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Articles by: Alexsandra Arlia

  • Facts & Stories

    Longevity Gene Found to Rejuvenate Blood Vessels

    Italians have long been revered for their generally long life spans credited to their healthy lifestyles, environments, and other variants. Now, a study published in the European Heart Journal by I.R.C.C.S MultiMedica, I.R.C.C.S Neuromed, and the University of Salerno teams is proving to bring us much closer to finding a real reason why some people have naturally lived longer than others. 

    Proven through studies done on mice vulnerable to cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis (due to a harmless virus given to them through gene therapy done in order to carry out the experiment) and test tube human blood vessel trials, it has been discovered that people who have lived past the age of 100 share one thing in common in their DNA: a longevity gene that rejuvenates the blood vessels.

    The gene is responsible for increasing production of the BPIFB4 protein, which in high amounts has been found to protect the blood vessels, and as a result leads to rejuvenated cardiovascular health. Through these findings, researchers have found that the increase in protein due to the gene helped against cardiovascular diseases, and the research teams suspect the gene may help with tumors and neuro-degenrative diseases as well. 

    The study, sponsored by the Cariplo Foundation and Italian Health Ministry, is in its earlier stages. The outcomes of the study are looking positively upon, as researchers are discovering how to transfer the longevity gene to those who were born without it. As Carmine Vecchione, one of the leaders of the study alongside Annibale Puca, stated ”Of course a great deal more research will be needed, but we think it is possible, by administering the protein itself to patients, to slow down age-related cardiovascular damage.” 

     

  • Facts & Stories

    Italy’s Prosecco Hills Recognized By UNESCO

    UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization has recently added its 10th worldly addition to its “cultural landscape” list: the Prosecco Hills of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene in Veneto, Italy.

    After an announcement made in Baku, Azerbaijan by UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee, north-eastern Italy’s Prosecco Hills were instituted this past Sunday in what Foreign Ministry and Agricultural Minister Gian Marco Centinaio referred to as a “historic day for Veneto and for Italy as a whole.”   

    The land is most popular for its leading production of Prosecco wine, a white sparkling Italian favorite of many around the world. The site is Italy’s 55th installment on UNESCO’s lists, placing the country ahead of Spain, China, and France.

    And with Prosecco sales beating out the sales in Champagne, with a 21% increase in exports in 2019, it is no wonder why the interest in the area is so high. Known for its “‘hogback’ hills” and “small plots of vines on narrow grassy terraces,” the 1000-year old maintained vineyards that lay north of Venice attract tourists and wine-lovers year after year.

    And after being rejected by their recognition request by just a few votes last year, the people of Veneto are delighted to officially have an eighth contribution by their region recognized by UNESCO and the world.  

    Now that the induction has been assigned, the region of Veneto is expecting an increase in awareness and tourism, as well as a “boost to the local economy.” According to Veneto’s consortium however, an important aspect that they will be focused on is handling their tourism, especially as it grows, in a sustainable way that will be beneficial to the area. 

     

  • Art & Culture

    Matera’s “Pending Passport” Initiative Makes Culture Accessible

    Matera, a city in Southern Italy admired for its rich history and known for being carved out of a mountain, has recently undergone a local initiative called the “Pending Passport” project begun by the Matera-Basilicata 2019 Foundation. Embracing the ancient city’s beloved cultural aspects, and its less fortunate inhabitants, crowdfunded donations will fund the cultural event donation program, which needs 10.000 euro to operate.

    The purpose of the donation program is for more people to “enjoy a day dedicated to nourishment of the soul.” With various events ranging from festivals, museum lectures, tours, community projects and more - citizens and tourists alike are able to participate in many different activities meant to be enriching and engaging.

    Inspired by the Napoli-born “Pending Coffee” kindness campaign where Italian locals anonymously pay for an upcoming stranger’s cup of coffee, “Pending Passport” takes on a similar air of giving and sharing in the abundance of local culture and experiences. For only 19 euro for the rest of 2019, people are able to purchase daily “passports” that allow them to attend any event part of the cultural exploration program.

