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Venice says Rome treats it 'like suburb of Roman Empire'

Rome treats Venice and the surrounding area "like the suburbs of the Roman Empire", the president of the Veneto region said Wednesday, as local residents vote on whether to split from Italy. "Rome thinks it is still an empire. It goes at its own speed and is slowing the rest of us down," Luca Zaia told foreign journalists in Rome. Italians in Veneto are taking part in a week-long online poll on whether the region should split off from the rest of the country. The poll is not legally binding but aims to rouse support for a bill calling for a referendum.

Pristine but desolate, the Italian villages facing extinction

By Max Rossi and Lisa Jucca GORRETO, Italy (Reuters) - Gorreto, population: 105, was always small, but now the tiny village, nestled in a river valley in northern Italy, is on the brink of extinction. Most of the remaining residents are over 60 and the primary school attended by Mayor Sergio Capelli, 72, closed about 30 years ago - a stark example of the nationwide demographic decline as Italians live longer and have fewer babies.

Italy hit by flooding, snow, windstorms

Heavy rains and windstorms battered Italy on Saturday, swelling rivers and flooding fields and roads, while alpine areas saw abundant snow. The spate of bad weather was expected to last until Tuesday. AFP images of Ponte Milvio bridge in northern Rome show the Tiber river's level nearing the tops of its arches. The river Arno in Pisa was also swollen. Fields and roads were flooded along the length of many rivers in central Italy. In the Prima Porta neighbourhood of the capital, streets, garages, basements and sports fields were inundated.

Greek bronzes raise hope of revival in southern Italy

Two remarkably life-like Greek bronze statues have gone on show in the same Calabria region in southern Italy where they were found by an amateur diver 42 years ago. The impoverished region -- notoriously the bastion of the 'Ndrangheta mafia -- is hoping that the rare sculptures of two warriors, one younger and one older, will restore its image and help boost tourist numbers. Preparations to display them were painstaking and long-delayed.

Sardinia unites in grief to bury victims of Italy cyclone

By Gabriele Pileri TEMPIO PAUSANIA, Italy (Reuters) - The victims of a cyclone that tore through the Italian island of Sardinia were buried on Wednesday as grieving family and friends demanded an explanation for the devastation inflicted on their communities. Authorities said 16 people had been killed by Cyclone Cleopatra, revising down a death toll of 18, as extreme rainfall inundated houses, swept away cars and caused rivers to burst their banks late on Monday. One person was still missing.

White truffles fetch three times the price of gold at Italy auction

Eleven white truffles have gone under the hammer in Italy for 274,200 euros ($367,620), including a pair bought by an anonymous buyer in China who paid out 90,000 euros, auctioneers said Monday. A "famous Chinese writer" bidding by satellite telephone from Hong Kong fiercely outbid competitors for a 950-gram pair of truffles, organisers said, paying three times the price of gold for the white delicacy.

Italy says to limit large cruise ship traffic in Venice

ROME (Reuters) - Italy will immediately begin to limit large cruise ship traffic in the Venice lagoon and the biggest vessels - of more than 96,000 gross tonnes - will be banned from November of next year, the government said on Tuesday. Protests by Venice residents and environmentalists concerned about the damage caused by increasing cruise ship traffic to the fragile city, one of the world's most popular tourist destinations, have been on the rise in recent years.

First test of Venice's 5.4 billion euro flood barriers

Flood-prone Venice on Saturday carried out the first test of its 5.4 billion euro ($7.3 billion) barrier system known as "Moses", designed to protect the Renaissance city from rising sea levels. The ambitious engineering project involves installing 78 mobile barriers divided into four sections at the three inlets to the Venice lagoon, with the largest inlet divided in half by an artificial island. Fifty companies have been involved in the massive project overseen by the Venezia Nuova consortium, which has been dogged by delays, environmental concerns and scandal.

Pope condemns Pakistan bombing as act of hate and war

CAGLIARI, Sardinia (Reuters) - Pope Francis on Sunday condemned a blast at a church in Pakistan that killed at least 78 people as an act of "hatred and war". "Today, in Pakistan, because of a wrong choice, a decision of hatred, of war, there was an attack in which 70 people died. This choice cannot stand. It serves nothing. Only the path of peace can build a better world," he said in unprepared remarks at the end of a one-day trip to the city of Cagliari on the Italian island of Sardinia.

Six migrants drowned off Sicily were Egyptian

The six migrants who drowned off a tourist beach in Sicily were Egyptians whose boat was abandoned at sea by a larger vessel, Italian police said on Sunday. The six victims who jumped from a trawler thinking they had arrived onshore were identified as being between 17 and 27 years of age. The 27-year-old was trying for a fifth time to get into Italy, investigators said.
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