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This picture shows a view of Ponte Milvio near the Tiber river on November 14, 2012 in Rome. Flooding struck the northern outskirts of Rome on Wednesday after heavy rains in central Italy swelled the Tiber River, as Tuscany, Umbria and Venice counted the costs of extensive flood damage. AFP PHOTO / TIZIANA FABI (Photo by TIZIANA FABI / AFP)

Weekly News – Dec 12, 2019

Vitruvian Man Secret Algorithm

Roberto Concas, art historian and former director of the National Museums of Cagliari, recently provided a preview of his forthcoming two-volume series “The Deception of the Vitruvian Man: The Algorithm of the Golden Ratio.” In it, he states that Leonardo da Vinci’s world-famous work concealed a secret algorithm passed to artists through the centuries. Artists from the 15th to the 18th centuries used the formula to validate that their works were inspired by the divine proportions of the golden ratio, corresponding to parameters imposed by the Catholic Church. Concas’ work will also be featured in an exhibition in Cagliari in May 2020.

New Loan for Alitalia?

The Italian government has announced that it has proposed a new 400-million-euro loan for beleaguered airline Alitalia. The proposal should be on the agenda of a cabinet meeting this week. Recently, the government confirmed that plans for a consortium led by railway group Ferrovie dello Stato (FS) to take over Alitalia had run out of steam. The government was initially ‘over the moon’ with the plan, which included numerous partners providing diversified expertise and financial strength, but FS was unable to bring the consortium to fruition. Two significant setbacks were when motorway group Atlantia pulled out and Delta Airlines reduced its commitment to an investment of only 100 million euros. Alitalia has received around 900 million euros in bridge loans from the State since going into administration in 2017.

WWII Bomb in Turin

More than 10,000 people were evacuated from central Turin last week as munition experts worked to defuse a WWII bomb. Residents of the city were told to vacate a ‘red zone’ in the historic district, while a further 50,000 living further away were told either to leave their homes in advance or to remain inside during the operation. Authorities indicated that the bomb contained 140 pounds of explosives. Turin Mayor Chiara Appendino said a detonator at the tail end of the device needed de-activating and the operation was carried out without any issues, even though the bomb was 75 years old. Air space above Turin was closed during the operation as a safety precaution.

Little Confidence in the Euro

This year’s annual survey by the European Union found just 55 percent of Italians believe that the use of the euro is beneficial for the country. Italy gave the euro its second-lowest approval rating of any EU member using the single currency. This shows that confidence in the euro fell by two percentage points in the last year. Conversely, the Europe-wide poll found overall confidence in the euro was at an all-time high, with more than 75% of Europeans stating that the euro was good for the EU. It is the official currency of 19 of the 28 EU member states.

Rome’s Mangy Christmas Tree

The Italian capital’s Christmas tree, which has for the past two years gained the nickname spelacchio (toilet brush) due to its odd shape and spiny appearance, has been set up in Rome’s central Piazza Venezia. The tree was lit during a December 8th ceremony. It has 80,000 lights and over 1,000 decorations. In 2017, the Eternal City shifted away from the traditional broad and full pyramidal-shaped Christmas tree, to one that was tall and somewhat narrow, reminding many people of a cleaning brush, rather than a Christmas tree. Eventually, like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree, it won the affection of Romans and tourists alike. Last year’s tree was dubbed Spelacchio #2, so for 2019, the tree is Spelacchio #3.

Newest Supercomputer

The Italian state-controlled defense and aerospace giant Leonardo, recently held its annual Innovation Award Day at which it presented a new supercomputer. It will be installed in Genoa – the first of the laboratories in the Leonardo Labs network. It is one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world. Leonardo Labs focuses on high performance computing and simulation, including artificial intelligence and autonomous systems, as well as quantum technologies and cryptography, electric mobility, materials and structures.

Italy’s Greatest Flood Risk

For anyone who has watched the news lately, if asked what city in Italy has the greatest risk of flooding, the expected answer would be Venice. According to authorities, it is actually Rome that poses the greatest risk. There are parts of Rome that cannot withstand a heavy downpour, according to the Central Apennines District Basin Authority, which monitors the risks of floods, landslides and sinkholes. It identified nearly 400 areas in the Rome area that are considered at risk. The city is weakened by miles of caverns running underneath the city, 20 square miles of which have already been mapped. While high walls protect the heart of Rome from the Tiber, the river has burst its banks outside the historic center at least three times since 2008.