A bishop in Sicily has banned known mafia criminals from acting as godfathers at baptisms in churches in his diocese.
Michele Pennisi, bishop of Monreale, near Palermo, said Friday he had issued a decree to that effect in a bid to challenge any notion that the bosses of organized crime have a paternalistic side to them....
Click to read the whole story on The Guardian....
This Wednesday, after a "10 month, exhaustive investigation", Sicilian police arrested three men for stealing 230 bottles of rare vintages of fine wines worth nearly $50,000 from Ristorante Tiramisù in Taormina. Prices per bottle ranged from $200 to over $1000 each. With restaurant mark-ups, the value of the wine could have reached well over $100,000. The professional thieves managed to get past a sophisticated alarm system complete with video surveillance cameras.
But these weren't wine connoisseurs that did the deed. They didn't want to add the bottles to their own wine cellars or to drink the stuff themselves. They were holding the bottles for ransom--to the tune of about $16,000 for their safe return... otherwise, the bottles would go to an early grave.
The bottles were returned to their home in the cellars of Tiramisù, but there was no word on how they are holding up after their terrifying ordeal, or if their ten-month captivity affected their nose, flavors or colors. There was one report that one of the former captives--after having been opened--showed notes of strawberry, new-mown hay, aged oak and a surprising hint of rusted Tre Ruote, formaldehyde and woolen ski mask....
Food Crime on the Rise in Italy:
A spike in cheese theft saw robbers make off with an estimated €6 million worth of Italy's prized Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese between 2014 and 2016. The combination of high value - one 40kg wheel is typically worth €500 - and small, rural producers which aren't equipped with anti-theft seasons makes the cheese warehouses an irresistible target.
Two years ago, Ligurian police foiled an attempted heist of 29kg of Nutella, the popular chocolatey hazelnut spread, which the thieves reportedly planned to sell on the black market.
March 16, 2007
Mount Etna is the largest active volcano in Europe and is prone to showing its power from time to time. The first recorded eruption was in 425 BC and the latest was on February 27th of this year, with a dramatic and explosive display of lava. Today, it showed Mankind who really is the boss once again by venting out hot steam, chunks of rock, ice and ash while TV crews and tour groups scattered. The explosive activity occurred when hot lava hit a thick layer of snow and ice. Ten people were injured from falling ash and rock, suffering minor cuts, bruises and burns.
Mount Etna had been active for the past two days, creating a visual spectacle as it spewed lava and ash into the air. A new lava flow started from the south-eastern crater on Wednesday and was advancing with a temperature above 1000 degrees Celsius in an area covered by snow. Sicily's Catania airport announced they would reduce arrivals by half to five flights an hour, due to ash clouds.
If city planners have their way, this summer, the Leaning Tower of Pisa will have a new neighbor: a 150 foot tall Ferris wheel... nearly as tall as the Tower itself. The plan calls for a temporary three-month testing of the idea, placing the Ferris wheel in the tourist bus parking lot located about 1500 feet from the entrance to the Piazza dei Miracola which contains the Duomo, the Baptistry and the Tower. The tourist buses typically drop off large tour groups from cruise ships docked in the nearby port.
Many visitors to Pisa never see the rest of this medieval city, and that's just the point of the Big Wheel. Passengers will get a fantastic view of the Tower complex, but also what lies beyond the city’s medieval buildings, the Arno River, the mountains and the sea. The Culture Minister, Andrea Ferrante, said that the Ferris wheel will show tourists that there’s more to Pisa than the Leaning Tower and inspire them to visit the rest of the city and perhaps spend more time--and money--there. Over two and a half million tourists visit the Piazza dei Miracoli each year, with few exploring the rest of the beautiful town.
