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Ginevra Falciani

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A Guided Tour Of Italy's Tourism Promotion #Fails
food / travel

A Guided Tour Of Italy's Tourism Promotion #Fails

The Italian government's use of a computerized version of Botticelli's Venus as an influencer to promote Italian culture has been described as “humiliating” and “grotesque”. But it is not Italy's first ridiculous and costly tourism campaign. Italy's La Stampa daily looks at a long and solid traditions of failures when the country tried to promote itself as a tourist paradise.

TURIN — “Visit the website. But please, visit Italy,” said then Minister of Cultural Heritage Francesco Rutelli in a 2007 promotional video for the launch of the italia.it website.

He was flooded with criticism and made fun of, both for his mediocre language skills and for the website itself, which was supposed to promote the image of Italy in the world but instead became a classic example of how politicians waste public funds.

When it launched, dozens of experts rapidly organized to make a better version of it. When it transpired that it had costed seven million euros, zero-cost versions were proposed.

Italia.it remains online, managed by the Italian National Agency of Tourism. Now, its home page features a version of Botticelli’s Venus as an influencer on a bicycle with the Colosseum in the background.

The advertising campaign instigated by the current government of Giorgia Meloni and costing nine million euros has been much criticized for trivializing — according to some, dishonoring — Botticelli’s Renaissance masterpiece and the meaning of art.

The same campaign, called "Open to meraviglia" (Open to wonder), also included a video which used footage of people in Slovenia drinking Slovenian wine.

This is just one of many initiatives gone wrong that Italian governments have funded over the years to promote tourism.

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

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.

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A sailor smokes a cigarette on the hydrofoil Procida

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

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

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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Photo of a protester shouting slogans through a megaphone during a climate protest in Rome.

No Green, I'm Gone — Meet The Climate Quitters

Climate quitting is a lasting residue of the larger mass resignation since the pandemic. The phenomenon mostly involves young people who change or quit their jobs if they consider it harmful to the planet.

ROME — When Andrea Grieco returned to his native Italy, he found a job for a consulting firm on what he'd been told were "sustainability budgets." The work was interesting, with a permanent contract and a good salary.

"One day I was asked to work on the green strategy of one of Italy’s largest oil companies," the 31-year-old recalled. "I said I disagreed, but they told me that this was a client they couldn’t do without. So I decided to quit.”

Grieco is what we call a "climate quitter," a young person who has chosen to quit his job for reasons related to protecting the planet.

Climate quitters are part of the phenomenon of the Great Resignation, in which thousands of people quit their jobs beginning in early 2021 in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic for various reasons. In this case, the specific motivation is to reduce one's environmental impact and devote oneself to areas such as the circular economy, sustainability and renewable energy.

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

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.

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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Image of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni at the Ceremony for the 171st Anniversary of the foundation of the State Police, on the Pincio terrace in Rome​

With Italy's Right In Power, A Hard Shift In The Political Lexicon

Redemption, homeland, people, and above all nation: Giorgia Meloni uses these terms to express the idea of a power projected into the future, part of a precise political strategy.


ROME — Sometimes the most striking words are the ones that are missing.

In a speech given by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni at the start of her mandate, for example, the word "femicide" is missing. The word "violence" appears, but only a few times, to denounce political violence. Others words are hoisted as flags by the radical right, now in power in Italy — like “nation,” a beloved word.

“If we are called to govern this nation, we will do it for everyone,” Meloni said after winning the election and becoming the country's first-ever female prime minister. "Nation,” in this sense, recurs about 15 times in her first speech. “Motherland,” on the other hand, comes up just once, in a strongly rhetorical passage addressed to law enforcement officials. The word “state” is mostly used to refer to the organization of the bureaucracy and its relationship with citizens, or in relation to the issue of security.

In Italian, the word “nation” means a collection of people who share common historical traditions, language, culture and origin, and who feel they belong to a community. The word does not necessarily imply that this community is organized into a political structure.

Instead, implicit in the idea of “homeland” (patria) is the bond between a people and the place where they live, as well as a sentimental bond with those who came before them.

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

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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Photo of an old creepy woman in a sea of colorful balloons.

My AI Image Experiment In Dream Analysis

We've always expressed our nightmares through images. So one Italian writer fed her dreams to AI-powered Midjourney platform, producing images of her own consciousness.

TURIN — I have been writing down my nightmares for as long as I can remember: they are the starting point for my writing, and doing so is essential for my relationship to myself.

I am certainly not the only one writing these down: the transcription of dreams is one of the oldest literary genres. The first meticulous dream collection by the Englishwoman Anna Kingsford, a hardened animalist, dates back to the 19th century. I wonder if this is a coincidence. Or are those who pay attention to the subtle language of dreams also lovers of the animal kingdom?

The earliest nightmare ever transcribed, however, dates back as far as the third millennium B.C., and is found in the Sumerian poem The Descent of Inanna into the Underworld. It's the story of a descent into hell that strips the ancient goddess of love and war Inanna of one garment at a time until she is left naked in the presence of her monstrous sister Ereshkigal.

During this journey, which in itself already resembles a dream (the theme of nudity/insecurity has no doubt appear into many people’s dream world at one time or another), there is a nightmare in which the demons of the Underworld pursue Dumuzi — the god of shepherds, and fertility and consort of Inanna — and finally succeed in capturing him.

This is followed by the interpretation of her sister, a true professional dream interpreter: with the icy detachment of a true psychoanalyst, she confirms that the dream hides premonitions of death. Finally, an illustration: a series of seals representing the motifs of the dream.

In short, along with being the first transcribed dream in history, it's also the first transcription through images. It is as if the overwhelming power of the dream requires multiple languages.

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Photo of an Indian couple holding hands.

Marriage Equality In India Isn't Only About LGBTQ, But Religion And Caste Too

Interfaith and inter-caste relationships have always been difficult in India. As the Supreme Court hears petitioners pleading for marriage equality, the time is ripe to see how laws and hatred have stopped love.

KOLKATA — When 34-year-old Krishna Gopal Chowdhury (he/him), a designer hailing from Kolkata in the eastern region of India fell hopelessly in love over the internet with Anisuzzaman Khan aka Anush (he/him), a fine arts practitioner from Bangladesh, he knew that his love was up against some of the toughest hurdles these countries had to offer.

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Chowdhury flew to Bangladesh in September 2019 with a surprise proposal, and the couple kissed at Dhaka Airport ignoring startled gazes, in a country where homosexuality is illegal. Thereafter, Anush faced harassment, torture, and shaming at home, and relocated to Kolkata, settling on a work visa.

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