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Is this really news? Isn't most of Italy incredibly hot and humid just about each and every summer?
Yes... yet again, another heath warning for excessive heat from the Italian Health Ministry. Eight cities are on being put on red alert for heat-related health risks and the oppressive temperatures are going to rise through this coming weekend and last for several days after. The hottest temperatures will be in Bolzano, Bologna, Campobasso, Genoa, Florence, Perugia, Pescara and Rieti reaching as high as 104 F (40 centigrade).
The saving grace, especially in the north, is that weather forecasters are predicting storms which should cool things down. Some storms may bring high winds and hail.
Update: 4/23/18 Sadly, the passing yesterday of Nabi Tajima, the Japanese woman that was the oldest person in the world, now places Giuseppina Projetto-Frau as the second oldest person in the world.
Nonna Pina joking with the mayor
by Jerry Finzi
Italy’s Giuseppina Projetto-Frau is is about to turn 116 on May 30th and is currently the oldest living person in Europe. Several days ago in Barcelona, 116 year-old Spaniard, Ana Vela Rubio passed away. Ana was born on October 29th, 1901 which made her the longest living European. Ana passes the baton to Giuseppina, bringing back the title formerly held by Emma Morano, who died in March 2017 at 117 years old, who was also considered to be the last human who lived during the 19th century. Born in Sardinia in 1902, Projetto has been dubbed La Nonna d'Italia (the grandmother of Italy). She is the third oldest person alive in the world today, after two Japanese women.
Giuseppina (her friends call her Pina) was born in 1902 in La Maddalena--a small island off Sardinia's northern tip. Her father’s name was Cicillo, and she had four siblings. Her grandfather had moved to La Maddalena from Sicily in the wake of the revolt of Garibaldi. At 5 years old, after losing her mother, along with with three of the four sisters, she was sent to the female orphanage Satta-Sequi of Ozieri on the main island of Sardinia, where she lived until she was 21. Pina calls the the orphanage il Collegio, where she learned the art of embroidery, a craft she practiced her entire life. Pina has vivid memories of Ozieri... the fountain with the two marble lions that is located just in front of the "Collegio", the Attilio Pintus pastry shop and the "Swiss" café where she used to buy candy.
She married twice, but bore no children of her own. Her second husband, Giuseppe Frau, had 3 children that Nonna Pina raised with great love. In 1946, when her son moved to Montelupo Fiorentino near Florence for work, she moved with him, where she still resides today with one of her daughters, Julia. Her son was tragically lost when trying to save bathers from drowning--a sorrow she still carries with her. Pina worked many years for the Bitossi Ceramics factory in Montelupo Fiorentino. She attributes some of her longevity to eating chocolate.
She is one of tens of thousands of Italians over 100 and still going. Many scientists have sought to identify the key to Italy’s extraordinary longevity, with suggestions ranging from a Mediterranean diet to hormones to a good sex life.
New rooms opening, a valuable collection finally on view, compelling exhibitions, and, alas, a price increase: here’s what’s new at the Uffizi for 2018.
Let’s start with some not-so-good news: peak season ticket prices (March 1 through October 31) are now €20 (an increase of more than 50% since they previously cost €8). (If you travel in the low season - November 1 to February 28 - then the cost drops to €12.) But hey, art is priceless, and the art contained in the Uffizi even more so.
And now there’s even more incredible art to see there, thanks to the opening of eight new rooms devoted to Caravaggio and 17th-century painting. Painted in a bright cinnabar red meant to evoke the fervor of that century, but also a color that was often used in fabrics and wallpapers depicted in paintings at the time, the rooms contain such Caravaggio masterpieces as La Medusa, Il Bacco and Il Sacrificio di Isacco, alongside works by Annibale Carracci, Guido Reni, Gherardo Delle Notti, Rembrandt, Rubens, Van Dyck, and Artemisia Gentileschi, in a confrontation between Florentine and Italian art with European art.
More welcome news comes with the recent opening to the general public of ...
