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La Stampa ("The Press") is a top Italian daily founded in 1867 under the name Gazzetta Piemontese. Based in Turin, La Stampa is owned by the Fiat Group and distributed in many other European countries.
Mural of Meloni and Schlein in Milan
Francesca del Vecchio

Meloni And Schlein As Pregnant Activists? What's Wrong With This Italian Picture

Artist aleXsandro Palombo's mural of Italian politicians Elly Schlein and Giorgia Meloni as pregnant, tattooed activists elicits conversation about policies surrounding female bodily autonomy.


MILAN — In Piazza San Babila, near the Duomo, the artist aleXsandro Palombo has designed a mural representing Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Democratic Party leader Elly Schlein nude, tattooed and pregnant.

Elly Schlein is depicted with the words "my uterus my choice" on her stomach, and Giorgia Meloni dons the words "not for rent" on her stomach — both phrases in English. Schlein, who came out as bisexual in 2020, has the LGBTQ+ rainbow flag on her shoulder, while Meloni has the tricolor flame of Italy’s flag on hers.

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If we want to describe reality through the lens of our modern sensibility, then I hope someone writes "mansplaining" under the artist's signature. On his Instagram profile, Palombo uploaded photos of the mural and wrote in both English and Italian, “Surrogate motherhood - ‘Power is Female’ the Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and opposition leader Elly Schlein challenge each other.”

It seems to me that this is such a light reading of the situation that it becomes impalpable. Talking about "complexity" is quite different from recognizing it. If it is my uterus, my choice, it means that I may or may not be in favor of surrogacy: this too is a matter of self-determination.

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Thousands of devotees join in the procession of Maria di Polsi, Italy.
Giuseppe Legato

How The Calabrian Mob Is Infiltrating Religious Traditions Across Italy

From ancient processions to family funerals, the powerful Calabrian organized crime syndicate 'Ndrangheta is infiltrating into religious rites is present across the country.

TURIN — On Easter Sunday, three statues each held in the air by six bearers meet in the streets, surrounded by a crowd of people in celebration: they are the statues of the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ, and St. John the Apostle, who visits Mary to tell her about the Resurrection of her son.

The statue of St. John shuttles between Christ and Mary. Once, twice, and three times to communicate that the Lord has indeed overcome death. Then they bow. The Mother’s black veil is torn, the mourning has ended, and the miracle is served.

This is the Affruntata procession — the definition stems from the disbelief that Jesus had been resurrected and the need for a direct “confrontation” with reality.

It is a long and highly respected tradition that thousands of faithful follow with transport and devotion in many big and small cities, especially in the south of Italy. But not everyone likes it.

In 2014, in Sant'Onofrio, a town of 2,792 people, in the southern region of Calabria, the ceremony was investigated for mafia infiltration. It is one of many rituals that the ‘Ndrangheta clans have tried to bend for themselves — to flaunt their power. Now that the clans have become active in northern Italy and the rest of Europe, this expression of popular faith has now also been exported outside Calabria.

Clan takeover of the procession

Footage acquired by the Financial Police in Turin shows an Affruntata procession in Carmagnola, a town near Turin, where many figures of Calabria's Mafia are present in the front row: the ‘Ndrangheta boss Francesco Arone, wearing a suit and tie for the occasion, is among those who bear the statue of St. John.

In recent months he was sentenced by the Court of Asti to 18 years and 6 months. His next of kin, Salvatore, known as Turi, got 17 years and 9 months: he is among the top leaders of the Bonavota clan in the northern region of Piedmont. The last boss, Pasquale, the top fugitive after Messina Denaro’s arrest, was arrested in Genoa in recent days. He was praying in the Cathedral of San Lorenzo when the Carabinieri caught him. For days, always at the same time, the location of his phone had been tapped at that spot: among the church pews.

It was because of this pronounced faith that the Bonavotas were interested in bringing the Affruntata procession even to Piedmont.

A few months ago, justice collaborator Andrea Mantella spoke this way in the courtroom at the maxi trial Rinascita-Scott: “I know that in a small town here, near Turin, they used to do the Affruntata. There was a committee chaired by Salvatore Arone that organized this festival. Nicola, Pasquale, and Domenico Bonavota came up from Calabria to bring the statue.”

