James Bond is back in Italy, this time shooting a breakneck car chase through the southern city of Matera. Filming on “No Time To Die,” 007’s 25th movie, was originally set to begin shooting in April but was delayed until last week. The shooting began with an appropriate start – an Aston Martin speeding through Matera’s scenic streets. Watched by a curious crowd, the crew closed down part of the city center as stunt doubles shot off on a car chase with the spy’s famous silver DB5 in pursuit of another vehicle. Filming is expected to continue for almost four weeks, bringing an estimated €12 million of investment to the city. Four hundred jobs are expected to be created by the production, not to mention the boost for tourism that is likely to follow once the film comes out in April of 2020. As well as the scenes by Matera’s Duomo and the ancient UNESCO-listed Sassi cave homes, some sequences will be shot in neighboring Puglia. The crew picked Gravina di Puglia, famous for its dramatic two-level Roman bridge in the province of Bari, as the film’s second southern Italian location.
Leave the Shovel at Home
For most Americans, when they are traveling to the Veneto Region, that means one thing – Venice! However, for many tourists from northern Europe, the town of Cavallino-Treporti is the spot selected. The town occupies a peninsula (litorale del Cavallino) which divides the Venetian Lagoon from the Adriatic Sea. Every year, about six million visitors choose Cavallino Treporti for their vacations, making it the second most popular seaside resort in Italy. As would be expected, the economy of the town is strongly based on tourism, especially during the summer months. Recently, the town made news for a different reason – it banned sand castles on the beach, describing them as being potentially dangerous. The reasoning (and we use the term loosely), is that piles of sand may impede rescues at sea. Believe it or not, this isn’t the first time that these traditional beach construction projects by children have been thwarted by authorities. Almost a decade ago, Eraclea, also near Venice, declared sand castles illegal.
Art and Intrigue
The Palazzo Pitti, located in the Oltrarno District of Florence, originally served as the residence of Florentine banker Luca Pitti. It was later purchased by the Medici family, serving as the seat of the Grand Dukes of Tuscany and briefly, the King of Italy. In the late 15th century, Girolamo Riario, a Lord of Imola and Forli, sent some of his men to ransack the Palazzo Pitti. The men killed numerous palace residents and stole valuables before returning to Forlì in the Emilia Romagna. Lorenzo de’ Medici sent a message to the assassin Ezio Auditore da Firenze. Soon afterwards, the men who had invaded Palazzo Pitti suddenly died. It seems that intrigue and the palace were close partners for centuries. Now a new video game has been released in Italy called “The Medici Game,” where players adopt the role of art historians turned sleuths. The objective is to unravel riddles and solve mysterious murders, as they explore the legendary Florentine palace. The English version is set to be released in the U.S. by the end of October, in time for holiday shopping, of course.
A Record for Lightning
Sardinia set a European record for lightning strikes last week. “Almost 14,000 bolts, one after another, have hit Sardinia since this morning,” said Dario Secci, a meteorologist of the Sardegna Clima network. More than one inch of rain fell on the Sardinian capital of Cagliari, helping to break a week-long heat wave. 44,000 lightning storms occur every day throughout the world and lightning strikes the earth 6,000 times per minute. It is unclear who was actually counting the number of lightning strikes in Sardinia, but according to Mr. Secci – it’s a record. The world record for the most electric place is a lake in South America called Maracaibo, which averages over one million lightning strikes per year, or about 3,000 per day.
Italy’s most active volcano, Strombole, has had quite a summer. In July, it had experienced it largest eruption in more than a decade, while last week, an explosion of even higher intensity was recorded. Firefighters reported that widespread vegetation fires had broken out. Burning material from the explosion fell from the crater and rolled down to the sea. There was no word of any injuries or major damage, but local authorities asked those on the island to be vigilant and remain in safe places to avoid coming into contact with volcanic ash. Stromboli is one of the Aeolian Islands featured in last week’s Food, Wine and Travel section. It has been erupting continuously since 1932, just not with the sort of intensity that has been seen this summer!
House Husbands on the Rise
The number of Italian house husbands rose by 24.3% from 81,000 to 100,000 over the course of the last year, according to the latest statistics released by ISTAT. The study also revealed that the number of housewives fell by 71,000 to 4.187 million. This leaves a gap of about 52,000 people, which means that either fewer people now identify themselves in that domestic capacity or less housework is getting done.