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Weekly News – Nov 14, 2019

Italy’s Greenest Cities

Trento, Mantua, Bolzano, Pordenone and Parma are the top five cities in the annual standings of Ecosistema Urbano 2019, a survey by Legambiente, Ambiente Italia and Il Sole 24 Ore on the environmental performance of Italy’s provincial capitals. Catania, Siracusa and Vibo Valentia were at the bottom of the rankings. Palermo came in at 100th, with Rome and Naples tied in 89th place, just behind Turin at 88 and Bari in 87th place. Each of those metropolitan areas were dragged down by issues such as traffic and trash disposal. The survey said the environment was “a particularly important issue at this historic moment with the Conte 2 government, which has placed a Green New Deal among its priorities.” Mantua, which finished in the top spot last year, handed the title of the greenest provincial capital to Trento (pictured), which rose to the top for the first time thanks to its improvement in air quality, the use of public transport and the attention it has paid to increasing bicycle lanes for cyclists.

To the Moon

The Italian Space Agency (ASI) has announced that the first module of the future Gateway Space Station will be manufactured in Italy. The planned space station will be used as a stepping stone for man’s return to the moon and then ultimately on to a Mars landing. ASI President Giorgio Saccoccia announced the signing of a ‘Joint Statement for Cooperation in Space Exploration’ with NASA CEO James Bridenstine in Washington, D.C. Saccoccia said that the message from the United States on the Gateway Space Station “is very clear – the U.S. has opened up to international collaboration and wants to do so in all possible ways.” The accord was signed on the same day that Italian astronaut Roberto Battiston, a former ASI chief, was inducted into the Space Hall of Fame.

Fiat and Peugeot Announce Merger

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and PSA Peugeot have announced plans to merge and create the world’s fourth-largest car making group. The combined manufacturing juggernaut will have annual unit sales of around 8.7 million vehicles, making it the fourth top car producer after Toyota, Volkswagen and the Renault-Nissan alliance. The statement said that the merger of the Italian American group with its French rival should create design and marketing synergies, without resulting in any plant closures. It would have combined revenues of nearly 170 billion euros. FCA Chairman and Agnelli family heir, John Elkann is set to be the chairman of the new group, with PSA Peugeot CEO Carlos Tavares as chief executive. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said the government will be watching the merger closely. “It’s a market operation,” he said. “I cannot judge the agreement, but what is important to the government is that the level of production and employment in Italy is guaranteed.” This is the second time this year that FCA has propped a merger with a French giant. In June, FCA announced a proposed merger with Renault. That deal turned sour when the marriage of equals appeared to be too one-sided (in Renault’s favor).

More Deer Trouble

As was reported two weeks ago on these pages, a deer became trapped in a clothing store in Cortina d’Ampezzo. Fortunately, the only damage was to some apparel. Last week, a northern Italian commuter bus had a collision with a deer on a Dolomites road. The Dolomiti Bus vehicle was taking Luxottica workers from Feltre to Agordo when it hit the animal while crossing the road. The commuters were unhurt, as was the deer, which ran off into the woods. The bus however was out of commission following the accident.

Lufthansa Likes Alitalia

Lufthansa may be on its way to acquiring a major stake in the beleaguered airline Alitalia, but with some conditions…The German airline wrote a letter to Ferrovie dello Stato (FS) rail group on FS’s handling of the Alitalia rescue, enclosing a copy to the industry ministry. In it, the airline does not mention the equity share it would like to take in the new company, nor does it cite figures on its bid. According to sources, it represents a huge investment in the new Alitalia, larger than other market partners. Other partners who have been lining up include Delta Airlines and Italian motorway group Atlantia. Among other things, Lufthansa is asking for a significant reduction in the cost of aircraft and crews, a cut in the fleet and network, an increase in productivity and a preventive accord on cutting costs with the trade unions before signing any commitment. Meetings are scheduled to begin soon.

15-Year-Old Sailor of the Year

Marco Gradoni, a 15-year-old teen from Rome has been named the 2019 World Sailor of the Year. He races for the Tognazzi Marine Village, a sailing club near Rome and is the second Italian to win the award after Olympic champion Alessandra Sensini won in 2008. He is also the youngest ever. Gradoni has won three straight world titles in the Optimist class. In 2016, at the age of 12, he came in fourth during his first bid for a world championship. “I’m speechless,” he said after winning the prize in Bermuda. “I want to thank first of all my mother, the Optimist international class that gave me the possibility to be here and the jury that voted for me.” It is a dream come true for the sailing prodigy.