New earthquake off Adriatic coast

ImageThere’s no peace for the people of the Emilia-Romagna region in Northern Italy. While minor tremors continue day and night in the area north of Modena, a new quake of 4.5 on the Richter scale was registered just after 6.00 am this morning just off the Adriatic coast near Ravenna.

Although the quake is recorded as happening at 26 km below the earth’s surface it was reported to have been felt on the mainland, although no major danage or injury was caused. Experts at the INGV explained that while this quake was caused by a different (and possible new) ‘fault’, it is still linked to tha activity along the northern Appenines fault, located under the plains of Ferrara, Modena and Mantua, the areas worst hit since the first major earthquake on 20th May.

As well as being a major sea port, Ravenna is also an important area for stocking and distributing methane gas. Gas platforms are also located in the Adriatic, based around the port.

The Emilia region continues to count the cost of the recent quakes, with thousands still living in tents and alternative accomodation, many small and larger businesses and industrial units still out of action, and extensive damage to the fertile countryside and livestock. The number of deaths has also risen to 25 as a 46 year old woman from Cento, near Ferrara, died yesterday after being hit by falling rubble during the last major quake on May 29th.

Many families had fled from the worst hit areas to the nearby coastal resorts along the Adriatic where there is plentiful accomodation and was considered it to be safer and healthier.


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Monti arrives in earthquake area

IImagetalian PM Mario Monti arrived in Ferrara last night and will be visiting the areas worst hit by the earthquake which killed seven, leaving thousands without access to their homes. Monti will visit the towns of Sant Agostino and Finale Emilia which suffered worst during the earthquake and tremors which began in the early hours of Sunday. Mr. Monti arrived straight form the Camp David summit to Ferrara, and is expected to return to Rome by tomorrow in order to declare the state of emergency for the area.

Four of the seven victims were factory workers on their night shift, at work when the worst tremor struck just after 4 a.m. on Sunday morning. The men were crushed by the relatively new buildings which collapsed during the earthquake, both in Sant Agostino and nearby Bondeno. Investigations are underway, while hundreds of companies as well as schools and public officies remain closed.

Major damage was caused to the centuries old buildings in the area, devasting the local historical heritage. Initial damage was worsened by a further quake at 3 pm, while tremors continue.



rubble in front of a collapsed historic building in Finale Emilia


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Lucio Dalla dies

ImagePopular singer and songwriter Lucio Dalla has died in Switzerland of a heart attack. He would have been 69 years old on 4th March. Mr Dalla had just started a new tour and had also participated in the Sanremo Song Festival in February.

Born in Bologna, he was considered one of Italy’s friendlier cantautori duting the sixties and seventies, and has continued to have hit songs since. His first hit was entiled 4 Marzo 1943 the date of his birth, which also debuted at Sanremo. Although mostly recording as a solo artist, he has enjoyed numerous successful projects with other artists such as Francesco De Gregori, Gianni Morandi and Luciano Pavarotti. One of his best known songs was Caruso, dedicated to the Neapolitan tenor Enrico Caruso.

Dalla was awarded the Ordine al merito della Repubblica Italiana, the highest ranking honour of the Republic, by the Italian President in 2003.


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Surprise winner for song competition

Ricky 'Doc' Scandiani: surprise winner

Think of a famous Italian song from the past and even non-Italians would come with O Sole Mio, Volare, or even the Pavarotti favourite Nessun Dorma. Not so for viewers of Italian satellite TV programme “Buongiorno Cielo”, who launched a poll to vote the best Italian song of the last 150 years, and ended up with a surprise winner,  the decidedly unknown song Aspettando l’alba (Waiting for the Dawn) written by Ricky Scandiani, musician and songwriter based in Ferrara. The song is part of a rock-opera Roadissea, a modern interpretation of Homer’s Odyssey, written some thirty years ago.

