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Posts tagged ‘politics’

Vatican is Cash Only | Concerns about money laundering

long lines vatican money launderingOh, you heard me right.

The Italian government has grave concerns over the Vatican’s handling of money and its non-compliance with the European Union’s safeguards against money laundering.  As of December 31, 2012 the Bank of Italy is no longer allowed to operate inside the Vatican walls.  It is easy to forget that the Vatican is independent of Italy when the city of Rome has engulfed the area on all sides.  Many times this has proved to be an advantage for the Holy See, although this is not the case currently.

What does this mean for travelers?  Tourists will need to pay for cash for visits to the Vatican Museum, the cafeteria and for any purchases at the gift shops within Vatican City.  The change has brought about a great hassle as unknowing tourist wait in the long lines only to be turned away to find cash.   I suggest all travelers make sure to have enough cash to cover entrance fees and any intended purchases.  ATMs are located on just about every street corner in Rome.  Prices are currently 16 euro/adult and 8 euro/student.

What does this mean for the Vatican?  Obviously, these are huge sources of revenue and in the current economic situation any loss in income will have a greater impact.  I have a feeling that the order for compliance is about to be taken more seriously and once the EU standard safeguards are in place tourists can expect things to return to normal.

The original article can be found here.

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Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

December 21st | Will the Mayans be right?

Earlier this year I wrote about a funny coincidence regarding the crumbling of part of Rome’s coliseum and the impending end of the world.  I guess we are just days away from finding out if those Mayans were on the right track or not!

**Re-posted**

If the predictions are right, we better live it up because the world is slotted to end this year.

Mayan Calendar

We’ve all heard about 2012 marking the end of the world as we know it, but where did all this dooms daying come from?  We have the Mayan’s to blame this time.  Unlike our cyclic calendar (which can go on infinitely) the Mayan’s followed a long count calendar which consisted of a set number of days.  The completion of the calendar marked the end of one world and the beginning of the next.  According to the Mayan’s, we are living in the fourth world which is the only one that has been successful at all and has sustained humanity.  So when does this glorious reign end?

December 21st, 2012.

The Venerable Bede

Interpretation of this date has brought on all kinds of attention and opinions:  New Age belief in some sort of Spiritual Transformation, Zombie Apocalypse, fire & brimstone and one half way decent blockbuster movie.  I don’t tend to pay too much attention to ruckus of this sort.  I worked night shift New Years Eve when we ushered in 2000 without so much as a hint of a computer meltdown.  Harold Camping (aka that crazy dude swindling people out of ungodly amounts of money) and his third failed prediction last May didn’t even raise my eyebrow.  I have yet to call any 1-800 numbers to find out what the one-thing-that-I-need-to-know-now-to-save-my-finanicial-future-before-it’s-too-late is.  But when I recently read about pieces of the Colosseum falling off and the political troubles already brewing with the scheduled restoration project, I couldn’t help but think of a famous prophecy.  The Colosseum was built approximately 2000 years ago and stands to this day as one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and engineering.  Not earthquakes, nor fire or civil unrest has brought down this magnificent structure.  Not yet.  The prophecy that came to mind is attributed to the Venerable Bede:

‘While the Colosseum stands, Rome shall stand; when the Colosseum falls, Rome shall fall; when Rome falls, the world shall fall’

Maybe I better pay attention this time and dust off my bucket list.  We’ve got some traveling to do and by my calculations only 340 days left to do it!

Copyright 2012  Andi Brown, Once in a Lifetime Travel

Rome Bans Eating Near Monuments

What’s next?  No drinking in Ireland?

Rome’s mayor, Gianni Alemanno has decided to toughen rules about behavior on, around and even near the national monuments.  Apparently after a stroll through his city, Alemanno was horrified to see tourists and locals alike disrespecting places of important.  He swiftly laid down the law, no eating near any treasure.

It’s enforcement is of course drawing criticism.  Confused tourist munching on gelato can no longer stop and linger at the Trevi Fountain (one of my favorite things to do).  Locals on lunch breaks are being shooed off the Spanish Steps.  Many Italians say there are better things for the police to be worrying about and feel that this is just another attempt of the current government to try to grasp control of the city that has been outside their control for some time.