    Donations as part of the “Pending Passport” initiative can be made online anywhere from 10-1.000 euro and passports have since been sold at a whopping count of 36,000 between Italians and visiting tourists.

    Matera is a cultural phenomenon of a city, considering its past is filled with momentous time periods driven by poverty, lack of attention, reconstruction and nearly becoming lost in history. Also known as “the underground city,” Matera is telling a different story flourishing with global attention and admiration and taking full advantage of the opportunities that come with being named European Capital of Culture.

    For more information, visit: https://www.materaevents.it/home

  • Recanati. "Biblioteca Leopardi"
    Facts & Stories

    An "Infinite" Flash Mob

    With the efforts made between descendant Countess Olimpia Leopardi, Casa Leopardi, and schools all around Italy, this Tuesday, multiple town squares will be filled with students reciting famous poet Giacomo Leopardi’s legendary poem “L’Infinito” in unison on the poem’s 200th anniversary.

    The national flash mob will honor the time-standing genius of Leopardi, with over 2,000 students gathering, including those in the poet’s native town of Recanti. Museum Casa Leopardi has expressed hopes that the event will double as an opportunity to “bring young people closer to poetry” and ignite a love for the art as well.

    The requirements of participating schools will include recording themselves as they recite the poem in their local piazza on May 28th at exactly 11:30 am. Participants will also be required to wear a white shirt, and catch and throw a white ball to and from off-screen to symbolize “poetic dribbling” and the acknowledgment of “passing” the poem from one school to another.

    Schools will be asked to post their videos on their respective social media pages and/or school website. National broadcast media company RAI will be reporting live on the national flash mob as well.

    The main event will take place in Leopardi’s hometown piazza, made famous by another one of his poems "Sabato del Villaggio,” and is set to be an iconic appreciation that will draw attention to Leopardi’s "L’Infinito" and unite people from all around Italy.

    As Countess Olimpia Leopardi stated to ANSA, she hopes that the event will be effective in "connecting it symbolically to all Italian squares to transform them from places in which people ignore or bump into each other to a space of spiritual communion to celebrate beauty and build together a future 'Beyond the Hedge.'"

     

  • Art & Culture

    Naples Gets Their Dance on With Roberto Bolle’s OnDance

    Famous ballet dancer Roberto Bolle’s OnDance Festival, originating in Milan, is being brought to Naples this weekend as the city enjoys two days of free dancing activities and lessons for all ages and styles throughout various locations. This festival of dance will provide dance classes will be offered ranging in techniques such as ballet, contemporary, tango, swing, modern and hip-hop. Red Bull is also sponsoring a “Dance Your Style” street dance competition at Piazza Dante, where the public audience will decide on two winning finalists to go to Milan and compete in the national competition.

     

    Born in Milan, OnDance is Bolle’s answer to the undervalued art of dance amongst those in Italy whom otherwise may not have been exposed. In an effort to bring the appreciation of various dance styles and self-expression to the masses, Bolle has taken on his OnDance festival project--with much support of local administrations and the public. Since its introduction in 2018, the festival has taken new heights this year as Bolle holds a separate weekend of events in Naples as well.

     

    Per Bolle’s intentions, the weekend festivities taking place in Naples will be “a homage and thanks to the city” which will also be shown with traditional Neapolitan music. The activities planned are made in an effort to combat the association of ballet with the elite, and instead introduce the art for public appreciation.

     

    Bolle exclaimed his enthusiasm for the two-day event in Naples, stating "It is a city that has always shown great affection, enthusiasm and admiration for me and I am even happier to take this great celebration of ballet here.” Bolle has also expressed excitement for the upcoming venture on his social media accounts, posting countdown photos and getting Naples residents eager for his arrival. And the anticipation is evident, as registration for the open classes are already full due to the popularity of the event.

