TIME Italy

Watch Thousands of Tango Dancers Celebrate Pope Francis’s Birthday in Rome

The Argentinian has expressed fondness for his country's dance

There’s no better way to celebrate a birthday than with a dance party, and for Pope Francis’s 78th, that means a massive tango party in the streets of Rome. Thousands gathered in and around the Vatican City to sing happy birthday in Italian, Spanish and other languages and dance to tango music—an Argentinian import like Francis himself.

Before becoming the Pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio gave an interview for the book The Jesuit by Sergio Rubin and Francesca Ambrogetti expressing his love for the tango. “I like it a lot,” he said. “It’s something that comes from within me.”

[Reuters]

TIME faith

Pope Francis Says There’s a Place for Pets in Paradise

Pope Francis leads his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican
Pope Francis leads his Wednesday general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on Dec. 10, 2014 Stefano Rellandini—Reuters

The head of the Catholic Church promises that some dogs, at least, do go to heaven

Pope Francis confirmed during his weekly address in the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Square that canines, along with “all of God’s creatures,” can make it to heaven.

The leader of the Catholic Church made the remark in order to comfort a young boy who was mourning the death of his dog, according to the New York Times.

“One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures,” said the 77-year-old Pontiff, according to Italian news sources.

Pope Francis has been cast as a much more liberal figure compared with his predecessors. Since ascending to the church’s helm last year, he has attempted to engage with homosexuals and unwed couples and backed the Big Bang Theory.

[NYT]

Correction: The original version of this story misattributed a quotation from Pope Paul VI, who died in 1978, to Pope Francis. It was Pope Paul VI who said, “One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ.” The original version of this story misinterpreted comments made by Francis who said in recent remarks, according to Vatican Radio, “The Holy Scripture teaches us that the fulfillment of this wonderful design also affects everything around us.” This quotation was interpreted in press accounts to mean that the Pope believes all animals go to heaven. A Vatican spokesman told Reuters on Dec. 13 that this was not the Pope’s intended message.

Read next: The Pope Just Received a Fly Pair of Custom Diesel Sweatpants

TIME Food & Drink

How a McDonald’s Restaurant Spawned the Slow Food Movement

The McDonald's arches logo is displayed outside a McDonald's
The McDonald's arches logo is displayed outside a McDonald's fast food restaurant Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Slow Food Manifesto was signed 25 years ago, on Dec. 10, 1989

When Italy’s first McDonald’s franchise opened at the heart of Rome in 1986, the opposition came from all angles. Officials said it didn’t have the right construction permits; celebrities called it the “Americanization of Italy”; politicians said it ruined a historic center; neighbors said it was noisy and its odor unbearable; thousands of people rallied outside the location in the Piazza di Spagna.

One of the opponents, an Italian journalist named Carlo Petrini, took a novel approach by handing out plates of penne to the protesters.

“I was alarmed by the culturally homogenizing nature of fast food,” Petrini told TIME years later, in the magazine May 17, 1999, issue.

The McDonald’s franchise, said at the time to be the world’s largest, remained — but Petrini’s grievances would extend far beyond the Piazza di Spagna. He established the Slow Food association that year, aiming to protect traditional foods and advocating for agricultural biodiversity,

On Dec. 10, 1989, three years after the franchise opened in Rome and 25 years ago today, he joined representatives of 15 countries in Paris for the signing of the Slow Food Manifesto, and the international Slow Food movement was born.

Today, the movement boasts more than 150,000 members across 150 countries. TIME described Petrini in 2004 as a revolutionary who “changed the way we think about eating.”

And it was all thanks to McDonald’s.

Read TIME’s 2008 story about the movement: Can Slow Food Feed the World?

TIME portfolio

Face to Face with Europe’s Military Cadets

Paolo Verzone's newest book saw him travel to 20 military academies from Portugal to Spain over five years to photograph cadets.

One of the most striking things, Paolo Verzone says, about photographing military cadets is that they really know how to pose. In fact, they are so good at it that sometimes, when he was taking their pictures, he wondered if they would ever stop.

“They are able to stay still for four seconds without moving,” Verzone adds. “That’s a long time, and it was pretty amazing. I actually had to light them less, it was my secret photographic weapon.”

It’s understandable, he continues, because from very early on in their careers many are trained to remain still during drills. Military personnel make even more capable subjects than models, apparently. Who knew?

This discovery came as Verzone was working on his newest book Cadets. The project stemmed from a short assignment for an Italian magazine in 2009 (for which he was sent to photograph French military personnel), and saw him travel to 20 military academies from Portugal to Spain over five years. The aim? To understand the military “soul” of European countries.

