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Weekly News – Jan 17, 2019

A New Fee to See Venice

City officials in Venice have announced a new tax on visitors to help cover the costs of keeping the popular and historic tourist destination clean and safe. The recently-passed measure permits the city to begin charging tourists a landing fee ranging from 2.5 to 10 euros, beginning in July, 2019. The fee will vary depending upon the season, but will cover visitors, irrespective of whether they have an overnight stay. Six hundred cruise ships stop at Venice every year, bringing in millions of tourists. Airlines and bus companies may also pass along the new tax to flyers and riders alike. City officials estimate that the tax could bring in 50 million euros per year. A similar landing tax is already in place on the Aeolian Islands off Sicily and on Lampedusa, Italy’s southernmost island.

Freak Accident Causes Fatality

One man was killed and ten people were injured in a freak road accident after cars hit a group of wild boars crossing the A1 highway in Lombardy. The accident, involving three cars, happened in the early morning hours near Lodi, when a car hit the boars as they crossed the motorway. A second vehicle crashed into the car from behind. A third car then hit one of the drivers who had climbed out of the vehicle. A 28-year-old man died at the scene, while his 27-year-old girlfriend was seriously injured and was taken to hospital along with other victims. Five of those injured were children, aged between eight and 15. Three wild boars were also killed in the accident. Authorities believe they had dug a hole beneath the fence that runs alongside the highway. Italy has a large wild boar population and it is not unusual for them to be hit by vehicles after straying onto roads; however, such serious accidents are uncommon.

Doggie Dining

In Italy, it is quite common to see people taking their pets along when they go out to eat. Now the owners of one Italian restaurant have come up with a new way to manage the large number of customers bringing their dogs to dinner – a cover charge of €2. “There’s no discrimination here, animals have always been welcome with us,” said David, Fabio and Joe Formaggio (also the mayor), the owners of the restaurant in Albettone. But the restaurant knows that not all of their customers will appreciate the dog-friendly policy and says it will use common sense. Just last week, a customer arrived with a large dog and rather than seating the drooling Great Dane next to a family, the owners suggested a comfortable shelter for the dog, while its owner dined inside.

2018 Was a Hot Year

Italy’s National Research Council’s (CNR) ISAC institute for atmospheric and climate science has released its statistics for the year 2018 and has determined that it was the hottest in the country since 1800. “The figures show that we are in the presence of significant climate change and that the temperature increase in Italy is stronger than the global average,” said Michele Brunetti, the head of the CNR-ISAC database. Ironically, much of the country was covered in snowfall at the time that the announcement was made, including regions as far south as Pugia and Calabria.

A Rare Discovery at Pompeii

While 2018 was one of the most remarkable years in recent times for discoveries at Pompeii, the New Year has begun in similarly extraordinary fashion. The skeleton of a horse that likely belonged to a high-ranking Roman military official is the latest discovery at an archeological site. The horse was apparently outfitted for a ride on an official mission, perhaps to help citizens flee the 79 AD eruption of Mount Vesuvius that buried the city. “It is a very rare find and was unearthed with an impressive saddle and very fine bronze accoutrements,” said Pompeii digs director Massimo Osanna. The horse had been mounted with a wooden and bronze saddle and its head had been decorated with a shiny harness. The find was made in a new digging at a villa dubbed ‘The Estate of the Decorated Steed’ on the southern outskirts of the ancient city. The villa has been likened in its magnificence to the celebrated Villa of the Mysteries, one of Pompeii’s prime attractions.

Don’t Let the Party End

On New Year’s Eve, an 87-year-old woman in the town of Orbassano, near Turin became upset when her guests did not want to wait with her until midnight to ring in the New Year. After repeated pleas, she became so exasperated that she called the local police and asked them to come over to make her company stay. The police arrived, but rather than keep her guests at the gathering, the officers offered to stay. Although the Carabinieri are not permitted to accept gifts in the performance of their duties, they did enjoy some panettone and espresso with the senior citizen as they rang in 2019 together.