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Weekly News – May 16, 2019

Ingested Plastic Kills Whale

More than 48 pounds of plastic, including disposable dishes, a corrugated tube, shopping bags and a detergent package with its bar code still visible, were found inside a dead sperm whale in Italy. The whale, a young female, washed ashore in Porto Cervo, a seaside resort in the north of the island of Sardinia. The plastic had filled more than two-thirds of the creature’s stomach. It was also carrying a fetus that was in an advanced state of decomposition. Scientists believe the 26-foot long whale was part of a pod that spends its time feeding and birthing its babies in the nearby Caprera Canyon, a crevasse deep below the crystalline surface waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The region is popular with tourists and boaters. This was the third instance in recent months worldwide of whale succumbing directly as a result of consuming plastics.

Cocullo’s Annual Snake Festival

In case you missed it, Cocullo, a small medieval town in Abruzzo, recently held its annual Separi Festa honoring San Domenico di Sora for miraculously removing snakes from farmers’ fields in the 11th century. As is the tradition, live snakes adorn the wooden statue of the town’s patron saint during a parade through the streets. Some historians believe that the festival has even more ancient origins, referring to the worship of the Roman goddess Angitia. Those who catch the snakes are called separi and search in the wild for non-venomous types, of which there are four indigenous to the area. The snakes are gently placed on the statue of San Dominico until it is almost completely covered and it is then carried through the streets. At the end of the festival, the harmless snakes are released back into the wild.

Senna 25 Years Later

Thousands travelled to the Imola racing circuit in the province of Bologna to pay tribute to Formula One immortal Ayrton Senna, who died at the race track 25 years ago. At Imola, time passes, but the memory of the legendary Grand Prix driver has not faded. A quarter century ago, the 34-year old driver was killed in a freakish accident, due to a mechanical failure at the San Marino Grand Prix. The three-time World Champion, born in Brazil of Italian heritage, is ranked by most as one of the two best drivers of all time, along with Juan Manuel Fangio of Argentina, whose grandfather had emigrated from Italy. Senna was a quiet philanthropist and a devout Catholic whose memory, myth and reputation have continued to grow in the decades since his tragic death. An outdoor Mass was celebrated by two priests, one from Imola and the other from Maranello, home of the Ferrari team, at the spot where Senna’s car came to rest after his accident. One of his racing cars (pictured), a black Lotus, was on display, an appropriate car for those who still mourn his death.

Leonardo’s DNA

Italian experts are set to do a DNA test on what they believe is a lock of Leonardo da Vinci’s hair, found in a collection here in the United States. “We found, across the Atlantic, a lock of hair historically tagged ‘Les Cheveux de Leonardo da Vinci’,” said Alessandro Vezzosi, director of the Museo Ideale Leonardo da Vinci (Museum of Ideas of Leonardo da Vinci). “This lock of hair, which has remained a secret up until now in an American collection, will be exhibited in a world first, along with the documents which attest to its ancient origins. This extraordinary relic will enable us to carry out research on his DNA,” said Vezzosi. The famous artist’s life and work has been in the media spotlight this year ahead of the 500th anniversary of his death, who will be the subject of a series this summer in The Italian Tribune.

No Batman Either

A 28-year-old woman of Moroccan origin was barred from a gym at Mirandola near Modena because she was wearing a veil. The woman, who works as an interpreter, appealed to the city council. “The owner,” she wrote to the mayor, “refused my membership because I dress in a not very western way. I asked for clarification and he replied that in his gym he doesn’t let in nuns or Batman either.” Apparently, the gym owner is not a fan of headwear – or Batman.

Leone Honored with Stamp

The Italian post office issued a stamp to mark the 30th anniversary of the death of director Sergio Leone. The stamp shows the image of the director on the left and the villain from his masterpiece, One Upon a Time In The West on the right. Leone, who died on April 30, 1989, the age of 60, was credited as the inventor of the ‘Spaghetti Western’ genre starring Clint Eastwood. Leone’s pioneering film-making style included juxtaposing extreme close-up shots with lengthy long shots. His movies included the sword and sandal action films The Last Days of Pompeii (1959), The Colossus of Rhodes (1961), the ‘Dollars Trilogy’ of westerns featuring Eastwood, A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965) and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966); Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) and the crime drama, Once Upon a Time in America (1984).