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The picture taken on February 15, 2018 in the street of Balduina's district in Rome shows a huge sinkhole that opened up the day before in Rome, swallowing six cars. No casualties were reported. About 22 families were evacuated by firefighters following the collapse. The cause of the sinkhole is still under investigation. / AFP PHOTO / TIZIANA FABI

Weekly News – Feb 22, 2018

Italy – Older than Ever

Italy’s population is older than ever, but that is based on two factors. Yes, Italy is the healthiest country in the world, with its residents living longer than ever, but there has also been another drop in the number of newborns. In 2017, 464,000 babies were born in Italy, according to the latest national statistics, but this was 9,000 below 2016 and 21,000 below 2015. This downward trend has existed for a decade and now has the number of births down by 100,000 per year. This declining birthrate, coupled with longer life expectancy, has left Italy with a significantly older population. At the start of 2018, the mean age of Italy’s residents was over 45 years old and 23% were over 65 years of age. In contrast, only 13% were 14 or younger. Only four of Italy’s 20 regions experienced population growth – Trentino-South Tyrol, Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna and Lazio. The regions with the biggest declines in population were Sicily, Basilicata and Molise.

Have an Orange

Thousands turned up last week for the annual “Battle of the Oranges,” where participants dressed in brightly colored medieval clothing engage in a centuries-old fruit throwing skirmish. The northern city of Ivrea marks the Carnevale season in its time-honored tradition. Dating back to medieval times, the teams in period costumes engage in a fierce orange-throwing fight that turns the cobbled streets orange in a carpet of fruit. The legend dates back to the 12th century, when the daughter of a local miller saved her honor by beheading the town’s evil lord, thus setting Ivrea free from the tyrant’s grasp. Each year 500 tons of oranges are shipped from Sicily for the event, which provides a memorable, if somewhat sticky experience for locals and visitors alike.

Underground Parking in Rome

Over 20 families were evacuated after a huge sinkhole opened up in a northwestern neighborhood of Rome, swallowing several cars. Fortunately, no injuries were reported. The sinkhole, measuring over 30 feet deep appeared in the Balduina district, a residential area northwest of Vatican City. Seven parked cars were sucked into the chasm. The sinkhole followed a day of rain in the Italian capital, which even saw some snow in the Roman outskirts. The area is near a building site, where construction workers began to demolish buildings four months ago, making way for new construction and underground parking. The seven cars that fell into the gaping hole appear to be the first to use the intended underground facility.

Food for the Sole

Shoes inspired by different musical styles, biodegradable shoes and modular shoes with uppers that can be zipped to the sole are just some of the products that were shown at the 85th MICAM – the leading international footwear fair at Rho Fiera in Milan. Trend setting company Loriblu, long famous for its sandals, presented its 100% organic Naturella decolleté models, which are so environmentally friendly that they can used for compost. The historic brand from Porto Sant’Elpidio in Marche, is also celebrating the 40th anniversary of its famous Mignon sandal. Milanese firm ACBC presented a modular design that uses a zip system to pair 80 different uppers to five different soles. Great for the stylish traveler, the possible combinations number in the hundreds. For now these shoes can only be purchased on line, but they are expected to hit the stores this summer.

The Tax Man Cometh

With tax season upon us in the U.S., everyone can appreciate the frustration that accompanies filling out a tax return. Now imagine you are an Italian business tycoon and former executive of the Italian sportwear brand Benetton, who has had an eight-year dispute with authorities for eight years about the tax deductions for a yacht. Since all the way back in 2010, Flavio Briatore’s multimillion dollar yacht has been anchored, while authorities try to figure out whether the well-known businessman has pulled the wool over the taxman’s eyes. The 200-foot-long yacht is owned by a company that is registered in the Virgin Islands, but Italy wants the semi-retired businessman to pay the European Union’s Value Added Tax of $4 million for the boat. Briatore feels that is absurd, since he merely rents the yacht and sales tax was paid in the country where the boat is registered. The authorities have pointed out Briatore actually owns the company that owns the yacht and then rents it to himself. Sound confusing? Perhaps that is why it has taken eight years to resolve. The end result – Briatore lost, for now. His lawyers have already filed an appeal, but if there is one thing that we can all count on, at some point, the tax man cometh.

Epic TV Series to Film in Italy

Readers of the Italian Tribune may recall the paper’s 50-part series called “The Emperors” published from 2014-2015. Now a television series is planned that will be covering Ancient Rome and it is Martin Scorsese who will be returning as a director to the small screen. The series titled ’The Caesars” will be filmed in Italy and is expected to last for several seasons, spanning multiple eras of the Roman Empire. The television epic will focus on the younger emperors as they rise to power. The series, presented in hour-long segments, will begin with the life of a young Julius Caesar. Scorsese says that he intends to put a more realistic face on the characters other screen depictions. Given the director’s passion for the subject, the result should be both a unique and fascinating look at the lives and events of the Roman Empire. Filming is set to begin next year in Italy.