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Weekly News – Jul 25, 2019

Piazza WiFi Italia

The Italian government has launched a new program introducing free wifi to the central squares of more than 100 Italian towns and cities. The objective of the project is to eventually provide wifi coverage to 7,000 of Italy’s central piazzas, according to Italy’s Ministries for Economic Development and Culture. Every hotspot in the network will be accessible by way of the same smartphone app, requiring users to log in only once. It will not require any further details after the initial authentication process. Rather than starting with the country’s biggest tourist hotspots, priority is being given to small towns with fewer than 2,000 inhabitants, particularly those in areas affected by earthquakes. The new network has also been introduced in some major cities, including Rome, Milan, Bologna, Florence and Bari. Most of the first 100 hotspots are in central-northern Italy, as is shown on the accompanying map.

New Stakeholders in Alitalia

Italy’s Atlantia group, owned by the Benetton family, is ready to take a stake in the ailing flagship carrier Alitalia, to partner with Italy’s state railway Ferrovie dello Stato (FS). The plan has been pushed back several times as discussions were held to bring various investors on board with FS, which has said it does not want to hold more than 30% of Alitalia. The Italian treasury would take another 15%, while discussions were held with the Delta Airlines to also take 15%. Atlantia, a major operator of toll expressways and airports would reportedly take 35% in Alitalia, worth more than 300 million euros ($340 million). Atlantia has already twice injected money into the airline, which has long been struggling with debt. Alitalia employs more than 11,000 people, but has struggled to compete with low-cost European rivals.

Napoli 2019 Universiade

The Napoli 2019 Universiade boasts 6,000 athletes from 118 countries who have been competing in 18 sports at renovated facilities throughout the region of Campania. The World University Games recently got underway with a spectacular opening ceremony at Naples San Paolo stadium worthy of the Olympics. It featured a stunning light and fireworks show, with Napoli captain and forward Lorenzo Insigne (pictured) kicking a ball of fire to light a cauldron, as well as a tear-jerking performance by superstar tenor Andrea Bocelli. Competitors have enjoyed top-notch food and accommodations at the two cruise ships that are acting as the main athletes’ village in the Port of Naples and been treated to the artistic and natural beauty of Naples and the warmth of the Neapolitan people. The experience has been so positive that the 2019 Universiade has been compared to the Olympics itself by several athletes who have taken part in both events. Said one, “It’s like the Olympics with a little bit less pressure, a lot more fun and far better food!”

Vesuvio in the Box

An exhibition called “Vesuvio in the Box” has been inaugurated at the Virtual Archaeological Museum (MAV) located in the town of Ercolano, which sits in the shadow of Vesuvius. After the volcanic eruption 1,940 years ago buried ancient Roman Herculaneum, Pompeii, Stabiae and Oplontis, this multimedia art show tells the story of the Vesuvius eruption through 22 artworks, including a video installation on a 190 foot LED wall. The show was created by Gennaro Regina, who is represented by the Naples art gallery Voyage Pittoresque Factory. Visitors to the exhibition are taken into the show’s “box,” an architectural structure that is an integral part of the artist’s vision for the show, where they can admire Vesuvius in all its forms. The exhibition melds tradition with digital narration, bringing together the past with both the present and future together. The free show runs through September 30.

New Study Isolates Longevity Gene

The European Heart Journal has published a new study by an Italian team of researchers that has isolated a longevity gene found in the DNA of centenarians that has been shown to rejuvenate blood vessels. The study paves the way for new therapies against cardiovascular diseases, said the team from the University of Salerno, Irccs MultiMedica and Irccs Neuromed, led by Annibale Puca and Carmine Vecchione. “Our objective is to transfer the genetic advantages of the long-lived to the general population and we are working on other fronts too, from tumors to neuro-degenerative diseases,” said Puca. The insertion of the ‘longevity gene’ into animals led to a rejuvenation of blood cells and the cardiovascular system. The results are extremely encouraging and although further testing is required, the doctors believe that administering the protein to patients will slow down age-related cardiovascular damage.

Iconic Botticelle Limited to Parks

Rome’s horse-drawn carriages or ‘botticelle’ will be restricted to the Italian capital’s parks, according to a new move by the city’s ruling council. The famed tourist carriages are to move from the streets of the Italian capital to its villas’ parks, under a measure passed by the environmental committee. It will be possible for drivers to switch jobs and apply for taxi licenses, but in a strange twist of the new city measure, since no new botticelle licenses will be issued, if all 32 drivers apply to become taxi drivers, the carriages will disappear entirely. Animal rights groups have long complained that the horses are subject to too much stress and strain on Rome’s hot cobbled streets.