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Italian Town Bans Use of Google Maps After Too Many Tourists Stranded Because of It

Baunei, an idyllic mountain village on the Italian island of Sardinia, has launched an appeal to visitors asking them to stop relying on the directions of Google Maps when driving around the area.

Salvatore Corrias, the mayor of Baunei, claims that in the last year alone the local fire service or mountain rescue team have been called 144 times to help stranded tourists who had followed the directions of Google Maps. Apparently, people are often using the GPS-powered app to reach so-called “hidden beaches” around Baunei and end up driving down lanes that are unsuitable for cars or onto off-road tracks. To stop this from happening, local police have put up signs that read “Do not follow the directions suggested by Google Maps”.

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Italian Winemakers Set Vineyards Ablaze to Keep Them from Freezing

Breathtaking photos of vineyards in northern Italy lit up at night by hundreds of torches have been doing the rounds online for the past week. As temperatures unexpectedly dropped below zero last week, winemakers had to come up with a way to keep the vineyards from freezing, and fire was apparently their best choice.

Farmers usually do their best to keep fire away from their grape vines, but with temperatures expected to reach a freezing -9 degrees C, winemakers had no choice hundreds of torches spread out over several hectares to keep the vineyards from freezing. This technique has long been used by winemakers all over the world to create air movement, which prevents frost pockets from forming. Temperatures under -1 degrees Celsius can cause serious damage to emerging buds, so teams patrol the vineyards all night long, making sure that the fires are burning, to at least mitigate the damage.

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Man Fakes Inability to Walk for a Decade to Collect Disability Pension

An Italian man who went to great lengths to convince everyone that he had lost the ability to walk after being involved in a staged car accident 12 years ago was recently exposed as a fraud.

The incredible story of Roberto Guglielmi, an Italian con artist who managed to fool everyone, including doctors, neighbors and even the Pope, that he couldn’t walk began over a decade ago. In 2007, he came up with a plan to pass himself off as a disabled person and collect the pension offered by the government, but he needed an accomplice to pull it off. At the time, he had someone living in his home who was behind on rent, so he proposed to forget about the payment he was owed if his housemate would pretend to hit him with the car while he was crossing the street. The man agreed and everything went smoothly. With the help of a false medical document, Guglielmi was able to become a paraplegic, even though he could walk like a normal person.

What’s most remarkable about this tale of deception is the extreme lengths that the Florentine went to in order to deceive doctors during mandatory visits to confirm his disability. According to prosecutors, he would inject lidocaine into his legs to numb his muscles, undergo traumatic therapies and use a wheelchair whenever he left his home. For over a decade, no one suspected that he was actually a healthy person with full use of his legs.

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A Different Kind of Chicken Farm – Italian Farmer Raises Thousands of Chickens in the Woods

Most chicken farms nowadays consists of hangar-like facilities where chickens are cooped up by the thousands with hardly enough space to move around and, in some cases, no sunlight. It’s sad, but it’s also the only way food corporations can keep up with the increasing demand for cheap meat and eggs. However, one farmer in northern Italy runs a very different type of poultry farm – he is raising over 2,000 chickens in a patch of pristine Alpine forest.

48-year-old Massimo Rapella claims he became a chicken farmer by accident. He and his wife used to run an education NGO in the town of Sandrio, in northern Italy’s Valtellina valley, but when the 2008 financial crisis hit and the Italian government cut funding for social enterprises, they decided to move to the nearby mountains. They got a few chickens to provide eggs for their own consumption and soon noticed something interesting. The domesticated birds loved venturing into the nearby chestnut forest, but instead of building a fence to prevent them from doing so, the Rapellas actually encouraged this behavior. Today, they own around 2,100 chickens who spend their days rummaging and laying eggs in a 2-hectare patch of Alpine chestnut forest.

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Italian Restaurant Serves “Fried Air”

A restaurant in the Italian town of Castelfranco Veneto has come up with an ingenious way to get a leg up on the competition – treating guests to a unique dish called “fried air”.

Nicola Dinato, the head chef at Feva Restaurant wanted to capture the essence of being outdoors and breathing fresh air in an dish aptly called “aria fritta” or “fried air”. The name is a tad misleading, as the crispy treats are actually made of tapioca skin that’s first baked and then deep fried. However, there’s some air involved in the cooking process as well, or at least a component of it – ozone. After the tapioca skin is baked and fried, it is infused with ozone for 10 minutes, which gives the treats a special perfume. After the special infusion, the crispy fried air is placed on a bed of cotton candy, which Dinato hopes will remind patrons of clouds.

