A series of fires, suspected to have been started by arsonists, have broken out on the slopes of Italy's Mount Vesuvius just outside the city of Naples, prompting several evacuations of both tourists and local residents. The huge plumes of smoke rose a mile into the sky about the volcano's summit, looking very much like eruptions of the past.
There have already been two fatalities as a result of the fires and at least 10 people have been treated at local hospitals for smoke inhalation. One man died while trying to extinguish a fire near his property in the Cosenza province. Another man was found dead in the Vibo Valentia province. Over 1000 tourists have been relocated due to their proximity to the blaze.
The past few months in Italy have been very dry and hot, creating ideal conditions for wildfires throughout Italy. There are also many wildfires currently being fought in Sicily, for example. Even more locally, wildfires are also currently burning on the Amalfi coast, while up and down Italy, 200,000 acres have burned so far this year. This past Tuesday, 197 fires were reported, with heavy rains in the north helping the effort in stopping them.
After another sweltering day today, the temperatures are going to drop a bit in southern Italy and the chance of thunderstorms will increase. The rainfall will be welcome in combating the fires, but they may also start new fires with their lightning.
Is the Mafia Involved with the Fires?
As reported by the Guardian and other news sources, many of the hundreds of fires sweeping Italy this summer might have been started by organized crime families. In one incident, a firefighting helicopter was shot at and a communications beacon used by firefighters near Naples was put out of operation.
"There is a clearly an offensive under way, presumably organized by the powerful Casalesi Camorra clan," a regional government official, Corrado Gabriele, told Il Giornale. "Behind these simple fires hides a business worth millions, with the Camorra aiming to create new zones for building."
Some have called for the army to be sent into the area to help with security. Italy's Environment Minister, Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio, said the fires were a "real criminal assault on the country's parks and other areas ... by people linked to organized crime groups and illicit construction".
The Italian environmental group Legambiente has said more than half of all Italy's fires are started deliberately, whether by organized crime, building speculators or farmers seeking more land to cultivate.
Some groups have suggested rewards for turning in arsonists be offered while others suggest importing more sheep (and shepherds) might lesson the possibility of wildfires. There have be less shepherds in recent years, allowing fields of grass to become overgrown and dried, creating more fuel for fires.
Whatever the reason for the fires, we wish our Italian cousins well through this difficult time.
Stay safe, miei amici.
by Lorenzo Zanini
Italy is the country with the highest number of companies in the Deloitte “Global Power of Luxury Goods” 2017 report, the consultancy said.
Italian companies account for around 16% of total revenues of $212 billion generated by the top 100 luxury groups in the world. Revenues made by Italian companies increased 9.3% from the year before, above the top 100 average growth of 6.8%. However, the average size of the Italian luxury goods makers is smaller than their French, US and Swiss rivals.
According to the report, Luxottica is the fourth-largest luxury goods group by revenue, with $9.8 billion, and the only Italian firm in the top 10.
CLICK TO READ MORE...
Reported from the World Economic Report:
Italy tops a ranking of the world’s healthiest countries, and diet may play a central role.
The Italian economy may not be in great shape, but Italians certainly are, according to a ranking of the world’s healthiest nations.
The Bloomberg Global Health Index ranks Italy top of 163 countries, followed by Iceland, Switzerland, Singapore and Australia.
While Italian babies can expect to live into their eighties...
(CLICK HERE TO READ MORE...)
Why are Italians So Healthy?
While Italy is among the most developed countries, its economic growth has stagnated for decades, almost 40 percent of its younger people are out of jobs and it has one of the world’s highest debt loads relative to the size of its economy. Even considering how the economic pressure must filter down to each citizen, Italians are still far better shape than Americans, Canadians and the British populations, who all suffer from higher blood pressure, high cholesterol and mental health issues.
Besides the Mediterranean diet helping to keep Italians healthy, the rest of their lifestyle also contributes. Hilly towns require people of any age to walk and get lots of exercise doing daily tasks--up stairs and inclined streets. Many older homes in villages and in the countryside are on multiple levels, and older city apartments rarely have elevators, causing some to walk up and down 4-6 flights of stairs.
The varied environment in Italy draws people to the outdoors. Young people in Italy are really into outdoor activities, beyond soccer there is cycling, skiing, kayaking, trekking, swimming and much more. Even older people are active--even bocce can give a decent workout, with thousands of serious bocce associations around the country.
