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Weekly News – July 18, 2019

007 in Puglia

Part of James Bond’s latest adventure will be filmed in the distinctive landscape of Puglia. The cast of the 25th James Bond film will soon arrive in the beautiful town of Gravina di Puglia in the province of Bari for two months of shooting during August and September. “After recently hosting the latest films of Sergio Rubini, Matteo Garrone and Checco Zalone, we’ll now find ourselves face to face with James Bond, an unprecedented opportunity for which we have been working for months,” Gravina di Puglia Mayor Alessio Valente told Italian media. The town is famous for its stunning two-level Roman bridge running across the gravina (small ravine) that the town overlooks. Filming began in Matera, in the neighboring region of Basilicata. Scenes for the movie were shot in the city’s famous Sassi – the millennia-old cave dwellings that are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Near-miss In Venice

A gale-swept hailstorm resulted in a very close call in Venice, as a cruise ship veered dangerously close to buildings and narrowly missed a yacht, just after passing by St. Mark’s Square. The Costa Deliziosa, a 12-deck cruise ship with capacity of nearly 3,000 people, could be seen swerving alarmingly close to land and other boats in the middle of the storm, while sounding its emergency horn. The latest incident occurred while the ship was being guided out of port by tug boats along the Giudecca Canal and a collision was only averted when one of the tugs managed to drag the liner clear. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro was not happy about the latest incident, placing the blame squarely on Transport Minister Danilo Toninelli for his failure to ban the cruise ships that ply the waters close to Venice. Toninelli responded that a serious solution is close at hand, but has been referred to in Venice as the “minister of disasters.”

How Italian Universities Rank

Italy has 34 universities in the 2020 QS World University Rankings, five more than last year. Within Europe, that puts it ahead of France and Spain. According to the ranking, the best Italian university is the Politecnico di Milano, which comes in at 149th out of roughly 1,000 institutions worldwide. It retained the top ranking in Italy for the fifth consecutive year. Next up were the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies in Pisa and the University of Bologna, which are tied in 177th place. The remainder of the top ten in Italy are La Sapienza, Rome, 203rd and Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa in 204th place. The University of Padua was ranked at 234th and the University of Milan came in at 302. In the Piedmont, Politecnico di Torino made the list at 348, while the University of Trento and the University of Pisa tied at 389. According to the rankings, the University of Florence was Italy’s most improved, climbing more than 50 places to 448th. Additionally, the Universities of Salerno, Udine and Parma, as well as Bari’s Politecnico, made it into the ranking for the first time.

98 Year Old Graduate

Salvatore ‘Felicino’ Piredda recently passed his school exams with top marks this week – at the age of 98. The great-grandfather got special permission to return to school last year to realize a long-held dream of earning his middle school certificate. After a year of lessons three days per week, he took his final exams alongside his 13-year-old classmates and achieved the maximum marks of 10 out of 10. Born in 1921 in the small town of Pula, Sardinia, Mr. Piredda dropped out of school at the age of 13 to work in the island’s mines. He went on to become a mining machinery mechanic, fought in WWII and concluded his working days in a textile factory. He always regretted missing out on an education. While Nonno Felicino originally dreamed of going on to high school and college to obtain his mechanic’s qualification, his declining eyesight means his studies will probably end with middle school.

Vatican Launches Women’s Soccer

More than three decades after the Vatican first fielded a men’s soccer team, women are finally putting on its yellow jersey bearing the keys of St. Peter and Papal tiara crest to play for the world’s smallest nation. The group of about 20 women range in age from 25 to 50 and include Vatican employees, wives and workers from the Bambino Gesu pediatric hospital (which is administered by the Holy See), but at this point does not have any nuns on the team. They meet twice a week to train on the grounds of the Pius XI sports center in the shadow of St. Peter’s Basilica. The team will play its first match against the women of the Serie A squad of Roma. They hope to achieve more equality for women in the Vatican as a primary goal, but according to one team member, scoring one or two goals in match play would also be nice.

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 conservation. 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.