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Calcio Fiorentino – The Ultimate Manly Sport

Imagine a sport that’s a mix between soccer and rugby, with absolutely no rules whatsoever. Man, that’s got to be brutal! And that’s exactly what Calcio Fiorentino is. It’s the ultimate sport to prove your strength, power and courage.

The game originated in Italy during the 16th century in Piazza Santa Maria Novella, Florence. The words Calcio Fiorentino can be loosely translated as the Florence Kick. True to its name, the game was devised by four of Florence’s most prominent noble families. Their intention was simple, to be able to show off their physical prowess to their enemies. In those days, spectators of the game were limited only to the ruling class.

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Italy’s Natural Cathedral Is Made of Growing Trees

Located on the outskirts of Bergamo, at the foot of Monte Arena, the tree cathedral created by Italian artist Giuliano Mauri is one of the world’s most impressive example of organic architecture.

Giuliano Mauri created “natural architecture” by blending organic materials like trunks and branches with classic architectural elements, creating impressive large-scale edifices. In 2001, his love for nature inspired him to draw up the plans for a project that took his art to a whole new level and left the people of Bergamo stunned – a cathedral made only of trees. The artist envisioned a unique organic building desinged in such a way that the branches of the trees forming its pillars would extend and arch to become its roof and walls. Unfortunately, Mauri died unexpectedly in 2009, and never got to see his grand plan come to life, but as a homage to his life’s work, the project was initiated in 2010, the International Year of Biodiversity.

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The Focara of Novoli – A Truly Epic Bonfire

Imagine a giant bonfire, 25 meters high, 20 meters in diameter, and viewed by over 60,000 people. This is exactly the spectacle that will meet your eyes if you happen to be in the town of Novoli, in south-eastern Italy, during this time of the year.

This ‘festival of fire’ is known as the Focara, held every year between the 7th and 18th of January. The actual Focara, or bonfire is lit on the 16th, when the festival reaches its crescendo. The tradition has its origins in the pre-Christian era, when it was celebrated to mark the end of winter and the beginning of spring. Today, however, it is dedicated to the memory of St. Anthony, who is the Patron Saint and protector of Novoli. The preparations for the Focara begin as early as mid December. On the 7th of January, the construction of the fuel assembled for the bonfire commences. It consists of bundles of vines that have been set aside by farmers after cutting back vineyards, once the grape harvesting is done the previous autumn. About 90,000 bundles are used, each one consisting of 200 vines. The construction of the structure is supported by wooden beams, and it is erected in Novoli’s Piazza Tito Schipa.

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Italian Sculptor Creates Miniature Colosseum from 10,000 Corks

61-year-old Ciro Califano, from Italy’s Nocera Inferiore, is one of the world’s most incredible artists, with the power to turn corks into beautiful works of art.

A former postal worker, who lived most his life traveling between Milan, Naples and Nocera, Ciro Califano has always had artistic ambitions. Even as a child, growing up in the Italian countryside, he always dreamed of exercising his talents and leaving his mark on the art world. And ten years ago, after his sons opened a local restaurant called “Cantina del Vescovo”(Bishop’s Cellar), he finally decided to exploit his gift as a sculptor. The fast accumulation of wine bottle corks was just the right pretext, and before he knew it, Ciro was creating cork miniature replicas of ancient wonders like the Roman aqueduct in Nimes, France, the Saracen Tower, the Church of Monte Albino, and many others.

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Students Take Ice-Cream Making Courses at Italy’s Gelato University

I thought making ice-cream was pretty easy, but it seems that if you really want to get it right you have to take courses at the Gelato University, in Bologna, Italy.

Ice-cream making was one of the last thing I would have imagined required attending a university, but in reality thousands of students from all over the world study the art of making quality ice-cream at the Carpigiani Gelato University, in Bologna., every year. Gelato lovers, and entrepreneurs who want to learn the secrets of making great ice-cream and take it back to their homelands pay around €800 ($1,138) for a week of courses and accommodation at a nearby hotel. They attend technical lectures on traditional gelato-making techniques by veteran ice-cream makers, and take part in practical courses where they learn to use the world famous Carpigiani gelato machines.

Believe it or not, the Carpigiani Gelato University has been around for a long time, and as more people around the globe fall in love with the Italian gelato, it gets more students with each passing year. In 2011, the number of students has gone from 9,000 to 12,000 and for the first time in history, the number of foreign tourists has surpassed that of Italians.

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Italy Mixes World’s Largest Mojito Cocktail

We all love Mojito, and the bigger the cocktail glass the better, right? Well they don’t come much bigger than the one prepared by Italian cocktail experts, near Lake Pusiano.

Thousands of liquor lovers gathered in Italy’s Lombardy region, near Lake Pusiano, to watch cocktail connoisseurs prepare the world’s largest glass of Mojito, and hoping to sample some of it. On July 14, during the historic event, bartenders mixed large quantities of rum, sugar cane juice and mint and managed to create a 1,300 liter version of the delicious Cuban drink.

Bartenders from Raptor Ltd and Cafe Eupili spent around 75 minutes adding and carefully mixing the ingredients in a giant glass, while a thirsty crowd of 4,000 cheered them on. A Guinness Records representative acknowledged the new world record, which beat the previous one of “only” 877 liters, set in 2010, in Italy. I guess Italians have a thing for Mojito cocktails.