He’s Back! How Silvio Berlusconi Staged a Political Resurrection
Leoluca Orlando, the mayor of Palermo, has transformed his city from a mafia capital to a capital of culture. But these days, sitting in his palatial office in the heart of the Sicilian capital, just a dozen miles from where a high-profile anti-mafia judge was killed in a car bomb 26 years ago – an act that set off the island’s campaign to dismantle the Cosa Nostra – Orlando is ill at ease.
The recent return of Silvio Berlusconi as a major force in Italian politics is, he says, good news for the enemies he has been fighting for years. “I am not saying he is mafioso. I am not saying that,” Orlando says of the 81-year-old former prime minister. “But he is the man that the rich need, the man that the corrupt need, the man the mafiosi need.” Not far from city hall, a political debate is under way at trattoria Gigi Mangia, where the eponymous owner, a local legend, is sipping prosecco with Maurizio Miceli, a retired lawyer, and debating the sorry state of politics. Miceli supports Berlusconi, the man known as Il Cavaliere (the knight) because – like millions of Italians – he sees the billionaire as the best of a bad set of options for Italy.
It’s Berlusconi – not the centre-left led by Matteo Renzi, nor the populist, upstart Five Star Movement – who really understands the country and its complexity, Miceli says. “When people have a pain in their bellies, when they are hungry, the issue of ethics becomes secondary,” he says. “When they hear their pensions will go up and that Berlusconi will bring a flat tax, they don’t care about the times he has been condemned in court.”
The Italian government has overwhelmingly backed a new set of laws aimed at cutting down the vast amounts of food wasted in the country each year. A bill passed by 181 Senators will encourage families to use “doggy bags” to take home unfinished food after eating out and removes hurdles for farmers and supermarkets seeking to donate food to charity.
The goal to cut the five million tonnes of food wasted every year by at least one million tonnes was only opposed by two Senators and abstained from by one when put to a vote in Italy’s upper house on 2 August. Ministers have said that food waste is costing Italy’s business and households more than €12 billion (£10 billion) a year, or about 1 per cent of GDP.
And since the country has a public debt exceeding 135 per cent of GDP – a figure which has increased by a fifth since 2003– and a youth unemployment rate of an estimated 40 per cent with millions of Italians in poverty, the levels of food waste are considered unjustifiable.
Indeed, Italy’s highest court ruled only three months ago that stealing small amounts of food because of hunger was not a crime. The new laws seek to make donating food easier by allowing businesses to record donations in a simple form every month.
The early 2016 news that Cinque Terre would be imposing caps on the number of tourists allowed to access the picturesque towns was "just a provocation," admits Patrizio Scarpellini, director of Cinque Terre National Park, but “it had reached a point that we had to do something.”
That something — a dramatic statement to the press by the park’s president, Vittorio Alessandro — has raised awareness of the problems faced by this UNESCO Heritage Site, but the solution is much more complex than closing a door. Cinque Terre is a stretch of particularly rugged coastline in the Italian region of Liguria, halfway between the busy ports of Genova and Livorno. Day-trippers from the cruises that stop here stream into the five towns of Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso, which grow up from the sea into a steep hillside that has been transformed, over the centuries, into terraced parcels of agricultural land.
Carve out a spot along Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue for a family-friendly celebration filled with colorful floats and rousing musical performances. The parade honors Italian-Americans’ contributions to New York City and draws around million spectators and 35,000 marchers. The parade travels from 44th Street to 72nd Street and marching bands will perform along its length, and there’s also a “red carpet” area between 67th and 69th Streets for stage acts—special passes are needed to get up close. For more information, visit columbuscitizensfd.org.
Pittsburgh, PA Saturday, October 7th
The Saturday before Columbus Day always turns Pittsburgh’s Little Italy into one big celebration. And even though the old Bloomfield neighborhood is affectionately known as “Little Italy,” there’s actually nothing small about the annual Columbus Day parade. Thousands line Liberty Avenue to see everyone from Pittsburgh politicians to pint-sized pageant queens. The 32nd annual parade will step off at 11 a.m. at Bloomfield Liberty Avenue.
