For the first time ever, archaeologists have been able to cast the complete figure of a horse that perished in the volcanic eruption at Pompeii. The discovery was made outside the city walls, in what archaeologists have identified as a stable. From the remains of its skeleton, they believe the horse was an adult measuring about 5 feet tall at the withers. Although this is on the short side by today’s standards, the horse was exceptionally large for its time. Traces of a harness cast in iron and bronze were found by its head, suggesting that the animal was a specially bred parade horse. While the skeletons of donkeys and mules have been found at Pompeii, this is the first time that archaeologists have unearthed the complete outline of a horse. As well as the equine, they also found the remains of jugs, tools and kitchen utensils, as well as the grave of a man buried after the fatal eruption – which indicates that people continued to live around or on top of the ruins even after the disaster.
Berlusconi Ban Lifted
An Italian court has lifted a ban on three-time former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi running for elected office, clearing the way for yet another political comeback. The decision came as the leaders of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) and the far-right League inched closer to a deal for a coalition government. The ban on the 81-year-old media mogul, who is notorious for his “Bunga Bunga” parties, was originally set to continue until 2019. This means that Berlusconi is able to run for Prime Minister if coalition negotiations fail and new elections are called for. A right-wing coalition including the League and Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party won 37 percent of the vote in March 4th elections, while M5S became Italy’s largest single party with nearly 33 percent. Berlusconi, who dominated Italian politics for more than two decades, made an astonishing return from political oblivion in the March election, despite his legal woes from his past.
Peregrine Falcons in Florence
Workers carrying out checks on Giotto’s Campanile in Florence found that they had company some 260 feet above the city – a nest of peregrine falcons. Three fluffy white chicks were spotted in the nest, which had been made inside a crevice, just below the roof of the 14th century bell tower. Filmed by workers inspecting the tower from a crane, the chicks immediately began calling for their mother, who was seen circling overhead. The bell tower seems to be popular with falcons, who have nested there in the past, undeterred by the crowds of tourists who climb 414 steps to reach the roof. Judging from their white down, these falcon chicks are less than a month old. Giotto’s Campanile, one of the landmarks of the Florence skyline, gets a three-week safety inspection once every six months.
Happy as Lazzaro
The ‘medieval’ tale charting the relationship between a peasant and a local aristocrat in ‘Happy as Lazzaro,’ by Italian filmmaker Alice Rohrwacher, was applauded for ten minutes when it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Rohrwacher, 35, is competing for a Palme d’Or with her film of class divides. She won the Grand Prize in 2014 with her film ‘The Wonders.’ The director dedicated her movie’s successful debut to Ermanno Olmi, the Italian director who won the Palme d’Or for his 1978 film ‘The Tree of Wooden Clogs’ and who died earlier this month at the age of 86. In ‘Happy as Lazzaro,’ a rich aristocrat in the 1980s takes advantage of her estate’s isolation in central Italy to practice sharecropping, keeping her unpaid workers unaware of their rights. Rohrwacher’s tale is seen through the eyes of a young peasant, Lazzaro, played by newcomer Adriano Tardiolo. Lazzaro is a good soul who exudes unconditional confidence in people and whose spirit is indefatigable. The filmmaker said the film’s inspirations included the story of Saint Francis, as well as a children’s book by Chiara Frugoni, in which a wolf can’t bring himself to eat the main character because he is such a good person.
Hi-tech Robot Hand
A hi-tech robot hand that folds fingers like a real one, grasping objects with 90% efficiency as compared to a natural hand, has been created by Italy’s Rehab Technologies Lab. The lab is a joint venture created in 2013 through a collaboration between the work-accident insurance agency INAIL and the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT). The two institutes said the hand, which does not require surgery to be implanted, is less expensive than current alternatives and will be available beginning in 2019.
Wedding Insurance Against Runaway Brides
The insurance industry offers many forms of protection – life, health, automotive, property and casualty – the list seems endless, or at least seemed endless. Now in Italy, the dearly betrothed can purchase insurance to protect against runaway brides or grooms. Wedding insurance has been available for some time, covering costs when something goes awry, such as a damaged dress or cancelled flights. In this newest form of insurance, prospective spouses will be asked to shell out about $300 to put their minds at ease. The company offering this new insurance also offers policies for wedding rings, damages to the reception venue, as well as honeymoon insurance.