I do think that there are cases, usually when alcohol is involved, that sites like the Spanish Steps are not respected and begin to look more like an international frat party.  I do believe these amazing places need to be preserved and cared for so that they will last for generations to come.  Is making a sweeping law like this the answer?  Part of the soul of Rome is the wandering with a slice of pizza or gelato in hand.  Enjoying everyday like in incredible historic settings.  I also know that laws are made to be broken when it comes to Italians.  I will be watching with great interest to see what will come with this decision.

Rome ban on eating near monuments

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Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

Italy in the News: Phone Sex, WWI arsenal found, Trevi repairs and the death of a Cardinal

Headlines from the week of Aug 26-Sept 1

Courtesy of Gizmodo

(ANSA) - Giving phone sex for money does not make you a prostitute, as long as it’s done solely with the mind, not with the body, Italy’s supreme court ruled on Friday. Read More

(Guardian) -  As the Venice Biennale of Architecture kicks off today, we head to Cannaregio and discover a neighbourhood largely unchanged by the city’s tourist hordes. Its bars, restaurants and shops are great places to taste local life.  Read More

(ANSA) –  Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini died from Parkinson’s disease on Friday at the age of 85.     The former archbishop of Milan and highly esteemed member of the Catholic Church had been suffering from the degenerative nerve disorder for many years.  Read More

(ANSA) – Rome’s famous Trevi Fountain has been drained to make way for repairs to its facade that lost several small pieces last June, Cultural Heritage Superintendent Umberto Broccoli said on Monday.  Read More

(ANSA) –  Italian Finance Police recovered 200 pieces of World War I ammunition, which emerged from a melting glacier on a Trentino mountain peak on Friday, Finance Guard sources said.Read More

(Wa Post) – Flowers, family, found objects. If you have an iPhone, chances are you’ve started to explore the world of iPhoneography —  shooting images with your phone and, if you choose, processing them using various applications.  Read More

(ANSA) – Rome – Dripping with chocolate, covered with strawberries or laden with cream, there is a gelato to tease the tastebuds of every ice-cream lover.       It’s no surprise to learn that thousands of foreign tourists who come to Rome take time out to scour the cobbled streets of the Italian capital in search of the perfect gelato.  Read More

Courtesy of ANSA

For anyone who missed my articles about the wildfires in Italy or painted pigeons in Venice, follow the links below.

Courtesty of Julian Charrière

I’m obsessed with feedback, let me know what you think.

Love it??  Pass it on!

Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

Italy in the News: Phone Sex, WWI arsenal found, Trevi repairs and the death of a Cardinal

Headlines from the week of Aug 26-Sept 1

Courtesy of Gizmodo

(ANSA) - Giving phone sex for money does not make you a prostitute, as long as it’s done solely with the mind, not with the body, Italy’s supreme court ruled on Friday. Read More

(Guardian) -  As the Venice Biennale of Architecture kicks off today, we head to Cannaregio and discover a neighbourhood largely unchanged by the city’s tourist hordes. Its bars, restaurants and shops are great places to taste local life.  Read More

(ANSA) –  Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini died from Parkinson’s disease on Friday at the age of 85.     The former archbishop of Milan and highly esteemed member of the Catholic Church had been suffering from the degenerative nerve disorder for many years.  Read More

(ANSA) – Rome’s famous Trevi Fountain has been drained to make way for repairs to its facade that lost several small pieces last June, Cultural Heritage Superintendent Umberto Broccoli said on Monday.  Read More

(ANSA) –  Italian Finance Police recovered 200 pieces of World War I ammunition, which emerged from a melting glacier on a Trentino mountain peak on Friday, Finance Guard sources said.Read More

(Wa Post) – Flowers, family, found objects. If you have an iPhone, chances are you’ve started to explore the world of iPhoneography —  shooting images with your phone and, if you choose, processing them using various applications.  Read More

(ANSA) – Rome – Dripping with chocolate, covered with strawberries or laden with cream, there is a gelato to tease the tastebuds of every ice-cream lover.       It’s no surprise to learn that thousands of foreign tourists who come to Rome take time out to scour the cobbled streets of the Italian capital in search of the perfect gelato.  Read More

Courtesy of ANSA

For anyone who missed my articles about the wildfires in Italy or painted pigeons in Venice, follow the links below.

Courtesty of Julian Charrière

I’m obsessed with feedback, let me know what you think.

Love it??  Pass it on!

