Italians who are fed up with the country’s poor postal service performance may now have found the culprit. Italian police discovered over 1,200 pounds of undelivered mail in a postman’s garage. The postal police claim that the bags of mail in the Vicenza home of the 56-year-old postman amount to the largest seizure of mail ever undertaken in Italy. The missing mail had been collecting for the past eight years and included utility bills, bank statements, phone books and political propaganda mailings from the 2010 elections. Police were tipped off when volunteers from a recycling center reported receiving 25 large yellow containers from the postal service with undelivered mail still inside. The postal police say the mail will now be delivered to its rightful owners, albeit a few years late.
Venice Restaurant Fined
We reported in our February 1st edition that a Venice restaurant faced $24,000 in fines following an incident where it had charged tourists an outrageous sum $1,347! Officials have found that Osteria da Luca also breached safety and food description rules. The restaurant is operated by a company called Di Zheng Chenyi & C. and has a rating of 1.5 stars on Tripadvisor, with 83% of reviews classed as “terrible.” The restaurant also faces further questions from investigators over its failure to give the group a full receipt detailing their meal. The Venetian Hoteliers Association this week offered a free 2-night stay in a luxury hotel to the group of overcharged tourists as a compensatory gesture. The association remarked that the episode has done grave harm to the image of the city.
When in Rome…
When visitors to Rome describe their experiences, the city receives soaring marks for its monuments, museums, dining, shopping, climate and lifestyle. As one of the most popular destinations in the world, what could be improved? The Eternal City has decided that its cab drivers can do with some lessons and improvements. Every large city has stories of overcharging tourists and Rome is no exception. Recently dozens of cabdrivers took a crash course in courtesy, hospitality, language and excellence. The six-week course was intended to improve how taxi drivers deal with foreign customers, including how to provide basic information in a variety of languages. So on your next trip, when in Rome – you might enjoy your cab ride almost as much as your Pasta alla Carbonara, well, almost…
200,000 Classic Songs for Free
Have you been hunting for the definitive version of O Sole Mio? Perhaps you’d like to listen to the original recording of Volare? Maybe you long to hear folk songs from Puglia? Italy’s Ministry of Culture has just placed a century of Italian popular music online – for free! At www.canzoneitaliana.it you will now find 200,000 tracks available to stream to your heart’s content. Created in partnership with the Spotify streaming service, the site coincides with Italy’s biggest music festival, Sanremo, which opened last week on the Ligurian seaside. The catalogue covers Italian music from 1900 to 2000 and is divided chronologically, geographically and thematically. You can search for traditional songs from each of Italy’s regions. Each section is accompanied by historical and musical context and is available in eight different languages. Another 5,000 songs will be added each month, according to Culture Minister Dario Franceschini, who said that the idea was to create a central archive that will last throughout time. Bravo!
Italy’s Five Star Movement, one of the country’s newest political powerhouses, has been losing support. Its latest issue is an accusation that it has been systematically plagiarizing Wikipedia and governmental documents in its anti-establishment political manifesto. Eleven of the 20 chapters of its document have been found to contain direct copies of information from sources as varied as legal manuals to National Geographic magazine. Material from other political parties was also analyzed with no instances of plagiarism found. This is a rather serious indictment for the embattled party, coming less than one month before the general election on March 4th. The incident sheds doubt on the credibility and ethical integrity of the political party. A statement from the Five Star Movement said that the portions of the program cited for plagiarism were merely analytical sections, separate from the manifesto. Apparently it is attempting to prove the adage that stealing content from one source may be plagiarism, but stealing from many is research.
The New Curiosity Shop…by Bulgari
Italian luxury jeweler Bulgari has opened a new concept store along Via Condotti in Rome. The New Curiosity Shop harkens back to the early history of the company when founder Sotirio Bulgari opened The Old Curiosity Shop on Rome’s most fashionable street in 1905. The store will display rarities, pieces of art, scientific finds and exotic artifacts from around the world. Presented in antique cabinets, the curiosities are not only a draw for well-heeled customers, but a way for the brand to reinforce the concept of ‘what was old is new again.’ The opening of the store also heralded the release of the book “I Tesori di Roma: Viaggio Nello Storico Patrimonio di Bulgari” (The Treasures of Rome: a Journey Through Bulgari’s Historic Legacy). The book relates tales of the film stars that frequented Rome – the Hollywood on the Tiber, during the glamorous 1950s and 60s and of the Bulgari jewels that they wore. The book also relates detailed stories of the European aristocracy’s fondness for Bulgari pieces. Anyone for a diamond tiara?