- The Premier Italian American Newspaper Since 1931 -

Weekly News – Aug 15, 2019

Keep Off the Steps

A new urban police regulation in Rome has gone into effect that imposes bans with a 100 euro fine for certain offences, including one for hanging clothes visible from public streets or squares. The regulation also prohibits sitting on the famous Trinità dei Monti Church outdoor stairs, more commonly known as the Spanish Steps (pictured). Previously during the summer the 135 steps were usually filled around the clock with people taking pictures, or casually sitting and enjoying the scenery. Also prohibited is watering plants on balconies when it results in dripping onto public walkways below. Police patrols are roaming the most popular areas of the Eternal City as part of Rome’s latest crackdown on inappropriate behavior in the city center, timed to coincide with the peak tourist season.

Extreme Weather Causes Evacuations

Severe weather has recently struck the northern regions of Italy. In the Lombardia region, a state of emergency was declared in Casargo, a town in the mountains to the east of Como, in the province of Lecco, after heavy rain caused the Varrone River to burst its bank. Nearly 150 people had to be evacuated from their homes, after it was hit by floods caused by torrential rain. Rescuers were called to a parking lot that was hit by a landslide in the area, but found that no one injured by the torrent of mud. The damage wrought is evident in the picture of the mudslide. Numerous buildings in Torre Boldone, in the province of Bergamo, were declared off limits strong winds ripped the roofs from the structures. In the South Tyrol city of Bolzano, gale force winds were reported and over one inch of rain fell in just 20 minutes. Authorities said it was the worst storm on record since June 2008. Episodes of extreme weather are not new, but experts say that they are becoming more frequent and violent because of the climate crisis. Meanwhile, at the other end of the country, parts of Sicily were forecast to swelter with temperatures reaching as much as 105 degrees.

Court Orders Confiscation

Italy’s highest court has upheld a ruling to confiscate 49 million euros from Italy’s ruling League Party, following a determination of fraud that goes back a decade. After deliberating for five hours, the Italian Court of Cassation upheld a previous order from an appeals court. The scandal dates to when the party was known as the Northern League and was found to have fraudulently claimed 49 million euros in electoral expenses. Initially implicated were Northern League founder Umberto Bossi (pictured) and his former chauffeur and treasurer, Francesco Belsito, who was charged with falsifying the party’s account records. The court of cassation acquitted both men (the statute of limitations had expired). Instead of party expenses, the money was spent on broad array of items ranging from home improvements to the rental of luxury cars, dental work and even a university degree. The League party agreed to pay back the money in installments of 100,000 euros every two months. At that rate, it will take more than 80 years for the payment to be completed.

Stolen Sand Returns to Sardinia

Sand seized from tourists’ suitcases in Sardinia is making its way back to where it belongs – the Italian island’s idyllic coastline. Local authorities and environmental experts have teamed up with Olbia Airport to return sand, pebbles and shells confiscated from travelers’ luggage to beaches on Sardinia’s famed ‘Emerald Coast.’ Visitors have been known to help themselves to handfuls of the fine white sand that have made the island’s northeast coast a favorite with vacationers, resulting in the loss of tons of sand each year. Authorities at Olbia Airport carry out systematic bag checks in an attempt to catch passengers smuggling sand, an offence punishable by fines of between €500 and €3,000. There are also plans to add new signs in multiple languages in the arrivals area of the airport, warning visitors not to collect sand or shells. Some towns have gone as far as proposing banning towels and large bags in a bid to stop visitors from removing sand from the coastline, whether deliberately, or inadvertently.

Physicist Wins Breakthrough Prize

Italian physicist Sergio Ferrara, 74, has been awarded the prestigious Breakthrough Prize, renowned as the ‘Oscars of Science.’ Ferrara is being honored for “the invention of the supergravity concept, in which quantum variables are part of the description of the geometry of spacetime.” He receives a share of $3 million for winning the award. Supergravity is 1976 theory that successfully integrated the force of gravity into a particular type of quantum field theory, one that describes the fundamental particles and forces of nature in terms of fields embodying the laws of quantum mechanics. It has had a profound influence on theoretical physics.

Ferrari to Unveil Two New Models

Ferrari CEO Luis Camilleri announced that the company will present two new models at the Universo Ferrari event at its Maranello headquarters in September. It is speculated that the new models will be the long-awaited and first-ever Ferrari SUV, named the Purosangue, along with the convertible version of the 812 Superfast model. The Purosangue has been spotted in tests under heavy camouflage, but it is still unclear if they will launch the SUV at the Fiorano test track event. Earlier in the day Ferrari said that it made a net profit of 184 million euros in the second quarter of 2019, up 14% on the same period in 2018.