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Restoration Completed

Posted on: 5/11/2011 9:31:54 AM under Personal 

The medieval Abbey of San Clemente in Italy’s central Abruzzo region has been brought back to its original splendor.  It’s the first and only monument from a list of 45 to be fully restored. The beloved landmark was shattered by the April 6. 2009 earthquake that killed hundreds and left thousands of people without homes.

According to Hon. Silvio Berlusconi, the abbey is more beautiful than when I was a boy.”  A local woman described the abbey this way -- “let’s face it, if it weren’t for the abbey, Castiglione would hardly be on the map. It’s the town’s calling card.” 

Read more about how many are concerned about the slow pace in rebuilding in the quake-stricken region.


Ancient Ship Emerges In Italy

Posted on: 5/4/2011 4:37:29 PM under General 

An 11-meter section of an ancient ship has emerged from the ground at the Roman port of Ostia in Italy.  With this new discovery, Italian politician Giancarlo Galan and archaeologists believe this will make experts think about the exact location of the port where the Roman Empire’s biggest fleet was stationed.


“This great result tells us a lot of things about the ancient coastline and what was happening about 2,000 years ago,” said Galan.


Since a major road bridge is being rebuilt, Archaeologists say they were expecting to find something in the area and have launched a program called “preventative archaeology.”  Site director Paola Germoni explained that this type of work “enables us to combine the demands of conservation of ancient artifacts with the needs of the general public.”


See the full article from ANSA.


Lunch With Kara DioGuardi

Posted on: 5/3/2011 3:27:19 PM under General 

A Once-In-A-Lifetime Chance…………LUNCH with Kara DioGuardi, Grammy nominated songwriter, record executive, music publisher, author and former American Idol judge, with 3 of your friends at a) Soho House b)  Katsuya Hollywood or c) Mr. ChowPRICELESS! The LIVE auction at NIAF’s West Coast Gala on May 19 at The Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows is your CHANCE to BID – go to www.niaf.org/bid.


The Hunt For Mona Lisa Has Begun

Posted on: 4/29/2011 9:51:13 AM under General 

The hunt for the possible remains of the model for Leonardo’s Mona Lisa began Wednesday in Florence.  Experts hope to reconstruct the woman’s face to try and decipher if she’s the one who has the famous Mona Lisa smile.


“I’m reasonably confident we’re going to find something,” said Silvano Vinceti, an art historian who has found the bones of Caravaggio.


Over the next three days, the team of experts is using a device to scan underneath the ex-chapel in the old convent of St. Ursula. 


Read more from ANSA for more information or check out our previous blog post.


Scams On Tourists In Rome

Posted on: 4/22/2011 12:06:25 PM under General 

With thousands of Catholic pilgrims to arrive in Rome next week for the beautification ceremony of the late Pope John Paul II, police have been keeping an eye on hotels and businesses who are trying to take advantage of tourists.  More than 300,000 euros have been collected in fines from business owners along with the closing of six hotels. 

While in March, an American tour guide was accused of promoting a sales scam to tourists by charging them 165 euros for a fake ticket granting access to the free ceremony honoring Pope John Paul II to be held on May 1, 2011 in St. Peter’s Square.

Read more from ANSA about how the police are cracking down on businesses in Rome


Irresponsible Drinking In Italy

Posted on: 4/15/2011 2:36:58 PM under General 

According to the Higher Health Institute, studies show that Italian girls are irresponsibly using alcohol. 


“Among 11 to 15-year old girls we see an average number of consumers remarkably higher than the overall Italian female average—three times more than adult women,” said Emanuele Scafato, head of the National Alcohol Observatory.


In addition to young girls drinking, studies have also shown that more Italian women are not only drinking outside of mealtimes but also drinking to become intoxicated. 


Recently, a 14-year-old girl in Rome was rushed to the hospital from an alcoholic coma after a night of drinking.  With binge drinking increasing, Italy has passed new measures including zero tolerance for drivers and stricter enforcements with nightlife. 


