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Weekly News – Nov 21, 2019

Cultural Spending on the Rise

The Federculture Association announced last week that in 2018, Italians spent 72.5 billion euros on culture, up roughly 2 ½ percent from 2017. Cultural expenditures accounted for some 6.7% of total household spending in 2018. These numbers are up significantly from the low ebb of 4.6% during the period of 2008 through 2013, when the Italian economy was in a slump. Federculture also found that the number of children discovering art and culture was on the rise. There was an increase of 3.6% rise for children aged six or older who visited a museum or attended a show at least once last year and a 9.2% gain in those who visited archaeological sites. Cultural Minister Dario Franceschini highlighted the importance of investing in contemporary and historic culture for young people.

Ferrari and Armani Team Up

You might say that car maker Ferrari and famed clothing maker Armani are cut from the same cloth. The luxury products of both iconic brands are highly sought after worldwide and now a partnership between the two companies has been announced. Ferrari CEO Louis Camilleri announced that the collaboration is part of the company’s long-term strategy to extend its reach well beyond the race track, stating that it is Ferrari’s goal to derive 10% of its earnings from three new lifestyle pillars – apparel, luxury services and entertainment, within the next seven to ten years. “This is not just about profit,” Camilleri said, “This is about enhancing our brand equity and the vitality and vibrancy of the brand.” There is yet to be an indication of what Armani’s creations for Ferrari will look like, but a multi-year commitment has been agreed to by both companies.

Protecting Italian Products

The Italian government and the European Commission have reached a landmark agreement with China to protect 26 food and wines of Italy under a program encompassing European Geographical Indication Products (EGIP). As a result, world-renowned specialties and goods such as Barolo wine, Prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiana Reggiano will now have greater protection from imitation within the enormous Chinese market. In coming years, the scope of the agreement will expand to cover additional Italian products which command a premium price, due to the origin and authenticity of the products. This is expected to benefit the agricultural, food and wine sectors and ultimately protect consumers.

Online Chicken and Egg

The latest numbers released by the Italian government indicate that only 60 percent of Italians use the internet. Although these figures show a 3% increase over last year, it still places Italy only one spot above the bottom among European Union countries. Italy lags far behind its EU counterparts when it comes to e-commerce, online banking and on-demand videos. To make matters even worse, a survey by The Digital Life Abroad ranked Italy last in the quality of internet service in Europe. According to one expert, it is a chicken and an egg conundrum – if the internet service improves, will people use it more? Or will it take more internet users for the service level to improve, based upon the demand? The jury is still out.

Government Says Waste Less!

In Italy where food and freshness are synonymous, waste remains a big problem. A new government report shows that Italians discard $17 billion of uneaten food each year, which is almost one percent of Italy’s Gross Domestic Product. The worst offenders are individual households, which account for nearly 80 percent of the waste. Food-related businesses such as food markets and restaurants are faring much better, having significantly reduced waste since a 2016 law provided tax breaks to businesses that donate food to charity rather than throwing it away. According to the government, when it comes to food, households need to donate more or waste less!

Need Another Reason?

As if travelers did not already have a lengthy list of reasons to visit Rome, here is another. Rome has been named the most affordable major city for tourists to visit. The Eternal City came out on top in a new survey that compared the prices on popular tourist cities including U.S. cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago and international hot spots including Paris, London, Berlin and Tokyo. The study, which was carried out by a European hotel sales company, evaluated the average cost based on a host of factors in each city, including the cost for a single hotel room, airport transfers, tourist attractions and meals, ranging from fine dining to more budget friendly options. The result, Rome undercut the competition and came in at an average price of $410.92 per day for a single person’s stay.

A Farming Revolution

Italy has long enjoyed an international reputation for the delectable tomatoes that grow in the country’s volcanic soil. Now ingenious farmers in the region of Tuscany are growing the prized food in a very efficient manner by using hydroponics – a method of growing plants that replaces soil with water fortified with minerals and other nutrients. Using this method, two pounds of tomatoes can be grown in pesticide-free, environmentally friendly greenhouses, using just two quarts of water instead of 18 to 20 gallons of water in the fields. Thus far, the results are good.