10 things Italy does better than anywhere else

10 things Italy does better than anywhere else

Jordan Burchette and Silvia Marchetti, for CNN •
(CNN) — Pizza, pasta, Verdi, the Coliseum, runway models. We know Italy does some things incomparably well. But travelers to the elegant boot don’t just want to eat spaghetti, deal with opera and gawk at old ruins.
Beyond the cliches, you’ll find 10 other surprising ways in which Italy shines.

1. Flattery

Depending on whether or not you think the occasional catcall is flattering, you’ll find Italians are aggressively complimentary of friends and beautiful strangers alike. A historical tool for both disarming and defusing, flattery is the fulcrum on which Italian society teeters.
As Luigi Barzini writes in “The Italians,” “The people have always employed such arts offensively, to gain advantages, destroy rivals and conquer power and wealth; and defensively, as the squid uses ink, to blind and confound powerful men, dictators and tyrants.”
But you’ll likely only notice the catcalls.

2. Hot baths

If flattery doesn’t get you out of your clothes, the peninsula’s 380 spa sites offering healing mud and bubbles will. Boiling as much beneath the surface as its people, Italy pioneered the world’s first large-scale spas, exporting them as they colonized Europe.
Watery therapies include island baths (such as those on volcanic Ischia), Tuscan hot springs, mountain baths in the town of Bormio and the thermal park of Lake Garda.
Just drinking the mineral-rich water in some places is reputed to be healthy. So convinced is the Italian government of the healing power of hot springs and geothermal mud packs that it covers the cost of some therapies for its citizens.
Free hot springs in Tuscany: turismo.intoscana.it

3. Cursing

Best thing about an Italian curse -- it looks as good as it sounds.

Best thing about an Italian curse — it looks as good as it sounds.
Be it in Italian or any other language, the accent of native Italy turns any expletive into a blunt force instrument.
Rhythmic, staccato and with an almost operatic legato that fuses syllables together like a hammer-on guitar note, swearing here is a performance art. Inspired mostly by pigs, anatomical exit points and promiscuous women, Italian profanities — which vary by region — sound equal parts dramatic, angry and comical.
Powered by the passion characteristic of the Italian people, the results stun, intimidate and even charm their recipients, sometimes all at once.

4. Beach bumming

With 7,400 kilometers (4,600 miles) of coastline, Italy boasts the most beaches in Europe, as well as 27 marine parks. Summer temperatures peak in many places at just below 30 C (86 F), compared with the mid 20s (70s F) in France and Portugal. It’s like swimming in tropical waters, minus the sharks and trinket hawkers.
When it comes to beaches, it’s a tough choice between blinding-white dunes, pebble and even turf shores, but 248 Italian beaches have been awarded Blue Flag status for clear waters and unspoiled sands.

5. Changing governments

Italians tear through regimes like their sports cars do dinosaur juice. Since the end of World War II, Italy has established 63 governments under 39 prime ministers (42 if you count Silvio Berlusconi’s three total terms), and only one has lasted a full five years.
Fearing the rise of another Mussolini, Italy’s constitutional system years ago provided for a weak executive branch that requires majorities in both legislative houses just to get anything done.
That, combined with an already fractured political landscape of small, opposed parties, puts Italy’s average MPG (months per government) barely over 12.
Italy’s Mount Etna, Europe’s tallest and most active volcano erupts again.

6. Volcanoes

Mt. Etna, the world's second most active volcano, is in Italy.

Mt. Etna, the world’s second most active volcano, is in Italy.
Ten active volcanoes allow Italy’s geology to vent the way voting gives release to its citizens.
The country’s (and Europe’s) largest volcano is Mt. Etna in Sicily, the world’s second most active volcano after Hawaii’s Mauna Loa. Etna’s spectacular eruptions, soot-blackened scenery, lava flows and extensive caves draw more than a million tourists a year.
It leads TripAdvisor’s top-10 must-see volcanoes list, along with four other Italian spouters, including Mt. Vesuvius.
Etna is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, joining three other Italian volcanoes, including the Aeolian islands of Vulcano (no translation prizes there), Lipari and Stromboli, known as the Mediterranean’s Lighthouse for its breathtaking eruptions.
Mt. Etna tours and excursion: sicilytravel.net

