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Weekly News – Mar 22, 2018

WWII Bomb Causes Scare

In the Marche region, around 23,000 people were evacuated from their homes after construction workers uncovered an unexploded Second World War bomb. The enormous bomb found in the town of Fano, weighed in excess of a half ton and contained 500 pounds of explosives. Thousands of soldiers were involved in the operation, transporting residents to safety and sharing the news of the evacuation order from vehicles’ loudspeakers. The bomb was successfully transported to the coast at dawn, according to a statement from the Mayor, who praised the army and navy’s work in a “special and highly risky” operation. It’s not uncommon for unexploded devices from World War II to be found in Italy and navy divers regularly neutralize explosives found in the country’s lakes and rivers. Allied forces dropped hundreds of thousands of bombs on Italy during the fighting and as many as one in three are thought to have failed to detonate.

Art Police Recover Stolen Paintings

An Italian police unit specializing in protecting the country’s cultural heritage has recovered 37 artworks, many which had been stolen from churches in the aftermath of deadly earthquakes in central Italy. The artworks dated back to between the 16th and 20th centuries and had been taken in 16 separate robberies. Among the most important pieces recovered were five altarpieces from two churches in L’Aquila, which were closed due to damage in the deadly 2009 earthquake from which the city is still recovering. Police found the art in villas along the Amalfi Coast and have charged three people with the thefts. The Carabinieri’s Art Squad, dubbed the “blue helmets,” was founded in 1969 to combat art and antiquities crimes and helps train art police in other countries. In the aftermath of deadly quakes in the central regions of Italy, the officers raced to rescue and restore damaged artworks from churches and other buildings damaged by the tremors.

Pardon for Retired Pot Grower

The Italian President has formally pardoned a retired man who grew marijuana for use as pain relief. The 63-year-old man turned to President Sergio Mattarella after his appeal was rejected by Italy’s highest court and the head of state agreed to waive his sentence of five months’ imprisonment and an €800 fine. The man, from the Trento province in northern Italy, was found growing a small number of cannabis plants that he insisted were exclusively for his personal medical use. He is unable to take common pain medication because of the risk of side effects. He sought relief instead through marijuana, whose therapeutic properties are recognized by Italian law. Italy legalized cannabis for medical use in 2007. The drug must be obtained on a doctor’s prescription, which entitles patients to an authorized supply, either imported by pharmacies or specially grown by the army’s pharmaceutical unit. Yet some users complain that imported medical cannabis is expensive and slow to arrive, while the army’s home-grown supply is limited to a single variety that isn’t effective for all patients. Under a proposal awaiting legislators’ approval, the country plans to expand the military’s production of marijuana and supply it free of charge to all patients prescribed it.

Tornado Hits Southern Italy

A tornado has left eight people injured, one seriously, in southern Italy close to the city of Caserta, north of Naples. The whirlwind caused severe damage across several nearby towns, uprooting trees, ripping the balconies from several building and causing signs to fly through the air like military projectiles. Wind speeds reached 135 mph. A truck parked at a service station was upturned by the strong winds, while six parked trailers were thrown through the air, obstructing part of the highway. The worst hit areas was San Nicola la Strada, where all eight injuries were reported. The town, about one mile south of Caserta, also had a local restaurant sign fall, which destroyed three cars and damaged others. Thankfully, no injuries were reported from that incident.

Failing to Watch his Ps and Qs

A New Jersey student on vacation in Italy, faces a fine of up to €10,000 for relieving himself on the famous Loggia dei Lanzi in Florence. The man, aged 21, was spotted on the steps leading to the famous open-air gallery at around 1:30 am. He was swiftly stopped and issued a ticket for “acts contrary to public decency,” which carries a fine of €5,000 to €10,000. The Loggia dei Lanzi, which houses several valuable classical and Renaissance statues, is monitored by security guards and surveillance cameras. According to reports, the man relieved himself next to a statue of Hercules fighting the monster Cacus by the Florentine sculptor Bartolommeo Bandinelli, which is at the eastern corner of the Loggia, outside the Palazzo Vecchio in Piazza della Signoria.

Hidden Michelangelo in Sketch

A newly released study suggests that Michelangelo hid a self-portrait in a sketch of an aristocratic woman poetess friend. The small outline of a man hunched over a painting can be seen if one carefully scans the ink lines of the folds in the noblewoman’s dress. The man’s shape, according to the art expert, resembles a self-caricature of the artist sketched in 1509. The work was dedicated to his friend and fellow artist Giovanni da Pistoia. One must look closely at the lines, but it is unquestionably suggestive of a cartoonish drawing of an artist bending over while drawing at an easel. The discovery is another step in the treasure hunt that researchers have pursued over the years to try to find meaningful hidden drawings and symbols in Michelangelo’s work.