Three bosses. “The Bonavotas,” he explained, “divided the tasks in order to be everywhere and show to the Calabrians living in the north that they were in charge because they were the ones carrying the statue.”

\u200bA woman seen holding an anti-mafia association Libera flag during a demonstration in Italy.

A woman seen holding an anti-mafia association Libera flag during the demonstration against recent intimidations, reportedly done by local mafia (‘Ndrangheta) in Siderno, Calabria, Italy, November 20, 2021.

© Valeria Ferraro / ZUMA

Holy cards and other religious symbols

The last procession, in 2019, raised a fuss. There was talk of a statue that bowed just in front of Carmelo Palamara, brother (without a criminal record) of late boss Antonio. Many were quick to deny it. For sure, however, the procession stopped for a brief moment in front of the bench where Carmelo and his wife were sitting.

In the North, police have started to block public funerals of bosses in churches.

“For us, that was a clear sign,” said Christian Abbondanza of the House of Legality association. “The procession that started from the Church of St. Michael the Archangel made only one unscheduled stop, and it was the one in front of that bench.”

There is more: “The event's organizer is the same person who went to kiss Antonio Palamara's coffin in front of the Church at his funeral.” The Anti-Mafia Investigation Division put it on record in its annual report, but its documents are full of customs and symbols that see the Calabrian mafia trespassing into religious rites even outside its home territory.

Recently there was the discovery of a mosaic of St. Michael the Archangel, embedded in Florentine terra cotta, in the house of a Canavese boss who was sentenced to 13 years.

That house hosted meetings among Piedmont’s Mafia bosses. Holy cards portraying saints were burned on the table when a new member joined the clan.

In the North, police have started to block public funerals of bosses in churches, and occasions for affiliates to meet against the backdrop of a religious ceremony.

Even in Germany, when police raided the house of a leading member of the Giorgi family in Duisburg, the life-size statue of Our Lady of Polsi was found in his home.

A sailor smokes a cigarette on the hydrofoil Procida
Paolo Griseri

Genoa Postcard: A Tale Of Modern Sailors, Echos Of The Ancient Mariner

Many seafarers are hired and fired every seven months. Some keep up this lifestyle for 40 years while sailing the world. Some of those who'd recently docked in the Italian port city of Genoa, share a taste of their travels that are connected to a long history of a seafaring life.

GENOA — Cristina did it to escape after a tough breakup. Luigi because he dreamed of adventures and the South Seas. Marianna embarked just “before the refrigerator factory where I worked went out of business. I’m one of the few who got severance pay.”

To hear their stories, you have to go to the canteen on Via Albertazzi, in Italy's northern port city of Genoa, across from the ferry terminal. The place has excellent minestrone soup and is decorated with models of the ships that have made the port’s history.

There are 38,000 Italian professional sailors, many of whom work here in Genoa, a historic port of call that today is the country's second largest after Trieste on the east coast. Luciano Rotella of the trade union Italian Federation of Transport Workers says the official number of maritime workers is far lower than the reality, which contains a tangle of different laws, regulations, contracts and ethnicities — not to mention ancient remnants of harsh battles between shipowners and crews.

The result is that today it is not so easy to know how many people sail, nor their nationalities.

What is certain is that every six to seven months, the Italian mariner disembarks the ship and is dismissed: they take severance pay and after waits for the next call. Andrea has been sailing for more than 20 years: “When I started out, to those who told us we were earning good money, I replied that I had a precarious life: every landing was a dismissal.”

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Armed Italian Carabinieri and their vehicule by the side of the road at San Luca
Giuseppe Legato

A New Calabrian Mob Alliance Sparks Shocking Violence — And More Women Victims

United to colonize the region’s north, two allied mob families from Calabria's 'Ndrangheta crime syndicate have resumed methods to establish themselves that have been abandoned for years. The result is as bloody as the Italian mob has been in memory.

CASSANO ALL’IONIO — Here in the northern reaches of Calabria, a new mob alliance is combining the old ‘ndrangheta and nomadic criminality that is distinguishing itself by its ferocity.

The ‘ndrina Abruzzese and the ‘ndrina Forastefano, two opposing coschemob families), who had been at war with each other in the early 2000s, have now allied to take over what remains of northern Calabria up to the border with the Basilicata region.

The 44 kilometers of Calabrian coastline between the towns of Villapiana and Rossano are bloodied by a war that hardly anyone talks about, and yet is still fresh.

