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Weekly News – Apr 04. 2019

Italy’s Smallest Library

Retired schoolteacher Antonio La Cava from Ferrandina, Basilicata, is the master of the road in his little book mobile, a vehicle he created to be a library on wheels. Over 15 years ago, he bought a motorized three-wheeler and modified it to create a portable library that houses 700 books. Since 2003, he has traveled the Italian countryside bringing books to children and adults on eight different stops in various villages in the southern region of the country. He plays an organ to announce that he has arrived and the children come running to browse through his books. His mission is to spread the love of reading. “A disinterest in reading often starts in schools where the technique is taught, but it’s not being accompanied by love. Reading should be a pleasure, not a duty,” says La Cava. He calls his book mobile the “bibliomotocarro.”

Special Leonardo Exhibit at Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museum is opening a special exhibition featuring Leonardo da Vinci’s painting “St. Jerome in the Wilderness” (ca. 1486-1490), the only work by Leonardo in either the Vatican Museums or in Rome. The unfinished work, an oil painting on walnut over sketching, shows extraordinary techniques that lead directly back to the master. For this masterpiece Leonardo used brushes as well as finger painting, choosing tones of ochre and green similar to those in his work “Adoration of the Magi.” The artist depicts St. Jerome as a hermit, personally experiencing the Passion of Christ. It demonstrates his exceptional anatomical knowledge, as well as landscape characteristics reminiscent of his “Virgin of the Rocks.” The exhibit is accompanied by a video telling the story of the painting and its history. The show is free of charge and runs through June 22. After Rome, the priceless masterpiece will travel across the Atlantic to New York City, where in July, it will be featured in a show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Romano Exhibit to Open

An exhibit opening in October in Mantua will pay homage to architect and painter Giulio Romano, who died in that city in 1546. The exhibition will highlight his talent as an architect and his heritage as a Mannerist painter. The show on Romano, a pseudonym for Giulio Pippi de’ Jannuzzi, Raphael’s most important pupil, is called “Con nuova e stravagante maniera” (With a new and extravagant manner) will run at Complesso Museale Palazzo Ducale. The exhibit will provide insight into the work of the artist, who could not only build and paint, but also made jewelry and decorated tapestries. The show will feature 72 drawings on loan for the first time. In Mantua, Romano created undisputed masterpieces, including Palazzo Te (1525-1535) and the Duke’s apartments at the Palazzo Ducale (1536). The artist became the director of all architectural and decorative projects, following the example of his master Raphael and created his own ‘bottega’ (workshop).

Time Will Tell

Italy may well have put its clocks forward this past Sunday for the one the final times. The European Union recently held a vote to scrap daylight savings changes, with a margin of more than 2 to 1 in favor of the legislation. However, the European parliament said it should be up to each individual member state to decide whether to stick to summer time or winter time in the future. Those that wish to stay on summer time will put their clocks forward for a final time in March 2021 and those countries that prefer to stay on winter time will put their clocks back for the final time in the autumn of that year. In a survey last year, some 80% of the population was in favor of stopping the clock changes, with most people appearing to prefer to stay on summer time. Initially introduced to save electricity, Italy implemented the policy in 1966.

Furor Over Fruit

The French are not happy with Italian fruit exporters of the gooseberry, known more commonly as the kiwi. It seems that for the last three years, Italian exporters of the fruit have realized that with lower production costs for the fruit than those in France, greater profits could be reached by selling their crops in France. However, the product labeled “Grown in Italy,” when purchased by French grocers at a lower price, claimed that their customers preferred French-grown kiwis and would pay a premium for the supposed superior product. Apparently the French consumers could not tell the difference, because to increase profits, the Italian fruit growers simply labeled the kiwis as “Grown in France.” No one noticed, at least until now…Italian and French authorities are looking into the matter.

Bridging Nerve Damage

Anyone who has ever suffered nerve damage knows how long it takes to recover; nerves grow back very slowly. But a new breakthrough may go a long way to shorten the recovery period and is especially important for stem cell research. An Italian research team has come up with a key new material that is able to repair nerve lesions. The material assembles itself and becomes a sort of scaffolding on which to grow nerves, including brain stem cells. Thus far the applications have been highly successful in experiments on mice. Tests are now being conducted on pigs and in light of new data, human testing could begin in three years’ time. The research was carried out in the regions of Lombardy and Puglia.