Read the full article in ANSA.


Tracking Dog Waste With DNA To Clean Up Italy’s Isle Of Capri

Posted on: 4/13/2011 4:27:02 PM under General 

Italy’s Isle of Capri is in a bit of a sticky situation—its mayor Ciro Lembo, says it costs nearly 5 million euros a year to keep the island clean.  And irresponsible dog owners are playing a big role with the clean-up, or lack there of, of their pet’s waste.


“Do you really think we will let the reputation of the island whose beauty is coveted by the world be compromised by bodily needs left in the streets by inattentive or arrogant dog owners,” Lembo said in an interview with AdnKronos.


To solve the problem, blood samples will be taken from the more than 1,000 canines on the island and beginning this June, government workers will be on the prowl for any waste that’s left on the streets and sidewalks by animals.  DNA will then be extracted and used to track down the dog’s owner.  The fine, up to 2,000 euros, may keep owners in check.


Read more here.


On The Hunt For The Remains Of The Mona Lisa Model

Posted on: 4/8/2011 11:40:14 AM under General 

Giuseppe Pallanti, a Leonardo Da Vinci scholar, is on the hunt for possible remains of the model for Leonardo’s Mona Lisa, Lisa Gherardini, and believes her tomb is in an ex-convent in her hometown of Florence.


“I’ve poured over thousands of archive pages and I’m convinced the remains of Lisa Gherardini were buried there,” said Pallanti.  In 2007 he traced the burial place of to the former Convent of St. Ursula.  A crypt has been located by radar scans under of the ex-convent’s two churches and on April 27 the search will begin.  After finding the DNA of the woman who Pallanti believes is Gherardini, it will be compared with her two children that are buried in Florence.


But others believe the chances of finding the tomb of merchant Francesco del Giocondo’s wife are slim to none.  According to British experts, “Hopes of tracing her tomb have been dashed after it emerged that building works at the site in the 1980s saw its crypts wantonly excavated and their contents destroyed.”


Read the full story from ANSA.


Frankie Valli Facts

Posted on: 4/6/2011 9:58:02 AM under General 

Do you know your Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons facts?  Put your brain to the test with these questions from the AARP Magazine.


Q: Is it true that actor Joe Pesci helped bring the Four Seasons together?

A: Yes.  At the time it was just me, Nick Massi and Tommy DeVito and we weren’t doing so well, so Joe introduced us to Bob Gaudio, who became our keyboardist.  With a simple handshake, we became the Four Seasons.


Q: How did the British Invasion affect your career as a singer?

A: In all honesty, it didn’t.  During the British Invasion, we were having success.  The Beach Boys were having success.  The Motown groups were having success.  I think American music got even better when the Beatles came to the scene.


Q: What would you tell someone who wants to be a singer?

A: In today’s society, those people should have something else on the back burner.  The music industry is struggling.  You turn on your radio and you don’t’ hear much new music anymore.  You hear mostly news or sports 24/7.  It’s very challenging for new artists these days.


Q: How much longer do you think you’ll be singing?

A: I have no idea.  I’m going to continue to do it as long as I can.  I’m having a great time and what else would I be doing if I wasn’t singing?  Planting vegetables?  Music is my life.


Cooking With An App!

Posted on: 3/31/2011 12:44:10 PM under Personal 

Famed American chef, writer and restaurateur Mario Batali has a new cooking app.  It’s $9.99 or you may decide  to buy the cookbook (your own personal preference) but needless to say it’s definitely an interesting take on technology.  Batali developed all the content himself and supplies 63 Italian recipes with images, videos and built-in timers.  You can even find a recipe by a region in Italy

“This app allows me to get as close as I’ve ever been to personally cooking with you in your kitchen.  So grab some extra-virgin olive oil and let’s cook some great food,” said Batali.

Try out this app! Provalo!