Cruel, cynical, archaic, harsh: this new hybrid Calabrian mob is back to shooting people in the streets, and it doesn’t spare women. In one year, two have died, bringing the number of victims in the past 24 months to 15.

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A woman in yellow stands crying on a bridge surrounded by floodwater
Carlo Petrini

Droughts To Floods, Italy As Poster Child Of Our Climate Emergency

Floods have hit northern Italy after the longest drought in two centuries. Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini explains how these increasingly frequent events are being exacerbated by human activity.


FAENZA By now it is undeniable: on the Italian peninsula, the climate crisis is evident in very opposing extreme events (think drought and floods), which occur close together and with increasing frequency. Until just a few days ago, almost the entire country was gripped by the longest drought in two centuries.

Now, however, extreme rainfall has hit the state of Emilia Romagna in the north of the country causing casualties and displacing over 10,000 people.

In 18 hours, the amount of rain that falls on average in a month has fallen. This has caused all rivers to overflow, flooding lowland towns and cutting off hillside towns due to landslides on many roads. Fields have become lakes and orchards that were at a crucial stage of ripening have been severely damaged.

It would be a blessing if this dreadful situation were a sporadic and isolated phenomenon, but unfortunately this is not the case.

What will happen tomorrow is unknown, yet we know it will happen.

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Three Italian college students posed with Modigliani's fake head and the tools with which they made it.
Emanuela Minucci

From Modigliani Fakes To Michelangelo The Forger: Italy's Most Ingenious Art Pranks

Even the art world is not immune to pranks.

TURIN — Summer, 1984. Three sculptures are found in a canal in Livorno, Italy.

Experts and art critics Giulio Carlo Argan and Cesare Brandi agree that the sculptures are the work of famous Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani, who had written that he threw some sculptures that didn’t turn out as he'd wanted into the river.

But the sculptures were all fake. It was one of the greatest art hoaxes of all time. The prank of Modigliani’s False Heads is the story of three university students and an artist from Livorno who didn’t know each other, but all had the same idea: on the year of the centenary of Modigliani’s birth, as the city of Livorno dredged a nearby river to find the lost sculptures Modigliani had written about, defied the art world. It was courageous, and reckless.

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Image of People checking their phone on the subway.
Concita De Gregorio

How I Lost My Smartphone And Found My Neighbors

A simple tale from Italy of a hundred strangers in a waiting room, and the limits of our modern obsession with privacy.

ROME — Here's a small personal story that has made me smile and reflect for the past few days: It’s about our obsession with privacy, which can be a pointless battle at a time when, in an online crowd of strangers identified only by numbers, we all find ourselves connected.

We all know everything about each other already. We can even find out about each other’s personal tastes, mutual friends or phone numbers. It's a good thing — here's why.

I enter, as I do every day, the large waiting room of a public place where I will spend the next few hours in the company of a hundred or so people. We have known each other for months, but we do not know each other. We are identified by acronyms, a matter of privacy.

I realize I don’t have my phone. I left it at home or lost it — I don’t know. The place where I am is far from the place where I live, and without a phone I can neither use a car-sharing app to get home nor call a cab — and there are never any taxis to hail at the nearby parking lot.

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Photo of ​tourists visiting the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence to see the David of Michelangelo.
La Stampa

Florence Mayor Invites Florida Teacher Fired Over Michelangelo's "Pornographic" David Statue

The teacher lost her job because she showed an image of Michelangelo's sculpture masterpiece, which one parent described as “pornographic." On April 29, she will visit Florence and see the work in person.

FLORENCE — The former Florida art teacher who was forced to resign after parents complained about her showing images of Michelangelo's nude "David" statue will be welcomed by Florence's mayor on Saturday to counter "censorship (and) crusades."

Mayor Dario Nardella invited the former Florida Tallahassee Classical School teacher, Hope Carrasquilla, to visit the Palazzo Vecchio, which has been the seat of city politics in Florence since the Middle Ages. Though unconfirmed, the middle school teacher is also expected to pay a live visit the David, the iconic 17-foot-tall Renaissance statue, a few blocks away.

“To confuse art with pornography is ridiculous and also offensive," Nardella said. "Nudity is part of art. Kids do not need censorship or crusades, but serious education that explains what art history is and how important it is for the development of civilization."

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