The Most Serene Republic of San Marino. According to legend, the tiny country of San Marino was founded in 301AD by Saint Marinus of Rab, and is thus the world’s oldest republic. Occupying 24 square miles around Mount Titano in the middle of Italy, it is the fifth smallest country in the world. [more inside]
Italy’s government teeters on the brink: tomorrow (Tuesday) a no-confidence vote should decide whether we have another three years of bunga-bunga partying, "escort" (= prostitute) scandals and international gaffes from the leader of this NATO partner and founding EU member, or whether Silvio Berlusconi will be sent home. Some think it’s a hilariously stupid (SLYT) to suggest he might step down. [more inside]
Bar Portraits — Dignified gentlemen sit for their portraits in bars and cafes across Italy. Contrast that with The Waste Land, a series of intimate portraits of young intoxicated people, photographed during or after parties, festivals, and raves. Both are portrait projects of Piero Martinello. [more inside]
Maria Laura Rodotà an Italian journalist bemoans Berlusconi´s philandering and the culture of machismo that celebrates his habitual womanising. Rubygate - the latest of many scandals involving teenage girls is shrugged off by the 70 year old as My Passion for women is better than being gay. How much longer can he cling to power? (previously)
Gotthardt rail tunnel breakthrough in pictures (click photo for popup gallery). The 35 mile/ 57 km long tunnel through the Alps is the longest in the world. The breakthrough is130 years after it's predecessor was finished in 1880. It took 15 years to build and cost 10 billion dollar, largely because of extra security requirements. The breakthrough in the middle happened today. Description in English.
The Geometry of Pasta. If you click on a shape, on most of them, it tells you a bit of history and recipe suggestions. l Pasta shape names l Recipes l Farfalle (butterflies/bow-ties) with Prosciutto and cream animation. The geography of pasta l The origins of pasta. Glossary. More pasta shapes. [more inside]
World's first 'tree cathedral' takes root in Italy The remarkable work designed by Italian environment artist Giuliano Mauri [Italian Wikipedia link], who died last year, has been completed after months of work and presented as one of the initiatives marking the International Year of Biodiversity.
After 900 years, Giorgia Boscolo has become the first female to pass Venice's rigorous gondolier examination, something she has been trying for years to accomplish.
Early into the Egypt-Italy Science Year 2009, a crater was found by a research team with Google Earth on the hyperarid southern edge of Egypt. Not associated with the earlier documented Clayton craters located in the south-east corner of Egypt, the recently discovered crater is unique for its untouched, pristine nature that appears more similar to other planets and moons with thin atmospheres, even though the impact has been estimated to be a few thousand years old. The crater, labeled Gebel Kamil, will be the 177th known impact site on Earth, as logged by the Earth Impact Database. [more inside]
"If these people can't predict an earthquake, then what's the point of them?" Italian seismologists accused of manslaughter. (via simon singh)
Italy is no more a democracy. According to freedom house, in 2009 the italian press was only "Partly Free"; but from today, it is definitely Not Free.
There are Real Fake Buildings, Real Fake Watches, real fake books, and of course, "The Internet's LARGEST Selection of Real Fake Rocks!" But for truly high-end fakes -- the "realest" of the fakes -- there's the Museum of Fakes in Southern Italy, or even better, the Museum of Art Fakes in Vienna, which includes etchings from "last living master forger from Germany." "The Museum of Art Fakes, almost directly opposite the Hundertwasserhaus, is unique in Europe. It is filled with paintings from not only world famous forgers (such as van Meegeren, Tom Keating, David Stein, Konrad Kujau, Edgar Mrugalla, Lothar Malskat), but also so-called ‘identical-forgeries’ of Schiele, Klimt, Monet, Raffael and many more."
For Sale: Rural Italian countryside, Priced to MOVE! A landslide (mud flow?) splits a hillside apart in the southern Italian town of Maierato.