Copyright 2012   Andi Brown,  Once in a Lifetime Travel

Strike Against SOPA and PIPA

As a show of support and solidarity, I will not be posting today.  Please follow this link to become part of the movement against censorship.  Click here

Come back tomorrow for Part 2, Making your travel dreams come true this year.

Rome is Falling – Beware of a Zombie Apocalypse

If the predictions are right, we better live it up because the world is slotted to end this year.

Mayan Calendar

We’ve all heard about 2012 marking the end of the world as we know it, but where did all this dooms daying come from?  We have the Mayan’s to blame this time.  Unlike our cyclic calendar (which can go on infinitely) the Mayan’s followed a long count calendar which consisted of a set number of days.  The completion of the calendar marked the end of one world and the beginning of the next.  According to the Mayan’s, we are living in the fourth world which is the only one that has been successful at all and has sustained humanity.  So when does this glorious reign end?

December 21st, 2012.

The Venerable Bede

Interpretation of this date has brought on all kinds of attention and opinions:  New Age belief in some sort of Spiritual Transformation, Zombie Apocalypse, fire & brimstone and one half way decent blockbuster movie.  I don’t tend to pay too much attention to ruckus of this sort.  I worked night shift New Years Eve when we ushered in 2000 without so much as a hint of a computer meltdown.  Harold Camping (aka that crazy dude swindling people out of ungodly amounts of money) and his third failed prediction last May didn’t even raise my eyebrow.  I have yet to call any 1-800 numbers to find out what the one-thing-that-I-need-to-know-now-to-save-my-finanicial-future-before-it’s-too-late is.  But when I recently read about pieces of the Colosseum falling off and the political troubles already brewing with the scheduled restoration project, I couldn’t help but think of a famous prophecy.  The Colosseum was built approximately 2000 years ago and stands to this day as one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and engineering.  Not earthquakes, nor fire or civil unrest has brought down this magnificent structure.  Not yet.  The prophecy that came to mind is attributed to the Venerable Bede:

‘While the Colosseum stands, Rome shall stand; when the Colosseum falls, Rome shall fall; when Rome falls, the world shall fall’

Maybe I better pay attention this time and dust off my bucket list.  We’ve got some traveling to do and by my calculations only 340 days left to do it!

Copyright 2012  Andi Brown, Once in a Lifetime Travel

Italy in the News: Cruise ship sinks, survivors rescued and captain jailed, cannabis for dinner and free e-books

Headlines from the week of January 8-14

(Yahoo News) -  A helicopter on Sunday airlifted a third survivor from the capsized hulk of a luxury cruise ship 36 hours after it ran aground off the Italian coast, as prosecutors said they were investigating the captain for manslaughter charges and accused him of abandoning his ship….Read More

(Yahoo Travel) -  World’s Prettiest Hotel Pools:  Perched along Italy’s Amalfi Coast and less than 50 miles southeast of Naples, the Hotel Caruso Belvedere by Orient Express occupies what was once an 11th-century palace. Read More

(ANSA) –  Italian police discovered a third fake blind person in the space of a week when a woman in this northern city, registered as sight-impaired, was found to be working at a municipal health office….Read More

(ANSA) – Cannabis is an ‘amazing ingredient’ according to Perugia’s Flavour University…. Read More

(ANSA) – Fiat’s future in Italy depends on Italy’s decision on whether it intends to remain a manufacturing nation, Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne said on Thursday….Read More

(ANSA) – A luxury Florence brand has released a limited-edition handbag inspired by a drawing by Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci…..Read More 

(BBC) – Lugging books to the beach is so 2007. It’s time to gear up with the right tech and turn your smartphone, e-reader or tablet computer into the universal library it was destined to be. Using a few websites or apps, you can quickly load up on books that are completely free because they are in the “public domain”, meaning they slipped out of copyright (usually many decades after the work has been published)….Read More

(NYTimes) – For years, the only way to get inside the Renaissance-era Palazzo Farnese and see its finest gem — ceiling frescoes rivaled in Rome only by the Sistine Chapel — was to attend a prebooked tour, in French or Italian….Read More

Finding Balance | A discussion of old traditions and new realities

Two days ago I posted a blog (read it here) about the new laws put in place by Monti to stimulate growth for Italy’s struggling economy.  The law now allows storekeepers the right to stay open 24/7 including weekends and holidays.  Italy in general doe not seem to be ready for this change.