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Italian Shop Sold Toys Made with Live AK-47 Bullets

A souvenir shop in the city of Siena, Italy, sold toys and decorative items assembled with real bullets that could be used by anyone with basic knowledge of guns.

The 25,000 AK-47 bullets were discovered during a control operation by the Siena Financial Guard. Most of them were used to assemble children’s toys like tanks, guns and attack planes, which were sold for €10 each. Further investigation revealed the Chinese owner of the shop got his lethal merchandise from a warehouse in Florence, which was also owned by a Chinese citizen. It’s suspected the raw material for the so-called toys was shipped over from mainland China, where it was probably obtained at no cost at all, from military deposits.

Upon inspecting this hidden arsenal, Italian authorities discovered it was live ammunition that could easily have been used by practically anyone familiar with guns. Even more disturbing is that the Kalshnikov cartridges had steel bullets, which made them a lot more dangerous than the lead ones used by Italian armed forces. Just think what could have happened if a child accidentally dropped or slammed one of these bullet toys on a hard surface.

Apart from toys assembled from live ammo, the shop also sold real Ak-47 rifles, Chinese military caps, and even bullet-pierced metal helmets.

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Italy Inaugurates World’s First Sauna Tram

Public transportation is considered one of the most stressful things in the world, but the designers of Italian public transport company QC Termemilano set out to prove public transportation can also be relaxing.

They managed to create an ordinary tram cart into the world’s first tram sauna, complete with hot coals, wooden benches, and thanks to the open windows, a wonderful view of the surroundings. Except for these features, the tram sauna looks just like any other cart. ‘This innovative design is to show that not all public transport is frustrating. It can be somewhere to relax.’ said one of the company’s representatives.

The custom tram sauna is currently located in the middle of a real spa complex, but although it sits on its own real tracks, it won’t be going anywhere any more.

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Italian City Drives Its Tourists Up the Wall

Climbing buildings has become a tradition for the Italian city of Sondrio. For several years now, passionate climbers have been gathering here to take part in the now famous  Sondrio Street Climbing festival.

This year, the event has managed to bring together around 200 professional climbers from all over the world, all eager to start climbing some of the oldest, most important buildings in the city. “It is the new sport of the future and we are pioneering it – street bouldering. And with the Sondrio Street Festival we have established ourselves as the world center for street bouldering,” a spokesman of the council explained.

Last year, 75 climbers showed up for this offbeat event, but the numbers of people interested in street bouldering is definitely on the rise. On December 18, over 200 climbers took part in the various events that included scaling granite columns, stone walls and even a 40 meter tall bell tower. Just like last year, winners were rewarded with a delicious pizza and pints of beer.

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Italy Hosts Miss Chubby Beauty Contest

31 overweight beauties of Italy competed for the title of “Miss Cicciona“, which translates as Miss Chubby, in the yearly contest of Forcoli.

The only entry condition for Miss Cicciona is related to the weight of the contestants. Women have to be at least 100 kilograms heavy, in order to be admitted. The lucky ones then try to impress the judges by parading in glamorous gowns, or undergarments. The bravest of the women even try striptease routines to gain an edge. The winner doesn’t get a prize, just a boost in self esteem and a huge cake to share with her competitors.

Miss Cicciona was founded to show the beauty of overweight women. Most of them are mocked and humiliated every time they go out in public, and this is a welcome opportunity to actually be proud and feel good about how they look.

This year’s winner of Miss Cicciona was 33-year old Angela Scognamiglio, from Naples. The 170 kilogram heavy beauty said she “felt like she had just won the lottery”.

 

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Incredible Flower Carpets at the Genzano Flower Festival 2010

If you’re a flower enthusiast, and you happen to be in Rome, in the second week of June, you just have to visit the small town of Genzano, for its world famous Infiorata.

The Genzano Infiorata is a flower festival that can be traced back to 1778. Every year, local artists cover an entire street (Via Belardi) with intricate flower carpets, inspired by famous artworks, religious paintings or geometrical shapes. The flower carpets are made by talented local artists who have to stick to a previously agreed upon theme, like ‘The Colors of Michelangelo’ or ‘The Designs of Bernini’.

The Infiorata of Genzano begins with the harvesting of millions of flowers, 2-3 days before the event. They are stored fresh, in caves around Genzano, while the artists draw their masterpieces on the pavement of Via Belardi, for the Saturday parade.

Preceded by a ‘mini Infiorata’, where children from local schools create the flower carpets, the Infiorata ends on the Monday of the third week of June, when children are allowed to destroy the colorful artworks, by playing on them.

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Giant Pink Snails Invade Milan

A group of 12 overgrown pink snails have taken over Plazza Scala, in Italy’s fashion capital, Milan.

These unusual plastic models were created by the Italian Cracking Art group and are on a mission to change people’s lifestyle. In a world where everything is happening so fast, the pink snails are here to let you know “speed isn’t always a virtue” and slowing down to enjoy the beauty of the city can be quite refreshing.

“We need to play with the city to break with our obvious daily routine and rediscover the experience of moving about the city” said Finazzer Flory, Milan’s culture counselor. He added that the giant pink snails are shaped to resemble an ear to also make people listen to what’s going on around them

The slimy giants will be moved periodically towards the Palazzo Reale and, in January, they’ll make an appearance at the central train station. They’ll then go on a series of international visits to Amman, Tel Aviv and Chicago. They’ll return to Milan in 2015, as part of a 120-snail army. That sounds kind of scary…

via UPI

pink-snails-Milan

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