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Weekly News – Dec 19, 2019

Quakes Hit Florence

Historic buildings, churches and convents were damaged in the Mugello area south of Florence as a series of earthquakes hit the area last week, the strongest measuring a magnitude 4.5 on the Richter Scale. High-speed train service between Milan and Rome was interrupted for several hours following the most severe of the tremors. Thousands of people left their homes because of fear or safety reasons and many schools in the area were closed as a precautionary measure. Florence Mayor Dario Nardella said, that other that the train service delay, there were no problems with transportation and that all roads and bridges were safe. An assessment of the damage to historic buildings and structures will take weeks and no initial estimates regarding the cost for repairs has yet been made.

Restoration Completed

The three massive sets of doors from the Florence Baptistery, which had been separated for nearly 30 years for restoration work, are now back together at the Museo dell’Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore. The bronze masterpieces, which measure roughly 15 feet tall and 3 feet wide, were made between 1330 and 1452. The east doors are known as the Gates of Paradise and were given their name by Michelangelo. The return of the south doors marks the completion of a restoration project that began in 1978, when the first work started on the Gates of Paradise. The restoration brought back marvelous details in the sculptural areas that are made of 28 panels, 20 of which depict scenes from the life of St. John the Baptist and eight with emblematic figures interspersed with 74 friezes.

Cell Phones Top TVs

The latest report by the Italian Institute for Social Research, CENSIS, said that over the past ten years, growing numbers of smartphones have led to greater similarity in people’s daily habits. The report noted that 25.8% of Italians with a smartphone do not leave their home without taking a battery charger with them and that 50.9% check their cell phones as both the first and last thing they do every day. In 2018, the number of cell phones surpassed that of televisions for the first time.

Rome Villa Yields Surprises

A 2,000 year old Roman villa found beneath Rome’s Metro system has revealed undiscovered facts about the ancient Empire’s trading and construction practices. Tucked away beneath the busy streets of the Eternal City, the mansion has astounded researchers with the extremely good condition and origin of its timbers – from 1,000 miles away from Rome. The extreme distances involved have baffled scientists, challenging assumptions of how construction materials were transported across the continent thousands of years ago. The timber would have had to be moved over land, crossing at least two rivers and then transported across the Mediterranean Sea until reaching the Tiber River and arriving in the center of Rome – quite a distance for the structural planks (pictured) to travel. The site was initially found during digs occurring in 2014 for the Rome Metro.

Robber Picks Wrong Car

A would-be robber tried to steal a car in the town of Cervia, which is located near the coastal resort of Ravenna in the Emilia Romagna. It turned out the car he tried to hot wire was a police vehicle. When approached by the police, the 21-year-old Romanian man claimed that it was his car and he was trying to get it started because he had misplaced his keys. He became incensed when the police informed him that it was an unmarked police car and began hurling insults at the Carabinieri. He was arrested on charges of robbery and resisting arrest.

A Constitutional Court First

Marta Cartabia is the first woman in Italian history to be elected president of the Italian Constitutional Court. The new president of the Consulta was elected by the judges in a unanimous vote. “A glass ceiling has been broken. I have the honor of being a forerunner,” commented the 56-year-old jurist, following the election that led her to be the first woman at the top of the court. She is a Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Milan. Professor Cartabia added, “From the birth of the Constitution, in terms of women’s rights, a long road has been followed, but the path is still unfinished.”

The Basilica of the Mysteries

Rome’s ‘Basilica of the Mysteries’ has been restored with funding from the foundation Evergete. The underground church was discovered in 1917 and is located near Rome’s Porta Maggiore and dates back to the first century AD. It was the tomb of the Statili family, who had close ties to Emperor Augustus. Later, the tomb is believed to have been at the center of a mysterious cult which conducted neo-Pythagorean rituals, intended to purify the soul that they believed to be buried in the deceased body. The restoration of the entire northern wall of one of its naves, reveals refined decorations and a blazing whiteness of its stucco work mixed with mother of pearl. Restoration of the southern wall is scheduled to begin next year.