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Three Smuggled Antiquities to be Returned to Italy

A small vase for oils and ointments, a wine pitcher and a bowl for food are three archaeological finds that had been smuggled out of Italy and now tracked down, will be brought back Italy. The finds were traced to an auction house in New York and were recovered through collaboration between the cultural heritage section of the Carabinieri and the FBI. They were handed over to Culture Minister Alberto Bonisoli in Washington, D.C. Fifteen years of collaboration between Italy and the U.S. in working against the smuggling of archaeological finds was celebrated during the event. Minister Bonisoli said that there would be stiffer penalties for the smuggling of antiquities that will be presented to the Italian legislature within the upcoming months. The clampdown on cultural crimes comes after several high-profile repatriations of Italian art and antiquities taken abroad and recovered only after being put up for auction. Italy became the first country in the world to create a specialized police force to combat cultural crimes back in 1969. Pictured is the badge of the Carabinieri Art Squad.

Storms Batter Italy from North to South

The northern regions of Liguria and Veneto have been mopping up following a wave of storms that have caused billions of euros in damage. In the south, storms resulted in 12 deaths in Palermo, Sicily. In total, 32 deaths were recorded over a ten day period. Veneto Governor Luca Zaia indicated that the damage in that region alone would top one billion euros. Culture ministry experts were quick to begin inspection of the mosaic flooring of St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, which had become submerged by an unusually high ‘acqua alta.’ For only the fifth recorded time in St. Mark’s nine century history, the water reached the marble floor inside, submerging the area around the altar of the Madonna Nicopeia. Windblown tides in Venice reached 61 inches above sea level and left more than 70% of the city with water covering streets and walkways. The situation was similar across Italy in Liguria, where hundreds of yachts were smashed to bits at a Rapallo marina. Winds reached 112 miles per hour and dozens of boats moored in the port broke loose and crashed against the shore or were driven out to sea. Other fatalities occurred in the Brescia area and also in the Alto Adige region.

Hundreds of Maseratis Burn

After the flooding brought about by tremendous storms in Liguria, a major fire broke out at the port of Savona in Liguria, destroying hundreds of vehicles. After sea waters rose and flooded the port, the salt water caused car batteries to explode and catch fire in the early hours of the morning. Most of the vehicles destroyed in the blaze were brand new Maseratis.  Several hundred were stored at the terminal and were ready for export. The car terminal fire was extremely difficult to put out with an almost continuous series of explosions occurring coming from the luxury vehicles inside the parking area. No one was reported to be injured, but many hearts were broken.

Health Warnings on Lottery Tickets

Scratch off lottery cards in Italy are now required to carry a health warning. The warning, “Questo gioco danneggia la tua salute” (this game damages your health), is part of a series of campaigns by the Italian government to alert citizens to the risks of gambling addiction. As part of the campaign, the government will also launch an anti-slot-machine logo, placing “No Slot” warnings in public places. Experts believe that gambling addiction has increased during the past decade, but are at a loss to explain why.

New Art Show in Naples

A new exhibition by mathematical genius turned visionary artist M. C. Escher (1898 – 1972), who adopted southern Italy as his second home, has opened at Naples’ Palazzo delle Arti museum. More than 200 works by the artist are on display, including Relativity (1953), Bond of Union (1956), Metamorphosis II (1939) and Day and Night (1938). Additionally, a selection of works he completed during a tour along the Amalfi Coast to Ravello in the spring 1923 are on display for the first time. Escher’s journey in Italy changed his life forever and it was in Campania where he met his wife. It was in southern Italy where Escher developed many of the ideas that characterize his work as a synthesis between science and art. The various sections of the exhibit contain interactive experiences where visitors can enter the world of Escher and its paradoxes of perspective, geometry and composition. The exhibit will run through April 22, 2019.

Plan for New Genoa Bridge

Renzo Piano, one of Italy’s most acclaimed and admired architects, returned to his native Genoa recently to propose a plan to rebuild the Morandi Bridge, which collapsed in August. Piano stated, “This bridge should last 1,000 years and should be made of steel.” According to reports, Piano’s design is influenced by Genoa’s maritime heritage. The bridge would resemble a boat, with the road sitting on pillars that look like the prows of ships. It would also include 43 illuminated posts in the shape of sails, one for each of the victims of the disaster. Demolition work has begun on the remaining portions of the bridge, but details of the final plan and its design have yet to be determined.