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  • Originally published 10/03/2013

    The Italian Job

    How the Pentagon is using your tax dollars to turn Italy into a launching pad for the wars of today and tomorrow.

  • Originally published 08/20/2013

    Part of Vasari Corridor roof collapses in Florence

    Emergency restoration work started today on a section of Florence’s famous Vasari Corridor, after some plaster and tiles fell from the roof on Friday. The damage occurred in the section of the raised corridor that passes next to the church of Santa Felicita, just over the Ponte Vecchio, on the south side of the river Arno.It is reported that no one was hurt, and museum professionals are already establishing the best course of action to restore the damage to the building. Around ten portraits have been removed from the walls as a precaution while restoration work begins, but the popular tourist site will remain open.Coincidentally, the same portion of the corridor was due to be closed most of next month while curators install a series of self-portraits of 20th-century and contemporary artists for an exhibition that is scheduled to open at the end of September....

  • Originally published 08/12/2013

    2,000-year-old Roman ship found off Genoa

    The discovery was made by police divers off the coast of Porto Maurizio, Liguria, Il Secolo XIX reported.At least 50 Roman vases were found in the ship, 50 metres below sea level, which remains completely intact.“This is an exceptional discovery,” Lieutenant Colonel Francesco Schilardi told the newspaper.“Now it’s a matter of protecting the ship and keeping the grave...

  • Originally published 08/12/2013

    Florence tomb opened in search for identity of Mona Lisa

    Researchers opened a centuries-old Florence tomb on Friday in a search for remains that could confirm the identity of the woman whose enigmatic smile Leonardo da Vinci immortalized in the Mona Lisa, one of the world’s most famous paintings.A round hole, just big enough for a person to wriggle through, was cut in the stone church floor above the family crypt of Florentine silk merchant Francesco del Giocondo, whose wife, Lisa Gherardini, is thought to have sat for the Renaissance master in the early 16th century....

  • Originally published 08/02/2013

    Italian police seize huge haul of illicit antiquities

    Police in southern Italy have seized a large haul of well-preserved artefacts that were illegally excavated between the two southern towns of Benevento and Foggia, near Naples. A total of 584 antiquities were recovered, estimated to be worth around €2m and intended for sale on the black market.Investigations are ongoing, but so far 21 tombaroli, or graverobbers, have been identified by police, while a 46-year-old man from the area has reportedly been charged with handling stolen archaeological objects after investigators searched his property in the nearby town of Castelpagano.The artefacts are reportedly in very good condition and range from a large ancient Greek krater estimated to be worth around €150,000 to small pieces valued at around €1,500. The collection includes other Greek objects, including a group of fourth-century BC ceramic bowls decorated with red figures, various Etruscan and Corinthian objects, a set of 340 rare coins, many Roman lanterns and a particularly well-preserved helmet....

  • Originally published 07/29/2013

    Unrepentant Nazi criminal Priebke chills Rome

    There has been a renewed call in Italy for one of the oldest surviving Nazi war criminals to repent.It came on the eve of the 100th birthday of Erich Priebke, who has never expressed remorse for his part in a World War ll massacre at the Ardeatine Caves, on the outskirts of Rome.The former SS officer is actually still in the Italian capital.He lives under house arrest in what some in the city regard as conditions that are far too comfortable and lenient....

  • Originally published 07/08/2013

    War heroes laid to rest 70 years after their plane went down

    The crew of a British Second World War bomber that was shot down over Italy are to be laid to rest almost 70 years after they went missing in action.Six months after Warrant Officer John Hunt failed to return from a bombing raid over northern Italy in the last days of the Second World War, his mother sent a letter to the military authorities pleading for information about her missing son.Jeanette Madge wrote that the months since she had received the telegram notifying her he had not returned from the mission had been “just hell, waiting for something to come through” adding “please let me know if he is alright or if he is gone”....

  • Originally published 07/05/2013

    Alarm sounded over state of Italy's historic monuments

    ROME (AFP).- Alarm bells are ringing once more over the upkeep of Italy's historic monuments, from the Roman city of Pompeii to the Colosseum, with budget cuts hampering repairs and UNESCO issuing a stern rebuke."Over the last five years, the culture budget has been reduced by two thirds," Culture Minister Massimo Bray complained in an interview on Monday published in Italian newspapers.Italy is now lagging well behind its European counterparts: the country allocates just 1.1 percent of its budget to culture, compared to 7.4 percent in Ireland, 3.3 percent in Spain and 2.5 percent in France.The lack of funds is having a disastrous affect on the country's archaeological treasures, with many sites closed due to fears of rock collapses and others sporadically shut by protests and strikes....

