When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Italy

Society

"In Pain You Shall Bring Forth Children" — The Business Behind Suffering In Childbirth

Certain female doctors, extremist midwives, online consultants extol the benefits of painful labor, blame mothers who resort to C-sections and convince them to refuse anesthesia. From Italy, an expose on who they are and why they preach a return to the ancestral nature of motherhood.

ROME — “I was told that enduring the pain of childbirth would be the first test as a mother..."

Ginevra Massiletti, 32, went into labor with her first child last year in the southern Italian city of Cosenza, convinced that childbirth should be a fully natural experience.

"I was in too much pain, but I didn't want to give in to analgesia," she said. "In the end, however, I couldn't take it; I asked for an epidural to feel less pain, but in the meantime I was crying and apologizing to my baby, feeling that I had betrayed him because of my weakness and need for relief.”

Ginevra says she's now over the shock, but “for months, I believed I was not up to my motherhood.”

During her pregnancy, reading various blogs and social pages, she had internalized a belief: that childbirth accompanied by anesthesia to relieve the mother's pain was a second-class birth, and especially that in doing so she would selfishly put herself before the baby.

Ginevra’s is not an isolated case. Indeed, online, in some newspapers, and even in certain health circles, a narrative of motherhood that ostracizes any medical-pharmacological support for childbirth, not to mention the use of C-section, is raging in the name of an ancestral vision according to which the mother's body must do everything on its own. Any “little help” offered by science will have negative effects on the unborn child.

Behind this, there is often also a real business, with courses and consultations, strictly on a for-profit basis.

Watch VideoShow less

Anarchist Revival? Italy Risks Turning Alfredo Cospito Into A Martyr For A Lost Cause

Until a few weeks ago, Alfredo Cospito was a faceless holdout from a largely forgotten movement serving a life sentence for two separate attacks in the name of anarchism. But now his hunger strike has become a rallying cry for anarchists across Europe following a series of attacks protesting his prison conditions.

An anonymous telephone call breaks the morning quiet of a newspaper office, warning that a “major bombing” will soon happen in response to the treatment of a jailed anarchist.

As much as it sounds like 1970s Italy, when bombs went off in train stations and piazzas, and politicians and business executives were kidnapped in broad daylight, the telephone call arrived three days ago at the Bologna headquarters of the Italian newspaper Il Resto del Carlino.

It’s the latest twist around the case of Alfredo Cospito, a member of the Informal Anarchist Federation, whose ongoing hunger strike has dominated Italian public debate for the past several weeks, and become a rallying cry for an anarchist movement across Europe that many thought had faded away.

Keep reading...Show less

A Newborn Dies, A Mother's Blame

Our Neapolitan psychiatrist reacts to the public blame directed at an exhausted Italian mother, after she fell asleep while breastfeeding her newborn son at a Rome hospital .

They say that childbirth is, and must necessarily be, the most beautiful thing in the world.

So beautiful that it justifies all the hardships a mother must endure, without complaining or expecting relief from the pain. So beautiful that after it has happened, you are not even allowed to rest because you have to keep the baby with you to breastfeed.

Keep reading...Show less

"Here, He Wasn't Hiding" — How Mob Boss Messina Denaro Defied His Fugitive Status

Italy's most-wanted fugitive Matteo Messina Denaro lived in the open in a small town in Sicily, near his birthplace, thanks to widespread silence and complicity from his neighbors. It was essential to evading police for more than 30 years.

CAMPOBELLO DI MAZARA — Matteo Messina Denaro certainly wasn't hiding down at the bottom of some well.

Arrested in January at a clinic in Palermo, Italy’s most-wanted mob boss had been living freely and openly in this small Sicilian town, surrounded by neighbors who somehow never saw him.

Keep reading...Show less
Economy
Shaun Lavelle, Riley Sparks, Ginevra Falciani

Why More Countries Are Banning Foreigners From Buying Real Estate

Canada has become the most recent country to impose restrictions on non-residents buying real estate, arguing that wealthy investors from other countries are pricing out would-be local homeowners. But is singling out foreigners the best way to face a troubled housing market?

PARIS — It’s easy to forget that soon after the outbreak of COVID-19, many real estate experts were forecasting that housing prices could face a once-in-generation drop. The logic was that a shrinking pandemic economy would combine with people moving out of cities to push costs down in a lasting way.

Ultimately, in most places, the opposite has happened. Home prices in the U.S., Canada, Britain, Germany, Australia and New Zealand rose between 25% and 50% since the outbreak of COVID-19.

This explosion was driven by a number of factors, including low interest rates, supply chain issues in construction and shortages in available properties caused in part by investors buying up large swathes of housing stock.

Yet some see another culprit deserving of particular attention: foreign buyers.

Watch VideoShow less
Society
Ginevra Falciani

Why MeToo In Italy Is Different

A recent wave of testimony from inside the Italian entertainment industry again failed to gain much attention, another example of MeToo failing to take off in the traditionally sexist country. There are multiple explanations, though also quieter signs that something may be changing.

For a few fleeting hours, it seemed the MeToo movement might finally break out of the shadows in Italy: the internet was buzzing after the La Repubblica daily had published the testimonies of several actresses recounting the sexual harassment they’d faced.

A week later, on Jan. 16, the associations Amleta and Differenza Donna held a press conference to report 223 additional testimonies of sexual harassment and violence in show business.

