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Sara Kahn

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Image of people on the beach, with the sea in the background, in the city of Fiumicino.

Fiumicino Postcard: A Cruise Ship Giant Wants A Seaside Town As Its Own Roman Port

Not far from Rome's international airport, the Royal Caribbean cruise ship company bought a state concession to try to build a massive new port to host its Oasis-class cruise ships – 72-meter-high skyscrapers on the sea. Locals in Fiumicino say one major transport hub in the area is more than enough.

FIUMICINO — In front of the old lighthouse in this Italian coastal town, about 30 kilometers southwest of Rome, the clouds cast shadows on the translucent sea. A rusting, half-buried moped emerges from the sand. Here, it seems that time has run itself aground, caught in a fisherman's net.

On this piece of land between the delta of the Tiber River and the Mediterranean Sea, what was once a strategic point for ancient Rome and close to the longstanding home of Rome's international airport, a large new deepwater port will soon be built.

In Feb. 2022, Fiumicino Waterfront, a company controlled by cruise line Royal Caribbean, bought a state concession at an auction that includes a vast area of the coast. The company now owns 55,000 square meters of land and 988,000 square meters of water. The project plans include space for 800 moorings, two of which are for Oasis-class cruise ships – 72-meter-high skyscrapers on the sea, twice the height of the lighthouse, which serves as a symbol of Fiumicino’s past and as a historic guard post for the coast.

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Tourist Trap: How Big Investors Are Changing The Tuscan Valley Forever

Tourist Trap: How Big Investors Are Changing The Tuscan Valley Forever

Along with mass tourism, large investors have arrived in the Tuscan Valley — investors with no ties to the traditions and agriculture of the place. If the residents leave, the landscape of this countryside will disappear forever.

PIENZA — The farmyards in Val d'Orcia are closing, the new owners locking themselves away in farmhouses transformed into villas . A world that has always been open disappears, without fanfare — almost without a voice at all.

“The farmyards were intended for the use of the farm, but they were also a free plot: people with animals in tow could stop and find hospitality,” says Marco Capitoni, a farmer and winemaker. “Now, they have become green fields, irrigated, lit up day and night, monitored by video cameras, and surrounded by fake stone walls or railings.”

His is not the lament of someone who looks to the past regretfully. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Capitoni's company stands on the side of a hill by the town of Pienza, surrounded by splendid, almost empty countryside , windblown and silent on a peaceful Siena afternoon. From his farmyard di lui, he looks at the hills and recounts his bewilderment at a sudden, almost violent change, that is affecting Val d'Orcia — even the very landscape, which is what transformed the fortune of this otherwise poor valley not long ago .

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Image of traffic in Los Angeles

From L.A. To Paris, Reflections On The Power Of Public Transport

For the author, the biggest surprise in living in Paris has been the city's efficient metro system. Her hometown of Los Angeles has an addiction to cars that is more than just unpleasant.


PARIS — Between 3:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. on an average weekday, you know what to expect in Los Angeles: traffic jams. The reality is that the city is always so full of cars that we pollute the air and our ears that locals are so used to they hardly notice it.

For this summer, which I've spent in Paris, that means I've developed a severe case of metro envy. My morning commute is a short 20 minutes. I walk to one station, get on the metro line and within 15 minutes, I have made it to my destination.

When I step off the train at my final destination, I am greeted by the sight of cyclists and pedestrians making their way around the city. Sure, there are cars around, but nowhere near the monopoly I'm used to back home.

By contrast, my hometown of L.A. is a sprawling city, designed around cars. To get from point A to point B, you are practically forced to get into a car, whether it is your own vehicle or a ridesharing service like Uber. L.A. is suffering from a severe case of too many cars and not enough public transport.

I am not saying the transportation system in Paris is perfect by any means. But the ability to travel within a city, often a walkable city, without stepping foot in a car or worrying about car payments is a luxury.

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Gùsto! How · What · Where Locals Eat (And Drink) In Rio de Janeiro
food / travel

Gùsto! How · What · Where Locals Eat (And Drink) In Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is a city known for many things, but food is usually not one of them. Nonetheless, Rio's food scene is not to be ignored. From açaí to steak, Rio has it all.

Rio de Janeiro, famous for its beaches and nightlife, is a city that is not often appreciated for its dynamic food scene. But its weakness for the good life, and its rich history and culture, means that Rio has plenty to offer on the cuisine front.

