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Weekly News – Oct 24, 2019

Crucifixes and Tortellini 

An argument has arisen over the Diocese of Bologna’s decision to substitute chicken for pork in tortellini – one of the city’s famed culinary specialties, for the feast of city’s patron saint Petronius. The move by Archbishop Matteo Zuppa was conducted in deference to Muslims, who do not eat pork for religious reasons. Nationalist leaders including League chief Matteo Salvini have slammed the move saying Italy is forgetting its history and identity. Salvini linked the move to Education Minister Lorenzo Fioramonti (pictured), who provoked a fierce outcry by saying the country’s schools should no longer be required to display a crucifix in the classroom. Fioramonti, a political scientist from the Five Star Movement, was appointed education minister when the new coalition government was formed last month. “I’m reading that there are those who are asking for tortellini without meat. It’s like proposing wine without grapes,” said Salvini. “From tortellini to the crucifix, the problem is some Italians are forgetting their roots and denying our history in the name of a misunderstood ‘respect” (it) is simply madness,” stated the League leader.

Free Museum Sundays Return

Italy’s popular free museum Sundays which had been discontinued more than a year ago, is now back. All state-run museums and archaeological sites will once again be free to enter on the first Sunday of the month. The plan applies to world-famous sites and monuments including the Colosseum, Pompeii, Florence’s Galleria dell’Accademia, the Reggia di Caserta and Trieste’s Miramare Castle. Over 15 million visitors have taken advantage of free museum Sundays since first launched in 2014, by then Culture Minister Dario Franceschini. Last year a new culture minister, Alberto Bonisoli, scrapped the plan and replaced it with a more complicated system of 20 free museum days spread out throughout the year. Bonosoli said the change was necessary, as free museum Sundays caused long lines and overcrowding at the country’s most popular attractions. The original free Sundays offer was reintroduced after Franceschini got his old job back as culture minister in the new Five-Star-Democratic Party coalition government.

On Top of the World

Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano was recently appointed Commander of the International Space Station (ISS). He is the first Italian and only the third European to hold this position. The hand-over ceremony took place on a packed ISS, with nine astronauts on board. Later in the week, three of space station’s crew returned to Earth and Expedition 61, commanded by Parmitano officially began. It is the latest feather in the cap of Parmitano, who is widely known by his Twitter name, AstroLuca. He is already the first Italian to have walked in space. Parmitano, 43, is from Paternò, Sicily and considers Catania to be his hometown. He has been an astronaut for ten years and is a Colonel in the Italian Air Force. This is his second mission to the space station, having completed a six-month mission in 2013. He arrived at the ISS on July 20 of this year.

The Rome Film Festival

Rome has been the cinematic home to the famous Cinecittà Studios (the largest in Europe) for over 80 years, but the Rome Film Festival is only in its 14th edition. This year’s festival began last week and continues until October 27.  It takes place across 18 locations, compared to seven last year, with 25 participating countries and 37 world premieres. The most highly anticipated of the films has been Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, which insiders are already touting as the likely ‘Best Picture’ of the festival and a strong contender for Academy Award nominations in numerous categories. In the past three years, two Oscar-winning films, Green Book and Moonlight, have emerged from the Rome festival. The film festival continues to effectively showcase the best of world cinema each year, due in no small part to its format that allows for screenings that are not necessarily world premieres. Other notable films in competition at this year’s festival include Downton Abbey, director Ron Howard’s Pavarotti and the biopic of Judy Garland called simply Judy. There are three Italian films in the official selection, Guido Lombardi’s Il Ladro dei Giorni starring Riccardo Scamarcio; Santa Subito, directed by Alessandro Piva and Tornare, directed by Cristina Comencini, the festival’s closing film.

Rome to Host 2022 Ryder Cup

The countdown to the 2022 Ryder Cup in Rome has officially started after organizers confirmed the dates of the competition. Ryder Cup Europe said the battle between the golf stars of Europe and the United States will start on September 30 and finish on October 2, 2022. The 44th Ryder Cup will take place at the Marco Simone Golf & Country Club at Guidonia, near the capital. “It is another important step in the journey towards the first Italian Ryder Cup,” said Gian Paolo Montali, the director general of the Ryder Cup 2022 project. “Our aim is not just to host an iconic event, but it is also to leave the country a legacy.” The transformation of the Marco Simone Golf Club is already underway. Architects, engineers and agronomists have started work on the first phase of the project which will see the construction of a state of the art, purpose-built venue for Europe’s next home Ryder Cup match. The redesign will see new roads, lakes, cart paths and irrigation systems incorporated to accommodate the grandstands and hospitality structures required to accommodate the huge crowds in attendance for the event.