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Weekly News – Nov 28, 2019

Ironic Timing in Venice

As Venice faced extraordinary flooding due to extremely high tides, what has emerged from the city’s regional council meeting is now making waves. The council’s chambers, located in the Ferro Fini Palazzo and situated on the Grand Canal, was conducting a meeting that ran late into the night. Discussions about proposals to provide additional funding to combat flooding and its effect on the Veneto region had divided members. Since billions of euros have already been spent, with hundreds of millions more allocated to lessen the effects on the region, its president, Luca Zaia voted against allocating additional funds or supporting the amendments. Prior to the meeting, council member Andrea Zanoni had ironically written, “If the voters of the Veneto continue to close their eyes, we will all end up underwater.” Within two minutes of the regional president’s decision, the council room began to flood. The council beat a hasty exit. A revisit of the amendment is expected.

Record Price for Artemisia Painting

A newly-discovered canvas by the 17th century female Italian painter Artemisia Gentileschi was recently auctioned, setting a record for one of her works. The sale came amid a surge of interest in the Baroque painter’s extraordinarily dramatic work. She is now recognized as one of the greatest painters of the post-Caravaggio era. It is extremely rare for Artemisia’s works to come onto the market. The painting entitled “Lucretia” depicts the ancient Roman noblewoman who killed herself after being raped and shows her bare-breasted, about to plunge a dagger into her chest. It was discovered in a private collection where it had remained for decades, unrecognized as being a masterpiece. A long bidding battle took place smashing the initial estimate of between 600,000 and 800,000 euros. The final price 4,777,000 euros. It sold for nearly double the previous record for her work – 2.8 million euros, the price for a painting of Saint Catherine that sold in 2017.

Oh Those Crazy Cinghiale

Police announced a number of wild boars snuffling in the forests of the eastern portion of Tuscany dug up and destroyed a €20,000 stash of cocaine buried by drug dealers. Cinghiale, or wild boar, are found in ever-increasing numbers in the Italian countryside, much to the dismay of the country’s farmers, motorists and now drug dealers. The animals unearthed and broke into a sealed package of cocaine hidden in the Tuscan forest near Montepulciano, before scattering the contents through the woodland. An unconventional drug bust followed, when police wiretapped the suspected Albanian drug traffickers and heard them complain about the damage to their woodland stash. The drugs reportedly were transported from the nearby city of Perugia before being hidden in Tuscany. The gang had reportedly sold almost five pounds of the narcotic the month prior to being busted and now will face many years behind bars.

High Water Bookshop Inundated

This recent flooding in Venice proved too much for even one of the city’s most famous bookstores. Keeping a large collection of books in a canal city prone to flooding was always a dangerous idea, which is why Venice’s Libreria Acqua Alta, the High Water Bookshop, had decided to store its books inside bathtubs, waterproof bins and even a full-sized gondola. To the immense dismay of book lovers around the world, this measure was not enough to save as yet, an untold number of books, magazines and other items when the flood water’s rose. The shop owner announced that hundreds of books were destroyed, despite the frantic efforts of employees. Said by many to be one of the most unique bookshops in the world, the whimsical water-themed store has attracted visitors from around the world for years.

DNA Study of Ancient Romans

A DNA study of inhabitants of ancient Rome found some surprising results and is helping to chart mass movements of people dating back 9,000 years. The paper is based on the DNA of 127 individuals from 29 archaeological sites in and around the Eternal City, spanning nearly 12,000 years of Roman pre-history and history. It found that people from the city’s earliest era and those from after the Empire’s decline, genetically resembled the DNA of other Western Europeans. The big surprise was that during the Imperial period (27 BC and 300 AD), Roman DNA had more in common with populations from Eastern Europe. This is evidence that as the Roman Empire grew in size to number between 50 and 90 million people, the city of Rome became a sort of DNA magnet, providing genetic proof that people have been traveling to the centers of cultural, political and economic importance not simply in recent times, but for many, many centuries.

The New Ferrari Roma

Ferrari has unveiled a gorgeous new front-engine car, the spiritual successor to the brilliant Maranello of a generation ago. Christened ‘Roma,’ the car is powered by a 3.9-liter twin-turbo V8 engine producing over 600 horsepower, allowing the car to reach a top speed of 199 mph. The interior is revolutionary with a 16-inch digital instrument cluster and an 8.4-inch central infotainment touchscreen display. Cabin appointments are sleek with a number of retro touches amid the high-tech gadgetry. The easy to drive coupe seems aimed at attracting buyers who have been intimidated by the Prancing Horse’s racing heritage. It brings a sports car sleekness with the comforts of a Gran Turismo and is meant to be comfortable to drive over longer distances. The entry price will be something north of $220,000.