With a newfound appreciation for its own history, Rio’s culinary experiences are now more focused on local ingredients and traditions, while also embracing other flavors from across the world. These must-try restaurants combine creative cuisine with traditional Brazilian flavors to create a comprehensive understanding of Rio de Janeiro’s culinary offerings.

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Image of a sign on a road indicating the speed limit.

The Fastest Path To Sustainable Cities: A Very Low Speed Limit

Bologna is the first major Italian city to join the city30 initiative, taking on a model that limits the speed of cars in cities to 30 kilometers-per-hour (18.6 mph) and aims to return road space to pedestrians and cyclists.

BOLOGNACity30, a program that lowers the speed limit of major cities to 30 kilometers an hour (18.6 mph), has several goals: it aims to increase road safety, promote sustainable mobility through the reduction of pollution and emissions and to advance the local economy. The new model has already taken hold in various cities around the world, and has now arrived in Italy as well.

Starting in June, Bologna became the first major Italian city to set its speed limit to 30 kilometers per hour. The first Italian city to do so was Cesena, which led the way in 1998, and was followed in 2021 by Olbia.

To become a city30, however, more has to be done than just lowering the speed limit. Rather, it is a broader and more complex intervention, that is both infrastructural and cultural. The urban environment must be redeveloped with the aim of returning public road space to pedestrians and cyclists.

“In Italy, we still consider the road to be solely the realm of the car," says urban planner Matteo Dondè, who specializes in cycling planning, traffic calming and the redevelopment of public spaces. “It is above all a cultural problem: we are the only country where the pedestrian thanks the motorist for stopping at the pedestrian crossing... and if you respect the speed limit you are seen as a loser.”

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Photo showing an audience watching the iconic Titanic scene where the two lovers hold one another on the ship's helm.

Another Love Story Ruined By The Titanic

Our Dottoré discovers the origin of a patient's schizophrenia, deep in the icy waters of the North Atlantic Ocean.

The existence of a curse linked to the Titanic is something that Ciro has insisted on for a long time.

His clinical history seems to show that his schizophrenia arose following a disappointment in love, and one day I asked him to tell me more about it.

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Image of ​Amazon BLQ1 in Castelguglielmo, Province of Rovigo, Italy.

How Amazon Worker Exploitation Looks In Small-Town Italy

In the Italian province of Rovigo, Amazon’s arrival appeared to be an opportunity to revive the area's economy and create jobs. But two and a half years later, it's clear that the giant has had a negative impact on the struggling area.

CASTELGUGLIELMO — When he works the morning shift, Matteo Tacconi* is out of bed by 5 a.m.. He grabs a coffee, jumps into his old car and travels 30 kilometers from his rented home to the Amazon plant in this small tow in the northern Italian province of Rovigo.

At 52, he has only been able to find two types of work in the southern city where he was born: "Agriculture, or black market agriculture." Both are precarious, poorly paid jobs, and so after an interview with an agency that provides temporary workers for Amazon, he didn't think twice, and moved north with his family to accept a three-month job. “The hope was that after a few more temporary contracts, they would eventually decide to hire me," he says.

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Amongst the Pride crowd, an older person in large sunglasses wears the updated progress pride flag over their shoulders

Italy's Crackdown On Same-Sex Parents Could Retroactively Dissolve Families

A new measure from the right-wing government could force same-sex parents of children already in elementary school to suddenly lose their parental rights and status.

PADUA — High on the list of priorities for the far-right government of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has been targeting the rights of same-sex couples with children.

In March, Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala was ordered to stop independently registering same-sex couples as parents of newborns, in accordance with an Italian high court ruling that only the court can rubber-stamp legal recognition of a same-sex parent. This new enforcement involves halting the legal registration of children of same-sex parents, compromising the children’s ability to access education and medical care.

✉️ You can receive our LGBTQ+ International roundup every week directly in your inbox. Subscribe here.

This week, the crackdown has gone one step further in the northern city of Padua, where 33 families with same-sex mothers now risk losing basic recognition of parental status for their children.

The documents that the families have received in recent days contain the request of the Public Prosecutor's Office for the alteration of their children’s birth certificates years after their children have been born, with some of them already in primary school.. The administration's policy seeks to make only the biological parent the legal caretaker, leaving the other parent with no rights over their own children.

This is being enforced retroactively by Meloni's government, as the birth certificates of children who are already enrolled in primary school may need to be changed.