"They come from nearby Florence or Siena by bus and carve "Edward Forever!" into the walls while laughing giddily." The small Italian town of Volterra struggles to retain its authenticity amidst New Moon Tours and dungeon shows. Pictures. "'Vampires don't have souls,' Boelen points out. 'But Volterra does.'" [more inside]
In 2006 some Italian teenagers filmed themselves assaulting a youth with Down Syndrome and uploaded the video to Google Video Italia. It was pulled from the site within hours, but that did not satisfy the Italian Down Syndrome support group named Vivi Down, who filed a complaint that resulted in a two-year investigation. That lead to charges and indictment of four Google executives, who were never aware of the video until after it had been removed, for violating Italy’s privacy code. Today the Italian court ruled that three of the four - chief legal officer David Drummond, global privacy counsel Peter Fleischer and former CFO George Reyes - are guilty, and sentenced them to 6 months to a year of jail-time. The fourth, Arvind Desikan, former head of Google Video in London, was acquitted. [more inside]
In May of 1940, "Mad Jack" Churchill became the only man in WWII to record a kill with a longbow. [more inside]
Italians cheer as police move African immigrants out of a small town in Calabria, following clashes in which immigrant farmworkers were shot at, severely beaten and run over. Rosarno is said to be a hotbed of the 'Ndrangheta, which controls the labour market of illegalized seasonal day labourers living in inhuman and desperate conditions. While the Pope urges Italy to respect migrants, leftist newspaper 'il manifesto' put this on the front page.
Milanese businesswomen Lorella Zanardo made a short documentary critiquing the sexist depictions of women on Italian television. That documentary - Il corpo delle donne (Women's Bodies) - is available to watch online (with subtitles) here.
The Via Francigena (fran-chee-jena) (also here) was the pilgrim road leading from Canterbury to Rome and one of the most important routes of communication in the Middle Ages. The Italian government has this week launched a project to recover the Italian leg of it. [more inside]
Calcio Fiorentino was an early form of football (YT) that originated in 16th century Italy (YT). The modern version (Foto Gallery) allows tactics such as head-butting, punching, elbowing, and choking, but forbids sucker-punching and kicks to the head.
Luigi Russolo was a futurist painter, experimental composer, and instrument builder. In his 1913 manifesto "The Art of Noises" he declaimed the death of traditional Western music and foresaw the dawning of a new music based on the grinding, screeching, moaning, crackling and buzzing of mechanical instruments. He and his assistant Ugo Piatti built the Intonarumori to bring these new sounds - "the palpitation of valves, the coming and going of pistons, the howl of mechanical saws, the jolting of a tram on its rails, the cracking of whips, the flapping of curtains and flags" - to life. Listen to them, then and now.
Sung in incoherent pseudo-English, Adriano Celentano's Prisencolinensinainciusol (1973) could be thought of as an early example of rap.
"A jaw-dropping feat of architecture has risen in the Italian city of Nola, just a stone’s throw away from the cataclysmic Mt. Vesuvius. Designed by Renzo Piano, Vulcano Buono is an epic cone-shaped commercial center crowned with a gorgeous sloping green roof. Piano’s 'good volcano' contributes a vital new space to the southern edge of the Nola commercial district, which is the most most important freight terminal complex in southern and central Italy."
A new documentary by a Swedish-based Italian filmmaker examines how media mogul turned two-time president Silvio Berlusconi's 30-year grip on Italian television has shaped the country, its politics, its culture and society. Erik Gandini's Videocracy, which screens at the Venice Film Festival, starts 30 years ago, when Berlusconi introduced a quiz show whose female contestants stripped for the camera, and charts 30 years of showgirls, celebrities, reality TV shows and Berlusconi's rise to political power, and interviews characters of the system, including a talentless but fame-hungry TV contestant, a fascist-sympathising media fixer, and a paparazzo/extortionist turned celebrity. More details here and (with a trailer) here. [more inside]
Investigating Bellini's Feast of the Gods takes apart the layers of Feast of the Gods, painted by Giovanni Bellini, repainted by Dosso Dossi, and repainted again by Tiziano Vecellio--that is, Titian. Visitors can see the results of x-rays and other imaging techniques, view the painting's changing context in the Duke of Ferrara's gallery, and examine details in close-up. [more inside]
The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam invites you to compare Caravaggio and Rembrandt. For an overview of Rembrandt's work here are Rembrandt van Rijn: Life and Work and A Web Catalogue of Rembrandt Paintings. For Caravaggio there's caravaggio.com which makes use of the Italian website Tutta l'opera del Caravaggio.
