Bari goes by bike, a little important revolution

Riding to work can pay you up to 25 euro/month. Not bad when city is flat, small and with a fantastic Mediterranean weather all year long.

Bari will be the first city to pay workers to commute by bike.

bari seaside

The system will be based on the number of kilometers the workers will do in their commute and can bring up to 25 euro per month. A little contribution, but surely appreciated by bikers. Probably even more is the additional contribution to purchase a bike too. With discounts from 150 euro for traditional bikes to 250 for electric ones.

Goal and good sign

All with the goal to reduce the pollution in the city which had sparked back in November and December due also to the intense traffic in the city which had often caused heavy congestions.

And a good signal from a more traditional city of the South towards a better focus to the environment.

House-arrested arrested at home of another house-arrested..

What if someone with an house arrest visits someone who’s also under arrest and confined in the same way at home?

Looking up Wikipedia, it says that In justice and law, house arrest (also called home confinement, home detention, or, in modern times, electronic monitoring) is a measure by which a person is confined by the authorities to their residence.

But what if someone with an house arrest visits someone who’s also under arrest and confined in the same way at home?

Well, this is what actually happened in Italy.

Alberto Minaudo

On January 2nd, Mr. Alberto Minaudo was arrested under suspicious of escaping. Mr. Minaudo had in fact left his house to visit a friend of him, also being under house arrest conviction. Here Alberto Minaudo in a picture from Carabinieri archival.

He got discovered when police was making the routine check in the house of the visited friend.

Quick checks revealed the identity of Mr. Minaudo who got arrested and brought back to his house. He’s now risking to go back to jail at any next flaws.

Sales season has started, and shopping goes wild

Season of sales started! Where and when to go to get the best deals.

taormina shopping

It’s officially started the season of sales. Holidays are over and shops are now trying to get the last sales out before renovating for spring and summer season.

All start together, some for longer periods

All Italian cities are officially opening today their sales. Regions have different extension period, going from 28 February for some up to March 31st for others.

Some notable shopping regions and cities being: Lombardy (Milan region) till 5 March, Piedmont (Turin region) till 28 February, Lazio (Rome region) till 28 February , Campania (Naples region) till March, Tuscany (Florence region) till 5 March, Veneto (Venice region) till 31 March and Sicily (Palermo region) till 15 March.

What about the discounts?

Discounts run from 20-30% up to even 70%. Obviously good to have a double look at items, as some may have been tried over and over again before holiday periods asclothes may be hanging since a while.

There’s quite strict regulations to avoid abuses and scam, such as higher up original price to fake a higher discount rate on an item.

A new star at the horizon. Can Cecchinato revive Italian tennis?

Italian men’s tennis has been for very long too calm, but things may change now, with the quick grow of Marco Cecchinato

Tennis. A sport that, on the female side, has given recently a lot of satisfactions to Italian fans. Schiavone, Pennetta, Vinci above all, but also Giorgi and Errani more recently. Lots of victories, as individuals and as a team, winning the Fed cup in 2006, 2009, 2010 and last in 2013.

tennis player

Among men instead it has been quite too calm, with no real victories in the more important tournaments, except for a few exploit from Fognini

As a team as poorly performed since the last victory in Davis cup in 1976 and last runner up in 1998.

Things may change though, with the quick grow of Marco Cecchinato. Born in 1992, among professional since 2010 and now heading to the top of the ATP chart.

Marco Cecchinato

On October 2018 entered in the TOP 20, with the 19th position, and after having held on the 20th for a couple of months, he’s now sure to be at least 18th after having beaten in the quarter final of Qatar ExxonMobil Open the Serbian Dusan Lajovic, number 48 Atp: for 7-6, 6-2.

A good way to start the year, aiming to the top 15th and hopefully even more.

Picture: https://www.flickr.com/photos/sirobi/42260493614/, rights to owner, CC BY SA 2.0

Municipalities and Government just started an unprecedented war

Majors of the most important italian cities are rejecting Rome approach of zero-welcome as it’s outlaw.

There’s a harsh discussion in between local municipalities and the Italian central government ongoing since a few weeks, but that may grow more in the next few months.

Historical reason, like at Dante’s time

First a little bit of background. Majors, or sindaci, can be very much influential in Italy. This is due to multiple reasons, among which the fact Italian unification arrived very late compared to other countries (1861). Somehow Italians still identify their selves more on the local cities (comuni) rather than the in the voice of the entire nation, so different by region an often hard to identify with. Who has been in Italy, knows how difficult to find a common denominator of identity that can be share across the entire nation.

The national association of comuni has a strong political power and allow the multitude of different majors to have one single voice at national level. Quite often the local municipalities have had attrition with the local government. Often when it comes to apply locally the directives coming from Rome . Given how close the municipalities are to the life of the citizens, they have strong social aspects.