The activists broke the cases down by gender (in all but two cases the abusers were men, and 93% of the victims were women) and by job title (directors made up 41% of the abusers, followed by actors, producers, teachers, casting directors, agents, critics, and even some audience members). But it was also notable that only 12 actresses had brought their cases to court, and that the names of those accused would not be revealed so as not to compromise ongoing legal actions.

A few newspapers reported the news. Then, nothing more.

Watch VideoShow less
Dottoré!
Mariateresa Fichele

Freedom Or Insanity? In The Eye Of The Beholder

Two patients walk with our Naples-based psychiatrist on that fine line between freedom and insanity.

"Dottoré, you are free, you know no limits!"

That is what two patients told me, as we were having breakfast together at a café.

Watch VideoShow less
Society
Riley Sparks and Ginevra Falciani

Weird Stuff, Guns & Money: Inside The Hideouts Of Mob Bosses And Fugitive Warlords

After the capture this week of Sicilian Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro, police revealed some notable contents of two of his hideouts after 30 years on the run. There's a long history of discovering the secret lairs and bunkers of the world's Most Wanted bad guys.

Expensive watches, perfumes, designer clothes and sex pills. A day after top Sicilian Mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro was captured after 30 years on the run, police revealed some of the possessions found in the Palermo apartment where he’d been hiding out under a false name.

By Wednesday, Italian daily La Stampa was reporting, police had found a second hideout near Messina Denaro's hometown in the Sicilian province of Trapani, with a secret vault hidden behind a closet, where jewelry, gold and other valuables were found.

Watch VideoShow less
Society
La Stampa Staff

The Last Boss? Why Matteo Messina Denaro May Mark The End Of Sicily's Old School Mafia

Arrested Monday in Palermo, Messina Denaro was the son of a mobster and successor of Sicily's notorious boss of bosses. He had been on the run for 30 years, trying to transform Cosa Nostra into a modern criminal enterprise — with only partial success.

-Analysis-

PALERMO — It was 30 years ago, almost exactly to the day, January 15, 1993, when Totò Riina, then the undisputed head of the Corleone clan, was captured in Palermo. On Monday, it was the turn of Matteo Messina Denaro, now 60 years old, who has occupied the same place as "boss of bosses" of the Sicilian Mafia, who was tracked down and arrested in the same city.

Tracing back in time, Messina Denaro began his criminal ascent in 1989, around the first time on record that he was reported for mob association for his participation in the feud between the Accardo and Ingoglia clans.

At the time, Messina Denaro's father, 'don Ciccio', was the Mafia boss in the western Sicilian city of Trapani — and at only 20 years of age, the ambitious young criminal became Totò Riina's protégé. He would go on to help transform Cosa Nostra, tearing it away from the feudal tradition and catapulting it into the world of would-be legitimate business affairs.

For 30 years he managed to evade capture. He had chosen the path of ‘essential communication’: a few short pizzini - small slips of paper used by the Sicilian Mafia for high-level communications - without compromising information by telephone or digital means.

“Never write the name of the person you are addressing," Messina Denaro told his underlings. "Don’t talk in cars because there could be bugs, always discuss in the open and away from telephones. Also, take off your watches.”

Watch VideoShow less
Dottoré!
Mariateresa Fichele

Crazy Traffic: An Impatient Patient's Self-Diagnosis

"And then they say that there's no crisis?"

“Dottoré, at 8 in the morning people go to work, to school, and it's normal that there's traffic.

But at 10 for example, why is everything blocked? Or at 5 pm, at 2 am? All the time!

Watch VideoShow less
This Happened

This Happened—January 13: A Cruise Ship Sinks In Tuscany

The Costa Concordia cruise ship crashed and sank on this day in 2012.

Get This Happened straight to your inbox ✉️ each day! Sign up here.

Watch VideoShow less
Geopolitics
Ginevra Falciani

Will Bolsonaro And Family Flee To Italy?

With risks of arrest rising after the violence in Brasilia, many wonder if the former Brazilian president and his family will seek refuge in Italy, where they would qualify for citizenship and a friendly government is in charge.

Days after their father’s election loss, Senator Flavio Bolsonaro and his younger brother Eduardo were spotted at the entrance of the Italian embassy in Brasilia.

“I have no intention of leaving Brazil,” the Senator and eldest son of President Jair Bolsonaro insisted to the journalist of Brazilian weekly magazine Metropoles, who’d seen the brothers arriving at the embassy.

“My family has Italian origins and I have the right to apply for Italian citizenship. This procedure started in September 2019,” the 38-year-old Bolsonaro added.

That was November, nine days after Jair Bolsonaro’s defeat by Lula da Silva, but well before their father took refuge in Florida — and the events of Sunday, where Bolsonaro supporters assaulted the nation’s top institutions in the capital, leading to mass arrests.

Questions are circulating in Italy and Brazil about whether the Bolsonaro family (he has five children from three marriages) is considering seeking asylum in Italy, which they not only claim ancestral connections but also now has a friendly right-wing government in charge, headed by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. "Italian Citizenship to Bolsonaro: Here's What Could Happen," headlined Milan daily Il Sole 24 Ore this week.

Watch VideoShow less
EXPLORE OTHER TOPICS
chinaitalyusafrancegermany