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Where the buffalo moan (with pleasure)

CAPACCIO, Italy — In the Middle Ages, Neapolitan monks offered fresh buffalo cheese to pilgrims visiting the monastery. Later, the word “mozzarella” would show up in a menu for the Pope dating from 1570. Today, in the southern region of Campania, buffalo mozzarella is easy to come by and represents a multi-billion-dollar industry. Unlike the processed cow-milk cheese that strings from our pizza, these milky balls are slowly processed for hours until they become a natural concentration of fat, protein, minerals and flavors.

Italian bloggers strike

ROME — This week in Rome, bloggers and activists wore gags to protest a proposed law that could impose heavy fines on bloggers who don’t correct “offensive” comments within 48 hours. About 200 bloggers gathered at sunset in the picturesque Piazza Navona July 15, while hundreds others joined the protest online by freezing blog posts for a day.

Local food, to the extreme

LUCCA, Italy — In my travels as a foreign correspondent I witnessed the opening of the first McDonald’s in Moscow (1990), and the launch of the first Starbucks in Beijing (1999). I began to wonder if any place in the world would remain free from creeping culinary globalization.

Greece plans to lock up illegal migrants

ATHENS — On the morning of June 12, Greek authorities flattened and cleared a squatter camp in the Greek port city of Patras that was home to hundreds of illegal immigrants from Afghanistan. Bulldozers crushed the makeshift houses, setting off a fire, while riot police arrested the few dozen inhabitants who hadn’t yet run away. The demolition of the camp, where many Afghanis lived while trying to board boats to Italy, is evidence of a new crackdown on illegal immigration by Greece’s center-right government that has human rights groups worried.

On climate, it's Washington v. Beijing

L'AQUILA, Italy — Another international meeting that opened with high hopes for progress on  climate change ended July 10 without much to show for those efforts. The outcome made it increasingly likely that an agreement will depend less on well-intentioned international meetings and more on decisions made behind closed doors in the U.S. and China.

In L'Aquila, little enthusiasm for G8 talks

L’AQUILA, Italy — A new arrival in any of the tent villages that pepper the landscape surrounding this earthquake-stricken city quickly attracts a small crowd. Most of the estimated 60,000 area residents left homeless by the April 6 earthquake are still camping outdoors more than three months later, as the Group of Eight Summit begins here. After an initial flurry of interest from aid groups and media, the residents are mostly left alone. The days blend together, many say.

Pope gives a nod to Obama

ROME  — With leaders of the G8 countries here to discuss a reeling global economy, the Holy See released Pope Benedict XVI’s new encyclical, “Love in Truth.” Calling “food and access to water” basic human rights, the 144-page document entreats developed countries to end hunger “for safeguarding the peace and stability of the planet.”

Summits, who needs them?

LONDON — Leaders of the G8 nations begin their annual three-day summit Tuesday in earthquake shattered L'Aquila Italy. Are you excited by that fact? Thought not. Neither, would it seem, is the host of the event, the government of Italy. Disinterested chaos has characterized the preparations for the get together and the agenda is decidedly thin.

When in Rome

BOSTON — It is, by now, strictly routine for the NBA draft to feature prominently an international cast. Since the year 2000, when Turkish star Hidayet Turkoglu was the top foreigner drafted, 43 foreign players have been selected in the first round.

A real-life Wall-E

PECCIOLI, Italy — In this 8th century town, amid the rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside, everyone talks trash. Even at the local restaurant, visitors chewing on roasted meat are asked for their thoughts on garbage. Since the late 1980s, nothing has made Peccioli residents happier than collecting garbage. At that time, the small town built one of the most advanced dumping sites in Italy, designed to recycle and produce green energy. For 20 years, it’s been Peccioli’s most profitable business.
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