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L'ESSENZIALE
With a particular focus on Italian affairs, L'Essenziale is the sister publication of Rome-based global news weekly Internazionale.
photo of a boy from behind looking at a pond
Coronavirus
Alice Facchini

Italy's Orphans Of COVID: Children Who Lost Parents Are Also Left Alone By The State

In one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic, thousands of Italian minors lost a parent or caregiver to COVID. However, unlike other places, Italy has yet to set out a clear plan to support them, leaving them more vulnerable to mental health issues, and even abuse.

ROME — Julia was 13 years old when her father was hospitalized for COVID. It was March 2020 and very little was known about the virus. When they loaded him into the ambulance, the girl had no idea that she would never see him again.

The following days at home were rough: her mother was very agitated because she could not get any information, while her little sister did not understand what was going on. And then came the news: Julia’s father had died, but no one knew if and when it would be possible to see him and conduct his funeral. Julia did not allow herself to cry. Instead, she told the psychologist who was seeing her: "Now I have to be strong, dad would have wanted it that way."

Her mother fell into depression, she had no job, and the entire family was left without financial support. "Can I get a job to help mom?," Julia asked the psychologist. For a moment she even thought of quitting school, but then changed her mind and got a part-time job as a babysitter.

After a few weeks, however, she broke down: she no longer felt like leaving her room, quit volleyball, and no longer wanted to go to school.

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Photo of a woman walking past a street lamp at night
Society
Irene Caselli

Switching Off Street Lights? Not The Brightest Solution To Our Energy Crisis

Keeping the lights out at night may be a good measure both for the environment and in the context of an energy crisis – but it may have repercussions on people's sense of security, in particular for women.

As the leaves fall and an energy crisis looms, countries across Europe are preparing for a winter that will be dark, figuratively and literally.

After deciding to switch to cold showers in public buildings, Germany is now turning off street lights at night. Since Sept. 1, the Energy Saving Ordinance has officially prohibited the illumination of public buildings, including landmarks, from the outside.

Others are following suit: In Paris, the Eiffel Tower will see its lights dimmed an hour earlier than usual starting this week, while some 12,000 towns around the country have fully or partially switched off public lighting at night. Spain requires shops and monuments to dim the lights and shut down at 10 p.m. sharp.

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Giorgia Meloni
Geopolitics
Alessandro Calvi

It's Not About Mussolini, Searching For The Real Giorgia Meloni

As the right-wing coalition tops Italian elections, far-right leader of the Brothers of Italy, Giorgia Meloni, is set to become Italy's next prime minister. Both her autobiography and the just concluded campaign help fill in the holes in someone whose roots are in Italy's post-fascist political parties.

-Analysis-

ROME — After Sunday’s national election results, Italy is set to have its first ever woman prime minister. But Giorgia Meloni has been drawing extra attention both inside and outside of the country because of her ideology, not her gender.

Her far-right pedigree in a country that invented fascism a century ago has had commentators rummaging through the past of Meloni and her colleagues in the Brothers of Italy party in search of references to Benito Mussolini.

But even as her victory speech spoke of uniting the country, it is far more useful to listen to what she herself has said since entering politics to understand the vision the 45-year-old lifelong politician has for Italy’s future.

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​Migrants arrive on the island of Lampedusa
Migrant Lives
Eleonora Camilli

Lampedusa Postcard: "Invisible" Migrants As Campaign Propaganda

As Italy prepares to vote, migration from Africa is once again a hot topic, even as the number of arrivals is dropping. A view from the tiny Italian island that has been at the center of the debate for more than a decade, where the specter of migrants is rolled out as prime election propaganda.

LAMPEDUSA — The double-decker boat slowly approaches the dock while Italian rock music plays. It is just after 9 p.m., and the air is warm and windy. The many people on board gather bags, shoes and towels and head for the exit.

"Nice, we had a good time," say two tourists from the northern Italian city of Bergamo as they get on the scooter parked at the end of the pier.

The evening cruise lasted four hours: it included a tour of the most beautiful beaches, dolphin spotting, an aperitif with a D.J. set, and food before returning. It was a long party on the sea, one of the countless attractions of the island of Lampedusa, which is still filled with tourists even as summer fades.

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Photo of a Coca Cola ad in Italy
Green
Angelo Mastrandrea

Where Everyone's Rationing Water  — Except The Coca-Cola Plant

In the northern Italian region of Veneto, drought has forced half the municipalities to ration water resources. In contrast, the region's Coca-Cola plant has upped production, using even more water that it gets for a cheap price.

NOGARA — On the morning of Sat., July 9, several hundred activists from the Rise Up 4 Climate Justice movement arrived at the Nogara train station from all over the Veneto region, in northeastern Italy, and then walked to the town's industrial area. They were headed to the local Coca-Cola plant to protest its "extractivist" policies, which are based on hoarding resources at the expense of the local community.

In the Verona region, drought has caused a severe water crisis that has forced half of the municipalities to restrict water use. On the other hand, Coca-Cola, which uses water as its main raw material, has not slowed production.

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photo of students in hallway taking an exam
Society
Eleonora Camilli

"Jus Scholae" - Italians Seek To Establish A Right To Citizenship Through Education Status

Italy is debating a new bill that would allow foreign-born students to become Italian citizens, linked to their status within Italy's school system.

ROME — "Joseph, are you Italian?"

The question hangs in the air for just a few seconds, before the boy replies confidently: "Of course!"

Before starting to shoot the basketball again, his expression turns worried and asks: "Why? Am I not?"

Twelve years old, a lover of basketball and fan of AS Roma soccer club, Joseph was born in Italy but his document states the nationality of his mother, who arrived from Nigeria shortly before he was born.

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