Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe had a brief medical scare while he was officiating at the San Gennaro miracle in Naples last week. Due to the heat, the Cardinal became dizzy and had to be helped to sit down; but even while feeling faint, he refused to leave the altar. Cardinal Sepe took the vials containing the blood of the 3rd century saint, showing that each had indeed liquefied. For Neapolitans, the ritual’s success is a good omen for the city. When the miracle does not occur it is seen as a sign of impending disaster. In fact, disaster has struck on at least five occasions when the blood failed to liquefy, including in 1527 when tens of thousands of people died from the plague and in 1980 when 3,000 people were killed in an earthquake which devastated much of southern Italy. The vials have remained on view in the cathedral. Each will then be returned to a vault in the chapel of the Duomo’s treasury.
A Bargain for Young Opera Goers
Italian Culture Minister Alberto Bonisoli announced that beginning next season, people between the ages of 18 and 25 will be able to attend performances at the iconic Milanese opera house, La Scala, for the remarkable bargain price of only 2 euros. “It is an initiative aimed at the new generations who often consider culture with skepticism or because they experience malaise, culture is not a solution, but it can help,” said Bonisoli said, who continued, “The plan has been proposed to Italy’s other 14 opera foundations and they have all accepted.” The lowest price for tickets normally for an opera performance is 15 to 29 euros for the upper gallery.
Which Film Will Represent Italy?
Twenty-one Italian films are vying to be the country’s candidate for the foreign-language Oscar and only one can be selected. This year has produced an exceptional number of outstanding Italian films. There are comedies by filmmakers Andò and Milani, as well as dramatic films such as ‘Sulla mia pelle.’ Among the list of films that hope to be selected are internationally-acclaimed ones such as the metaphysical thriller ‘Naples in Veils;’ Alice Rohrwacher’s fascinating drama ‘Happy as Lazzaro’ and Francesco Falaschi’s heartfelt Tuscan comedy ‘As Needed,’ all of which are currently screening in Australia as part of the Lavazza Italian Film Festival. Other candidates include the charmingly quirky ‘Little Tito and the Aliens’ by Paola Randi and the powerful and touching ‘Boys Cry’ by Damiano D’Innocenzo and Fabio D’Innocenzo. The Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film has been presented annually since 1956 to a feature film produced outside the U.S. that contains primarily non-English dialogue.
Accept No Substitutes
Italian food is as popular as ever, especially abroad. Italian-made food products were exported at a record pace last year, to the tune of over 34 billion euros. That represents a bit more than 8% of all European Union food exports. In the last five years, Italian food exports have increased by 23%, well above the EU average and remain Europe’s leader for the exporting of numerous foods. It would come as no surprise that Italy is tops in pasta and tomato sauce exports and has huge stakes in the wine and olive oil industry. What might be surprising to many is that Italy leads in the export of apples, grapes and kiwi (feel free to use that in a trivia contest). Which market does Italy absolutely dominate? Shelled hazelnuts, where more than 60% of all exports are Italian.
Between 2019 and 2020, Ferrari intends to launch an astonishing 15 new models, beginning with the Monza SP1 and SP2. Unveiled last week, the limited edition of 500 cars (each costing well in excess of $1 million) have already been entirely pre-sold. The high-tech cars are fueled by the most powerful Ferrari engine ever. In 2022, the company will debut its eagerly anticipated Purosangue (Thoroughbred) SUV, although the glamourous sports car manufacturer still refuses to call it an SUV. Said new CEO Louis Camilleri, “I don’t like the word SUV. We’ll call it Purosangue, but it will be without doubt a Ferrari.” Camilleri also said that by the 2022, about 60% of Ferrari vehicles will be hybrids. On the financial side, the company estimated its dividend payout rising to 30% of profits by 2022, compared with 25% today.
Making Beer Out of Thin Air
Leave it to the Italians to make something out of nothing! Well, in this case, producing something out of thin air. The Birra Flea microbrewery in Gualdo Tadino, Umbria, has brought a new recipe to beer, extracting the water used to make its brew out of air. “Beer is made of 90 per cent water. We just extract water from the air,” said Alessandro Tozzi, a marketing spokesman for Birra Flea. It all starts with a machine that condenses hot air into water. The water is then mixed with barley malt, hops and yeast to produce beer, which at Birra Flea, are unfiltered and unpasteurized. Compressed air has been used in beer production for some time, but only during the fermentation or bottling stages. The new Birra Flea product will now compete with the brewery’s other beers which are more traditionally made, using its essential ingredient from the Rocchetta fresh water springs on the outskirts of Gualdo Tadino. As far as anyone can tell, their new beer is the only one in the world to be made out of thin air.