Competition organisers launched the poll through popular social network Facebook, but obviously weren’t aware that – at least in Italy – it stands as the most democratic means of communication, away from the politically controlled mass-media, including the state television service, as well as a host of private channels (Berlusconi’s Mediaset empire). Facebook users came into their own when they voted en masse for Scandiani’s song as their favourite. “They used the social network to reach a wider audience”, commented the song’s creator, “without forseeing that such an alternative and democratic system can bring attention to songwriters who are very different from the more famous ones”.

TV presenters were left surprised and embarassed when announcing the winner of the poll, which was meant to coincide with the publication of a new book “La canzone italiana – 1861-2011” published by (Berlusconi-owned) Mondadori, a huge two-volume tome packed with “classic” Italian songs. (see video)

source: Il Resto del Carlino / Monica Forti

on Facebook: Ricky ScandianiAssociazione Musicisti di Ferrara

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Student killed in Trieste


A 23 year old student was crushed to death under a pop concert stage rigging yesterday in an indoor sports hall in Trieste.

20 year old Francesco Pinna was working on the rigging in preparation for a concert by Italian star Jovanotti when the structure collapsed.

The tragic incident was made worse by claims of co-workers that they were doing such a dangerous job for just “five euros an hour“, in an attempt to earn extra money to help with their studies. Trieste is home to one of Italy’s most prestigious universities.

The incident couldn’t have come at a worse time for Italy as so many less well off – students, pensioners, ordinary workers, – are called upon to ‘tighten their belts’ and make ‘sacrifices’ to get Italy out of the economic and financial crisis.  The young student was evidently involved in such a sacrifice, effectively risking his life for five euros an hour.

Mario Monti’s proposed new “Salva-Italia” budget measures have been widely criticised by the general public and resulted in a strike yesterday by three of the country’s main trade unions. Workers and pensioners are hardest hit, and there is little or no aid for job creation, or any real attempt to crackdown on Italy’s worst ailment, tax evasion. A much discussed ‘wealth tax’ (patrimoniale) failed to emerge. VAT (IVA) on the other hand is set to increase by a further two points in September 2012 and a property tax on first-home owners is to be re-introduced.

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Internazionale snapshots

queuing for tickets: Internazionale a Ferrara 2011

This year’s Internazionale a Ferrara had the usual high quality in speakers and guests and subject matter, with overall satisfaction from the 63,000 people who attended. The only criticism I heard on quality was referred to the films being shown,  in the “Mondovisione” section, usually of a higher standard. However I was pleased to have got to see Page One, the documentary on the New York Times premiered at this year’s Sundance Festival. An Italian edition will be issued on DVD by Feltrinelli early next year.

Unfortunately I missed most of Friday’s events although I was grateful to RadioTre for broadcasting two programmes live from Ferrara during the day. I arrived just in time to listen to the debate on the situation in post-Mubarak Egypt, featuring Hossam el Hamalawy who had been awarded the festival’s Anna Politkovskaja Prize earlier in the day.

It turned out to be a very feminine festival for me, with the best moments coming from the women, not least Il ritorno delle bambole, a debate on new feminist issues with heated discussions between the Spanish radical Beatriz Preciado and the more moderate, more “British”, writer Natasha Walter, with Italian philosophy lecturer and writer Michela Marzano trying to fall somewhere in between the two. Competent moderation from writer Loredana Lipperini. One question remained with me: is it sexist to have to declare ‘male’ or ‘female’ on official and other documents? Apparently there’s no sense in it as Preciado maintains there are some 14 different gender distinctions, not just two. Think about it.

It was good to see NYT reporter Elizabeth Rubin ‘up close’ for the RadioTre interview on

Elisabeth Rubin with interpreter live on RadioTre

Sunday, although unfortunately she arrived late for an already short time slot so there was no time for questions. She then took part in the panel for a rather dull debate on Afghanistan at the teatro comunale – I left early. It would’ve been better to have gone to yet another women’s issues debate “Women of the world, unite!” at Palazzo Massari, although thankfully the morning was saved again by women, namely the aforementioned Michela Marzano discussing her new autobiographical book on anorexia with local-girl-done-good Daria Bignardi. The Estense Castle courtyard was packed.