2 laws on one territory, hard to implement

It has been the case in the past when municipalities were asked to register same sex marriage, with for example the ones rules by far right parties to push back and try to put hurdles on the way. Recently the debate is instead related to migrants and the possibilities of municipalities to welcome or not migrants.

The line of the central government, constantly repeated by vice-deputy Salvini is of zero tolerance and zero welcome. This very often justified with the fact that in the recent years Italy has done (as per minister words) too much and enough and it’s now time for other countries to welcome migrants coming from Africa or Asia.

migrants walking their way

Propaganda or real deal?

This approach, which we won’t debate here, and that the goal to stop the growth of migrant population in Italy, has created though issues not only for incoming migrants, whose boats aren’t anymore allowed to stop in Italian docks, but also for the ones who are already in the Italian territory. In some cases for example, due to the new laws being recently pushed by Rome, would not allow to host migrants in facilities, making them basically complete homeless.

Majors of the most important italian cities, with Palermo in the lead, and strong supports from Naples, Bari, Parma, Milan and Florence among others, are rejecting this approach, claiming that it will attack the basic human rights and therefore outlaw.

It’s unclear on whether this will mean a real action by these majors against the law, in order to continue guarantee human rights to migrants, or the central government will need to use the strong ones and look for the (very remote) option to fire those majors (democratically elected). Salvini has already shown his options in the past months against the major of a small center, Riace, which was supporting actively the welcome of migrants.

If those arguments and positions won’t be followed by direct and concrete actions, will still be evaluated by the voters in the European elections in March.

Football, money and a match for human rights.

Football match of human right one. Let’s figure out now what to wait the 16th for..

On January 16th, in Jedda, Saudi Arabia there will be the match of Italian SuperCup in between Juventus and A.C. Milan. The winner of last year Serie A, versus the winner, albeit in this case runner up of the National cup. Runner up, as Juventus won both competitions and needed an opponent.

Milan supporters

As this prologue suggests, the match may not be the most interesting one, given the distance still clear in between the two teams in terms of shape and skills. Juventus is a giant, in Italy and Europe, since almost 10 years in a row. A.C.Milan instead, hardly remember the joy of the past 20 years.

This match may become more memorable instead for the human aspects and in particular on the role of the woman in Saudi.

Italian politicians for once with one single view

As a matter of fact, Italian politicians, from right to left, have suggested the possibility to have the match played elsewhere, given the restriction to women to visit the stadium. Two of the figures more far in the political landscape, Mr. Salvini, currently Inner Minister, with far-right view and Mrs. Boldrini, far-left wing and previously head of the senate, have vowed together against the choice from the Football Association of having the SuperCup hosted in Saudi Arabia.

muslim woman

In the meantime instead, Saudi government is keen to allow women visiting the stadium alone, without a partner. Which in the Islamic country seems to be a radical change of habit.

The debate continues and seems to move away the attention from the sport event, and more on topic related to basic human rights. The push from Italian politicians may actually have for once a much broader range of actions, amplifying the voices inside the countries against the limited freedom given to women in Saudi.

Center of Italy shaken by earthquake, no damages so far

A fairly strong earthquake, not far from l’Aquila, luckily no damage, but mainly cold for citizens.

A fairly strong earthquake, according to Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia. INGV http://www.ingv.it/it/, detecting ML 4.2 (Mw 4.1), earthquakes at 17 km of depth, with center few kilometers away from the already heavily hitted area of L’Aquila. Those quakes were felt till Rome center.

The shakes continued then overnight, with less frequency.

caterpillar in action in center of Italy

Local population ran outside their homes, with the unfortunate situation of temperatures being quite below zero. No damages, nor injured so far.

It’s going to be a white and icy January

Winter is coming over faster this week., With snow and ice also in the south of Italy

Winter is running officially since a few weeks already, but the weather didn’t seem to follow closely the change of season.

Except a few isolated cases of snow here, all over across Europe the temperatures have been still mild and mainly sunny.

Things are changing right now, and will last at least till January 9th. Cold air coming from the Arctic is passing through the entire continent and is heading to the south of Italy.

Snow and ice on the Italian alps

Snow and ice is expected at low altitudes, even around the Adriatic sea, with peak between the 4th and 5th of the month.

Wind will slowly reduce with the increase of the cold weather in the north of the peninsula where may last for longer periods. We’ll be monitoring and update soon.

Italy budget law 2019, a really important matter

It’s time to see 2019 Italian budget law in action. What does it really mean for Italy ant the EU?

