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.
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