A bad choice again I’m afraid after lunch with a very uninteresting discussion on (political) satire in the press featuring three renowned cartoonists, although the most entertainment was given by the anecdotes of non-cartoonist Marco Zatterin of La Stampa. I had gone in the hope of seeing il Manifesto‘s cartoonist Vauro, who was sadly and inexplicably not present. Should’ve gone instead to listen to Susanna Camusso, leader of Italy’s largest trade union CGIL, who also spoke to a packed piazza municipale addressing the issue of precariato – temporary (and lack of permanent) employment especially among young people. I was grateful to exchange a friendly ‘buongiono‘ with her in the press room after, although again no time for questions as it was time to get over the to teatro  for the closing event: a much-anticipated presentation and interview session with

Arundhati Roy at Internazionale a Ferrara

Indian writer Arundhati Roy together with British writer art-critic and all round

intellectual John Berger. Unfortunately the lack of simultaneous translation through headphones slowed things down rather, but the audience were hanging on every word this ‘odd couple’ had to say on the situation in India and beyond. There was also an impromptu joint reading from Roy’s latest book Broken Republic. A standing ovation followed. I was also fortunate to ‘bump into’ the pair the day after in front of the duomo where they very charmingly to interest in what I was doing in Ferrara! A hearty pat on the back and ‘good luck’ from Berger made my day.

Well, that’s another Internazionale a Ferrara over. Another very intense weekend of conferences, talks, presentations, discussions, meetings and you name it… Perhaps that’s the only disadvantage (and criticism) you can have for these three days: it’s too much in too short a time. As a matter of fact on Monday the local newspaper carried a story of how shops and restaurants in town would like to it to last longer – they’ve seen the opportunity for getting good trade! It was practically impossible to find a place to eat on Saturday night (let alone a parking space) and apparently people were queueing even for their less-than-one-minute espressos at the many coffee bars. But again, that’s the joy of it – a short sharp shock of world affairs and culture, just a few days of being totally absorbed in world affairs and culture. No mean feat in this day and age, and in this provincial town.

note to Internazionale: how about opening up to a wider international audience next year?

Ferrara Cathedral - il duomo di Ferrara

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An “Internazionale” weekend

This Friday, Saturday and Sunday sees the annual news, current affairs and cultural festival “Internazionale a Ferrara” take place in the north-eastern Italian city. Internazionale is an Italian news weekly which, as its name suggests, collects features, articles and reviews from the world’s press, all brought together in a single magazine, duly translated for domestic readers.

The annual festival is an intense three-day event bringing together contributors and guests – this year some 190 altogether – from 35 different countries. As well as holding discussions on current affairs, the festival also draws on film and video, art and photography, music and theatre for its 80 different events in various venues across the city. Among this year’s guests the Indian author Arundhati Roy in conversation with John Berger, Arab Spring protagonists Ziad Majed, Issandr el Amrani (The Arabist) and blogger Hossam el Hamalawy. Also of interest a debate on the new views on femminism with Spanish philosopher author Beatriz Preciado, British writer and campaigner Natasha Walter, andMichela Marzano, lecturer in philosophy at the University of Paris.

Internazionale chief editor Giovanni de Mauro (pic. Sara Rocutto)

Domestic issues are also featured, such as a discussion of the Genova G8 protests in 2001, together with “I giorni di Genova“, a theatrical presentation of the events of 10 years ago. Italian employment problems and global economic issues are also on the agenda. TED mini-lectures will also be presented and shown, and internet and web issues are also adressed with Evgeny Morozov, author of The Net Delusion and Chinese activist and blogger Michael Anti.

Three day journalism workshops are held during the weekend, held by David Randall(Il giornalista quasi perfetto!) of the Independent, and Pierre Hasky (Libération and The Guardian) among others.

Full guide and info here (in Italian).

You can also follow events on twitter via @Internazionale or the #Ferrara2011 hashtag.

Internazionale 2010 (pic. Internazionale/flickr)

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