Italy's Chocolate Capital

Posted on: 3/30/2011 2:02:06 PM under General 

Italy’s chocolate capital, Turin, is celebrating with its Cioccolato Chocolate Show running from March 25 until April 3.  With more than 6,000 chocolate makers from all over the world, visitors can enjoy festivities including tasting, exhibits, tours and cooking courses.


Highlights include Monica Meschini, professional chocolate taster (who wouldn’t love that job?) leading groups to see chocolate artisans, the Museo Accorsi Ometto showing visitors how aristocrats indulged in hot chocolate and the Golden Gianduia Award presentation on April 2.


Read all about chocolate from ANSA.


Social Networks To Investigate Tax Evasion In Italy

Posted on: 3/25/2011 12:00:55 PM under General 

If you live in Italy and aren't taking care of your taxes, you better get on top of it!  Starting this week, agency deputy director Marco Di Capua stated Italy's state tax agency will use Facebook and other social networks to investigate tax evasion.  Also, creating a presence on social networks will play a part in a campaign to modernize how taxes are collected.

"Beyond the Big Brother myth, attention will be paid to income consumed.  And every instrument that can lead to information will be used, whether it is called Facebook or whether it is a registration or membership to an exclusive club," explained Di Capua.  "The aim is to focus attention on how the subject spends, not for the fact that he spends but to see if he has declared (his income)."

 Read more from ANSA.  Do you think this is a good idea for Italy's state tax agency?





New Law Banning Loud Machinery In Capri?

Posted on: 3/17/2011 9:29:38 AM under General 

Would you say this is ludicrous or for the tourist bureau’s profit?   The famed Italian island of Capri, has banned its residents from using loud machines this summer.  Beginning April 1 through October 31, locals are prohibited to use lawnmowers, cement mixers, mini-tractors and leaf blowers.  If caught breaking the law, residents could be fined 500 Euros. 

The problem is that while Capri is making these changes for tourists, the local residents say the economy of the island will be harmed if construction and maintenance work is put to a halt.

“Our business activities are at risk of being paralyzed,” said a local resident.

“Given the protests from numerous hotels about noise created by building work, it is considered vital to ensure peace and quiet for our visitors,” said Marica Avellino, head of Capri’s municipal police.

Read what else has been banned.  

What do you think of this new law?


New Vatican Tours

Posted on: 3/11/2011 4:31:56 PM under General 

The Vatican now has tours for the sight- and hearing-impaired.  In the Vatican Museums, blind visitors will be able to touch selected masterpieces and sign-language experts will be present for the deaf. 


Founded in 1506 by Pope Julius II, the Vatican Museums contain Greek, Egyptian, Etruscan, Roman and Renaissance art.  The Museums attract more than three million visitors a year, making it the biggest tourist draw in Italy.  Read more from ANSA


Photo by ANSA


Michelango's David In Danger Of Collapsing?

Posted on: 3/4/2011 3:50:56 PM under General 

Michelangelo’s David could topple over?!  WHAT?!?  Underground architect Fernando De Simone has warned that work on a new high-speed train line in Italy could cause the statue to fall.  Tremors from tunnel excavation could wear on David’s ankles, which are riddled with microfissures. 


“If the statue is not moved before digging begins, it will collapse,” De Simone said.  “The risk of collapse or slippage in the marble of the statue’s lower joints will be very high if the resonance caused by excavation machinery for the high-speed train tunnel, as well as the vibrations of passing trains thereafter, are added to existing vibrations caused by groups of 60 visitors at a time…”


De Simone has been encouraging Tuscany and Florence to move the statue of David to an underground museum that should be built.  Read the entire article from ANSA. 


Do you think the statue of David will collapse?  Should they move the statue and take precautionary steps just in case?


Photo from ANSA


Illegal Migrants In Italy

Posted on: 3/3/2011 3:02:41 PM under General 

347 illegal migrants landed in Italy on a boat from Tunisia this week.  With thousands arriving since mid-February, Italy’s Interior Minister Roberto Maroni now fears additional illegal migration will also arrive from Libya.