  • Originally published 06/21/2013

    Italian praised for saving Jews now seen as Nazi collaborator

    He has been called the Italian Schindler, credited with helping to save 5,000 Jews during the Holocaust. Giovanni Palatucci, a wartime police official, has been honored in Israel, in New York and in Italy, where squares and promenades have been named in his honor, and in the Vatican, where Pope John Paul II declared him a martyr, a step toward potential sainthood.But at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, the tale of his heroic exploits is being removed from an exhibition after officials there learned of new evidence suggesting that, far from being a hero, he was an enthusiastic Nazi collaborator involved in the deportation of Jews to Auschwitz.A letter sent this month to the museum’s director by the Centro Primo Levi at the Center for Jewish History in New York stated that a research panel of more than a dozen scholars who reviewed nearly 700 documents concluded that for six years, Palatucci was “a willing executor of the racial legislation and — after taking the oath to Mussolini’s Social Republic, collaborated with the Nazis.”...

  • Originally published 06/11/2013

    Ötzi the Iceman suffered head injury

    Ötzi the Iceman, Europe's oldest mummy, likely suffered a head injury before he died roughly 5,300 years ago, according to a new protein analysis of his brain tissue.Ever since a pair of hikers stumbled upon his astonishingly well-preserved frozen body in the Alps in 1991, Ötzi has become one of the most-studied ancient human specimens. His face, last meal, clothing and genome have been reconstructed — all contributing to a picture of Ötzi as a 45-year-old, hide-wearing, tattooed agriculturalist who was a native of Central Europe and suffered from heart disease, joint pain, tooth decay and probably Lyme disease before he died.None of those conditions, however, directly led to his demise. A wound reveals Ötzi was hit in the shoulder with a deadly artery-piercing arrow, and an undigested meal in the Iceman's stomach suggests he was ambushed, researchers say....

  • Originally published 06/04/2013

    French learned to make wine from Italians 2,400 years ago

    The French weren't the first to make wine? Mon dieu! But as anyone who has sipped a Bordeaux, Champagne or Burgundy can tell you, the French got pretty good at it once they learned how. And thanks to some molecular archaeology, researchers can now confirm they picked up these skills as early as 425 B.C.So who taught the French the art of viniculture? Probably the ancient Italians, says the man with perhaps the coolest nickname in science research — the "Indiana Jones of alcohol," .The Eurasian grape — Vitis vinifera, the source of 99 percent of the world's wine — was first domesticated about 9,000 years ago in the mountains of the Near East, says McGovern, a biomolecular archaeologist at the University of Pennsylvania Museum. Later, Canaanite, Phoenician and Greek merchants all played a part in spreading that wine culture across the Mediterranean....

  • Originally published 05/08/2013

    Medieval hermit pope not murdered, as believed

    Celestine V, the hermit pope who set precedent for Benedict XVI, has been given a new face and fate by researchers who have examined his skeletal remains.The last pontiff not chosen by a conclave — and the first to declare that a pope could rightfully resign — Celestine V is regarded as one of the Catholic Church’s most enigmatic popes.His remains, kept in the Basilica of Santa Maria di Collemaggio in L’Aquila, Italy, did not show his real face, but a wax mask with the likeness of Cardinal Carlo Confalonieri, the Archbishop of L’Aquila from 1941 to 1950....

  • Originally published 05/06/2013

    1 of postwar Italy’s most powerful men, 7-time Premier Giulio Andreotti, dies at 94

    ROME — Giulio Andreotti personified the nation he helped shape, the good and the bad.One of Italy’s most important postwar figures, he helped draft the country’s constitution after World War II, served seven times as premier and spent 60 years in Parliament.But the Christian Democrat who was friends with popes and cardinals was also a controversial figure who survived corruption scandals and allegations of aiding the Mafia: Andreotti was accused of exchanging a “kiss of honor” with the mob’s longtime No. 1 boss and was indicted in what was called “the trial of the century” in Palermo.He was eventually cleared, but his legacy was forever marred....

  • Originally published 04/01/2013

    'Gate to Hell' found in Turkey

    A “gate to hell” has emerged from ruins in southwestern Turkey, Italian archaeologists have announced.Known as Pluto's Gate -- Ploutonion in Greek, Plutonium in Latin -- the cave was celebrated as the portal to the underworld in Greco-Roman mythology and tradition.Historic sources located the site in the ancient Phrygian city of Hierapolis, now called Pamukkale, and described the opening as filled with lethal mephitic vapors....

