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Winning Sense of Direction

It’s fair to say things were not supposed to go this way at the Venice Marathon. Keyna had two runners at the front of the pack at the 16-mile mark, but they were led astray by the guide motorcycle, which made a wrong turn! The small group of runners followed the errant rider several hundred yards off course, causing a delay of about two minutes. The favorites ultimately lost out to Eyob Faniel, a local who was running in only his second marathon and who runs for the Venice Marathon Club. The Eritrean-born Italian made his official marathon debut in Florence last year. He became the first Italian man to win the Venice Marathon in 22 years.

A Race in Rome

Formula e looks like it is the future of racing and the series has unveiled the track layout for its inaugural race in Rome. The 21-turn circuit will be the second-longest of the season at 1.77 miles. It begins on the Via Cristoforo Colombo (the longest district road in Italy) and its backdrops include the Obelisco di Marconi, a marble-concrete structure built as part of the 1960 Olympic Games. Formula e’s three champions, Nelson Piquet Jr, Sebastien Buemi and Lucas di Grassi, drove in formation through the city to officially unveil the details of the April 14, 2018 race. The formula is still in its early years, but already Jaguar, Audi and Renault are on board, with BMW joining as a manufacturer next year. Mercedes, Porsche and Nissan will enter in 2019. The big question on everyone’s mind is will an Italian manufacturer join the series? Is anyone in Maranello listening?

Caligula’s Mosaic Recovered

Neither the fall of a Roman Empire, nor WWII could destroy it, but for the past 70 years, one of Italy’s ancient treasures was feared lost forever. A mosaic from one of Emperor Caligula’s ships will return to Italy after it was rediscovered in an art collector’s New York apartment, where it was being used as a coffee table. Italy’s “Art Squad” – a special unit of the military police charged with protecting the country’s cultural heritage, traced the long-lost mosaic to an Italian collector living on Park Avenue. The 2,000-year-old mosaic has not been seen publicly since the 1940s, when it was removed from the Naval Museum at Lake Nemi, southeast of Rome. Made of green and red porphyry, serpentine and glass, it once decorated the marble floor of one of the extravagant ships that pleasure-loving Emperor Caligula built to sail on Lake Nemi during his reign in the 1st century AD.

‘Enogastronomic Tourism’

While eating lunch in Italy’s Bolgheri wine country, it is not hard to understand why the number of international visitors to this lovely corner of Tuscany has doubled in the last five years. It used to be a summer crowd, but now travelers come year-round. The reason is the ever-increasing reputation of Bolgheri’s wine. Tourism accounts for about 10% of Italy’s GDP and this summer saw a 16% increase in the visits to Italy’s long and glorious coastline.  But a new trend is developing in Italy called ‘Enogastronomic Tourism,’ a very fancy term for those who travel and seek out locations to indulge in its food and wine. Although one would expect that Italy would lead the way in this sector, it is only now realizing its potential that has been on its doorstep for years. The marketing of a region’s wine is yet another reason to visit Italy and it is expected that over the course of the next few years, the number of tours and vacations created for the food gourmet, wine aficionado and the millions who want to learn and experience Italy’s extraordinary offerings, will increase exponentially.

Chocolate of Modica

Italian artisans are seeking European protection for the distinctive chocolate made in the town of Modica, near the southern tip of Sicily. The recipe made its way to Sicily via 16th century explorers, who brought back exotic foods from their travels to the New World. Sicily was one of the places where the production of chocolate subsequently took off. The same fundamental technique is still practiced by artisans in Modica today. It involves grinding cocoa beans by hand to a paste, incorporating sugar and flavorings such as vanilla or cinnamon, then placing it in a mold to set. Because the temperature of the chocolate never rises above 110°F, much lower than in industrial processing, the cocoa butter doesn’t separate, nor does the sugar melt entirely. This gives Modica chocolate its distinctive rich flavor and texture. The low-tech process also preserves more of the antioxidants and other beneficial substances contained in cocoa beans. With no added milk and a relatively low sugar content, Modica’s crunchy, bitter bars are healthier than most industrial blends. The chocolate has been granted preliminary approval for PGI status. Producers are still waiting for the recognition to become official and when it does, it will be Europe’s first protected chocolate.

The Genius of Galileo

An art exhibition featuring 16th century astronomer, father of the scientific method, poet, writer, musician and artist, Galileo Galilei, goes on display in Padua beginning November 11. Titled “Galileo Revolution,” it shows the story of Galileo, both as a person and as one of Italy and Europe’s most historical figures. The exhibition reveals Galileo’s multi-dimensional talents, from the scientist who revolutionized astronomical research, to the writer and virtuoso musician; to the artist who was considered among the top art critics of the 17th century. Galileo’s other creative talents are showcased through inventions such as the telescope, the microscope and the compass. The show also gives visitors an idea of how Galileo’s discoveries influenced later innovators, ranging from the fields of science and nature, to the world of the arts. The exhibit will run through March 18, 2018, in the exhibition spaces of the Palazzo del Monte di Pietà in Padua.