- The Premier Italian American Newspaper Since 1931 -

Weekly News – Aug 01, 2019

A Fine Place for Coffee

Last week, two German tourists were fined for making themselves coffee by the steps of the famous Rialto Bridge in Venice. The two backpackers from Berlin, aged 32 and 35, had made themselves comfortable at the foot of the world-famous landmark and got out their portable coffee-making equipment when they were spotted by a passer-by and reported it to the police. Using a newly-passed law, police officers fined them €950 for unseemly behavior and asked them to leave Venice. “Venice must be treated with respect and impolite people who come here and think they can do what they want must understand that, thanks to the local police, they can be stopped, fined and sent away,” said the city’s Mayor Luigi Brugnaro. The new law, passed in May, sets out rules for decency, cleanliness and safety in the lagoon city, which has a population of just 55,000, but on many days, has twice that number in tourists.

Italy Tops France for Tourist Stays

Italy is now attracting more foreign tourists than France, according to new figures from the Italian Government Tourist Board (ENIT). Its chief, Giorgio Palmucci, said that tourism accounted for 13 % of Italy’s gross domestic product. Ninety-four million tourists spent a total of 216 million nights in Italy last year, which tops France’s figures for overnight stays by a whopping 53%. The figures are already controversial in France, which describes itself as being the most visited country in the world. The numbers alone do not tell the full story, since the figures quoted are based on visitors within Europe. When tourists from around the world are added in, the difference in the numbers for hotel stays are too close to call. It is clear that tourism is on the rise in both countries, but as far as bragging rights, that will likely depend on whose point of view one considers.

Medieval Fresco Found in Rome

Hidden behind a wall for almost 900 years, a medieval fresco has been discovered within the Sant’Alessio Church on Rome’s Aventine Hill. The discovery was in a surprisingly good state of preservation. The find is the result of years of research and a bit of detective work. A 50-year-old letter made vague references to a fresco in excellent condition, but failed to state its location or even the church in which it was located. After exhaustive studies and a few wrong turns, the location was finally narrowed down to the church and the wall that likely hid the fresco. The portion that has been uncovered depicts two figures, which are believed to be Saint Alexis with Christ.

Looted Painting Returned to Uffizi

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas personally brought back to Florence, a painting that was looted by a WWII Nazi soldier. The still life, “Vase of Flowers” by Dutch Baroque painter Jan van Huysum, was stolen from the Uffizi Gallery in 1943. Maas spoke of a “happy ending to an involuntarily long journey,” alongside his Italian counterpart Enzo Moavero and Italian Culture Minister Alberto Bonisoli. “Vase of Flowers” had been in Florence for more than a century at the time it went missing during the Allied Invasion of Italy. The painting remained lost for decades until the soldier’s descendants tried to sell it through a London auction house. In January, Uffizi Director Eike Schmidt launched an appeal to have the painting returned to the gallery, hanging a reproduction in the museum marked with the word “stolen” in Italian, German and English. While much of the art plundered by the Nazis has been returned, every few years a new trove of artwork is discovered, bringing up old debates over provenance and ownership.

Matera Vista dalla Luna

Rocco Petrone, the immigrant son of a couple from the town of Sasso Castalda, near Potenza, was the director of launch operations on July 16, 1969, for the launch of the Apollo 11 spacecraft in Cape Canaveral, Florida, that would take two men to the surface of the moon for the first time. Half a century later, Matera, the 2019 European Capital of Culture, organized an event to remember the Basilicata native called “Matera Vista dalla Luna” (Matera Seen from the Moon). Petrone, pictured with a Saturn V rocket in the background, passed away in 2006 at the age of 80. He was a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and also MIT. During the 10-day retrospective, the documentary, “Luna Italiana, Rocco Petrone e il viaggio dell’Apollo 11” (Italian moon, Rocco Petrone and the voyage of the Apollo 11), was screened to an enthusiastic crowd. Also featured was Luna Italian which marked the moment of the historic launch when Petrone gave the all-important command with the word “Go!”

Dolce & Gabbana Villa for Sale

Italian designers Dolce and Gabbana have listed their luxury seafront villa on the island of Stromboli for sale. The price is undisclosed, but is believed to approximately 6.5 million euros. The property is built on volcanic rocks of Stromboli, one of the Aeolian Islands. The villa has seven suites and had been renovated according to the style and taste of the two designers, who furnished it with unique fabrics from the fashion house, combined with local hand-made pieces and colorful hand-painted majolica tiles. Made up of three Aeolian houses, the property sits on the jagged coast of volcanic rocks and is surrounded by terraces and lush gardens. Their reason for selling is unknown, though there was speculation that it could be connected to the recent volcanic eruption on the island.