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Weekly News – Jan 23, 2020

A Message from Space

European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano recently chatted with Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte in a video link from the International Space Station (ISS). “Welcome aboard the International Space Station,” said the Italian astronaut, who is the current commander of the ISS and has been leading a series of technically challenging spacewalks to service the cosmic-particle-hunting Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer. “I’m excited, the Space Station is humanity’s outpost in space and it is its greatest feat of engineering,” replied Conte, who continued, “Space and scientific research are strategic sectors for Italy which the government intends to keep focusing on. It’s a strategic sector because involvement from the technological point of view makes it possible to develop increasing awareness of our planet.”

Modigliani Exhibits

The Tuscan city of Livorno has just opened a second exhibition on the life of its native son, Amadeo Modigliani, who passed away 100 years ago. The exhibition titled “At Dedo’s School” takes a different slant than most and focuses on his school years in the city. The free exhibition was made possible after never-before-seen documents and materials were found, including the grade register, report books and the register of the autumn session of 1898, allowing for a reconstruction of the artist’s school life when he was enrolled at the Niccolini Guerrazzi high school from 1893-1898. The exhibition continues through February 17. Meanwhile, the exhibition “Modigliani and the Adventure of Montparnasse” continues at the Museo della Città through February 16, which has thus far welcomed more than 45,000 visitors. A total of 133 works are on display.

Veneto Tops for Healthcare

In Italy’s rankings of healthcare services, the region of Veneto has reached the top of the charts. Located in northeastern Italy, the region, most well-known as the home of Venice, took over the top slot from Piedmont, which slid all the way down to fifth in the rankings. Veneto received a score of 222 out of 225 points, followed by Emilia Romagna at 221 and Tuscany with 220. Campania and Calabria are still at the bottom of the list of 20 regions, but showed a sharp improvement in their scores, illustrating that Italy’s healthcare system nationwide continues to make improvements. Campania rose by 17 points, from 153 to 170, while Calabria rose by the greatest percentage, 19% and the greatest number in the entire study, from 136 to 162, an astounding 26 point increase. Italy was ranked as the second healthiest country in the world in 2019.

Low Tides in Venice

It seems that only a few weeks ago the exceptionally high tides of Venice were making the news. In late November and early December, Venice experienced its highest water levels in more than 50 years. More than two thirds of the city was underwater then, with the mayor estimating damage at over a billion euros. In a complete reversal, now low tides have left canals in Venice almost dry. Boats have been seen almost beached as water levels dipped drastically. Some of the canals look more like mud trenches and getting around has become a problem for many in the city. The latest low tide, while exceptional, is not quite as unprecedented. The tide changes within the lagoon city mean that water levels can vary by about 18 inches and sometimes even more. This latest spate of low tides fall into the latter category.

Political Besties

After taking repeated swipes at each other, ex-Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s new Italia Viva party and former Industry Minister Carlo Calenda’s group have decided to work together. The two men are both former members of the Democratic Party (PD) and both are seeking to appeal to voters in the center of the political spectrum with their new movements. The groups are set to back PD incumbent Stefano Bonaccini in this month’s regional elections in Emilia-Romagna and are expected to present a joint candidate in Puglia, where they will not back the PD’s Michele Emiliano. They also intend to field joint candidates in other regions in the future, making the pair Italy’s newest political besties. In the photograph, taken before the two politicos joined forces, Renzi is pictured standing, while Calenda looks uncharacteristically sullen.

Successful Test of MOSE

The first real test of Venice’s MOSE flood barriers went well last week and the system may be used in future emergencies in the lagoon city, reported Transport and Infrastructure Minister Paola De Micheli. Testing has been ramped up after the disastrous floods of last November killed two people and left the lagoon city with over a billions euros in damage. The test of the MOSE barriers took place at the mouth of the port of Malamocco. MOSE testing will get into full swing later in the year. According to the latest schedule, the long-delayed, complex system of barriers will be ready for use by the end of 2021. The 5.5 billion euro project, originally estimated at 1.3 billion, is intended to protect the city of Venice and the Venetian Lagoon from flooding.