7. Dessert

Apple pie is good and all, and it’s never a bad time for a sticky slice of baklava, but for sheer volume and variety of treats, nothing beats an Italian dessert case. Much is made of the peninsula’s food, the usual suspects being pizza, pasta and antipasti.
But the real stars of Italian cuisine are gelato, tiramisu, cannoli, Neapolitan, biscotti spumoni, tartufo, zeppole — Italy has nearly as many signature desserts as it’s had governments.
Italian confectioners work in all media, too, combining cakes, cookies and creams both iced and otherwise to create the world’s vastest, tastiest arsenal of desserts.
Ironically, Italians don’t even really eat this stuff, most often preferring a piece of fruit or chocolate after a meal instead.

8. Caving

Rich in crumbly, sieve-like karstic landscapes, Italy is one of the most cave-pocked countries on the planet, with more than 35,000 cavities above ground and thousands more underwater.
Grotta Gigante holds the Guinness World Record for largest accessible cave on Earth at a yawning 850 meters (2,788 feet) wide, with 500 steps that descend 100 meters (328 feet) into the earth.
Other notable caves include the Blue Grotto on Capri, where Emperor Tiberius loved to swim. Inside the Grotta del Vento, winds whip through its tortuous trails at 40 kilometers an hour.

9. Sports cars

Ferrari Dino: Four wheels or "phwoar!" wheels?

Ferrari Dino: Four wheels or “phwoar!” wheels?
Eliciting more turns per head than even its fashion models do, Italy’s catalog of exotic land jets is what Porsche drivers dream about. What began as a race car manufacturer in the 1930s has become the standard bearer for aspirational autos — in 2012, Ferrari sold just 7,000 cars, but booked $3 billion in revenues.
Meanwhile, Lamborghini may be owned by German Audi now, but the hips are still all Italiano.
Pagani, Alfa Romeo, Maserati — these names are sex on wheels.
Italy doesn’t even crack the top 20 in global auto production, but for out-of-your-league supercars that cover more adolescent male bedroom walls than Kate Upton, no other country can outrace Italy.

10. River cruises

Unlikely to be among the top two or three or hundred things that spring to mind when you think of Italy, river cruising on the peninsula is actually a vibrant business, and new routes keep opening up.
Italian rivers aren’t as long or easily navigated as those in the rest of Europe, but visitors can float from one beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site to another.
Po River Travel, UniWorld and European Waterways offer week-long cruises that take in areas like the Venice Lagoon, Manuta, Padu, the Po Valley and Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet.
Originally published April 2014, updated March 4, 2015.
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Italian Classes in St Louis

Giovanna Leopardi, Ciao St Louis Board Member and professor of Italian, speaks about the upcoming Italian classes coming to St Louis. The classes are organized by the Italian American Organizations (FIAO) Italian Language Program. To sign up, visit fiaostl.org

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Beppe Severgnini Returns to Chicago with “100 Good Reasons We Are Happy To Be Italian

Event Information

Dat: September 25, 2017

Renowned columnist of the Corriere della Sera Beppe Severgnini returns to Chicago to present his work, “100 Good Reasons We Are Happy To Be Italian”, which are also“100 good reasons to love Italy”.

Italian performance artist Laura Biagi and Professor at DePaul University will perform during the event.

The event will be conducted both in English and Itaian.

Beppe Severgnini is the editor-in- chief of 7, the Corriere della Sera daily newspaper weekly magazine; and the author of 16 books, including the American best sellers “Ciao, America! An Italian Discovers the U.S.” and “La Bella Figura: A Field Guide to the Italian Mind.” His most recent book is “La vita è un viaggio” (Life is a Journey), now also adapted for the stage and acted by the author. Beppe became a contributing opinion writer for The International New York Times in the fall of 2013. His writing has appeared in Time magazine, The Financial Times and The Economist, where he was Italy correspondent from 1996 to 2003. In 2004, he was voted “European Journalist of the Year” in Brussels. Mr. Severgnini studied law at Pavia University. As a foreign correspondent, he was posted to London, Moscow and Washington, and has also covered Eastern Europe, China and the Middle East. He teaches at the School of Journalism of the University of Milan, and has been a research fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Isaiah Berlin visiting scholar at Oxford University and visiting fellow at Ca’ Foscari University in Venice. In 2001, Beppe Severgnini was made an Officer of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II and in 2011 the president of Italy conferred on him the title of Commendatore in the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic. He lives in Crema and Milano.

