There is the esteemed Nobel Prize and then there is the Ig Noble Prize. It is a satiric prize that has been awarded annually since 1991 to celebrate ten unusual achievements in scientific research. Its objective is to honor achievements that first make people laugh and then make them think. The name of the award is a pun on the Nobel Prize, which it parodies and the word ignoble. An Italian researcher has won this year’s Ig Noble Prize for Medicine for a study on the health benefits of pizza – as long as it is made in Italy. The award was presented by Harvard University and Annals of Improbable Research to Silvao Gallus of the Mario Negri Institute in Milan and the University of Maastricht. He said in receiving the award for his research, “A good pizza comprised all the virtues of the Mediterranean Diet.” He continued, “We found that pizza consumption in Italy was protective for many chronic diseases that are known to be influenced by diet: digestive tract cancers and infarction.” Like many of the winners, Gallus, a renowned scientist, was thrilled to win an Ig Nobel. “I am honored to have obtained this achievement for a bizarre, but important award.” It made us laugh, but then it did make us think…
A Tragic Ending
Renowned speedboat racer Fabio Buzzi, winner of ten world titles in an astounding four-decade career, died in a tragic accident in Venice. The 76-year-old Italian champion was killed last week while attempting to break a speed record from Monte Carlo to Venice. Their boat struck an artificial reef within sight of the finish line at Lido di Venezia. Giampaolo Montavoci, president of the national offshore and endurance commission, confirmed another Italian racer survived, but two other crew members died in the crash. Officials stated that the 65 foot-long boat was motoring at about 92 mph when it hit large, sunken boulders, which had been lowered onto the seabed to protect a dam, which serves as a flood barrier safeguarding Venice. “The boat took off and flew about 100 feet through the air, landing on its stern on the other side of the causeway where the victims died on impact,” said a Venice port authority official. Buzzi’s firm helped develop the dynamic racing boat the Hawk 38, which peaked out at an impressive 80 mph on Lake Como earlier this summer with Buzzi captaining.
After former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s split with the Democratic Party, former European Commission President and two-time Prime Minister Romano Prodi (at right) has said that parties based on the personality of a charismatic leader can only be effective in the short term. “Personal parties work the first time, there are problems when they are repeated.” Renzi (pictured at left) was frequently accused of trying to hold an autocratic command of the party when he was its leader. He has now set up his own party called Italia Viva, which has roughly 40 lawmakers in the Senate and the Lower House. Before leaving the Democratic Party, Renzi was instrumental forming a pact with the 5-Star Movement (M5S) for a second government under Premier Giuseppe Conte. Prodi said that Renzi’s move was predictable and that he did not think it would have an impact on the newly-reformed government.
Colosseum Tickets Going Up
The cost of visiting the Colosseum, one of Italy’s top tourist attractions, will increase by €4 beginning in November. The most inexpensive entry ticket to the ancient Roman amphitheater will rise from €12 to €16. Visiting the arena floor as well as the spectator levels, which currently costs €14, will increase to €18. All tickets to the Colosseum will include entry to the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. While combined tickets are currently valid for two consecutive days, in November the basic ticket will only be good for one day, so sightseers will have to buy the more expensive €18 ticket if they want to spread their visit to the sprawling archaeological sites over two days. Entry to the Colosseum will remain free for those under 18, as well as to teachers and students. There will also be a handful of days per year that provide free entry. In 2019, the remaining dates are October 4, November 4, November 21 and December 18. The Colosseum attracts over seven million visitors per year, making it one of the most popular tourist sites in the world.
An early Renaissance masterpiece by the Florentine master Cimabue has been discovered in a senior citizen’s kitchen. ‘Christ Mocked,’ by the 13th century artist who taught Giotto, is estimated to be worth between four and six million euros. The work is owned by an elderly woman from the northern part of the country who had it hanging between her kitchen and sitting room. The painting is thought to be part of a large diptych dating from 1280, when Cimabue painted eight scenes depicting Christ’s passion and crucifixion. Two other scenes from the work hang in the National Gallery in London -‘The Virgin and Child with Two Angels’ and at the Frick Collection in New York – ‘The Flagellation of Christ.’ The owner thought it was simply an old religious icon when she took it to her local auctioneer to be valued.