Ties to family traditions also helps, with younger people still joining in on the preparations and traditional dances for their festivals, carnivals, and sagre. Families also have obligations to tending olive trees, almond and other nut trees, growing tomatoes (and making and bottling many gallons of pomidori pilati), and other crops--often these are large family events--harvest times brings lots of work and activity. And in pretty much every village and town in Italy--every night after dinner--families, friends and neighbors join each other taking long walks in the main piazza, viale or promenade, called the passeggiatta. A baby born in Italy might easily live into their eighties, with many communities having a larger than expected part of their population over 100 years old. (Read more about this HERE).
Want another reason? As it turns out, Italy--with its socialized medical system--has “an excess of doctors,” said Tom Kenyon, a physician and CEO of global relief organization Project Hope. And of course, there is the Mediterranean diet, rich in vegetables and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. Many desserts even contain the magical, golden oil! In general, Italians eat much more fresh produce, fish and meals made from scratch in their diet. They also tend to eat less in the mornings (espresso and a sweet pastry), a larger lunch with a nap during their 2-3 hours riposo, and a much smaller dinner. Even gelato is healthier than American style, cream based ice cream.
In the end, perhaps Italy itself--the landscape, the colors, the beautiful architecture, the its flowers and trees, the art and the history all around people living there--help lower stress and afford a true happy and content lifestyle that we as Americans might be lacking. Living within a the beautiful painting that is Italia... Wow... what a dream it must be.
Learn to live like and Italian, and perhaps you too can live to be 100--or more!
For those of you who want to check in with Grand Voyage Italy while on Facebook, click the photo above to take you to the Grand Voyage Italy Facebook Group!
Chat, dream, reminisce about your own Voyages in Italy and don't forget to post some photos! Share your own Italian family recipes with us. For Italian nationals, join nostre gruppo and teach us about your home town, your family traditions and share your stories about growing up in la Bel Paese.
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From Wanted in Rome...
The restaurant breathes a bucolic atmosphere: high arches evoke a barn, niches in the bare walls display copper bowls and plates, and demijohn bottles and country-style tablecloths decorate rustic wooden tables.
The immigrant workers live crammed in derelict and abandoned buildings without electricity, running water or sanitation.
The dish is exquisite. The tomato slices are tickling your palate and the pasta mixes well with the juicy S. Marzano.
When Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) visited the workers across the southern Italian regions of Calabria, Puglia, Campania, Basilicata and Sicily in 2004, they diagnosed 94.4 per cent as being chronically ill. The workers were suffering from respiratory infections, skin diseases, intestinal parasites and tuberculosis. On top of this, all the workers were undernourished. They earned up to €4 for every crate of 350kg they filled with tomatoes. Yet they had to pay middlemen five cents for every such crate, €5 for transportation per day and €50 a month in rent. The men who were picking food from 06.00-18.00 could afford but one meal a day.
A waitress takes your empty plate. You have a look at the menu: will you try the carciofi alla giudia or rather the zucchine ripiene di carne, both “recipes prepared with local ingredients”? The local ingredients are a well-guarded secret.
Read the entire article HERE...
Emma Morano, the world's oldest person, has died in her home in northern Italy--one day before Easter Sunday.
Dr. Carlo Bava, Morano's doctor for over 30 years, said that Morano's caretaker had called him to say she had stopped breathing in the afternoon while sitting in an armchair at her home in Verbania, a town on Italy's Lake Maggiore. Bava said he visited Emma on Good Friday. He says "she thanked me and held my hand" as usual.
Morano, born on Nov. 29, 1899, had been living in a tidy, one-room apartment, where she was kept company by her caregiver and two elderly nieces.
Think about it... Emma is reported to have been the last living person born in the 1800s. She is blessed to have lived such a long and productive life. Read more about her life HERE.
We'll all pray for you, Emma.
Since 2007, a man in Milan has claimed that his wife has been afflicted with demonic possession. Although medical experts claim she is physically and mentally healthy, her frightening behavior has caused their marriage to come to an end.
She has been seen lifting--with one hand--a church pew and throwing it at the alter. Parishioners have also witnessed her levitating for seconds at a time, with her body then crashing to the floor. Her demonic behavior was also witnessed by a priest and a Capuchin monk, who both claimed she was a devout Catholic. The behavior was so extreme, that several exorcisms have been performed--with all of them failing.
The couple, who have two children, have received a no-fault divorce since the judge could not rule that her behavior could be explained by doctors or psychiatrists.