Of course, not everyone thinks this idea is a good one. Many consider the Big Wheel is going to be an eyesore on the historic cityscape and conflicts with its architectural heritage. Of course, the very successful 442 foot tall London Eye opened 15 years ago and has rotated over 32,000 miles and seen marriage proposals by 5,000 couples. It has 32 capsules, each holding 25 people during its 30 minute revolution. The 540 foot tall Singapore Flyer has 28 air-conditioned passenger capsules, each holding 28 people. The High Roller observation wheel in Las Vegas is the world’s tallest at 550ft and lit with more than 2,000 LED lights.
Not everyone is supportive of the plan. The non-profit group Italia Nostra, dedicated to preserving Italy’s heritage, says the amusement park-type attraction would not blend in with the city's medieval architecture. “In the city of the Leaning Tower, a 50-meter-diameter wheel a few steps from Piazza dei Miracoli doesn’t make any sense,” said regional president Mariarita Signorini.
I have a different opinion. First, I don't like the location. It's too close to the Tower, but to be honest, it's not close enough to get in any pictures taken of the Tower or any other position from the Piazza dei Miracola. It is also not that tall. In fact, I'm in favor of a much large wheel--saw 400 feet in height--that sits on the banks of the Arno and looks out over the river and both sides of the city, the Tower of Pisa toward the left with the rest of the old city laid out to the right.
There is a location that could easily be developed now that contains a large sports field and several other fairly vacant plots of land. To show how it would look, I made a mock-up of the view from a 400 foot wheel in exactly that spot--with the help of Google Earth set at 400 foot elevation, with 3D buildings turned on, and a Photoshop paste of a modern, capsule type of wheel (I used the London Eye).
The views would be fantastic, with the benefit of keeping the tourist buses further away from the Piazza dei Miracola. People could stroll from this location after having been oriented to Pisa from the wheel's high viewpoint... through the old city center (on either side of the Arno) and then stroll up toward the Tower as a final reward. Small tourist buses could transport people in Hop-On, Hop-Off loop around the city. In this way, visitors would get a wider appreciation of this wonderful town.
What do you all think?
From the Local, by email@example.com
Italy on Thursday passed a law aimed at tackling poverty, with a particular focus on assisting families with young children in particular.
The country’s Labour Minister Giuliano Poletti, said it was an “important day” after the Chamber of Deputies gave the bill the go-ahead. Having already received approval from the Italian Senate, the law will come into force in the next few weeks.
Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni described the new law as "a step forward to help families in need".
But what will it actually entail?
READ MORE HERE... on their plan to take "urgent action" in tackling child poverty
Today we should honor women...
The photo above shows my Mom, Marie (Vetri) Finzi, holding my son when he was a toddler. It shows her joyful, funny and loving side. But, she was a tough lady... just like her mother. Her shouts threatened us into behaving. She was always harsh with Dad, but was his ultimate lifelong companion--they were married 54 years when he passed away in 2000. When I asked Dad once why he put up with all of her yelling, he just said, "What am I going to do? I love her." Yes, Dad... there was something there...
Her tough demeanor would fade when little kids were around and when she knew neighbors, co-workers or the public at large were watching. She also would laugh, joke, tease and have a great time during large family dinners when all her grandchildren (18 of them) would visit during the holidays and crowd into her tiny kitchen and dining room.
But she was not to be crossed. Her favorite expression was "I don't mad. I get even". She was a provider, but also a fighter... a product from her Italian immigrant family's tough life in Hoboken, New Jersey. Her father was murdered--an act of jealousy when he worked as a manager at a trash hauling company--crushed by a garbage truck. Her mother remarried for financial reasons. Her stepfather was a drunk. Her sister and brother were sent away for years when they were young, simply because there wasn't enough money to provide for all of them. In the end, when her mother passed, she discovered her brother had plotted against her and she was left out of my Grandmother's will. That had to hurt.