One of my readers and fellow bloggers, Debra at Bagni di Lucca and Beyond, made a comment that has had me thinking more about the clash between old and new.  As any traveler knows, if you show up at noon pretty much anywhere in Italy you better hope you don’t need anything emergently.  About the only thing you can do between the hours of noon and 3 is sleep or find an open restaurant for a long lunch.  Debra wonders how much money is lost during those hours.  She also points out that many people now commute to work and the traditional siesta has lost its usefulness in those situations.

One of the things I love about my time in Italy is the change of pace, people here don’t seem to rush as we do and are able to enjoy the moment.  I don’t feel enslaved to time in Italy.  Of course this  can become inconvenient (waiting 45 for the rental clerk to reopen his store because he decided to take an extra long lunch break, making sure my child has everything she needs before the stores close up for the day) but well worth it in my opinion.  The quaintness of an age old tradition is a comfort in my travels, something I pine for when back home and stuck with my long work hours.  The siesta is as much a part of the cultural fabric that I have come to expect from Italy as the little old ladies chatting on the bench.

But times are changing.  Times are hard.

As anyone knows that has been following the news in Europe, Italy is and has been in trouble.  The unemployment rate was 8.6% as of the end of the year, but for the ages of 16-25 that rate is a staggering 25%.  Finding work for the young and upcoming generation is an incredible challenge and frustration.  What opportunities could be available by embracing longer hours?  Is it worth sacrificing the energy of the youth for the nostalgia of a time past?

Other subtle changes are happening as well.

I had a long conversation with a man in Rome about the dangers the Italian family is facing.  He bitterly reported his own children had yet to have children of their own.  The birth rate in Italy for the year 2011 is now at 9.18 births per 1000.  That is almost half the rate as here in the US.  I imagine much of this has to do with the increased cost of living, more women working outside of the home and economic pressures.  Also, the world has become a smaller place for this generation.  Many youth have moved away from the family in search of better opportunities.  Across Italy age old techniques and skills are at risk of being lost because no one is left to step forward and carry on the trade.  We quickly cry out ‘what a shame’ but many of these dying fields are not financially profitable.  Not at all.  As in barely eking out a living.  I honestly can’t say I would stay in the same small town that my family had lived in for generations just to keep tradition when I thought I had a chance to better myself somewhere else.  A good example is the production of Sciacchetra wine in the Cinque Terre.  At this very moment there is no one to replace the makers of this amazing traditional wine.  And no wonder, the work is back breaking and the rewards are not monetary.  At an agriturismo in Umbria, one of the owners has founded a school for the children from as far away as Rome and Florence, that teaches them how to make bread the traditional way.  Who would have thought that Italian children aren’t being taught how to make the basics at home.  His own granddaughter, having no interest in the family business (or cooking for that matter) has moved to Rome to teach.  When we close our eyes and wish we were born Italian, we see a big hearty family sharing homemade dinner by the fire that has burned for generations.  That image might soon be one of the past.italy travel

I often wonder though, is one better with more money and more things?  At the moment I am anxious to be rid of the material items that continually add stress to my life.  I have gone full circle and now see how my family, my time is priceless.  I wonder how Italy will fare with these changes, how the fabric of its culture will be woven with the coming times.

How do we balance old and new?  I would love to hear from you.  Thoughts, perceptions, predictions.

copyright 2012  Andi Brown, Once in a Lifetime Travel

Italian customs are hard to change.

marketPrime Minister Monti passed an unpressedented law that allows shopkeepers to stay open 24/7 including holidays.   Now I know that doesn’t sound mind-boggling to a country that has a Wal-Mart in every city where one can by a can of kidney beans or a Taylor Swift CD at 3am.  But to the average Italian, particularly those in the south, what we consider convenience is viewed as an intrusion.

Shopkeepers are not chained to their stores in Italy, nor do they seem to want to be.  The chance to serve a few extra clients by being available later or on holidays is not worth the sacrifice of family and life outside of work.  For the moment, most shoppers are sticking to the traditional hours.  The Day of Epiphany showed that old habits are going to be hard (if not impossible) to break as stores remained closed outside of a few cafes and restaurants.  Will Monti’s attempt to stimulate growth in Italy’s struggling economy be able to break age-old traditions and the professional guilds?

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