“I wanted to see these places, the [military bases] in these countries, many of which were once fighting against each other,” Verzone says.

It wasn’t always easy: Not every military academy replied to his requests. And even when they did, it took a long time for him, as a civilian, to get permission to go inside. And even then he was rarely left alone. But it was something he wouldn’t give up on.

“I wanted to see who these young people are. To go beyond the idea of the one who gets in the army and stays there for life,” he says. “Now, military academies are very different places; you can get a complete degree, and then, for many, you can get out. Times are changing.”

Paolo Verzone is a Paris-based photographer who has been published in TIME, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, The Independent, and The Guardian among others. Cadets is available now.

Richard Conway is reporter/producer for TIME LightBox.

Paul Moakley, who edited this photo essay, is TIME’s Deputy Director of Photography and Visual Enterprise.

TIME Italy

Disgraced Costa Concordia Captain Insists He Saved Lives

Costa Concordia Trial
Captain of Costa Concordia Francesco Schettino stands during the hearing in the court for his trial, where he gave evidence for the first time, on December 3, 2014 in Grosseto, Italy. Laura Lezza—Getty Images

He tells the court that the evacuation was delayed in order to reach shallower waters

Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino claims that his decision to delay evacuation of the cruise ship saved lives.

“Had I sounded the nautical signal for abandon ship — seven long whistles and one short one — people would have thrown themselves into the water,” he said Wednesday in court, reports Sky News.

Schettino is being tried for manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship after the Costa Concordia ran aground off the coast of Italy in January 2012, killing 32 of its 4,299 passengers.

After hitting rocks near the island of Giglio, Schettino says he believed the ship would drift into shallower waters, which would facilitate an evacuation. He claimed to be in full control of the situation, stating that: “I was number one on the ship after God,” but also seemed to spread the blame: “It’s not like the captain is alone on a ship, it’s not like I’m a truck driver.”

Earlier in the day, a video emerged showing Schettino prepared to abandon ship, apparently contradicting his claims that he “tripped and stumbled into a lifeboat.”

During his first day on the stand on Tuesday, the former captain admitted that he had tried to impress passengers by navigating the ship closer to the coast than usual.

TIME Italy

Disgraced Concordia Captain Was ‘Trying to Impress Passengers’

ITALY-SHIPPING-TOURISM-DISASTER-TRIAL
Costa Concordia's captain Francesco Schettino attends the resumption of his trial on December 2, 2014 in Grosseto, Italy. Giuseppe Cacace —AFP/Getty Images

Francesco Schettino claims he wanted to give passengers a better view of a nearby island when the ship ran aground

The captain of the ill-fated Costa Concordia that crashed off the coast of Italy in January 2012 said his disastrous decision to sail into shallow waters was fueled by a desire to impress the ship’s passengers, according to the BBC.

While taking the stand for the first time during his trial for manslaughter in Grosseto, Italy on Tuesday, Francesco Schettino said he was aiming to give passengers a better view of the holiday island of Giglio, while also saluting a former captain who lived there and doing a favor to the vessel’s head waiter, who was from the island.

“I wanted to kill three birds with one stone,” explained Schettino.

He denied the rumor that he made the risky maneuver to impress a female friend.

Thirty-two people died after the ship crashed into rocks near the shore and the boat listed on its side. The resumption of Schettino’s trial comes a month after authorities successfully recovered the last body from the cruise ship’s wreckage.

The captain was vilified in the media and dubbed “Italy’s most hated man” after an audio recording revealed that he defied orders from the Italian Coast Guard and fled the ship after ordering an evacuation, while hundreds of passengers remained on board.

[BBC]

TIME Italy

Italy Investigating 11 Deaths Possibly Linked to Flu Vaccine

The Italian Pharmaceutical Agency has yet to confirm a link

Italy is investigating the deaths of several people who took an influenza vaccine as the total death toll climbed to 11.

An additional eight fatalities possibly related to Novartis AG’s Fluad vaccine have been identified, Bloomberg reports. As a precaution, two batches of the drug were suspended after three people died within 48 hours of getting the shot.

“At the moment it’s not possible to confirm that there is a direct link between taking the vaccine and the reported deaths,” the Italian Pharmaceutical Agency said in a statement. “More complete information is necessary and a thorough analysis of the cases must be conducted.”

Novartis said Fluad, which was approved in 1997, has a “robust” history of safe usage and that there was “no causal relationship” found between the deaths and the vaccine.