Prior to 1970, there was no such thing as divorce in this Catholic country. Current law requires only one year of official separation before couples can begin divorce proceedings, or six months in the case of a separation by mutual consent. Previously, couples had to be officially separated for three years.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
First, I want to thank all of our loyal GVI followers for coming back, again and again, but I also want to thank the more recent people who have discovered that our Grand Voyage is a trip worth taking together.
Mille grazie a tutti!
Together, we are on a Voyage of Italian history, lifestyle, art, music, heritage, architecture, and cuisine. Whether you've ever been to Italy, are planning a trip soon or just want to live the simple, beautiful life as they enjoy in la Bel Paese, we are so happy you've chosen to take this Voyage with us.
I want you all to know that this is has also been a wonderful learning experience for our little famiglia... learning about the technology of running a successful blog is daunting at times. Even our son, Lucas has learned so much that he has even started blogs of his own and in reality, when I have a tech problem, he is my little troubleshooter, often knowing commands that I haven't used yet. He edited his first newsletter starting in kindergarten and I still consider him as our "contributing editor".
Lisa is also involved, and even though she has a demanding full time corporate job, she is heavily devoted to the recipes and story ideas we come up with. We are still learning the Italian language and are already considering our options for yet another Voyage to Italy... Christmas in Florence... to Corleone, Sicily to discover Lisa's roots? It's strange that since I've researched so much about Italy, at times it feels like I've already been somewhere that I haven't. There is so much to learn about Italy and la Bella Vita. I feel blessed to have discovered so much about Italy--and myself.
There has been tremendous growth for GVI... going from a few hundred views a week when we first started planing our own Voyage throughout Italy in 2014, to hovering around a million page views a year. Between 15-20,000 people read our blog each and every month! We now have thousands of posts of a wide variety of subjects posted on GVI, and every week we post more and more.
We have many plans for the future of GVI, one of which is our structure. You might have already noticed that we are reorganizing our pages (check out the menu bar across the top of the page) and are re-publishing, editing and updating all of our posts and moving them to the new categories of pages. Navigating and finding what you need will get easier and easier as we move forward with this task.
We are also planning so much more as we grow: additional guest contributors covering various subjects such as moving to and living in Italy, traveling in Italy; posts covering Extreme Italian Adventures; more Off the Tourist Path articles; Speaking of Italy, Italian Language Lessons; Fornello Recipe Videos; and even interviews of famous and influential Italians. And of course, there will always be beautiful photos...
But to do this, we need your support. As you might have noticed, we have started placing ads on our pages... we have become a member of Amazon Associates. We will place links to Amazon products either in sidebar ads or as links within the content of our articles. We make a pledge to never promote products that we don't believe in or that don't relate to the interests of Grand Voyage Italy's readers. We will never suggest products that we haven't researched thoroughly, and in many cases we will recommend products that we have actually used or owned. Remember who is our blog mascot: La Bocca della Verità, the Mouth of Truth. We will always strive to live up to this truthful philosophy.
We only ask that if you see something that we've recommended that you might consider purchasing, please add it to your Amazon cart directly after clicking on the link. If you do this, you will have 89 days to make your decision on whether to purchase the item or not. In this way, GVI can earn a nominal (small, often very small) commission on any sale we've helped with.
The more we grow, the more features we can add to our Voyage.
Once again, grazie for supporting us and don't forget to tell all your friends about us.
All our love and respect,
P.S. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Please... we love comments! Ciao.
Sister Candida Bellotti was born the third daughter of ten to a humble family on February 1907, in the romantic city of Verona. This gives her the honor of being the oldest nun in Italy, at 110 years old, yet more proof that the Italian lifestyle affords amazing longevity. (Read: Why Are There So Many People in Italy Over 100 Years Old?)
She was celebrated by the Vatican this week: "To the Reverend Sister Candida Bellotti, Minister of the Sick, which with gratitude to God, celebrates her one hundred and tenth birthday, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, spiritually participates in the common joy for your happy occasion, and conveys his congratulations and warm wishes."
“Let’s go forward; there is always a future,” the pope said. “There are many who have left us, many who fell here, under the rubble.”
“From the first moment, I felt that I needed to come to you. Simply to express my closeness to you, nothing more. And I pray, pray for you. Solidarity and prayer: This is my offering to you.”
“I didn’t want to be a bother, so I let a little time pass, so that some things could be resolved, like the school"