Tag: Italy

Ospedale delle bambole

Sunday, 19 August, 2012

Near the Piazza del Popolo in Rome, at via di Ripetta 29, the venerable Squatriti family operates its Restaurici Artistici Squatriti, a kind of A&E (Accident and Emergency) of the Italian doll world, where the old and infirm are repaired and restored or reused for parts. In many ways, it combines some ancient and some […]

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M. C. Escher in Milan

Sunday, 12 August, 2012

The first print of an impossible reality that M. C. Escher created was Still Life and Street in 1937. Other early works include Drawing Hands, a work in which two hands are shown, each drawing the other; Sky and Water, in which light plays on shadow to meld the water background behind fish figures into […]

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At home with Gore Vidal at La Rondinaia

Sunday, 5 August, 2012

In the early 1960s, the imperious and enormously talented Gore Vidal absconded to Italy. In 2003, he sold his 460 m² villa, La Rondinaia (The Swallow’s Nest), on the Amalfi Coast, and returned to Los Angeles, but before he did, the Rainy Day team visited his exquisite eyrie.

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The Milan-Sicily axis is part of the Italian opera

Monday, 23 July, 2012

From the theatre of the absurd that Italy has become, there’s this snippet from the weekend: “Sicily has now been dubbed ‘Italy’s Greece’, an island awash with misspent EU funds, state jobs traded for votes and a €5bn debt pile that some fear could push Italy’s delicate economy into the abyss. Union and business leaders last week implored the Italian prime minister, Mario Monti, to take control of Sicily’s disastrous local finances and, after credit rating agency Moody’s downgraded the island, Monti himself warned Sicily could default.” Fears over Sicily’s future as euro flow stops and bankruptcy looms.

Meanwhile, up in Milan they’re got different money woes. Some of these concern Stéphane Lissner, the General Manager and Artistic Director of the La Scala opera house. Lissner has been on the job since 2005 and he earns a basic salary of €449,000 a year, which, through bonuses and pension top ups, comes to a magnificent €800,000 annually. With La Scala in the red to the tune of €4.5 million and the country toying with financial breakdown, Lissner’s take home pay has struck some people as being a bit rich so he’s agreed to take a 10 percent cut in salary and 20 percent in bonus payments. Painful, of course, but he’ll manage, somehow. Both of these colourful stories should be noted, however, by those who might be pressed into bailing Italy out some day. Unwise.

Meanwhile, Spain is falling off the euro cliff.

The EU Fab Four sings the blues

Tuesday, 26 June, 2012

Walter Russell Mead: “The ‘Fab Four’ (Spain’s Mariano Rajoy, France’s Francois Hollande, Germany’s Angela Merkel and Italy’s Mario Monti) reaffirmed a pre-existing agreement to make some mostly symbolic adjustments to European policy, whomping up an air souffle that the Club Med countries plus France can claim is a “growth” package, but it is mostly made […]

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Praying for rain

Sunday, 15 April, 2012

“Cardinal Giuseppe Betori of Florence is leading prayers for rain as much of Italy struggles with a severe drought.” So reported Corriere della Sera at the end of March. “The shortage of rain during the winter months has created a problem for central and northern Italy, and experts say that even normal rainfall in the […]

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The austerity referendum

Wednesday, 29 February, 2012

Ireland’s domestic economy is in a truly dreadful state. The IMF forecasts growth of 0.5 per cent, while Citigroup predicts shrinkage of one per cent. Home prices continue to slump, the unemployment rate has climbed to 14.5 percent and emigration has returned to 1980s levels. Meanwhile, the government is pushing through huge cuts in public […]

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Home wasn’t built in a day

Wednesday, 22 February, 2012

A very harsh fact of reality is that no one is indispensable. Life goes on, with or without us, and nothing illustrates this better than the experience of leaving home and then returning. Umberto Eco illustrates the point with the following story: “At the age of twenty Salvatore leaves his native town and emigrates to […]

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The EU North-South divide extends to innovation

Wednesday, 8 February, 2012

Sweden is the highest-ranked EU member state in this year’s Innovation Union Scoreboard, revealed yesterday by the European Commission. But Europe’s most innovative nation, Switzerland, is outside the EU, and the Union trails noticeably behind the United States, Japan and South Korea in the innovation race. After Sweden, the three highest EU countries on the […]

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