[Bloomberg]

TIME Italy

Venice Has Not Decided to Ban Wheeled Luggage After All

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St Mark's Square , Venice jeangill—Getty Images

City authorities clarify a misunderstanding

A reported ban on wheeled suitcases in Venice has turned out to be a misunderstanding, with local authorities issuing a statement clarifying that they have no intention of forbidding the bags or fining tourists who use them.

Reports of the ban originated in local media and were subsequently picked up by international news outlets (including a snippet in TIME). Supposedly, tourists were to be fined $620 for using wheeled cases.

But in a statement the commissioner’s office said that regulations referring to a ban were only meant to target commercial carts, for their noise pollution and erosion of historic pavements.

Venice has made strenuous efforts to maintain its historic feel, including banning large cruise ships, and has long mulled the imposition of a daily tourist quota to prevent overcrowding. But it looks like wheeled bags, at least, can stay.

TIME Italy

Shakespeare’s City of Love Plans to Build High-Rise Cemetery

The futuristic tower would be Verona's tallest building

An Italian company is planning to build the country’s first high-rise cemetery — a 33 storey tower with space for 24,000 graves — in Verona, the city where Shakespeare set Romeo and Juliet.

Council officials have given initial approval to plans submitted by Cielo Infinito (Infinite Sky), the company which offered €11.5 million ($14.3 million) for a plot of land on the eastern outskirts of the city.

Verona’s main cemetery has been completely encircled by buildings and can no longer expand, a city spokesman told The Times, explaining why the plan won support.

As cities around the world expand and space to bury bodies decreases, other countries have turned to high-rise cemeteries as a solution: the tallest currently stands at 32 storeys in Santos, Brazil, while Israel and India are also planning their own vertical graveyards.

[The Times]

TIME portfolio

Lampedusa Shipwreck: From the Depths of the Mediterranean Sea

In October 2013, an overcrowded boat carrying asylum seekers from Eritrea, Somalia and Ghana capsized within sight of Italy’s shores. Despite the vessel’s stated capacity of 35 passengers, it carried around 500 souls on board that night. For 360 of them, dreams of a better life away from poverty and war died in the depths of the Mediterranean Sea.

The tragic event, however, did not discourage further migrants to make the perilous voyage nor did it trouble smugglers depending on such a lucrative business. Numbers of such crossings increased; new routes were tested.

This year, Francesco Zizola, an Italian photographer and a member of the Noor photo agency revisited these waters at great depths to photograph the wreckage.

“Taking pictures of the [wreckage] one year after the sinking was a way for me to investigate the subject of illegal immigration across the Mediterranean as an ongoing event,” Zizola tells TIME. “Thanks to my contacts among the local fishermen, I was able to retrieve the GPS coordinates of the wreck. All fishermen had been warned not to lay their nets in that spot, [in case] they get trapped in the remains of the sunken ship.”

Equipped with a Nikon D810 with an underwater housing for still images along with a Go-Pro for video, Zizola plunged into the water with his fellow diver in search of the shipwreck lying 164 ft. deep on the seabed.

It was not Zizola’s first attempt at underwater photography. He was well aware of the physical and technical challenges he could face. At such depth, he would have to overcome impediments such as bad lighting and unbalanced colors, while simultaneously moving his legs to manage a good diving rhythm. Knowing that time would be short and precious, Zizola had carefully planned his steps as well as how he would tell the story.

“I had tried to imagine how I would find possible signs that could help me tell the vastness of the tragedy that occurred one year before,” Zizola says. His pictures include a pair of jeans found on the seabed as well as blankets in the cabins. Overall, it took him two trips on two separate days to complete the shoot.

While this tragedy shocked the Italian population, little has been done to prevent future catastrophes of that magnitude. Last year, Italy launched Mare Nostrum, a research and rescue operation that goes far into international waters to intercept boats carrying migrants in distress.

But Italy can’t handle this flux on its own, with the country arguing for concerted and collective efforts on the part of the E.U. Operation Triton was launched, to little effect; with only a third of Mare Nostrum’s budget, Europe’s mission has no research and rescue capabilities.

“The boats full of men, women and children fleeing poverty and war will be left to their own destiny,” Zizola says, “at sea equates often to death.”


Francesco Zizola is an award-winning photographer based in Italy and a member of Noor Photo Agency.

Olivier Laurent, who edited this photo essay, is the editor of TIME LightBox. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @olivierclaurent

Ye Ming is a contributor to TIME LightBox. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.


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