Italy 2019 budget law has been just approved by the national parliament and it effectively become official as of January 1st 2019

What does it mean for Italy, its citizens and the EU? And why so much discussion and work behind this.

Let’s take a little step back, also as this is the first article on this topic.

Italy current government started its operations after the election of March 4th 2018 and its path hasn’t been the smootest so far.

2 parties, quite far from each other and surely far before the elections found theirselves to be ruling together the countries after the general vote. Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S) and la Lega (former Northern League) joined the forces together to start a government together, despite the large distances in between. It seemed the only options, after Partito democratico (PD), previously in charge of the government, has refused talks with M5S and didn’t achieved enough votes to be alone in charge.

M5S, a populistic party that moves from left to right views, with an attempt of being revolutionary in the way in which is built (internet based and first party) and la Lega, definitely right wing, often showing extremist views, albeit always refusing any allegations with extreme right politics.

Both parties very far in basically everything, from infrastructure to migrations, from economics to society, but with one single fundamental common point. Being both declared anti-EU establishment. Not anti-EU per se. But definitely shouting loud versus the doctrines and the leaders in Brussels.

Now back to today and the 2019 budget law

Budget law requires a more involvement and participation from the national government and parliament and in accordance with the EU. It’s the most important bucket of laws issued every year, with the financial, fiscal and social plans to come.

In the Italian case, this become a of particular interest, when it touches the possible creation of debt, given the Italian National Debt being one of the highest in the world, and in EU behind only the one of Greece. And the initial plans from the Italian government were exactly in this direction. Main motto being: more debts, more investments and liquidity to restart the economy.

European Union

In the last months there has been a real arm wrestle between Italy and the EU on the 2019 budget law.

An arm wrestle which didn’t leave any winner and has been handled quite poorly by both sides. Italian government went backwards, from an initially quite strong point of view on how loose being with regards to deficit and debt, launching significant investments and plans in support of citizens, to a more comfortable plan for the EU. Being more tight on producing debt (already way out of control) but also with internal investments and plans. One step back, showing weakness and not accomplishing what promised during election campaigns. Main visible lost, moving from over 2.4% of deficit to presumably something around 2%..

EU and its leaders didn’t win either. Yes, they may have reduced the risks from an economical stand point on the short run, but mid and long are all to be seen.

The impact on Italian voters may have been harder then expected. The image of EU went deteriorating also because while using the stick with Italy, seemed to use the carrot with France which pushes to expand its deficit. Doesn’t matter to voters that the two situations were different in many reasons. They seemed the same and that’s what matter. An unfair treatment.

2019 will have EU parliament elections and if we may see the first signals of that.

In any case, what is the law all about?

  • National Basic Income. A bold move strongly requested by M5S. Provide a basic income to almost 5M italian citizens. For 9 months, presumably starting as of March 2019. Much more ambitious before. It has been reduced in costs.
  • Gold pensions (pensioni d’oro): cuts to retirement pensions (in Italy fully public) from 90k EURO per year and above.
  • Age for retirement: introduced 100 quote. 100 as sum for years worked + age. Still unclear on how will be implemented. Definitely a risk for the debt.
  • Flat Tax: what Lega was asking for during election campaigns (15% flat tax for business entities) hasn’t been achieved. But something similar for who made less than 65K Euro with tax reductions for a few (5) years
  • Write off: government writes off old small debts under EUR 1000 made before 2010 and support the returns of newer with lighter payment plans
  • Children care: up to EUR 1500 as bonus to subscribe babies and toddlers to public and private day care
  • R&D: more support (up to EUR 90Millions) to National research Center. Not too much, but wasn’t included with too much relevancy in the parties plans.
  • A long series of small improvements, with no major impacts on the overall budget, which may still be amended as law will be executed.

So, here we are.

Now will need to become effective in the next months and the eyes of Italians and the entire EU will be following closely the events.

The new year brings a new way to clean the ears

Get healthier and improve the environment. Sounds logical, just need a little effort.

New Year’s imposed resolution.

As of January 1st , 2019 on the entire Italian territory it will be forbidden the sale of cotton buds to clean the years.

Yes, no more on the shelves of supermarkets, nor at the local grocery. This happens 2 years in advance of what EU just recently voted to require from all countries.

Mission

The choice is clear has a serious intent. Reduce plastic pollution and one of the most common item present in our water. Plastic cotton buds.

They litterally infest the seas and Italy wants to take a stance. Surely not enough, but a significant action and signal in respect of the environment.

Ready to panic

But how consumers will react? Well, if you are currently panicking, well, there’s a remedy and it’s actually way healtier than with plastic buds.

Water. And soap. That’s it. In general massaging the area around the ear can help further in keeping clean the ears. Only in case of blocks, some oil emollients may become handy.