“They are now fleeing to the west [Tunisia] and to the east [Egypt] but I expect in the future they could also head north [towards Italy],” Maroni told parliament.  Even though Maroni warned EU interior ministers of a “catastrophic humanitarian emergency,” some EU officials believe Rome is over-reacting to the situation.  Read more from BBC News.

Do you think Italy is over-reacting about the migration?  If so, what can they do to regulate?

Photo from BBC


Yogi Berra Attends Yankees Spring Training

Posted on: 2/25/2011 12:06:16 PM under General 

The 85-year-old Yogi Berra still attends the Yankees’ spring training base in Tampa, Florida.  He put back on his uniform with the No. 8 and checked into the same hotel and the same room near the George M. Steinbrenner Field this past Tuesday.  During his three- to four-week stay that he’s done for the past dozen years, Berra not only gets to suggest pointers to the players, but he also gets to rub elbows with his good friend Ron Guidry.  Actually, the former star pitcher for the Yankees is Berra’s “valet.” 


“I mean, the only time we’re really not together is when he’s asleep,” Guidry said.


Yankee icon Yogi Berra received a NIAF Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports at the Foundation’s 21st Anniversary Awards Gala in 1996.  He has been a longtime supporter and friend to the Foundation attending NIAF’s regional galas in New York City and a dais regular at the October galas.


Read more about their time together at spring training from the New York Times.


If you could hang out with Yogi for the day, what would you guys do?


Photo credit: Edward Linsmier for the New York Times


New York's Little Italy Keeps Getting Smaller

Posted on: 2/24/2011 4:46:36 PM under General 

The 2000 census has found that the Italian American population in New York’s Little Italy is down to only 6 percent.  But in 1950, one in five residents were born in Italy.  Why does Little Italy keep getting littler?


Decades ago, Chinatown and SoHo expanded and encroached in the area of Little Italy.  Streets including Mulberry and Grand still have that Little Italy taste with restaurants and shops, but advertisements in Chinese now fill the street.  With the National Park Service designating a Chinatown and Little Italy Historic District with no geographic distinction between neighborhoods, where does one end and one begin?


“It’s really all Chinatown now,” said John A. Zaccaro Sr., owner of the Little Italy real estate company.


Read the full article from the New York Times.  Why do you think Little Italy keeps getting smaller in New York?  Or is Little Italy growing in your city?


Photo credit: Eddie Hausner/The New York Times


Baby Shark Spotted In Taranto, Italy

Posted on: 2/17/2011 10:12:19 AM under General 

A baby basking shark, the second-largest shark in the world, was spotted in the waters off Taranto, Italy.  A protected species under the Barcelona Convention, this shark has been on the watch list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Five meters in length, the baby basking shark can grow as long as ten meters and weigh up to 10,000 pounds.  It dines on algae, plankton and other small water animals with little danger to people and hovers in shallow water, as if it were �basking in the sun.� 


Read more from ANSA about the baby shark.


Photo from ANSA


The Balcony Of Palazzo Venezia To Be Reopened

Posted on: 2/16/2011 9:52:00 AM under General 

Talk regarding the reopening of a balcony in Rome where Mussolini gave his speeches has been a heated discussion in Italy.  The balcony of Palazzo Venezia in Rome, where Il Duce would talk to his crowd, has been shuttered and neglected for decades, partly because of its history and also for fear that it would become a place for modern-day fascists.


“It’s time to get over the taboo.  The balcony existed before Mussolini.  Reopening it would in no way endorse the historical crimes of the past,” said Francesco Giro, a cultural heritage official from the Rome City Council.


When it reopens in a few weeks, visitors at the museum in the palazzo will be able to go onto the balcony, which connects with Mussolini’s old office, Sala del Mappamondo. 


Read the full article and tell us how you feel about the balcony being reopened.


Photo by Getty Images/Alamy

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