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Weekly News – Sept 26, 2019

Selfie Spurs Headbutt

A visitor to Venice attacked one of the city’s gondoliers after he stopped the tourist from borrowing his boat to take a selfie. The incident took place near the Bareteri Bridge in the heart of the city’s historic center, where a group of four apparently climbed aboard a stationary gondola to take pictures. The gondolier told them to disembark and a fight ensued, with the gondolier knocked to the ground by a punch from one of the tourists. A video filmed by onlookers shows a man jostling and threatening the gondolier, knocking off his straw hat before head-butting him and hitting his face. In the minute-and-a-half clip, the gondolier argues with the man, but does not hit him back. Other gondoliers have also experienced trouble with rowdy tourists. Some visitors capsized gondolas by standing up during a ride, while more than one person faced charges for taking the wooden boats on late-night joy rides.

New Ferrante Novel in November

Prepare for a fresh outbreak of ‘Ferrante fever.’ The bestselling Italian author Elena Ferrante has written a new book that is coming out in November. “We are happy to announce that Elena Ferrante’s new novel will be in bookshops on November 7,” the enigmatic writer’s Italian publisher Edizione E/O recently tweeted. The title of the hotly anticipated new work has not yet been released. All that is known is that, like Ferrante’s bestselling Neapolitan Quartet, it is set in Naples. Her novel about two friends growing up in poverty in post-war Naples has sold millions of copies worldwide. “My Brilliant Friend,” an Italian American co-production, debuted on HBO last year to great acclaim. The second installment is expected to air early next year. It is not known when Ferrante’s latest novel will be published in English, but given the success of her previous work, a translation is sure to be a priority for her English-language publisher.

Renzi Quits Democratic Party

The first signs of cracking between the marriage of convenience of the now ruling 5-Star Movement and the Democratic Party has emerged. Ex-Prime Minister and former Democratic Party leader Matteo Renzi has announced that he is quitting the party. Explaining his decision, Renzi said the party had become nothing more than a collective of different factions and complained that it lacked strategic vision. He also said he wanted to concentrate on combating Matteo Salvini, the leader of the League party. About 30 lawmakers are expected to join Renzi’s breakaway group. He indicated that the symbol of the new party would be presented at his annual Leopolda conference in Florence and said that leaving the party would be the best for everyone involved. Renzi did however phone Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to inform him that both he and his loyalists would continue to support the coalition government.

New Exhibition in Caserta

A total of 112 paintings on loan from Italian antique dealer Cesare Lampronti has gone on display at the Royal Palace of Caserta in an exhibition titled “From Artemisia to Hackert.” It will run through January 16, 2020. Going on display for the first time will be “The Port of Salerno” by Jakob Philipp Hackert, which is the missing piece of the artist’s port series, commissioned by King Ferdinand IV of Naples. Lampronti was born in Rome in 1942 and had to rebuild his family’s entire art collection after it was separated by the Fascist regime. “I like to consider my current gallery a cultural window for our art in the international world,” Lampronti said. Tiziana Maffei, director of the Royal Palace of Caserta, said she is enthusiastic about the show, which will give visitors a chance to see Hackert’s recently restored and complete port series, as well as works by Artemisia Gentileschi, Pietro da Cortona, Rubens, Pompeo Batoni, Guercino and Canaletto, among others.

Facebook Loses in Court

A Milan court specializing in business disputes has ruled that Facebook must pay an Italian software firm, Business Competence, 350,000 euros in damages for having copied one of its apps. The case regards Faround, an app the Italian company launched in October 2012 to help users find bars and restaurants of interest in their areas. Two months later, Facebook invited its users to download a similar app called Nearby Places. The court upheld the Italian firm’s assertion that the Nearby Places was identical in concept and format to Faround and said that Facebook was guilty of “parasitic appropriation of investments by others” to create a product with a “significant economic value.” Even though the sum awarded in the legal wrangling may seem insignificant to a multi-billion dollar giant, the indictment by the court opens up Facebook to further rounds of legal battles with other app developers. Time will tell whether the courts will continue on the present course or do an about face.

Keeping Sightlines Clean

Rome’s interim special superintendent for archaeology, fine arts and cityscape, Danila Porro, has scrubbed her predecessor’s approval for a chimney to be built on a building opposite the Pantheon on the planned site of a McDonald’s restaurant. The plan for the fast food restaurant has met with strong opposition and critics said the chimney would have spoiled the view over Borromini’s famed St. Ivo Church.