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Italy is a fascinating country, but an infuriating one as well. As someone who has now spent more than half of her life here, much of which was spent working as a foreign correspondent and later as a reporter for an Italian newspaper, I feel that I know the country inside and out. The purpose of this blog, which I set up to accompany the book of the same name I wrote in 2013, is to report and comment on facts, events, proposals and even rumors. I hope you enjoy it.

Many Italians angered by alleged ransom payout

Many Italians are furious about the alleged gigantic ransom – the rumor is 12 million euros – that the Italian government is said to have paid to jihadists in Syria to free two, young would-be women aid workers. Government officials have denied paying anything since the official line here is that ransoms must not be […]

City police brouhaha puts spotlight on an Italian malady – absenteeism

The Italian government and top authorities in Rome have vowed to take punitive action against the hundreds of city police –  83.5% of those on call –  who did not show up for work on New Year’s Eve. Whether or not this will happen remains to be seen: in Italy, talk is cheap. But the […]

Italian president to leave office

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano confirmed on January First that he will be resigning his office later this month.  In April, 2013, the 89-year old  Head of State reluctantly agreed to stay on for a second term when, after four unsuccessful ballots, Italy’s wrangling political parties were unable to agree on a successor. It was the […]

Italian coast guard and navy shine in rescues

While the Italian government still has little to show for its plans to help the country out of its economic doldrums, the Italian Coast Guard, its Navy and Air Force get kudos for saving travelers aboard a stricken ferry and rescuing hundreds of illegal migrants arriving from war-torn and/or poverty-struck countries and abandoned in the […]

A country in crisis? Or maybe they are only window shopping?

This was the scene in Piazza di Spagna and Via dei Condotti on Sunday, January 3, when post-Christmas sales began in Rome.

Renzi, seeking to push through reforms, tells it like it is….

Last week, Italian premier Matteo Renzi decided to tell Italian youngsters the bitter truth, and that is that in today’s Italian economy there is no longer such a thing as a permanent position. The posto fisso was a reality during and after the boom years of the postwar Italian economy and has remained the dream […]

Rome mayor makes new enemies

Rome’s current mayor, Ignazio Marino, is not popular, except perhaps among some city planners and archeologists. He has angered merchants for closing several key streets around the Colosseum to traffic; he has been unable to get rid of illegal vendors, has failed in keeping the city clean and in improving public transport. Now he will […]

More grandstanding by an unpopular mayor?

Yesterday, Rome’s unpopular “first citizen”, Ignazio Marino officially registered 16 gay marriages celebrated abroad by homosexual Rome residents. The mayor’s act will have no legal effect, because tomorrow, if not today, the prefect of Rome, the government’s representative in legal matters, is expected to nullify Marino’s act, that is to strike it off the books. […]

Genoa flooded again

This is what happens when governments – local and national – fail to act. Three years after one of the most disastrous floods it has known, the Italian city of Genoa and manyof the surrounding smaller towns, are covered in mud. There were, fortunately, few fatalities but enormous damages to private and public property. After […]

Another never-ending Roman story

Another never-ending Roman story: what do about the city’s cobblestones, known as sanpietrini because they were first used in the 1700s to pave Piazza S. Pietro. Some people love’em, some people – especially motorists and cyclists hate them   –  but any way you look at it, deciding what to do about them is a politically […]

Great news. A “voice” sings again.

Great news. The Alari (1686)- Priori (1884) organ in Rome’s marvelous San Pietro in Vincoli church  has got its voice back after 50 years of silence. A long and expensive restoration culminated yesterday (wish I’d known about it beforehand) in what appears to have been a marvelous concert. It’s not clear now how often the […]

Rome’s new (ugly) drinking fountains

Anyone who has already been to Rome is familiar with the traditional “nasone”, the four-feet tall, grey, lead column-shaped water fountains that were first placed in Rome in 1874 by the city government in order to provide drinking water to any thirsty citizen. Now the  260 “big noses”  inside the old city walls will have […]