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Weekly News – Mar 15, 2019

Election Quotes

The national elections in Italy may not have resulted in a clear winner, but the quotes that were bandied about ranged from the humorous to the bizarre, to the downright insulting. Here are some of them:

“I find Italians to be very dumb. It might be controversial but it’s true: they are strange people,” said Alessandro Di Battista, the leading candidate for the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S).

“I was wrong to trust the human being, but there’s time to remedy this,” Five Star leader Luigi Di Maio commented on the revelation that politicians from his party, which campaigned on an anti-establishment, anti-corruption platform, had faked repayments of their salary and pocketed a total of over €1 million.

“I’m like a good wine. I only get better with age. Now I’m perfect.” By none other than Silvio Berlusconi, the octogenarian media tycoon was quoted as saying this. He also had another interesting quote – “I’m not a politician; politics have always made me sick. Even politicians know that it’s very far from the best of what human activity can be.”

M5S founder Beppe Grillo, wrote on his blog, “Don’t give in to this stupid new age made up of psycho dwarves and fake TV news.” He was making reference to Berlusconi’s diminutive 5’5” stature.

“Stop loving me so much and vote for me more,” was a plea from Emma Bonino, a long-time radical activist and one of the country’s most popular political figures.

International Women’s Day

March 8th was International Women’s Day and the occasion was marked in Italy with events ranging from a general strike to free museum visits. ‘La Festa della Donna’ has long been celebrated in Italy with a tradition of men handing out yellow mimosa flowers to the women in their lives, a symbol of the day since 1946. To draw attention to the women’s rights movement, a national strike was called for and backed by trade unions and the rights organization Non Una di Meno. More than 200 hospitals across Italy offered free medical check-ups and consultations to women. Italy’s Ministry of Culture offered free entry to national museums and other cultural sites for women across the country. Museums also highlighted women artists in their collections and on social media, focusing on specific periods, artists and regions.

No Trifle for Truffles

The delights of white truffles are esteemed around the world and Italy is the prime producer of the delectable fungi, where it is expensive, but carries even higher prices outside the country’s borders. Recently, a man was caught trying to smuggle almost 64 pounds of white truffles that originated in Alba, Italy through Turkey and into Bulgaria. He managed to smuggle the truffles successfully out of northern Italy, but authorities were apparently tipped off about the man’s intentions. He was nabbed in Istanbul and was fined over $120,000, twice the value of the truffles themselves.

Commander’s House Uncovered

Work on a new Rome subway station has uncovered an ancient Roman ‘Commander’s House,’ the first discovery of its kind in the Italian capital. The dig on the Metro C line has turned up a ‘domus’ connected to the dormitory of a barracks built at the time of Emperor Trajan and then modified by Hadrian. The dormitory and barracks were discovered in 2016. The domus of the commander was found about 36 feet under the level of the Amba Aradam station, near the Basilica of St. John Lateran. The house will now be dismantled, level by level and temporarily moved to another site before being placed back at its original site, sources said. The ongoing excavation is taking place on the southern slopes of the Coelian Hill, one of Rome’s seven hills, which in Imperial times was home to luxury aristocratic residences. Further to the south, a series of military buildings, including a barracks were recently found in Via Ipponio.

Ingenious Method to Catch a Speeder

A man in Naples who had dodged 270 speeding tickets and other road fines by saying he had no fixed address has been finally tracked down by police. Receiving almost 300 hundred summons, spanning a number of years and all for the same vehicle, the man had evaded the fines and suspension of his license because he did not have an address listed. Police finally wised up and brought a stop to the driver’s ruse. With all of the high-tech equipment and computer records available to the police, they used a tried and true method to determine his residency address. After giving him a ticket, an unmarked police car followed him home – ingenious!

Welcome Economic Numbers

Growth up, deficit down: the latest figures for Italy’s economy for 2017 showed its greatest improvements since 2010. Growth in the country was up to 1.5 %, while the public deficit fell to 1.9% of Italy’s Gross Domestic Product. Economy Minister Pier Carlo Padoan hailed the numbers as “the fruit of years of work.”

Many Italians say they are not feeling the effects of economic recovery and as illustrated by last week’s elections, are disillusioned with the Democratic Party’s insistence on budgetary discipline and gradual growth. The country was hit hard by the 2008 economic crisis and only returned to growth in 2014. Gross Domestic Product is still significantly lower than it was in 2008, but the news was welcomed as a sign that economic growth in Italy is sustainable.