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Weekly News

Fountain Climbing

Rome is famous for the countless sights that awe visitors from around the world, but last week travelers near Piazza di Trevi were stunned to see a tourist attempt to climb the Eternal City’s most famous fountain. Traffic actually stopped as a 20-year-old Egyptian man tried to scale Rome’s iconic Trevi Fountain. Police were quickly on the scene and apprehended the man who was near the top of the famed monument. The man was fined 450 euros, escorted out of the city and was banned from returning to Rome.

Pliny’s Skull?

After two years of research, experts believe that a mysterious skull kept at Rome’s Accademia di Arte Sanitaria (Academy of Health Art) could belong to Pliny the Elder, famed Roman military commander and naturalist who wrote the encyclopedic Naturalis Historia (History of Nature). He died in Stabiae near Pompeii, while trying to rescue a friend during the 79 AD eruption of Mount Vesuvius. “An authentic mystery led us to close in on the possible origins of the skull,” said art historian and journalist Andrea Cionci. “The probability that it is Pliny the Elder’s skull are high, although there are never absolute certainties in archaeology. The study was coordinated in collaboration with experts from the National Research Council (CNR), Rome’s Sapienza University and the Universities of Florence and Macerata.

Independent Thinking

Italy is already unique in that the country has two sovereign countries in its midst – Vatican City and San Marino. If a tiny town in Liguria has its way, Italy could soon have a third independent principality within its borders. Seborga, an eccentric hilltop hamlet on the Italian Riviera has reasserted its claim to be an independent country by holding elections for its new head of state. The title for the office is La Sua Tremendita, which translates as Her Tremendousness. The majority of the town’s 247 registered voters chose 41-year-old resident Nina Dobler Menengatto to lead the state. Seborga’s claim of independence is based on an error in transferring the town’s title from the Savoy dynasty to the Kingdom of Sardinia and subsequently to the Republic of Italy. 

“Nanny Italy”

While the term ‘nanny state’ is used to describe an overprotective government, Italy has placed an interesting spin on the idea that may be taken both figuratively and literally. Italians are now required to have car seats that emit both an audio and visual alert when a child is left behind in a vehicle. The new law is expected to minimize vehicular heat stroke incidents in the country. Parents of children under the age of four who fail to use the seats face a fine of up to 350 euros. They will also have penalties applied to their licenses, thus if numerous offenses occur, the parent could lose their driving privileges. It is impossible to argue about the reasoning behind the law, but it is sad that there is a need for it. The problem is actually worse in America, where on average, vehicular heat stroke kills 40 children each year.

Stepping Up to the Plate

Former New York Mets catcher and Baseball Hall of Famer Mike Piazza has been named as the new manager for the Italian national baseball team. Speaking at his introduction to the Italian Olympic Committee, Piazza remarked, “My heart is in Italy now…Italy is part of me.” Mike, who also serves as spokesman for the National Italian American Hall of Fame has been living in Italy since he purchased the Reggiana Soccer Club in 2016. His stated goal for the Italian baseball team is to “re-establish our place as one of the elite programs in Europe.”

Love and Hate

The Italian Parliament has been the scene of some unusual activities of late. Beyond the typical party bickering, a recent session actually saw a brawl break out between deputies of the right-wing Lega and the left-center Partito Democratico. The day following the outbreak, Lega Deputy Flavio Di Muro, 33, from the region of Liguria was recognized to speak in the chamber. He used the occasion to propose to his now fiancée, Elisa de Leo, who was watching from the visitor’s gallery. After she said yes, lawmakers leapt to their feet to congratulate Di Muro, including the opposition Partito Democratico deputy. He took the floor and told the couple, “L’amore vince sempre,” love always wins. Initially, Di Muro did not hear his intended’s reply and it was only following the vote for earthquake relief was completed that a correspondent from a press agency told him not to worry, she said yes!