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Need a haircut? Sorry, everyone is 'en vacances'

BRUSSELS — "I’m told that in Brussels, the word 'August' doesn’t exist — the summer months here are June, July, Les Vacances. So it’s nice to see all of you today." That’s how new NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen began his first meeting with journalists earlier this month, either feigning surprise or truly not expecting to see several dozen reporters present in the NATO auditorium.

Lottery mania in Italy

ROME — For the 86th time since January, none of the tens of millions of lottery tickets sold for Italy’s SuperEnalotto matched the six numbers needed to win the record purse, swelling the jackpot to $208.6 million Thursday and no doubt pushing Italy — and much of Europe — even deeper into the grips of an unusual kind of lottery fever.

A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy

ROME — For many Italians, the annual mid-August vacation exodus known as ferragosto could not have come soon enough. It has been a sweltering, stressful summer. Flocking to the beaches, they leave behind the usual Italian cacophony of politics and intrigue, from warnings of creeping fascism to accusations by jailed mafia godfather, Toto Riina, that a high profile anti-mafia prosecutor was blown to bits in 1992 by agents of the state.

Invitation: all about Italian food!

Europeans may disagree a lot, but they do concur on the proper antidote to August heat: eat, drink and enjoy life. As an expatriate in Rome for the past decade, GlobalPost contributor Eric J. Lyman has long indulged in Italy’s celebration of summer. He’s even made a livelihood out of it — as a chef, a sommelier, a food and wine writer, and one of the principal authors of the Rome Zagat guide.

New questions about Legionaries of Christ

NEW ORLEANS — On Dec. 5, 1994, seven daily newspapers in Mexico City ran half-page ads with a photograph of the Legionaries of Christ founder, Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, kissing the ring of Pope John Paul II. An open letter from the pope, celebrating Maciel's 50th anniversary as a priest, called him "an efficacious guide to youth."

Italy fights bad press

ROME — In the midst of Italy's peak tourist season, government officials are taking dramatic steps to ensure that Rome's reputation for cheating out-of-towners — and a series of high-profile incidents that have reinforced it — will not cripple the country’s strongest economic sector. 

Bringing opera to the masses

A year-old program brings free opera into the piazzas of Rome. During the summer months, singers perform at the Spanish Steps, the Coliseum, Piazza Navona and the Trevi Fountain.

Bringing opera to the masses

Meet Italy's Al Franken

Update: On July 23 Grillo was denied his name on the ballot, and said he won't appeal. ROME — Shaggy haired, vulgar and notoriously independent, Beppe Grillo is far from the typical image of an Italian politician. Yet here he is, taking on a political establishment populated by well connected old men in double-breasted suits who came to power only after meticulously working their way up through their parties' hierarchies.

Happy buffalos, better business

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