She worked in a factory most of her life making jewelry boxes... a real sweat shop--no air conditioning, sun beating down from banks of skylights, and the head-aching airplane roar of industrial fans making a poor attempt to keep things a bit cooler. Once a large metal stamping machine crusher her finger and they paid for her getting stitched back up--nothing more. The rest of her life she pointed with a crooked finger. She eventually became a supervisor, but still worked her own machines getting paid by the piece. No wonder that every month or so she would book an evening out with her "lady friends" to unwind with a Tom Collins cocktail and listening to some Italian crooner in a Manhattan night club, or to a countryside dinner theater to enjoy a show.
She also was a mother to five kids, her first were twin sisters--born THREE DAYS apart. That's back when twins were natural--and a rarity. The New York Daily News carried that story. Her third child was a boy, so rambunctious that he would be classified ADHD today. Her third daughter was a prize--her cherubic, "fat baby" who could never do wrong. And then there was me--an unwanted pregnancy later in her child-bearing years... the "baby" of the family. I was the odd man out--the quiet, polite, artsy type. I tried to stay out of trouble, listened, learned and painted.
She had the foresight to scrape, save and borrow to buy the small six-apartment tenement that I grew up in... just to get the six of them out of the small apartment they rented in Hoboken--just as I came along--a real surprise for this fatigued mother. How the seven of us lived in a two bedroom railroad flat is beyond me.
She collected rents, rented seashore apartments for us for one week a year, bought a new family car every 4 years or so, slaved in that factory until she retired... cooked, cleaned, and "kept house" as she called it. As the older kids married and moved out, she and Dad would take more worldly trips: Hawaii, Spain, Morocco, Mexico, and nearly all the Caribbean islands. She had one Jewish friend and one black friend and used the expression "those people" a lot, although she would never label herself racist. She always held her purse tight to her body whenever we went into New York City for the day.
Every Sunday she made "Sunday Gravy". She also made a great chicken soup, the occasional pizza ("Grandma" sheet pan style), pot roast (with the help of canned onion soup), fall-off-the-bone roasted chicken, she loved smelt and fried eel, and once a week would offer us a "cold platter" during the hot summer. She was a solid, good family cook... not great, but none of us starved, that's for sure. Because she was a working mother, and because my siblings had all gotten married and left home by the time I turned 13, I learned how to cook early on.
Dad didn't live long enough to meet the 19th of his grandchildren--my son Lucas--but Mom did. She was aging pretty fast while he was a toddler and he has vague memories of her... but he does remember his "Angel Grandma" as we came to call her after her passing.
She lived to be 92 years old, passing away in 2009... her longevity, a gift from he mother who lived to be 96.
Since she has been gone, I rarely think of her on any daily basis, but I do cook a lot of the things she taught me how to cook--especially soups and stews. And I see her dimples in my son's dimples. I think of her whenever I come across an old cooking show that we used to watch together. And I hear her voice when I catch myself yelling at my son for some indiscretion or act of disrespect. I don't like yelling. But I suppose that's the way it is with what we inherit from our parents. We accept them into ourselves--both the good and the bad.
You were a hell of a woman and a mother, Marie.
On April 2nd, she would have been 100 years old.
Happy birthday, Mom.
Young women, casalinghe (housewives), Nonne... in fact, all women across Italy will be abstaining not only from work, but also from household chores tomorrow. Wednesday, March 8th is International Women's Day, the day chosen to protest a range of women's rights issues throughout the world. The Day Without Women protest is expected to affect taxis, airline schedules, schools, public transportation and other service and manufacturing industries. Nearly all of Italy's trade unions have announced their participation in the protest.
Organizers said, "Women - and not just women - will take to the streets to show that male violence against women is a structural issue in society," they explained. "It pervades every location, from the home to the workplace, from hospitals to university, from the media to the borders, and in every location it will be fought."
The Italian event is organized by women's rights organization Non una di meno. The organization reported that some employers are "giving false information" to workers about their right to strike in an illegal attempt to quash the effects on their industries.
Trenitalia, Italy's main railway line, has already announced cancellations and delays on all its lines, except on high-speed routes.