NEWS SNIPPETS - APRIL 2023

FROM THE ACQUISITION OF NEW CAR PARKING SPACES IN CORTONA TO NEWS OF A CURVACEOUS MERMAID IN PUGLIA...

Social media gives people a voice for good or bad: this month it hasn't turned out too well for Italy's Ministry of Tourism with its Italy - Open to Meraviglia campaign using Botticelli's Venus as a modern day 'influencer' nor for some art students in Monopoli, Puglia, for their 'voluptuous' mermaid statue...
 
MONTE GINEZZO PICNIC FURNITURE STOLEN
Source - Arezzo News – 11.4.23
An appeal to thieves to return the picnic tables and benches they removed from Cortona’s popular Mount Ginezzo walking, hiking and cycling area, has to date, fallen on deaf ears.
The wooden picnic tables and benches, installed a few years ago thanks to the Natura 2000 Hiking project - in collaboration with the Cortona comune and the Tuscany Regional body – went missing on Easter eve.
The president of the Cortona mountain community, Caterina Cittadini, has launched an appeal for the furnishings to be returned. Meanwhile, a report has been filed with the local police.
 
CORTONA CAR PARKING NEWS
Source - Cortona notizie - magazine issue No. 1 - 2023
The comune of Cortona has announced its intention to buy parking spaces from private individuals who have an available surface area of at least 800 sqm in or within the immediate vicinity of the historic town centre. The space would need to meet various viability and accessibility requisites for which more information can be found on the comune website.
“We aim to acquire dozens more parking spaces,” says Cortona’s mayor, Luciano Meoni perhaps somewhat hopefully, “and to be able to quickly make them available to citizens and visitors. Our goal is to make up for the chronic shortage of parking spaces especially in times of high tourist turnout. "
With the parking area in viale del Mercato remaining ‘a work in progress’ throughout the Easter holidays, Liberation Day and 1st May, the absence of parking spaces was made even more noticeable. Works, however, are apparently due to be completed ‘in May’.
viale del Mercato car park still 'a work in progress'
 
Once reopened, paid parking will come into force at the Spirito Santo parking area. For residents of the historic centre, however, it will be possible to acquire an annual pass for 10 euros for which one will be entitled to unlimited parking in all the blue spaces of Cortona.
Residents of the municipality of Cortona, will have the opportunity to purchase an annual pass for 30 euros for unlimited parking at the Spirito Santo car park. Evaluations are underway as to what to do about non-resident commuter workers in the historic centre.
Plans to build the underground car park at Porta Colonia - to be funded largely by private investors - would still seem to be in the pipeline.  Mayor Meoni mentions the ‘relaunch option for the project-financing of Porta Colonia’ in his editorial in Cortona Notizie magazine. The detailed technical survey undertaken last year is said to have met all geological criteria.
 
SEARCH ON FOR NEW MANAGER AT MONTE DEL PARTERRE
Source Comune di Cortona notizie – 15.04.2023
The comune of Cortona posted a brief announcement on its website requesting that any person or persons who might be interested in taking over the running of the public garden’s sport facility - with swimming pool, restaurant and bar - to make themselves known.
The announcement which was posted for little more than a week – from the 17th to the 28th April – offers the complex free of charge for the next 6 years on the condition that it be restored to full functionality at an estimated cost of E.70,000.
The complex, consisting of an outdoor swimming pool, restaurant with bar and small dining area, a kitchen, amphitheatre and mini-soccer field, as well as other utilities, has been closed for some years.
"… the objective of the municipal administration,” said Luciano Meoni, Cortona’s mayor, “is to give back to the community a fully efficient structure, without it being a burden on the public accounts. The hope is that this facility will find a competent manager who will contribute to enriching the location, offering opportunities for young sportsmen and also cultural activities, thanks to the many characteristics Monti del Parterre offers".
 
NEW CO2 GOBBLING MICROBE DISCOVERED NEAR THE ITALIAN ISLAND OF VULCANO
Source - The Guardian 19.04.23
A new microbe, a cyanobacteria, discovered in September in volcanic seeps near the Italian island of Vulcano, apparently gobbles up carbon dioxide “astonishingly quickly”, according to researchers.
It is hoped that microbes, naturally evolved to absorb CO2, may be an efficient way of removing greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere. Although the ending of burning fossil fuels is, according to the researchers, critical to halting the climate crisis, most scientists agree CO2 will also need to be sucked from the air to limit future damage.
Dr Braden Tierney, at Weill Cornell Medical College and Harvard Medical School, said: “Our lead collaborator at Harvard isolated this organism that grew astonishingly quickly, compared to other cyanobacteria.”
“The project takes advantage of 3.6bn years of microbial evolution,” he said. “The nice thing about microbes is that they are self-assembling machines. You don’t have that with a lot of the chemical approaches [to CO2 capture].”
 