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‘Robin Hood Banker’ Steals From Rich Clients to Help the Poor

Gilberto Baschiera, the former manager of a bank in Forni di Sopra, a small town in Italy’s Dolomite Alps, has been nicknamed the “Robin Hood Banker” for taking around €1 million ($1.15 million) from rich savers’ accounts, over several years, to help poor people qualify for loans.

It all started in 2009, at the the height of the global financial crisis, when banks’ criteria for credit approval assessments changed. It was no longer about an overall assessment of the customer, but about the reliability of the client, which was established at the bank desk, on a computer. So when a local man came to Gilberto Baschiera’s office asking for a small loan, and the bank manager saw that he didn’t qualify according to the new criteria, he felt sorry for him. Instead of turning him away like most bank managers would have done, Baschiera took some money out of the account of a wealthy client, and added it to the poor man’s account, so that he would qualify. But this was only the beginning of Gilberto Baschiera’s career as a modern-day Robin Hood of the banking world.

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Venice Cafe Charges Tourist $50 for Two Coffees and Two Small Bottles of Water

A cafe in Venice, Italy has been slammed as a tourist trap after recently charging a man €43 ($50) for  two espressos and two small bottles of water.

Venice’s St. Marks Square is known for its notoriously pricey cafes and restaurants, but one such establishment has been getting a lot of negative attention online after a bill of €43 for two espressos and two small bottles of water went viral online. Juan Carlos Bustamente, a 62-year-old Chilean political consultant currently living in Italy, posted the receipt from Caffe Lavena on his Facebook page and it quickly went viral, with many commenters expressing their outrage about the insanely high prices.

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Europe’s Oldest Tree Is At Least 1,230 Years Old And Still Growing

A team of researchers studying a national park in southern Italy recently discovered the oldest tree in Europe ever to be scientifically dated – a Heldreich’s pine that is at least 1,230 years old and still growing.

Nicknamed “Italus”, the ancient tree was discovered on a steep mountain slope in Italy’s Pollino National Park by a team of researchers from the University of Tuscia, led by Gianluca Povesan. As soon as they saw Italus, researchers knew that they had stumbled upon an ancient specimen, but they didn’t expect it to be the oldest tree ever discovered on the European continent. Even more surprising was the fact that despite its age – a whopping 1,230 years, at least – and an almost non-existent canopy, the tree seemed to be thriving, with heavy ring growth added to its trunk over the last several decades.

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Italian Parents Forced to Change Daughter’s Name Because It’s Not Feminine Enough

A couple in Milan, Italy, who had chosen to name their baby daughter “Blu”, was recently ordered by a court to change the name to something more suitable for a girl or risk having it changed for them.

According to a presidential decree issued in the year 2000, “the name given to a child must correspond to their sex” and Italian authorities apparently don’t consider “Blu” – the Italian spelling for ‘blue’ – to be a suitable name for a girl. Despite having already registered the 18-month-old child’s name on her birth certificate and passport, the parents were recently summoned to appear in court last week in order to choose another, more feminine name.

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16-Year-Old Takes Mother to Court for Posting Photos of Him on Facebook

We all post photos of our loved ones – especially adorable children – on social media all the time without ever giving any thought to the potential legal consequences, but as this recent case in Italy proves, posting photos of other people online is not as simple as we all think it is.

Last year, a 16 year-old Italian boy took his mother to court for constantly posting photos of him on Facebook without his consent. The boy claimed that his mother’s actions had such a serious impact on his social life that he was considering transferring to a high-school in the United States so he could “start over”. One December 23, 2017, Judge Monica Velletti of the first section of the civil court in Rome made a historical decision, ruling in favor of the teen, and ordering the mother to delete all references of him from her social media account by February 1, 2018, or risk a fine of €10,000 ($12,270).

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Stereo Bicycles Pump Up the Volume on the Streets of Palermo

When it comes to bicycles, tuning options are rather limited, especially in the audio department, but a community of teenagers in Palermo, Sicily, has found a way to adapt car stereo systems complete with speakers, subwoofers, amplifiers and even car batteries on their cycles, allowing them to pump out up to 1250W of sound as they cruise the city streets.

Bike tuning has become a trend among music-loving teenage cyclists of Palermo, on the island of Sicily. They spend anywhere between a couple of hundred euros to over 1,200 euros to have their bikes converted into powerful sound systems on wheels.