Two Japanese men have been detained by Italian authorities after they were caught with $134.5 billion in US bonds and securities in a false-bottomed bag on a train heading for the Swiss border. [more inside]
Though film is not generally Andy Warhol's field of greatest fame, some see his long and storied history in film as "where Warhol's supreme achievement lies". And then there are the two horror films from 1973: Andy Warhol's Frankenstein (or Flesh for Frankenstein) and Andy Warhol's Dracula (or Blood for Dracula). The two films were filmed quickly and inexpensively in the Spring of 1973, using the Roger Corman method of filming two movies at one location using the same actors to decrease costs. Frankenstein was filmed first, using Space-Vision 3-D. But filming 3D footage was too expensive and time-consuming, so Dracula was shot in standard 35mm film. [more inside]
The Guardian has taken the unusual step of publishing the same article in English & in Italian because the Italian media will not tell the truth about Berlusconi. The tainted clown that heads Italy has accused newspapers and television stations of slandering him and damaging the country’s reputation by highlighting his alleged faux pas.
Silvio's Shadow an interesting article from the Colombia Journal of Review cached archives shows how Berlusconi uses Journalism as a political weapon. [more inside]
Silvio's Shadow an interesting article from the Colombia Journal of Review cached archives shows how Berlusconi uses Journalism as a political weapon. [more inside]
At least 150 dead, 1.500 injuried and 50.000 displaced by a magnitude 6.3 Richter scale earthquake that struck Abruzzo and center Italy at 01:32:42 UTC on April 6th.The damage is very severe, the little village of Onna, existing since at least year 1178, was completely destroyed and the city of L'Aquila (pop 70.000) was severly damaged. The city hospital was rendered 90% unusable, allegedly 50% of all of the city buildings are now considered unsafe. Hundreds of pictures have been sent on the internet by locals, while controversy ensues on a early warning by an italian scientist (indicted a few days ago for spreading rumors about an upcoming quake), who claims that his Radon gas detectors signaled an anomaly that may have been validated by a more extensive networks of detectors and may have saved lifes.
Contenders for this year's Badass of the Year award will have a tough time topping Italian surgeon Claudio Vitale, who completed a delicate brain surgery despite having a heart attack during the procedure. He pushed himself to complete the surgery when he realized that his patient was unlikely to survive if he halted the operation.
I don't know if this is more troubling than any of the other anti-immigrant movements that have been cropping up in Europe, or whether it's just that Italy has Silvio Berlusconi (previously on MeFi), but with the fingerprinting of Roma, including their children, the destruction of Roma camps and the blase attitude towards two Roma girls found dead on an Italian beach, one wonders whether comparisons to the 1930's may become justified. Now, in an act that, while not violent, is perhaps even more indicative of the country's views on race the city of Lucca and the region of Lombardy have banned the opening of new "foreign" restaurants, as, one newspaper put it "a new Lombard Crusade against the Saracens." [more inside]
Contents of the beloved/historic/deceased Mondo Kim's video store in New York City purchased by the town of Salemi, Italy. The village intends to project the videos as part of a neverending film festival open to the public. Roadtrip, anyone?
Sabrina Guzzanti, an Italian comedienne who said that Pope Benedict XVI would go to Hell and be tormented by homosexual demons is facing a prison term of up to five years, according to the provisions of the Lateran treaty. [more inside]
Tunnels no Minasan no Okage Desu is a Japanese game show where contestants strike poses to fit through cutouts in pink foam walls. International reproductions of this game show reveal much about national character; reproductions exist in Italy, Russia, France, Denmark, Hong Kong, Korea, and Australia. [more inside]
Sold all over the world but banned in the US in 1997 under a law passed in 1938. Kinder Surprise are now under attack in Germany. No magicodes for you!
‘Even to this day the diary has a slight aroma of cocoa,’ says Steve Dickinson about a diary kept by his uncle Robert Dickinson while a prisoner at Servigliano, an Italian war camp, in the 1940s. The diary has a cover made of old cocoa tins (hence the smell) with a broadcast aerial design incorporating the title 'Servigliano Calling.' It begins with his capture by the Germans in November 1941, and finishes, about six months before his death, in September 1944. Via The Diary Junction blog.