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Mangia, Mangia: Festa Italiana Syracuse celebrates Italian culture

The Syracuse City Hall steps will be filled with Italian vendors and games this weekend at Festa Italiana Syracuse's 19th annual celebration.

Casey Russell | Head Illustrator

The Syracuse City Hall steps will be filled with Italian vendors and games this weekend at Festa Italiana Syracuse’s 19th annual celebration.

Hot dogs are out and meatballs are in at Festa Italiana.

In its 19th year, the festival will host its first Charity Meatball Eating Contest. The winner gets to donate $500 to the local charity of their choice.

Festa is a celebration of Italian culture featuring events, foods and entertainment. The opening ceremony will begin on Friday at 11 a.m. at the Syracuse City Hall steps. The ceremony will begin with the raising of the Italian flag and a performance of the Italian National Anthem by David Ruderi.

“The festival was my father’s dream,” Ginnie Lostumbo, president of Festa, said. “He’d been asked by the priest at St. Petersburg to design a festival where they could raise funds, so he did all the planning, but he passed away before we could implement it. My mother, sister and I carried on his plans.”

Visitors will find themselves surrounded by Italian pride from the more than 300 people who volunteer all around the event.

“We see everybody at the festival — friends, your neighbors, even the vendors. They are a part of our family and have been with us for years,” Lostumbo said.

Festa has been a high point event for Italians in central New York for 19 years, Lostumbo said. This year features a new lemon ices stand, and vendors work on adding a few new dishes each year.

Twentyfive local restaurants and caterers will sell their specialties during the weekend. The festival’s main stage and small stage will host local music and dance groups such as Prime Time Horns, the Federico School of Music and Billionaires.

The bocce tournament, a ball sport, is one of the most popular events. Visitors travel from all over New York state to compete in Festa’s three divisions — men’s, women’s and mixed teams.

“The Bocce teams have been with us for many years,” Lostumbo said. “Our Bocce tournament is very successful. They start from 9 a.m. on Saturday morning, and sometimes they are still competing until 5 at night, so that’s great.”

The festival’s new location in front of Syracuse City Hall makes it more accessible to the public. With the streets blocked off, the event feels like a little Italy. Having the event at Syracuse City Hall also makes it much easier on families because parents can let children experience the culture, Lostumbo said.

The festival hosts events for families on Saturday and Sunday at the Children’s Tent near Villa Pizza Fritte and the Main Stage. Jeff the Magic Man and Clown Around Clowns will perform, and children can get their faces painted from 1 to 5 p.m. Festival visitors will get a visit from Otto from 1 to 2:30 on Sunday afternoon.

Sunday morning’s events kick off with an open-air mass at 11 a.m.

“I think the most rewarding part is seeing the people enjoying everything,” Lostumbo said. “We welcome everybody, all nationalities. As we say, ‘everybody’s Italian that day.’”

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History of Festa Italia centered around Italians’ contribution to fishing industry

This weekend marked the 84th annual Festa Italia a celebration of
Italian culture and tradition. The three-day festival was celebrated
against the backdrop of the historic Old Fisherman’s Wharf, where
Sicilian fisherman cast their nets in the early 1900s.

 SHOW TRANSCRIPT

This weekend marked the 84th annual Festa Italia a celebration of Italian culture and tradition. The three-day festival was celebrated against the backdrop of the historic Old Fisherman’s Wharf, where Sicilian fisherman cast their nets in the early 1900s.

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‘Heroic’ Italian man drowns with three of his family, after saving three-year-old granddaughter from floodwaters

Sep 10, 2017 – Telegraph.co.uk

A ‘heroic’ Italian man who saved his three-year-old granddaughter from a flooded basement apartment before drowning while trying desperately to save the rest of his family was among at least seven people killed as a violent storm lashed Tuscany on Sunday. Roberto Ramacciotti, 65, lived in a separate flat above his grandchildren and their parents, Simone and Glenda … (continue reading)

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