Chicago, IL Monday, October 9th
For nearly half a century, the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans has sponsored Chicago’s Columbus Day celebration. Festivities begin with a mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii and a wreath laying ceremony at the Columbus Statue located in Arrigo Park, followed by the parade. The parade of over 150 floats, bands and marching units travels down State Street, from Wacker Drive to VanBuren Street. Many prominent Italian-Americans have been honorary parade Grand Marshals, including Ernest Borgnine and Tommy LaSorda.
Cleveland, OH Monday, October 9th
The 65th annual Cleveland Columbus Day Parade will step off at noon on Monday, Oct. 9. The parade will take place in Little Italy, where it moved in 2003 after decades downtown. The 15th parade in Little Italy will begin at Murray Hill and Cornell Roads and proceed north to East 125th Street and Fairview, then turn north on Fairview and march back to Mayfield past Holy Rosary Church. The parade will feature more than 100 groups, including marching bands from Mayfield, Garfield Heights, Holy Name and other high schools. The Knights of Columbus, local Italian associations and Little Italy Montessori school will also march in the parade.
San Francisco, CA Sunday, October 8th
Columbus Day’s three-day holiday weekend delivers San Francisco’s oldest civic event — the nation’s first Italian-American Columbus Day Parade. Introduced in 1869, the free event has continued growing, with colorful marching bands, floats and plenty of people waving red, white and green flags to celebrate Italian pride. The Italian Heritage Parade kicks off from Fisherman’s Wharf beginning at 12:30 p.m. and finishes in North Beach on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017. Spectators are treated to dozens of handcrafted parade floats from Bay Area businesses, community groups, Italian organizations, local high school Italian clubs and marching bands. Traditional Italian musicians and performance artists led by grand marshals are on show, as well as special character appearances by Christopher Columbus, Queen Isabella and her court.
Baltimore, MD Sunday, October 8, 2017
This is the 127th Columbus Commemoration in Baltimore. The parade begins 2 pm Parade on Key Highway and ends in Little Italy. Join Baltimore's Italian community in the longest-running parade and commemoration in the country to honor Christopher Columbus... Bring the family! PARADE CHAIRMAN: Al Massa, email@example.com PARADE DAY COORDINATOR: Gina Piscopo, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tourism in Italy boomed in summer 2017, with an increase in visitor numbers expected to continue throughout the colder months. In total, almost 50 million people spent the night at an Italian hotel during June, July, and August this year.
The exact number was 48.3 million, according to figures shared by Italian hotel trade association Federalberghi and the Cultural Ministry, and represented a two percent increase compared to last year.
On top of that, a further three million spent the night at an Airbnb accommodation, a huge 20 percent increase year-on-year. Seaside resorts reported a dramatic rise in visitors, with 16 percent more people visiting beach resorts this summer than in the same period in 2016.
But tourists were also attracted by culture, and museums saw a 12.5 percent increase in visitor numbers, with Puglia leading the way.
In Italy, natural disasters are fairly common... Earthquakes, wildfires, landslides, floods, even volcanoes erupting. Americans give selflessly to these causes to help. Now our country needs help.
I'm putting out a call to Italian citizens and Italian-Americans to dig into their pockets--even if it's only a small amount--and donate.
Over 50 inches of rain and still counting... dam waters being released into rivers and creeks... homes, business and even rescue centers are being flooded.
It's time to do something!
Here's where you can help... Click the links below.
If you have a home in Texas or a nearby state that you can offer to a displaced family for free, AirBnB is waiving fees and has a special link to set up your offer.
Here's how you can prevent being scammed while trying to donate to help victims of Hurricane Harvey... Contact Charity Navigator. They list all legitimate charities along with ratings of each that are taking part in the recovery effort.
Are there Italians in Texas?
Of course there are. Italian heritage has spread all over the world. The 1990 census placed the number at 441,256, while the 2000 census put the number of Tex-Italians at 363,354. Although that shows a drop, there has been an influx of people rushing to Texas in recent years to fill jobs, so the number may be considerably higher. Houston especially has a large Italian-American population of nearly 100,000 and Dallas over 60,000.
Like Christopher Columbus himself, Italians were often in the employ of the Spanish court during that early period of discovery. Some soldiers of fortune came from northern Italy, but the larger numbers were from Sicily and Naples, provinces that were under the Spanish crown at various times. Francisco Vásquez de Coronado's trek across the High Plains in 1541 included soldiers with the Italian surnames of Loro, Napolitano and Romano, among others.
