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did you know?
...that in Rome live
17.418 Filippinos
10.873 Americans
8.244 Poles
7.863 Spaniards
6.372 Britons
6.368 Indians?
(Source: City Council)
   
 
Rome News

Public Transport Strikes: The next public transport strike is planned Friday March 22nd for 24 hours and affecting all forms of transport.

Pope Francis Elected

If this happens the only news publication you ever read then you may be one of the few people who didn't already know that we have a new pope! Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, was elected Pope Francis after just 24 hours of voting in the Sistine Chapel's ultra-secret conclave. Deliberations began on Tuesday 12th March and the famous white smoke was seen rising from the chapel's chimney by early evening on Wednesday 13th to rapturous applause. Crowds had kept vigil in the rain-soaked St Peter's virtually around the clock but when the news was announced even more people descended on the square.

Sources inside the Vatican had expressed concern that the process would take quite some time, with several apparent front-runners emerging at the start of proceedings and no clear sign of any one reaching a majority of votes after the first ballot. However, this opinion contrasted with reports in Italian newspapers stating that cardinals expected the election to be quite a short-lived affair.

Pope Francis will be officially sworn in on Tuesday March 19th and will be the first ever Jesuit pope as well as the first pope from South America, which is home to 40% of the world's catholics.

Berlusconi Trials Further Complicate Election Process

March 20th sees talks reconvene between the front runners in February's national election, when leaders of both Houses will be elected, but the political stalemate shows no signs of abating following further complications in the trials of Silvio Berlusconi.

Prosecutors had requested that the two separate trials underway be accelerated in light of the fact that markets are increasingly nervous about Italy's political vacuum. However Mr Berlusconi's legal team have requested the trials be delayed for medical reasons. The 76-year old Italian media magnate, billionaire and three-time prime minister has been in hospital this week with an eye infection, but is also currently appealing against a conviction for tax fraud and at the same time standing trial for allegedly having sex with a 17-year old teenage prostitute. Judges in the latter trial have ordered a house visit by doctors to verify the severity of the infection.

Supporters of Berlusconi agree with his assertion that there is a judicial campaign against him and these latest events will only serve to further polarise his party from the other main parties at a time when the country's economy is crying out for stability and inter-party co-operation.

No Further Forward After Elections

February 24th and 25th saw the national elections come and go without a clear outright result. Both Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom Party (PDL) and Pier Luigi Bersani's centre-left Democratic Party (both coalition parties) led the polls with around 30% of the vote a piece. An outright majority is required to form government. Incumbent technocrat Prime Minister's central coalition party, for whom Berlusconi withdrew support some months ago, finished a disappointing 4th place with around 10% of the vote.

The surprise factor in this election however, has been the sudden rise to prominence of Beppe Grillo's Five Star Movement. Founded only five years ago by the popular blogger and comedian, the anti-establishment movement finished a narrow third with 25% of the popular vote. Grillo cannot personally stand as prime minister due to a manslaughter conviction some years ago.

The Five Star Movement, whose popularity is largely based on their outright rejection of the status quo, have stated that they will not form coalition with either of the two main parties - leaving Italy with a hung parliament and the very probable necessity for another election.

British Embassy and Comune di Roma Work Together for Women

March 8th was International Women's Day and here in Italy it's traditional to hand out mimosas to, well, all and any women you happen to chance upon during the day. On a more serious note however, the British Embassy in conjunction with the Comune di Roma put on a special show at the Colosseum on the evening of 7th March to help raise awareness of violence and sexual violence against women as a weapon of war.

It's understood that one of the UK's prime objectives during its current term of EU presidency is a campaign initiative entitled 'Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict'. The event features the projection of images onto the Colosseum.

Fashion House Fendi to Fund Trevi Fountain Restoration

Italian fashion giants Fendi, responsible for the Made in Italy brand among others, have announced their intention to contribute €2.1m towards a four-year project to restore five of Rome’s best known fountains, beginning with the most famous - the Trevi Fountain.

One of Rome’s most popular landmarks, the Trevi Fountain was finished in 1762 and is one of the most famous in the world, immortalised in the iconic 1960 Federico Fellini movie La Dolce Vita. Today, popular folklore predicts that tossing a coin into the fountain ensures a return to the Eternal City, but sadly parts of the fountain recently became damaged as a result of abnormally low temperatures in Rome last winter.

Following the restoration, a plaque noting Fendi’s contribution will be placed on the fountain, while rumours persist that the conclusion of the project in 2015 may just coincide with a fashion show in front of the fountain to celebrate Fendi’s 90th anniversary.

Alarm as Mafia Business Interests Flood Rome

The president of Rome's Appeals Court, Judge Giorgio Santacroce, has expressed deep concerns over the apparent sudden increase in business acquisitions in the Eternal City by southern-based Mafia organisations such as the Camorra and ’Ndrangheta.

“Mafia organisations are acquiring properties, companies and commercial businesses, that are often not on the market, in which they invest money gained from criminal sources, giving the earnings the appearance of legality,” said Judge Santacroce.

Last year employer organisation Confesercenti claimed that Italy's four principal mafia organisations, the Campania-based Camorra, Sicily’s Cosa Nostra, Calabrian ’Ndrangheta and the Sacra Corona Unitá of Puglia, made an estimated combined annual profit of €100 billion - equivocal to around 7% of Italy's GDP.

No More Concerts At The Colosseum

Cultural Undersecretary, Francesco Giro, has announced there are to be no more music concerts at the Colosseum. He explained that musical events would not be permitted at the Roman amphitheatre even if organisers paid for the privilege. “To my knowledge” said Giro “Nobody has ever paid anything to use that location.”

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