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Falcons Protect the Skies Above Rome from Pesky Starlings

Falcons have once again taken to the skies of Rome to scare off the large number of pesky starlings that inhabit the Eternal City. Rome’s local government believe falcons may be one way to get rid of the large numbers of starlings, which cause problems for drivers, as well as pedestrians in the city. Although starlings swarming above Rome’s historic buildings are one of the iconic sights of the capital, getting a handle on the large number of birds has led to experimentation with the use of falcons. Peregrine falcons were once a common sight in the skies above Rome and other Italian cities, but they were almost wiped out in the 1970s by DDT, a pesticide which caused the shells of the birds’ eggs to thin and break easily. But since the banning of DDT in Italy in 1978, the falco pellegrino has made a gradual return to the skies. There are thought to be around 20 pairs of nesting peregrine falcons native to Rome.

Police Nab Brick Stealing Tourist

The Italian police caught a tourist trying to make off with a Roman brick from the Colosseum as a souvenir. The 47-year-old tourist from India was spotted by other visitors removing an entire brick from an inside wall. Although the brick was recovered and replaced, Rome’s Carabinieri said the Indian tourist was “still on the loose.” Police intend to apprehend him for damage and unlawful appropriation of cultural assets. If he is caught, it is unclear what the punishment will be, but during the past year, such acts of theft have carried fines of several thousand euros. Additionally, the charge of defacing Italy’s cultural landscape is punishable by up to five years in prison.

Happy Food

In a recent nationwide survey, 52% of people polled in Italy indicated that pizza was their favorite dish. It is difficult to find anyone who does not enjoy pizza anywhere on the planet, but in Italy, it is virtually unheard of. The full extent of the country’s love for pizza was revealed in a study by the Osservatorio Buitoni Culinary Lab, who surveyed 2,500 Italians. More than half said that they had pizza at least once per week. Proscuitto e funghi was the most popular pizza topping, chosen by 32% of respondents. The classic Margherita was the next most preferred pizza, chosen by 27% as their favorite. The survey also showed that Italians are extremely fussy about their pizza; 42% will only eat thin crust, while 33% prefer thick Neapolitan crust. Given all of the food options available in Italy, when asked why pizza was the favorite food, the most common response was that ‘pizza makes them happy.’

Italy Fines Facebook…Again

Facebook was fined by Italian authorities for selling users’ data without informing them and aggressively discouraging users from trying to limit how the company shares their data. Italy’s competition authority has handed Facebook two fines totaling 10 million euros ($11.3 million) stating that Facebook “misleadingly gets people to sign up… without informing them in an immediate and adequate way of how the data they will provide will be harvested for commercial purposes.” It also said Facebook uses unfair practices over the transmission of users’ data to third-party apps and sites. As a result, Facebook is now obligated to publish a corrective statement to all users via its desktop site and apps. This comes just two weeks after Facebook Italy agreed to make payment of more than 100 million euros to end a fiscal fraud dispute with Italian authorities.

Taking a Stand

A ten-year-old girl was so upset that her school had decided to omit the name of Jesus from a Christmas song, that she launched a petition to have Christ’s name reinserted. It was not disclosed how many names were on her list (which surely should have ensured that she would be on Babba Natale’s good list), but when residents of the Veneto region heard about her cause, it set off an uproar. Although Italy is well-known for being a predominantly Catholic country, it is also very accepting of other religions. The name of Jesus was left out so as not to offend the sensibilities of non-Catholic students; but after local outcry, the Lord’s name was swiftly added back to the song. The incident happened on the Riviera del Brenta between Venice and Padua.

Spending up for Winter Holidays

Italians are expected to spend an average of 740 euros per person on winter holidays this season, up 12% from last year. According to a study by the Confturismo-Confcommercio and the Istituto Piepoli Research Institute, the spending increase is significantly greater than expected. On average, last year the amount spent per person was 660 euros. The poll indicated that seven out of ten winter vacationers will stay in Italy for their trips, with Trentino Alto Adige, Tuscany and Lombardy as the top regions in terms of destinations.