When Texas became settled territory in the late 1700s, individual Italian merchants began to arrive. Among them was Vincente Micheli who came to Nacogdoches from Brescia. In 1836, when Texas won independence from Mexico, Italian-born Prospero Bernardi was one of the Texans who fought at the Battle of San Jacinto. The older cities of San Antonio, Nacogdoches and Victoria have Italian families who date back to this period.
In 1880 Italian farmers settled in the flood-prone area of the Brazos Valley between Hearne and Bryan--by 1905 the town of Bryan had 3,000 Italians. In the same period of time, the Texas Pacific Coal Company hired thousands of Italian immigrants to work in their mines in the Fort Worth area. By 1910 Burleson and Robertson Counties also had large numbers of Italian residents. The Qualias Val Verde Winery in Del Riois the oldest licensed winery in Texas and was started by Frank and Mary Qualia from Milan.
Italian firefighters working through the night, sometimes digging by hand, freed a seven-month-old baby and then his two older brothers from the rubble of their home that collapsed when a 4.0-magnitude quake struck the resort island of Ischia during the height of tourist season. In the hard-hit town of Casamicciola, dozens of firefighters worked for 14 hours to dig the Toscano brothers out of their home, where they were trapped alone after their father was rescued and their pregnant mother managed to free herself.
This viewer worked, but the sun was about 1/4" in diameter
If you're planning on viewing today's total eclipse of the sun in Italy, forget it. Not happening. Only Italian-Americans (and the rest of Americans) have that privilege today (and a small part of western Canada). But don't lose hope. If you really want to see a total eclipse in Italy, it will just take some special planning... and perhaps a time machine.
The last total solar eclipse visible from Italy occurred in the twentieth century, on February 15, 1961. So, a time machine would prove handy here. You might also travel back to see a partial eclipse on August 11, 1999 or October 3, 2005.
To see the next solar eclipse from Italy, log onto Bookings.com and make your reservations for August 2nd 2027. Let's see... I'll be 77, hopefully I'll have new knees by then and will be pretty spry for another Italy Voyage.
Beyond that, I suppose my son might book a flight to the Bel Paese to witness the solar eclipse of September 3, 2081. He' be 78 by then... perhaps he'll have some new knees and God knows what other body parts that they'll be replacing with future technologies.
The rest will have to be viewed by my great, great, great... er... great? - grandchildren on July 6, 2187 or May 16, 2227.
Of course, if we had a time machine we could take the ultimate Voyage and see all of them now... or before... or later?
Oh... and unlike my Photoshop montage above, one thing no one will be seeing in Italy is spaghetti and meatballs. It simply doesn't exist there...
--Jerry Finzi (Getting out the cardboard solar eclipse viewer Lucas and I slapped together for this event...)
We built a binocular unit (one lens blocked) that projected a 4" image, sharp enough to see sunspots!
Joseph Bologna - December 30, 1934 – August 13, 2017
Joe and Renee in Made for Each Other
I think I first fell in love back in 1970... with the comedy writing of real life duo of Renee Taylor and Joseph Bologna in their film Lovers and Other Strangers, based on the Broadway play in which they played the lead roles. These two geniuses wrote like my family lived. I recognized just about every character in the plot... overbearing, guilt-weaponized mother, the always bothered Dad, the son just trying to live his own life his own way, and siblings trying to out-do each other. "What's the story, Jerry" and plastic slip covers are my strongest memories from the plot. This film also has one of the most accurate and funny depictions of an Italian-American wedding that I've ever seen on screen.
But my love of their work grew stronger when I saw them play the leads in their '71 film Made for Each Other, a profile of the stumbling beginnings of a relation between two people who seem anything but made for each other. Again, they reminded me of my sisters or my brother and the way they stumbled into their own relationships and marriages.
Joe and Renee were in fact, made for each other in real life. Their comedy sense and character development were superb. Their timing perfect. We didn't laugh at them as much as laugh at ourselves when we watched them work. Bologna went on to appear in both film and television, one of my favorites being the American version of Blame it on Rio, a sexy May-September romp with co-star Michael Caine.
