While much of the northeastern U.S. has had the mildest February on record, Italy’s wintery weather has continued. The country has been hit by blankets of snow and below-freezing temperatures, causing disruption to traffic and school closures. The Siberian winds have seen temperatures plunge across much of Europe. Neapolitans were surprised by the Campania capital’s heaviest snow in over 50 years, while Rome awoke to its first snowfall in six years last week, with temperatures falling to 25°F. That was mild compared to Dolina Campoluzzo, located at an altitude of 5,800 feet in northern Italy. The town recorded one of the lowest temperatures in Europe at -40°F. Now that’s cold!
Meridiana Aims to Replace Alitalia
Meridiana, an airline based in Sardinia, launched its bid to become Italy’s leading carrier with a new name – Air Italy. The company would like to replace Alitalia, the former flag carrier of Italy that is now bankrupt and being auctioned off in pieces to other European airlines. Meridiana is the second-biggest airline in Italy (after Alitalia), while Air Italy is a smaller northern Italian airline that purchased the Sardinian carrier in 2011. The rebranding is accompanied by an ambitious expansion of its fleet and flight routes, designed to attract 10 million passengers by 2022. Air Italy plans to double its fleet by 2020, starting with 20 new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft and joined by Airbus A330-200s and Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners. It will expand its domestic services with new connections between Milan and Rome, Naples, Palermo, Catania and Lamezia Terme beginning in May. These expansions will be followed by two new international services to the U.S – daily flights from Milan to New York and four flights per week from Milan to Miami, both starting in June. Another three new long-haul routes are expected to be announced by the end of the year. In 2019, Air Italy will add its first long-haul flights from Rome.
Requests for Exorcisms Triple in Italy
Requests for the services of exorcists have tripled in Italy recently and the Vatican is quietly conducting training courses to cope with the demand. This statement was related over Vatican Radio by a veteran exorcist. The idea that demons exist and can possess people is one of the most widely-held religious beliefs in the world. Most religions claim humans can be invaded by demonic spirits and offer exorcisms to cast them out. The Vatican first issued official guidelines on exorcism in 1614, although it was over 350 years before they were revised in 1999. There are now about a half a million cases every year in Italy, Palermo priest Father Benigno Palilla said. He indicated that with a growing number of people going to magicians, witches, card and Tarot readers, the door to the devil is left open and so to possession.
Italy Reached Medal Goal
The Italian Winter Olympic team hit its target of reaching double figures in the medals tally in the PyeongChang Games, with 10 podium places, including three golds, two silver and five bronze medals. All three golds were claimed by women. Alpine skier Sofia Goggia made history by becoming the first Italian woman to win gold in downhill. Michela Moioli served up a dominant display to win the snowboard cross event. Speed skater Arianna Fontana triumphed in the 500 meters short track as well as taking bronze in the 1,000m. She also helped Italy claim silver in the relay. Overall, Italy was 12th in the medals table world-wide.
Three Italian universities, one in Rome and two in Milan, made the top 10 in the latest QS World University Rankings by subject. Rome’s La Sapienza University and Milan’s Bocconi and Politecnico University earned the distinction in the rankings of 48 subjects and five major study areas. The Roman university was the best in the world for Antiquities Science, overtaking Cambridge, which place second and Oxford in third place. It was also in the top 10 for Archeology, ninth and had top 50 rankings for Archives and Libraries, Physics and Astronomy and Natural Sciences. The Milanese Polytechnic continued a steady rise over recent years which has led it to fifth place in design and the ninth in Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering. It was also in the top 50 universities in the world in Mechanical Engineering, General Engineering, Technology Study, Electronic Engineering and Informatics. Bocconi rose to tenth place in one of the most competitive areas – Business & Management, while ranking 11th in Sciences and Management and 16th in Accounting and Finance.
The Next Big Dig
The Italian inter-ministerial economic planning committee has approved a highly significant project for Ostia Antica, along the lines of the one that has enhanced visits to Pompeii. Forty million euros have been earmarked to reopen some areas of the ancient Roman port. In 2014, Rome’s archaeological superintendent announced new findings at Ostia, stating that the site was actually bigger than Pompeii. The results revealed that Rome was split in two by the Tiber River in the 1st century BC. The enormous find included towers, warehouses and boundary walls. The finding shed new light on how important Ostia was to trade in ancient Rome. The massive complex was begun under Emperor Claudius and given the name Portus (Port). It was expanded under successive Emperors such as Trajan and Hadrian and served as a base for many of the Empire’s greatest expeditions.