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Berlusconi, A Modern-Day Casanova Who Stumbled Into Politics

Berlusconi, A Modern-Day Casanova Who Stumbled Into Politics

At the core, the controversial Italian leader, who died this week at 86, wanted to be liked, loved. That explains many of his choices, including the ones that have left a dark mark on Italy's history.


ROME — Silvio Berlusconi was an amicable man – child-like and generous. He told bleak, bewildering, embarrassing jokes, but he did it with such bold, bubbling enthusiasm that you always ended up smiling at his incomprehensible naivety, which was above all his desire to please everyone. I'm convinced it's the key to understanding him: he was a great Casanova of politics, TV, football and business.

Aging horrified him. He thought that having hair was a matter of "respect for others," and that getting a facelift was a matter of decency, tantamount to good manners. He did not come from a well-to-do family. His father was a bank clerk, and, perhaps with some inventiveness, was actually much more, while his mother was a housewife. Berlusconi was a smart kid. He sold his homework; he sang on cruise ships. He put his best qualities to good use. His generosity was cynical but instinctive, and sometimes touching.

From his beginnings building a small company, he would change the country forever. He started with an advertising agency, which became a lever for the Italian government itself.

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Image of the Tunisian Maritime National Guard intercepting boats of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea before returning the migrants to the shore of the Tunisian southern city of Sfax.
Migrant Lives

AI And Migration: Hi-Tech To Tighten Borders Or Save Lives At Sea?

The European Parliament voted on Wednesday to approve the EU's first act regulating AI, which banned some potentially abusive AI tech but left the door open to others that could be used to track, control and deny people seeking refuge in Europe — instead of as a tool to save them.


ROME — When Syrian and Palestinian refugees were stranded on a scorpion-infested island on the Greek-Turkish border in the Evros River last summer, it took the Greek authorities more than 10 days to send relief supplies.

Greek authorities claimed they could not locate the abandoned migrants, despite having received their precise geographical coordinates. This far-fetched claim, refuted by an investigation by the German media company Deutsche Welle, is a perfect example of how selectively the European Union uses border surveillance technologies.

Another example of this selective use came four months later: in Dec. 2022, Human Rights Watch accused Frontex, the European border and coast guard agency, of using its drones and aircraft to locate and report refugee boats to the Libyan coast guard — who brought them back to Libya, where they experienced violence in which Frontex is undoubtedly complicit.

Available technology has not been used in crucial moments when it could save lives. Instead, it is used to turn away asylum seekers. In the aforementioned cases, the authorities did not hesitate to commit an illegal act by failing to rescue the migrants and instead conspiring with the Libyan coastguard, violating the fundamental rights of these asylum seekers.

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Image of ​Silvio Berlusconi at the EPP Congress in 2017

Silvio Berlusconi, The Impossible Biography

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's death at the age of 86 reveals his complexity as both a public and political figure — in Italy and beyond. The author, who has tried in vain to write Berlusconi's biography, sifts through the truth behind the many myths.


ROME — A few years ago, a friend suggested that I write a biography of Silvio Berlusconi — the kind that becomes indispensable to consult and cite every time Berlusconi is mentioned, like the biography of Julius Caesar written last century by French historian Jérome Carcopino.

This undertaking presented two problems. One was immediate: unfortunately, I don't have the stature of a Carcopino. The other, bigger problem showed up shortly after: Berlusconi has such a long history in politics, with so much written about him, that it becomes impossible to separate truth from legend.

For a couple of days, I dedicated myself to drafting the topics I wanted to cover. Very simple: Berlusconi is a politician, Berlusconi is an entrepreneur, Berlusconi is a sportsman.

I immediately added Berlusconi and the judiciary. This chapter was already long and complex: the investigations against him on charges of corruption, tax evasion, proximity to the Mafia, even the 1993 mob-linked killings in Milan, and many more topics.

Trying to frame Berlusconi as a politician immediately gave me hell, looking at his long career. Berlusconi and TV was already by itself a book of 400 pages. Berlusconi and soccer was another 300 pages. Berlusconi and the women in his life, his friends, his family, his connection to culture, his relationship to his wealth, his houses, his enemies and more.

The above prologue to this article quickly gets long, and was nothing compared to the original book outline, which I continued to enrich with other sections.

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Mural of Meloni and Schlein in Milan

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.

✉️ You can receive our LGBTQ+ International roundup every week directly in your inbox. Subscribe here.

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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