and bring its vehicles to the North American shores through the existing dealer network.
Rubbed the Wrong Way
Garbatella in the Ostiense quarter of Rome and is adjacent to the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls. After WWII, the area was an active hotbed for politics. Recently a sign that had been painted on a wall along Via Basilio Brollo more than 70 years ago was removed by a cleaning crew. The sign which read “Vote Garibaldi” was used during the 1948 election campaign. Stunned residents contacted the Rome City Council. Apparently, the removal of the slogan was a mistake by an overzealous cleaning crew and the historic sign is to be restored, abet at a cost several times more than the cleaning crew’s wages.
La Scala, the world famous opera house, has decided to give back money to a group of investors from Saudi Arabia. La Scala President Giuseppe Sala said that the decision to return over 3 million euros was unanimously reached after it was revealed a quid pro quo required a member of the investment group to be on the board of the iconic Milanese opera house. In what can only be described as a poorly handled financing arrangement, Sala indicated that the board had not been formally told about fundraising discussions by the general manager. Significant backlash in the media occurred when the deal was revealed amid increasing scrutiny over Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.
Stereotypes Cited in Text Books
A textbook given to second grade children in Italian elementary schools has caused uproar on social media after one Facebook user shared a photo of an Italian language grammar exercise from one of the schoolbooks. The exercise required the second grader to delete the verb that doesn’t fit and provided the following choices: “La mamma cucina/stira/tramonta” (Mom cooks/irons/sets); followed by “Il papa lavora/legge/gracida” (Dad works/reads/croaks). Although grammatically correct, opponents have stated that the sentences were far from politically correct, casting mothers into the domestic role, while the father is illustrated as the breadwinner. Recently another Italian schoolbook was criticized for including a children’s song with lyrics that translate to: “Mother washes, irons and cooks while humming a little tune. Father instead plays soccer and smokes a pipe with grandfather.” Italy is not the only country with such stereotyping. According to experts, it is a condition prevalent around the world.