Demand is soaring for Italian bubbly, with most bottles of fizz going to the U.S. and U.K. For this Christmas and New Year’s there was a record number of toasts made with Italian spumante or sparkling wines. The value of Italy’s sparkling wine exports jumped by 13% in 2018, with record sales of over 1.5 billion dollars. Some 70% of the bubbly wine production now being exported, is to the tune of 500 million bottles out of roughly 700 million bottles produced. More Italian sparkling wine is now sold abroad than French champagne. The most popular Italian spumante sold abroad are Prosecco, Asti and Franciacorta. The biggest fans of the festive Italian wines are the British, which showed a 5% increase in imports. The U.S. is the second largest market, which had a huge 13% increase during 2018. Other markets also saw double digit increases in sales including numerous countries in both Europe and Asia.
The Dinosaur Results are in
Paleontologists have concluded that the oldest large predator dinosaur in the world was Italian. In a recent statement, the scientists stated that a ceratosaur that lived 200 million years ago, roamed the plains of what is now Lombardy. Almost 25 feet long and weighing in at around a ton, the prehistoric beast called Saltriovenator, had dagger-sharp teeth and steel-strong claws. “It was a real war machine,” said paleontologists Cristiano Dal Sasso, Simone Maganuco and Andrea Cau, presenting the find at Milan’s Palazzo Reale. The predator was the first Italian dinosaur of the Jurassic Age and the only dinosaur found in Lombardy. Saltriovenator is a new species that backdates by 25 million years the appearance of the great predator dinosaurs, the paleontologists said.
Top Province for “Quality of Life”
For the first time ever, Milan has received the top spot for the annual quality-of-life ranking of Italy’s 110 provinces. Compiled for the past 29 years by the financial daily newspaper Sole 24 Ore, Italy’s financial capital rose to places to claim first, ahead of Bolzano and Aosta, which in 2017 took the top two spots. Milan has previously come close four times, winning second place in 2003 and 2004 and again in 2015 and 2016. Indicators of well-being include factors such as standard of living, business and work, health and services, population and public order. Rome remained relatively stable in 21st position, up from last year when it ranked 24th.
New Pompeii Revelations
Pompeii may have already had a temple at the time of the arrival of the Samnites in the 4th century BC. This conclusion was reached after the discovery of a temple next to the 2nd century BC theater that was preserved by the 79 AD eruption of Vesuvius. There are archaeological remains in Pompeii for various groups that preceded the Romans and it is clear that in the 4th century BC, the people of Samnium moved down from the mountains and into some of the more urban areas. A recent dig uncovered the Samnite temple, which archaeologists believe predates any previous Samnite structure in Pompeii. The temple was likely devoted to Mefitis, a Samnite version of Venus. The discovery revolutionized archaeologists’ concepts of the Samnites, showing the warlike people to be far more advanced than had been previously thought.
High-tech gifts were the most popular presents in Italy during the Christmas season. Smart was the key word in the minds of buyers, whether in the form of watches, phones or speakers. Meanwhile, traditional gifts were also a hit with food and wine finding a place not only on tables, but also under the Christmas tree. Twenty-four percent of Italians gave wines, cheeses and traditional foods as gifts. There were many to choose from – Italy boasts over 5,000 regional food products, 300 SOP/IGP specialties and 332 DOC wines. Among the most popular wines this year were Cartizze Brut and Dry, Nebbiolo delle Langhe Rosé and Lambrusco. The survey found that 20% more Italians this year chose to buy online rather than in a store, compared to 2017. The most sought-after online purchases were toys, technology presents and cosmetics.
Pantheon to Remain Free
Italian Culture Minister Alberto Bonisoli has announced that the plan previously proposed to make visitors in Rome pay an entry fee to enter to the Pantheon has been scrapped. The second century building is one of the best-preserved of all ancient Roman buildings, in large part because it has been in continuous use throughout its history. Originally a temple to the Roman gods, it has been a church since the 7th century and remains one of Rome’s most iconic monuments, containing many famous tombs, including that of Renaissance artist Raphael. In his statement, the Culture Minister stated, “On the contrary to what my predecessor decided in 2017, no entry ticket will be introduced. The Pantheon will remain free.”