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Weekly News – Nov 7, 2019

Bad Bus Behavior

Authorities are investigating a bus driver in Rome who told passengers to disembark the vehicle, only to then load his scooter onto the bus and drive away. The driver has been suspended by Rome’s TPL transport company while it looks into the incident. Passengers were kicked off the bus after the driver announced “The bus won’t go. Everyone off.” He then collected his scooter that was parked nearby. The driver was not wearing his bus uniform and according to passengers, seemed very agitated. After suspending the driver, Rome’s TPL transport company inquired about the reason for the improper use of the bus; the driver’s response was that he needed his scooter to get home. Rome’s buses as well as other forms of public transportation frequently make headlines, but for all the wrong reasons. Two weeks ago, more than a dozen people were hurt when a bus crashed into a tree in Rome. This was on the heels of a day when not one, but two Rome buses burst into flames in unrelated instances.

On the Question of Rice Balls

Arancini, the famous Sicilian rice balls fried in breadcrumbs, have found their way into the Oxford English Dictionary. The word is among hundreds added to the reference guide in this year’s revision. The prestigious dictionary defines the word arancini as “rice balls” with “a savory filling, covered with breadcrumbs and fried.” It adds that they are “typically served as an antipasto or snack.” This has created a minor stir in Sicily because the dictionary notes that the dish hails from Catania and uses the masculine plural – arancini. In Palermo and western Sicily, rice balls are called arancine, but the difference doesn’t end there. While rice balls in Palermo are round, in Catania they are more of a cone-shape. It seems the Oxford Dictionary has only added fuel to the fire regarding the centuries-old question of which is the authentic variety.

Fire Damages UNESCO Site

A blaze broke out last week at the Cavallerizza Reale in Turin, part of the northern Italian city’s UNESCO-listed heritage site, causing a section of the roof to collapse. The fire began in the former stables and within two hours caused a portion of the ceiling to cave in, leaving behind charred remains. Six fire squads brought the inferno under control before it could reach any of the other historic buildings nearby. No injuries were reported. The Cavallerizza Reale, in the heart of Turin’s historic center, forms part of the network of palaces built for the ruling Savoy family during the 17th and 18th centuries. Originally designed to house the royal stables and host cavalry exercises, the complex has since been adapted into an auditorium as well as a warehouse. The fire began in the latter. Five years ago, another portion of the building was damaged by fire. In that case, authorities determined the cause to be arson.

Cimabue Painting Update

The October 3rd Cronaca section of the Italian Tribune mentioned a rare masterpiece by Italian early Renaissance master Cimabue that was discovered in a senior citizen’s kitchen. The auction of the painting would be the first time in decades that a work by Cimabue (1272-1302) would go under the hammer. The original estimate for the auction price was between four and six million euros. It seems those estimates were a bit on the low side. The painting, “Christ Mocked,” sold for an astounding 24 million euros – five times the initial estimate. The tiny unsigned work measures just 10” by 8” but is in excellent condition. Only two other elements of the diptych are known to exist: “The Flagellation of Christ” displayed at the Frick in New York and “The Virgin and Child with Two Angels” at the National Gallery in London.

Cats Save Owners From Landslide

As violent storms lashed northern Italy, one couple in Liguria had a narrow escape before their house collapsed in a landslide. Although the home was completely destroyed, they escaped unharmed due to their two cats. In the town of Campo Ligure, Piana and his wife Sabrina Pellegrini had gone to bed as fierce rains fell across the Liguria region. It caused rivers to burst their banks and washed away a bridge which sparked numerous landslides. Unbeknown to them, one such landslide had damaged the house’s foundation. The couple was awoken by their two cats who were making a lot of noise in the middle of the night. When Sabrina turned in the lights, the couple saw that cracks had developed in the walls. They grabbed the pets and rushed outside into a quagmire of mud, moments before the weight of the landslide destroyed their home.

Stunning Upsets in Regional Elections

The region of Umbria traditionally votes for candidates that are more on the liberal side of the aisle than conservative. The latest elections seem to indicate that the leader of the conservative League party, Matteo Salvini, is correct in asserting that the powerbase of Italy’s newly-formed left-leaning 5-Star Movement (M5S) and Democratic Party (PD) is already showing signs of weakness. Umbria’s conservative candidate, Donatella Tesei, won the regional election in Umbria in a landslide, with 58% of the vote, compared to the liberal candidate’s 37%. This marked the eighth straight regional election win for the Salvini-led alliance. After losing control in August, Salvini predicted that the new government, based on a coalition of formerly opposing M5S and PD parties, would not last long and now says that its days are numbered. Regarding the humiliating defeat in the regional election, M5S leader Luigi Di Maio said, “Umbria was an experiment. The experiment didn’t work.”