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Weekly News – Apr 11. 2019

Ferris Wheel at Pompeii?

Italy’s culture minister has vowed to stop plans to build the ‘Wheel of Pompeii’, a giant Ferris wheel that would tower over one of Italy’s most precious archaeological sites. Work has already begun on the ride that is being built in the parking lot of a local shopping center, located a scant few hundred yards from the ruins of Pompeii’s ancient theaters. The 200 foot tall wheel will allow visitors to “admire the whole panorama of the ancient city of Pompeii, Mount Vesuvius and the whole Gulf of Naples,” say the promoters. Opening day is planned for May 8th and it will operate for at least five months. The project has been in progress for several months, but it only recently came to national attention, leading to an outcry by Italy’s top cultural office. With 42 cabins carrying up to eight people each, the wheel would have a potential capacity of 1,200 passengers every hour. Pompeii is already drawing more visitors than ever before, with numbers climbing to around 3.5 million per year. Excavations are continuing to turn up exciting new discoveries, making the sprawling site one of Italy’s most visited attractions.

New Pope Draws Crowds

Dressed in white robes and red Prada shoes, actor John Malkovich delighted the crowd visiting Saint Peter’s Square in Vatican City as he filmed a scene for Paulo Sorrentino’s eight-part series “The New Pope.” Visitors did a double take as the bearded actor portraying the Pope strolled about, greeting people and blessing babies. After the major success of Sorrentino’s The Young Pope series, starring Jude Law, who played the ultra-conservative Pope Pius XIII, the Italian director has returned with a follow-up drama with Malkovich as Pope John Paul III. The actor rode on board a black Popemobile, rather than the famous, official white one. Bodyguards were on hand just in case the enthusiasm of the crowd grew to be too much. Onlookers also saw visiting Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite on her way to a reception with Pope Francis, but it appeared that it was the ‘New Pope’ who got top billing.

The Best Weather in Italy

Which part of Italy has the best weather? While many think of the beaches of the south, it’s not all about sunshine. A new study has ranked the weather in each of Italy’s provincial capitals based on ten factors, including annual rainfall, relative humidity and extreme weather events. The study even takes summer breezes into account. Not surprisingly, the top five are all coastal towns and cities, though only two are in the south. First place went to the chic northern port town of Imperia (pictured), on the Italian Riviera. Second place was Catania, Sicily, which unsurprisingly scored highly on the sunshine measurements and had few cold days and even fewer extreme weather incidents. Pescara, on the central eastern coast came in third with plenty of heat and sunshine. Fourth place went to Bari, the coastal capital of the southern region of Puglia and fifth was the Tuscan port town of Livorno. Siracusa ranked tenth overall, with the most sun, but it also has the least rain. Also in Sicily, Enna topped the heat index, while the Umbrian city of Perugia received the highest marks for refreshing summer breezes.

Naples Exhibit Featuring Canova

An exhibit of the works of Antonio Canova, the foremost neo-Classical sculptor of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, has opened at the National Archaeological Museum in Naples (MANN). The show, ‘Canova e l’Antico,’ runs through June 30 and displays over 110 works by the sculptor, including six masterpieces from the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, which are being loaned for the first time to the MANN. Naples was described by Canova as “paradise” and the MANN is also hosting masterpieces which he encountered during his first visit to the port city in 1780, such as the Farnesiani Marbles, which profoundly inspired him. Among other masterworks, the exhibit also showcases several chalks and 34 tempera on paper, restored by the MANN for the occasion.

Dogman Triumphs at Donatello Awards

Matteo Garrone’s ‘Dogman’ was the big winner at the 64th David di Donatello awards, picking up nine of the golden statuettes, including Best Film, Best Direction and best Original Screenplay. The gritty revenge drama was inspired by the story of Pietro De Negri, a dog groomer in Rome’s Magliana neighborhood, who killed a brutish thug after he had involved him in a series of ever-expanding criminal acts. It was a case that shocked Italy 30 years ago. In a bit of a surprise, Alessandro Borghi won the Best Actor award for his performance in “On My Skin.” Marcello Fonte, who was nominated for the award in Dogman, had garnered the best actor prize at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. Alessio Cremonini’s Sulla Mia Pelle also did well, picking up four awards at Italy’s version of the Oscars.

Bolzano Tops in Survey

According to a new study prepared by the Milan-based Catholic daily newspaper, Avvenire, Bolzano is the best place to live in all of Italy. Second place was captured by another northern city, Trento, which is less than 40 miles away. The Ben Vivere (good living) study ranks cities on the basis of factors such as economic opportunities, environmental protection, general prosperity and quality of life measurements. Pordenone and Florence came third and fourth respectively, followed by Parma, Pisa and Milan.