Good morning everyone on Wednesday 24th March as we continue to ride the ever-undulating Coronavirus rollercoaster.
Yesterday in Italy there were 18,765 new Covid-19 cases reported. This is the sixth consecutive day in which we've seen a reduction in comparison to the same weekday of the previous week. There is also now something of a gap opening between the total figure for the last 7 days (150,266) and the previous 7 when there were 157,831. This is a decisive step in the right direction and let's hope for further improvements.
I will continue to update the daily Coronavirus figures on the home page and on the Twitter feed shortly after they're announced around 17:00 CET each day. When presenting those figures I also add some of my own statistical analysis such as the comparison between weekly figures, and I've now started to add a few extra details such as the positivity rate (number of positive cases compared to number of daily tests) and the numbers of vaccinations carried out. For anyone keen to see those figures, they can always be found towards the bottom of the home page.
The pandemic coverage in the Italian press is quite bountiful this morning and it's difficult to know where to start. Prime Minister Mario Draghi has declared that his government is aiming to administer 500,000 jabs per day in the near future. I like some of that statement but I'm not so keen on the subtle caveats of "aiming to" and "in the near future" which leave lots of space for future wriggling. In the famous words of Elvis, I think we'd all like to see "a little less conversation, a little more action". In his latest address to the senate, the PM did also point out that during March there have been an average of 170,000 jabs per day carried out, which amounts to roughly double the figure in February.
Another story has been picked up by a small amount of international sources but surprisingly, hasn't been leapt upon by some of the major press organisations in the UK. The Italian newspaper La Stampa has reported that a batch of 29 million doses of the AztraZeneca vaccine has been uncovered at a vial-filling plant in the town of Anagni, in Lazio. The doses are said to be destined for delivery to the UK but whether or not that is about to happen is unclear from the report. It's a staggering amount of vaccines that will have an enormously positive impact once delivered. It seems strange that the story hasn't been picked up by some of the big guns of the media so I'll reserve judgement on the situation until more details are forthcoming.
Never far from the headlines, media tycoon and four-time Italian Prime Minister, the 84 year old Silvio Berlusconi has reportedly been in hospital this week with unspecified "health problems". The former PM was seriously ill last year with a dose of Covid and also suffered heart problems subsequent to that. This latest health scare comes at a time when he is due to appear in court on accusations of bribing witnesses about his involvement in the infamous "bunga bunga" sex parties.
So just another quiet day of news in Italy then! On any other day, the strike by Italian workers at Amazon would get a few more column inches but let's see how these stories develop over the coming days and have a look at the story that's always around us: the weather. As mentioned yesterday, Italy has been caught in the grip of a cold-snap over the past week or so and whilst we are gradually heading away from that, the rise in temperatures is exactly that: gradual. Sharing the figure of 10° Celsius as their top temperature today are the unlikely bedfellows of Bari in the south and the northern city of Trento, while the ever-reliable Cagliari provides the highest mark today, albeit with a miserly 15° C.
There is one city that I've mentioned frequently on this blog, but thus far only because it has regularly seen the coldest temperatures in the country. This is something of a disservice to the grand old city of Turin so let's put that right now with some praise of the capital of Piedmont. I think its right to use the word "grand" in association with Turin as it does have a regal feel to it. It was once a part of the Duchy of Savoy before the process by which Italy became a nation, the Risorgimento, saw it crowned as the inaugural capital of Italy in 1861.
Many of the sights that dominate the landscape of modern-day Turin owe something to its Savoy heritage; the UNESCO listing of Residences of the Royal House of Savoy includes five palaces and buildings in the city centre and another half a dozen on its outskirts and further afield in the wider Piedmont region. The standout of those structures for me is the Reggia di Venaria Reale with its elegant hallways, apartments and gardens. Two further Savoy residences can be found next to each other in the city centre's Piazza Castello with the museum and art gallery of Palazzo Madama at its centre and the Royal Palace of Turin just a few steps away.
Turin sits in a picturesque position with the Alps as a backdrop and nowhere can this be seen better than on top of the Monte dei Cappuccini. From this position looking across the River Po, the city's most famous and tallest monument, the Mole Antonelliana can be seen dominating the skyline. Aside from its iconic aesthetics, it's also home to the National Museum of Cinema; a wonderfully modern museum with all sorts of funky displays and interactivity. Most of the museum's displays are at the side of a central atrium and along a gently inclining staircase. You can however, take a much more direct route skywards with a gravity-defying lift that finishes its slightly scary journey at a viewing area at the top of the building.
From the top of the Mole Antonelliana you can really see the layout of the modern city centre which is dominated by some excellent museums. Perhaps the most famous of all is Turin's Egyptian Museum which is said to be the best of its kind outside Egypt itself. Others not to be missed include the National Museum of the Risorgimento which is housed in another Savoy residence: the Palazzo Carignano. Turin cleverly mixes the old with the new; the museums and city centre buildings aren't exclusively from distant historic times. The National Automobile Museum is a lot of fun with its own unique displays, while the Lingotto building which is now a shopping centre, has the famous Fiat test track on its roof which played its part in some of the memorable scenes from the first Italian Job movie with Michael Caine.
Well that's me done for the day; last Wednesday there were 23,059 new Covid-19 cases in Italy so let's hope for a smaller number than that later today, perhaps in the region of 21,500 or less to show continued progress in the right direction.
Ci sentiamo domani!
My name is Dion Protani, founder of Italy Review. The Italy Review blog is designed to provide ideas and inspiration to visit places in Italy you might not have heard about, as well those you have.