In March 1944, Nazi Germany occupied its ally Hungary and immediately began preparing the extermination of Hungary's Jews. A small band of diplomats from neutral countries and the Red Cross put their lives at risk to try to smuggle as many Jews as possible out of Hungary from under Adolf Eichmann's nose. While Raoul Wallenberg remains the best known of these "Righteous among the Nations", there's no doubt that the most intriguing character was Giorgio "Jorge" Perlasca. [more inside]
Imago Urbis: Giuseppe Vasi’s Grand Tour of Rome is a rich and innovative geographic database that projects Vasi's 18th century engravings of Roman architecture onto the contemporary map of Giambattista Nolli [previously] with supplementary modern satellite, photographic and mapping overlays together with copious background detail. The work was undertaken by researchers at the University of Oregon (announcement) [via]
A few years ago when I was visiting Alaska, one of the more interesting portions of the trip was the 45-minute drive from Anchorage to Girdwood along the Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet. This is one of the world's rare bodies of water that features bore tides, an amazing scene. The highway is one of only 15 roads in the United States that have been designated an "All-American Road." What about some of the world's greatest highways? [more inside]
Italy produced and sold at least 70 million litres of cheap wine containing acid, manure and fertiliser, Italian weekly L'Espresso said on Friday largely blaming organised crime in the south. [more inside]
OPAL Libri Antichi from the University of Turin offers over 3,000 books as free, open PDF files. Most of these date between AD 1500 and 1850 and most are in Italian, with many in French. They tend to be plain books with few illustrations. A few English titles are present, including David Hume's 1800 Essays on Suicide and the Immortality of the Soul; several texts by William Wycherley such as Love in a wood: or St. James's-Park (1735); and Richard Lassels 1686 work The voyage of Italy: or, a compleat journey through Italy with the characters of the peaple, and the description of the chief towns ... (volume 2) - an early travel guide. The PDFs are unsearchable plain scans. via this thread in the W4RF forum which contains hundreds of links to free online historical documents
"In a rebellion shaking the Sicilian Mafia to its centuries-old roots, businesses are joining forces in refusing to submit to demands for protection money called 'pizzo.' And they're getting away with it, threatening to sap an already weakened crime syndicate of one of its steadiest sources of revenue." The rebellion is fueled by a Web site "where businessmen are finding safety in numbers to say no to the mob." Called Addiopizzo (Goodbye Pizzo) "it brings together businesses in the Sicilian capital that are resisting extortion." The campaign was launched in 2004 by a group of youths thinking of opening a pub. "They started off by plastering Palermo with anti-pizzo fliers, reading 'AN ENTIRE PEOPLE WHO PAYS THE PIZZO IS A PEOPLE WITHOUT DIGNITY,' and eventually brought their campaign online where it struck a profound chord with Sicilians fed up with Mafia bullying."*
This is just too charming and endearingly goofy to miss: Renato Carosone's Tu Vuo' Fa' L'Americano (You're Acting All American). See also: O Sarracino, Torero and Maruzella.
"The ‘Ndrangheta cannot be beheaded.” Organized crime is Italy's biggest industry. Most people are more familiar with the Sicilian Mafia or maybe even the Neopolitan Camorra, but it's the Calabrian 'Ndranghta (very in-depth article) that has police around the world worried now, especially after they were blamed for a six-person murder in Germany this summer. [more inside]
"I've hidden myself and covered myself for too long. Now I want to show myself fearlessly, even though I know my body arouses repugnance. I want to recover because I love life and the riches of the universe. I want to show young people how dangerous this illness is." French Comedienne Isabelle Caro, 27, an anorexic who weighs just 68 pounds, was displayed on Milan billboards (NSFW) for fashion designer Nolita as the city celebrated fashion week. The prevalence of eating disorders within the fashion industry have only recently been addressed officially, however Georgio Armani has complained that since Caro isn't a model herself it proves "even people who take no notice of fashion get anorexic."