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Weekly News – Jan 11, 2018

New High Speed Train

Soon Italy will open a new high-speed train between Perugia and Milan. Beginning next month, the journey between Perugia and Milan will take little more than three hours. Trenitalia is to introduce the first direct high-speed train link between the capitals of Umbria and Lombardy. The service will run seven days a week with stops in Florence, Bologna and Turin. Until now, travelling between Perugia and Milan took at least four hours and involved slower regional trains, buses, or a detour to Rome, or Florence. The new service is expected to simplify the journey not only for residents but for tourists who want to access the Umbrian countryside from Italy’s second-biggest city. As for the price, a standard-class single is expected to cost around €65.

The Oldest Person in Europe

Italy’s Giuseppina Projetto, 115, has taken the title of Europe’s oldest living person after the death of a 116-year-old Spaniard. Her death makes Projetto, who turns 116 on May 30th the oldest living European. Born in Sardinia in 1902, Projetto has been dubbed “the grandmother of Italy”. She has been the world’s oldest Italian since 117-year-old Emma Morano passed away in April, followed by 115-year-old Canadian-Italian nun Marie-Josephine Clarice Gaudette, who passed away in July. She is the third oldest person alive in the world today, after two Japanese women born in 1900 and 1901. Projetto lives with her descendants in the family home in Montelupo Fiorentino, near Florence and swears by eating chocolate. She is one of tens of thousands of Italians over 100 and still going. Many scientists have sought to identify the key to Italy’s extraordinary longevity, with suggestions ranging from a Mediterranean diet to genes.

Beaches for Rome?

Rome will turn its riverside into an artificial beach for the summer of 2018. Inspired by the French capital’s long-running Paris Plage, Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi plans to convert 100,000 square feet of the Tiber’s banks into a beach for residents and visitors. The temporary beach, to be located near the Marconi Bridge. It will comprise a sports area and other attractions. The banks of the Tiber are free of cars and in central Rome, have a two-way bike path. In the summer months, cyclists and pedestrians are joined by a string of temporary outdoor bars. The new beach, which will lie south of Rome’s main tourist areas and will provide a welcome space for Romans to cool off in summer temperatures now that frolicking in the city’s famous fountains is banned!

A Jewel Heist in Venice

Jewels worth millions of dollars were stolen from a show at Venice’s Doge’s Palace last week. The jewels were taken from a case on display at the ‘Treasures of the Mughals and Maharaja’ show, which had been due to close on Wednesday night. 270 gems and jewels, some as old as 500 years, were brought together for the exhibit at the Doge’s Palace, once the residence of Venice’s rulers. Police are trying to ascertain how the jewels were stolen. According to initial reports, two people broke into the case and were able to make a getaway by blending into the crowd of visitors.

“Experts from Rome police were called immediately to shed some light on the theft,” said Venice police commissioner Vito Gagliardi, “It’s important to understand what went wrong, because the case was opened as if it was a tin can, while the alarm, if it worked at all, went off late.”

The jewels stolen, reported to include a brooch and a pair of earrings, claimed to have a customs value of 30,000 euros (around $31,000), however the actual worth two to three million euros.

Mozzarella Dispute

Defenders of buffalo mozzarella in the Campania region of southern Italy have vowed to fight a decision made this week by the farming ministry. The decision allows a cow mozzarella from neighboring Puglia to be given special status. Buffalo mozzarella was awarded the DOP label in 1996, and has had a record decade, with 44,000 tons were produced in 2016. That is an increase of 31% in 10 years. Exports of the product were up an astounding 168% during the same period. Buffalo milk costs three times more than cow’s milk and even though the taste of each product is different, Campania fears this will lead to consumer confusion.

“The game is not over,” said Domenico Raimondo, President of the Defense Consortium of Buffalo Mozzarella. “We will go to the end and we will use all the means at our disposal to avoid what appears to us clearly an own goal for Italy, that both the markets and consumers will understand.”

Although his statement is not at all easy to understand, he is clearly passionate about his cheese.

Hats Off

Famed Italian hatmaker Borsalino, the company behind Humphrey Bogart’s fedora in “Casablanca” and Harrison Ford’s lucky headgear in the “Indiana Jones” movies, has declared bankruptcy. A court in Alessandria in northern Italy refused a rescue plan for the legendary company and placed it into administration. A favorite with stars of the stage, screen and music industry, David Bowie opted for one of the Italian house’s black fedoras for what was to prove his final photo shoot. But even the endorsement of film and music royalty could not protect the 160-year-old company from the consequences of poor management. The hat maker’s former boss, Marco Marenco, was on the run from fraud and tax evasion charges and was arrested in 2015 in Switzerland. The Haeres Equita investment fund took control of the ailing company that same year, in the hope of turning the situation around. Plans to save the business and its estimated 120 employees have now been turned down twice in court and Borsalino, which made as many as two million hats per year during the 1920s, is no more.