Bologna & Caine obviously enjoying themselves on the beach in Blame it on Rio
He could play it as tough as it gets and as funny as anyone would want. He plays a proud Italian-American catering venue owner in Love is All There Is (which Joe and Rene directed), whose Long Island son is wooing a real Italian princess while his own wife is trying to woo her hubby away from napping with his poodle to her bed. The story was based on Romeo & Juliette, except this time the feuding families were the Cappamezzas' (Half Heads) and Malacicis' (Bad Beans). This is one of the funniest films I've ever seen.
This real life tough guy battled pancreatic cancer for the last three years... an unusually long period for this fast moving cancer. “He had a beautiful life and a beautiful death having fully and gratefully experienced three years since being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at Cedars Sinai,” said Renee Taylor, wife of 52 years.
A common face in literally hundreds of TV roles, Bologna will be missed.
Angelina Jolie, Lainie Kazan and Bologna in Live is All There Is
Italy is in the middle of the worst heat wave to hit the Boot in years. It is expected to only get hotter in the coming weeks as Ferragosto (the Italian vacation season) is set to begin on the 15th.
Yesterday, 16 Italian cities reached the rank of Bollino Rosso (a Red Alert), expected to rise to 24 major cities in the next few days. Every major city center is affected except for Genoa in the northwest part of the country. Temperatures are expected to break all past records, with some temperatures reaching 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the south-central region!
I pity the residents and tourists in Florence with scorching temperatures rising to 107F. And people trying to escape the heat in the mountains of Abruzzo were disappointed when temps rose to 104 F... very unusual for an altitude of 2500 feet above sea level. Even in Potenza--huddled in the mountains of Basilicata--the temperature equalled body temperature... 98.6 F, offering no relief. The worst is in Naples where it rose to 116 F... and if anyone thought they would cool off by taking a ferry to Capri, the heat there wasn't much better--111 F! Water temperature in Capri is a un-refreshing 82 degrees. One blogger living in Naples said that her pool felt like someone had "drawn me a warm bath".
This is the fifth heat wave to hit Italy this summer.
If you want to know how to stay cool while Voyaging in hot, hot Italy, check out THIS POST.
My original design for my fireplace tiles... Just wait until you see the finished project!
I've noticed our numbers have dropped slightly--perhaps by my own fault. There has been a lot going on so far this summer... a vacation on the Chesapeake Bay, planning a big camping party for my son's birthday, a couple of power blackouts, a minor health crisis (I'm OK and getting better)... all the while trying to put the finishing touches on a fireplace mantle and hearth that I built toward the end of last year. (The hand made tiles are finally installed!)
So, look forward to a deluge of new articles and photos in the coming weeks. I actually am backlogged on editing many that are almost finished.
We're still here, living our Italian life, cooking, laughing, loving and picking our home grown tomatoes from our garden...
Every summer, as the sizzle perspires from the cement, urban thoughts of running streams, flowing grass and cool mountain breezes inherently materialize around every New Yorker and only subside with the arrival of fall. But few would consider the very nearby setting today that many Italian families once made an affordable respite and desired vacation getaway. A sentiment reflecting the desolation this upstate destination of a bygone era now suffers. Nonetheless, a holdout remains and is the subject of The Last Resort.
So for those completely at a loss in the younger generations, the only introduction that suffices with a question: What the hell are the Catskills “Exactly. Right now there’s one Jewish place and three Italian places. I used to go to a place called Villa Maria," said Filmmaker Dante Liberatore. “The whole setting was an extension of little Italy for Italians. It meant going to a place with people just like themselves and reminded them of home in Italy where they could catch the mountain breeze.”
Unfortunately, the Catskills sunk as Americans were no longer grounded by the high rates of travel. “When the airlines went through deregulation, prices fell dramatically. This giving people so many more options – who really wants to go to the mountains and look at trees,” said the Yonkers born writer.
Still, who does a movie about the Catskills. “After finishing my previous project on Arthur Avenue, the producer wanted to do another Italian themed film. So I said, why don’t we go see if there’s any Italian resorts left in the Catskills,” said Liberatore....
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