     

    For more information including a countdown to the event, visit the official website: https://ondance.it/

  • Credit: Marco Grob for Variety
    Art & Culture

    Clooney Makes Long Awaited Return to TV With “Catch-22”

    Catch-22” fans rejoice: according to a recent press conference this past Monday in Rome, George Clooney’s newest project, currently available to Hulu subscribers in the U.S, will now be available on Sky Atlantic starting May 21.

    The “Catch-22” miniseries based on the 1961 Joseph Heller novel of the same name, starring Clooney, Christopher Abbot, and Hugh Laurie, is about fictional Captain John Yossarian, a U.S Army Air Forces bombardier during World War II, who is based on the Tuscan island of Pianosa.

    The storyline is largely based on the phrase “Catch-22,” which is often used to describe a difficult situation in which an individual cannot escape due to conflicting limitations.

    When speaking about the miniseries, Clooney, who plays Lieutenant Scheisskopf, explains how the story focuses on the “insanity” of war, which is shown through main character John Yossarian (portrayed by Abbot) finding himself in a conflicting situation due to the fact that in order to be released from the Army, he must keep up with the added amount of missions being assigned to him, and the only way out of it any earlier is to prove his insanity and inability to work, which can only be done by admitting insanity, which inherently proves his sanity in the eyes of the Army.  

    George Clooney, who directed two of the six episodes in the miniseries, has spoken excitedly of the project that will mark his 20-year return back to television, proudly explaining that the series is based on “a story that can be current at any moment in history.”

    Critics have already been expressing their thoughts on the series, with Rolling Stone’s Alan Sepinwall acknowledging the adaptation’s dramatic “anti-war” perspectives, while admitting that, in his perspective, the series had come up short on the satirical humor Heller’s novel is famous for. Meanwhile, Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter claimed that the series is “a winning combination of satire, madcap bombast and, most important, deep existential angst” experienced by main character Yossarian.

    The Hulu series has also received an 84% approval rating from famously critical site “Rotten Tomatoes,” with a rare positive consensus from reviewers. Overall, it seems that the Hulu venture was a success, and has audiences prepared for its debut on Hulu on May 17 and on Sky Atlantic on May 22.  

     

  • Art & Culture

    Italian Archaeologist Leads of Unearthing Ancient City

    According to history and legend, toward the end of October 130 AD, Emperor Hadrian’s young male lover, Antinous, was found to have mysteriously drowned in the Nile river, making Antinous the embraced being of the ancient Egyptian god of life, death, the afterlife, and the flooding of the Nile, Osiris. In his honor, Emperor Hadrian had officially declared the city Antinopolis to be established, near the bank of where his lover had drowned.

    The archaeological mission to work on Antinopolis has been in place since 1935, under the leadership of the University of Florence’s G. Vitelli Istituto Papirologico. The mission, currently being led by Pintaudi, is an impactful project that will lead to the further understanding of the Coptic Christian Period-- an era caught between the area’s practice of the Ancient Egyptian religion and the later Muslim conquest, about which little is known.

    Findings so far include blocks of stone (talatat) dating back to Pharaoh Akhenaten's rule, Christian symbols such as a circled cross painted in red, and symbols of the Christian practice of Confirmation. Tokens relating to the Islamic rule, as well as remnants of apotropaic rituals and a multicolored painting depicting a battle scene between the Byzantine Empire and the conquering of Islam over Egypt were also amongst the findings. Along with the University of Rome and experts hailing from other countries, a large granite column weighing about 37 tons was also properly re-installed to Antinopolis’ eastern entrance, which led to the unearthing of thousands of both Coptic and Greek papyri.

    The work that Rosario Pintaudi has implemented in the lost city of Antinopolis, has led to the further understanding of this ancient world and the lives that had once inhabited it. The more experts such as Pintaudi dig into these archaeological findings and sites, the better we will be able to understand our history and the world’s cultures.