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The Shocking Story of an Italian Couple Who Had Their Baby Taken Away Because They Were Too Old

Are you ever too old to become a parent? Well, the Italian justice system seems to think so, and the tragic story of Gabriella and Luigi De Ambrosis, an elderly couple who had their natural daughter taken away and put up for adoption because they were deemed too old to take care of her is proof enough.

In 2009, 57-year-old Gabriella and 69-year-old Luigi, of Casale Monferrato, Italy, decided to have a baby, and traveled abroad to undergo an advanced in-vitro procedure. In May 2010, Gabriella gave birth to a healthy baby daughter, and the couple made national headlines. They became known as the “grandparent parents”, and faced discrimination from people deeming them too old to take care of a baby. The two recall that, while they were still in the hospital after their daughter’s birth, someone alerted child services about their age and their ability to properly tend to the infant.

Luckily for them, there was no Italian law that prevented people over a certain age from having and raising children, so they were able to take the baby home and live a normal life. However, the joy of parenthood was short-lived, as in 2011, just 15 months after their daughter was born, the De Ambrosis were accused of “abandonment” for leaving the baby unsupervised for only a few minutes. What followed was a nightmare that continues to this day.

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The Extraordinary Story of an Italian Peasant Who Taught Himself 100 Ancient Languages

86-year-old Riccardo Bertani is an exceptional man. Born to a family of farmers in Caprara, a small settlement in Reggio Emilia, Italy, he abandoned his study right after elementary school and dedicated his life to translating and documenting over 100 extinct and rare languages from all around the world.

“It was castrating, I quit,” Bertani says about his decision to leave school right after completing his elementary studies. “I was interested in other things, and I have to say that only one teacher understood my decision.” Claiming to be “allergic to math”, the young boy started working in the fields, like most of the men in his village, but soon realized he wasn’t much of a farmer, either. That’s when he started focusing more on the things he was most passionate about, reading and learning languages.

Since Riccardo’s father was a member of the Communist party and former mayor of the village, most of the books in his house growing up were Russian tomes. Even though he didn’t understand the language, he was fascinated by them. He started looking up authors like Lev Tolstoy, reading their works in Italian, and then using a Russian grammar book to learn the original language they had been written in. For some reason, he was attracted to Eastern countries like Russia and the Ukraine and for the next 18 years he did nothing but translate whatever books he could find from those countries. And after diving deeper into their culture, he discovered all these different Siberian people, Mongolians, Eskimos, and developed a taste for rare and extinct languages.

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The Hide-and-Seek World Championship is an Actual Event

The game of hide-and-seek may not yet be an Olympic sport – although efforts are being made in that regard – but it’s apparently popular enough to have its own world championship.

What started out as a fun one-time event thought up by small Italian publication CTRL Magazine, in 2010, eventually turned into an annual event that grew with every edition. This year, the 6th Nascodino World Championship – “nascondino” is Italian for hide-and-seek – will take place on the the 3rd and 4th of September, in the beautiful village of Consonno, once a bustling tourist attraction complete with its own zoo, sightseeing train and several eclectic buildings. It has since become a ghost town, but event organizers consider the settlement perfect for a grand hide-and-seek competition.

The rules of the tournament are a bit more complex than the childhood game we all used to play growing up, but then again, this is a contest for grownups (18-year-olds and above). Participants may register to take part in the World Nascondino Championship in teams of five, after paying a €125 fee per team. The teams are then divided into four groups and one person per group hides while a “neutral searching team” counts 60 seconds. The hidden player then has 10 minutes to come out of their hiding spot and reach a soft mattress (for diving purposes) placed in the middle of a field without being found or at least before a member of the searching team. If they fail to reach their target within the time limit, players are not awarded any points. The game goes on for two days until the ultimate winner is declared.

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Italian High-School Students Create Vending Machine That Turns Plastic Trash into Phone Cases

A group of high-school students from Italy have invented an awesome vending machine that grinds used plastic bottles into pellets which are then turned into smartphone cases by a built-in 3D printer.

Saving the planet, making the world cleaner for future generations or just doing the right thing are powerful arguments for recycling, but the truth is some people require more materialistic incentives to actually give a damn about the environment. It’s a sad reality, but a group of kids have come up with an ingenious invention that may just get more young people involved in waste recycling – a vending machine that eats up plastic trash and turns it into stylish cases for a variety of popular smartphone models.

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