Archive | November 2012

Italian News Clips

This is about the storm we drove through on Veteran’s day…


(Reuters) – Florence, Nov. 13 – Two men and a woman were killed when their car fell off a collapsed bridge in Tuscany on Tuesday, as floods battered central Italy for a third straight day.
In all four people have died in flooding that forced part of the country’s main north-south highway to close and has damaged many homes and shops as well as thousands of acres of farmland.
Tuscany was particularly badly affected, with 800 people evacuated from their homes in the village of Albinia, thousands left without electricity and several towns isolated by swamped roads. The main A-1 highway was closed in parts of the region.
Floods in the Tuscan district of Massa Carrara had caused 10 million euros ($13 million) of damage, according to Italian agricultural group Coldiretti, to farms, crops and olive groves.
The Tiber river burst its banks north of the capital of Rome as heavy rain moved south, flooding factories and homes near the ancient town of Orte.
“Even if you listen to the oldest inhabitants this has never happened before,” said Orte resident Luca Seccese. “It has completely destroyed us.”
The center of Rome was kept safe by high embankment walls and because there had been no heavy rain there for two days.
Water levels were receding in Venice, the lagoon city and UNESCO World Heritage Site that at the weekend saw its sixth-highest water levels since records began in 1872.
St Mark’s Square, one of the lowest lying areas of the city, where some tourists were able to swim in high water on Sunday, was returning to normal, a city official said.


(ANSA) – Rome, Nov. 13 – Investments are required in a “serious program” aimed at shoring up defenses in areas at risk of flooding, earthquakes and other natural disasters, in order to prevent “this country from falling apart more than it already is,” the head of Italy’s national civil protection agency said Tuesday.

Such a program would also help prevent unnecessary injuries and deaths every time an extreme natural phenomenon strikes, Franco Gabrielli said. Italians also have to start taking more responsibility in the way they attempt to counter damage caused by natural disasters, including respecting building codes and not constructing in geographically risky areas, Gabrielli said. Referring to extreme weather incidents, such as recent rains which dumped up to 40 centimeters of water in some areas of Tuscany in just over 48 hours, Gabrielli said that these rains “impacted an area whose fragility is very well-known and where people built where they shouldn’t have built”. “The real challenge,” Gabrielli said, is to carry out significant – although not necessarily massive – investments in shoring up risky areas. Separately, Gabrielli also made a call for more private coverage of weather-related damages, saying that State can’t be expected to foot the bill for all types of natural disaster-induced damage and that people need to get their own private insurance coverage.

The only solution against damage caused by flooding, earthquakes and natural catastrophes is for citizens to be forced to purchase insurance, Gabrielli said. “It’s time to wake up to the fact that the State, considering its resources, is no longer able to offer, in an equal manner, adequate answers from a rebuilding point of view”.

Gabrielli also criticized his countrymen’s “not in my backyard” mindset when it comes to issues like garbage disposal, pointing out how Italians don’t recycle.

Italy sends garbage across borders, where it is burned and generates electricity which is subsequently sold. By doing this, Gabrielli said, Italy is missing an opportunity and shipping wealth out of the country.

Taken from NSA PAO, November 14, 2012


Innsbruck and Munich Road Trip

(I am getting the pictures taken by my road trip mates sometime this week, so check back for extra pictures later on)

So we had a long four day weekend road trip for Veteran’s Day (I only had a three day weekend, but called in sick to make mine four). We road tripped with three work friends of ours. We left Thursday after we all got off work. We drove up to Vicenza for the night (it’s a little west of Venice). There is an army base there, so we stayed at their lodge. Then we woke up and drove to Innsbruck, Austria through the snow-capped Alps. It is a nice little mountain town where people come for skiing and such when the season is right. We spent a day and a half there and wandered about. We found the tiniest “speck” (bacon) shop in the world, located in Innsbruck. There is the owner behind a tiny little piece of counter and enough room for only two people at a time to go in. We tried to find the shop the night before, but it was closed. There was a vent that fanned out the sweet smell of smoked meats into the street so it was mandatory that we go back the next day. And success, we did, it was delicious…wild boar and speck. We found a liquor store where you could sample fine liquors and fill up your own bottles with the random flavors you like. Justin and I got a peach schnapps-type one, a chocolate liquor, and some kind of flower liquor. We also ate these famous little cake/torte things…delicious…mine had some Grand Marnier tasting liquor in it. So I guess Innsbruck can be categorized as the place in the Alps where I had lots of meat and liquor. Good times!

Back in the car we drove up to the castle Neuschwanstein in southern Bavaria, Germany. Nice as always. Then we drove up to Munich and drove on the autobahn (only made it to 123mph due to traffic, but that was still pretty fast). We stayed at the Eden Hotel Wolff directly across from the north entrance of the central train station. The beds were so comfortable…enough so to mention their comfort in a post…now that’s comfort! It started getting rainy as we were in Munich. We walked around and saw the main buildings and such. Justin and I went to the Alte Pinakothek (art museum of old master paintings). ┬áLots of good stuff in there, mostly from the late 1300s to the 1700s. (1400s from the northern Europe being my favorite, so I was smitten in there). While in Munich we again ate hearty foods and drank merrily…our kind of food. Meats we ate on the trip include veal, wild boar, bacon, suckling pig, pig knuckles, duck, and pig and cow sausage. Oh, the first night we were there we were heading back to the hotel and some football hooligans came onto the U-bahn with us. First they were chanting, then they started fighting. I’m sure they were all drunk, but they didn’t have alcohol, but each had a Red Bull which got thrown about and a few soft-punches were thrown (as the few who were really wild were being held back by strangers and friends). They ended up causing the whole train to get detained for about 20 minutes because they kept forcing open their door. Eventually about 50 officers from three different forces and one drug dog came down and got them off the train to straighten the situation out. Lucky for us we happened to be sitting five feet away, so we got a first hand view of it. They were arguing about a football match, but that’s about all I could figure out. Other passengers sporting their soccer gear pride came over to see what was going on and quickly left because what they were fighting over was stupid and ridiculous. Again, good times.

On Monday we left Munich early in the morning for our 10 hour drive back to Naples. It was raining off and on along the way until after we passed Florence where we found the highway to be flooded and everyone had to be redirected. There was no alternate route, as we found out that the only other main road south was also flooded and closed. We ended up taking a five hour detour to go the length of Siena to Rome…we backtracked a few times as many back roads were flooded or covered in a mudslide. We drove all over the countryside zig-zagging until we finally made it past the closures and past the rain and onto the highway once again. So our 10 hour drive turned into a 15.5 hour drive. My butt is so sore from sitting for so long. But we made it, alive! Hooray! And I can cross off driving through the Italian countryside off my list…which was never actually on my list to begin with.

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That’s all folks! Happy Veteran’s Day!