BOTTICELLI'S VENUS AS INFLUENCER
Sources - Rai News online, ANSA news agency, New York Times - 22.04.23
 
The Ministry of Tourism has been inundated with criticism for part of its 9 million euro advertising campaign entitled Italy – Open to Meraviglia – which portrays Botticelli’s Venus as an influencer in modern day clothes, posing among some of the most beautiful places in the country, including the Colosseum in Rome, Piazza San Marco in Venice and Polignano a Mare in Puglia.
The campaign, created by the Armando Testa group based in Turin, is aimed, according to Daniela Santanchè, Italy’s minister for tourism, “to sell our nation and our excellence, in an unprecedented way, never done in Italy before.”
That Italy is being ‘sold’ in an unprecedented way, is the one thing perhaps that all can agree upon: Vittorio Sgarbi, the current government’s Undersecretary for Culture – said, according to the New York Times, that he was baffled by its slogan, given that Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s party, Brothers of Italy, recently proposed legislation that would fine Italians who use foreign words in official communication. “Why use ‘Open to Meraviglia,’” Mr. Sgarbi told the news agency ANSA. “It would have been enough to write: ‘Italia Meraviglia.’”
Florence’s mayor, Dario Nardella, also expressed his antipathy for the campaign and is quoted as saying by 055 Firenze online, "Why trivialize Italy like this? Why ridicule our works of art? Botticelli's Venus is unique. It is one of the symbols of Italy's beauty and a testament to the greatness of the Florentine Renaissance. To use her with a shirt on while eating a pizza to publicize Italy in the world, is I think an unhappy and unjust choice for our culture".
There are others, however, who support the campaign, such as art historian Claudio Strinati – he is quoted as saying: “Botticelli was exactly what we call an influencer today, that is, he created a taste and a market for art. So, taking the image of a work created by a great influencer of the past is not an aberration at all because Venus was actually an influencer".
These are not the only problems however to have beset the campaign.
A computerized version of Botticelli’s Venus branded as a “virtual influencer” immediately ‘boomeranged into a meme-fest on social media’, reported the New York Times, ‘because critics said it played off stereotypes about Italy’.
A sharp-eyed observer also noticed that the winery featured in a video for the campaign was actually located in Slovenia as opposed to Italy. It begs the question as to ‘why’ such a decision might have been made, given as the New York Times stated, ‘the importance of Italian wine to national identitiy’.
In Germany the campaign website was apparently taken down after it was discovered that some of the translations were too literal.  Among other errors, the town of Brindisi, in Puglia, was re-nominated as ‘toast’ (literally speaking, a ‘brindisi’ means to make a congratulatory toast to someone or something).
As if that wasn’t enough, to top it all, a marketing company snapped up the domain name of the campaign when it noticed that it had not been registered!
The campaign will make its first appearance from the beginning of May.  "Italy - Open to Meraviglia" will be posted on a variety of social platforms and will also be present at the main international airports and railway hubs of Europe, the USA, Central and South America, China, India, South-East Asia and Australia.
 
THE SIREN OF MONOPOLI
Sources – The Guardian, Sky News, Open on line 27.04.2023
A statue of a mermaid, designed and created by students of the Luigi Rossi art school in Monopoli, Puglia, has created something of a furor both on social media and even some international news outlets - such as The Guardian and Sky news - for being too voluptuous and provocative.
‘Too provocative’ mermaid statue causes stir in southern Italy, was the Guardian’s main headline for the feature. (Pic credit - Monopoli Times)
A subheading declared: A mermaid statue in Monopoli became a target of ridicule after photos were shared on social media (pic credit - Monopoli Times).
The students were apparently tasked by Monopoli’s mayor to create two sculptures for the town, one with a maritime theme. They subsequently presented a scale model of the mermaid to the town council which was then approved. 
In recent days, images of the statue have been making the rounds on social media, prompting the council to cover the work with a plastic sheet, but only as the mayor of Monopoli, Angelo Annese, explained, because the piazza - dedicated to the Nobel award winning scientist Rita Levi-Montalcini - has yet to be inaugurated.
Regional councilor Stefano Lacatena is reported to have said, "It is probably the first time I have intervened in a controversy over a work of art that has not yet been inaugurated."
In a subsequent post on Facebook, he wrote: “What is happening in my Monopoli, around the statue of the mermaid, is unbelievable. I have read comments of all types on the social networks: from the most ferocious and "bigoted" criticisms to real insults against the students who made it. I quote in part the article 33 of our beloved Constitution: "Art and science are free".
Adolfo Marciano, headteacher of the Luigi Rosso art school, has defended both the statue and his students, saying it was a “tribute to the great majority of women who are curvy.” He added, that had they created a mermaid who was too skinny, that too would no doubt have created comment.
The second statue, dedicated to the victims of workplace accidents and unveiled on May 1st, is as Alfredo Marciano justifiably said, “much more important than the mermaid.”
No doubt Monopoli and the creators of its ‘curvy’ mermaid will ride out the storm. And if the saying is true that there is no such thing as bad publicity, it may well act as one of the town’s main tourist attractions for years to come.
Team, 01/05/2023 13:02:23

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