  • Originally published 03/28/2013

    Costas Douzinas: Europe's South Rises Up Against Those Who Act as Sadistic Colonial Masters

    Costas Douzinas is a law professor at Birkbeck, University of London. His books include The End of Human Rights and Human Rights and Empire. His Philosophy and Resistance in the Crisis will be published in April 2013The "new world order" announced at the end of the 1980s was the shortest in history. Protest, riots and uprisings erupted all over the world after the 2008 crisis, leading to the Arab spring, the Indignados and Occupy. A former director of operations at MI6, quoted by Paul Mason, called it "a revolutionary wave, like 1848". Mason agreed: "There are strong parallels – above all with 1848, and with the wave of discontent that preceded 1914."

  • Originally published 03/25/2013

    Mussolini’s ‘most secret’ bunker discovered beneath historic Roman structure

    Workers in Rome have stumbled across a top-secret bunker once belonging to former Fascist leader Benito Mussolini, hidden underneath the historic Palazzo Venezia.The discovery is the 12th such bunker as is said to have been the “most secret” of the former strongman’s hideouts, according to the Italian publication La Stampa.And in what has become a tradition of sorts, the bunker will soon go on display for the public to tour and document, as has been done with other recently discovered Mussolini bunkers. City officials plan to install lighting, a touchscreen system and an air siren, meant to simulate the sounds of an impending air raid....

  • Originally published 02/22/2013

    To Move Wright House to Italy, All It Takes Is a Buyer

    Paolo Bulletti has a dream. The Italian architect wants to transport a house built by the distinguished U.S. architect Frank Lloyd Wright from its current site in New Jersey to the hills of Fiesole, near Florence....Everyone acknowledges that the timing is poor. The economic situation in Italy means public and private funds are in short supply and, with the general election campaign under way, no mayor would lend his name to such an extravagant project.Nonetheless, Fulvio Irace, a professor of history at Milan Polytechnic, thinks that public institutions in Florence or Fiesole or even Venice should consider buying the house....

  • Originally published 01/25/2013

    Who will save Rome's ruins in cash-strapped Italy?

    When archaeologists announced the discovery of the tomb of Marcus Nonius Macrinus in Rome in 2008, the find was heralded as the most important in decades. Built in the shape of a temple, with tall fluted columns and an intricately carved sarcophagus, it was the final resting place for the Roman general who served as inspiration for Russell Crowe‘s character in the movie Gladiator, unearthed a the site of a planned housing project some 1,800 years after its construction.In contrast, the December 2012 announcement regarding the tomb was much more muted. Italy’s cash-strapped ministry of culture declared it was unable to find the several million euros that would be required to protect the ruins and turn them into a tourist attraction. Instead, the Gladiator’s Tomb, as the site has come to be known, would likely have to be buried once again....

  • Originally published 01/24/2013

    Roman marker used to measure Earth found

    Italian researchers have unearthed a marble benchmark which was once used to measure the shape of Earth in the 19th century.Called Benchmark B, the marker was found near the town of Frattocchie along one of the earliest Roman roads which links the Eternal City to the southern city of Brindisi.Placed there by Father Angelo Secchi (1818-1878), a pioneer of astrophysics, the marker consisted of a small travertine slab with a metallic plate in the middle. The plate featured a hole at its center....

  • Originally published 01/18/2013

    Prospero Gallinari, a Terrorist, Is Dead at 62

    Prospero Gallinari, who as a member of the Italian terrorist group the Red Brigades was convicted in the kidnapping and assassination in 1978 of Aldo Moro, the Italian prime minister, died Monday after collapsing at his home in Reggio Emilia, in northern Italy. He was 62. He was long believed to have been the gunman in the killing until a comrade took responsibility.Mr. Gallinari had a history of heart trouble, Italian newspapers said, citing police reports confirming his death.The Red Brigades, a vicious and idiosyncratic Marxist-Leninist paramilitary organization, engaged in robberies, assaults and assassinations in the 1970s as part of a campaign to foment leftist revolution in Italy. The group’s most notorious act was kidnapping Mr. Moro in March 1978. It held him for 55 days and then shot him to death. Mr. Moro’s body was found in a car trunk on May 9, 1978, the same day he was murdered....