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Weekly News – May 02, 2019

Nero’s Palace Reopens

Razed to the ground by the Great Fire of Rome in 64 AD, Emperor Nero’s original palace, after a painstaking ten-year restoration, has now opened to the public for the first time. The ruins of the sumptuous Domus Transitoria was once decorated with gold leaf, precious stones and mother of pearl. Nero, who claimed to be a descendant of Aeneas, a legendary hero of the Trojan War, had the ceilings of his palace adorned with mythical scenes from the war, some of which are now on display at the nearby Palatine Museum. The ruins of the palace show traces of that immense blaze. Almost all of the columns, floors and marble walls at the Domus Transitoria were removed to build baths for Emperor, Trajan. The building is recreated in two video installations and a 3D virtual reality experience. “The visitor will experience, both in person and through virtual reality, the Emperor’s architectural genius and experimentation in marble and pictorial decorations,” said Alfonsina Russo, the Colosseum archaeological park’s director. The ruins can be visited Friday through Monday by small groups of 12 at a time.

A ‘Fine’ Time for a Swim

A French tourist is swimming in trouble, after ignoring Rome’s laws that are specifically aimed at curbing drunken behavior. Rome’s city police apprehended and fined the 35-year-old €450 when they found him taking a dip in a historic fountain in the early hours of Palm Sunday morning. Despite the cold and wet weather over the weekend, the man had decided to go for a swim in the historic Santa Maria Fountain in Trastevere, believed to be Rome’s oldest. City police showed up and took the inebriated Frenchman to a nearby police station, where he was fined. Under Rome’s laws, swimming is not permitted in fountains, historic or otherwise. The police have been carrying out about a thousand checks and interventions per week, cracking down on street drinking and unruly behavior in the city, especially around Trastevere, Piazza Bologna, San Lorenzo and the historic center.

Strong Support for 2026 Olympics

Support for Italy’s bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo continues to grow, with 83% of Italians in favor of the endeavor, according to a poll carried out by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). A similar poll in Sweden, where Stockholm is the only city in competition with Italy, showed only 53% support. Under the bid, figure skating, hockey and short-track speed skating would be held in Milan, with sliding sports and curling in Cortina. Speed skating, biathlon and Nordic sports are to take place at Trentino-Alto Adige. The alpine skiing events would be in Bormio for the men and Cortina for women. The opening ceremony would take place at the San Siro stadium in Milan, with the closing ceremony at Verona’s Roman amphitheater. The Italian government has provided financial guarantees for the bid amounting to $465 million, with the IOC investing a further $920 million into the project. Stockholm has yet to receive full backing from the Swedish government.

Salvini Makes List of Most Influential Leaders

Italian Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini is featured in Time magazine’s new list of the world’s most influential people. Salvini, the leader of the rightwing League Party, has made the ranking of the most influential leaders; a list that also includes President Donald Trump and Pope Francis. President Trump’s former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said of the Italian Interior Minister, “From humble beginnings, Salvini is now the most talked-about politician in Europe – and by the end of May, after the European parliamentary elections, could well be the most powerful.”

Art Cops Recover a Trio of Stolen Goods

Italy’s famed Carabinieri Unit for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, better known as the Art Cops, have recovered an ancient Roman statue stolen from the home of legendary comedic actor and director Roberto Benigni and his wife, actress Nicoletta Braschi (pictured). The statue dates from the second century AD and was stolen from the Rome villa of the “Life Is Beautiful” stars in 2010. Police said that it was tracked down to Spain and will be returned to the couple. Benigni commented that the statue was a gift to his wife. In the same probe, the Carabinieri unit also recovered a sculpture that had been stolen from Rome’s Villa Borghese gallery. During a separate investigation, the Art Cops, led by General Fabrizio Parrulli, recovered a precious bas-relief attributed to the Della Robbia brothers that was stolen almost 50 years ago from a church in Scansano near Grosseto.

The da Vinci Coupe

Over the last few days, the crowds at Milan Design Week have been lining up to enter Italdesign’s temporary showroom in Via Tortona to admire the fascinating gullwing 4-door da Vinci coupe. With its original stylistic features and electric platform, it celebrates the visionary genius of Leonardo on the 500th anniversary of his death. It is not yet scheduled for production, but the crowd was also there to see another product of Italdesign’s excellence, specifically from its ultra-limited series production department: the Zerouno Hypercar. Production of the vehicle has been limited to five cars, all of which were pre-sold. It’s starting sticker price? A mere 1.5 million euros.