TIME Music

Watch Italy’s Famous Singing Nun Cover ‘Like a Virgin’

Sister Cristina Scuccia skyrocketed to fame after her audition for this year's The Voice of Italy, which she later won

Italy’s famous singing nun is out with her debut single: a cover of Madonna’s hit 1984 song “Like a Virgin.”

But don’t expect Sister Cristina Scuccia, an Ursuline nun who won this year’s The Voice of Italy, to sing that she was “touched for the very first time” over the song’s original uptempo dance track. Instead, Sister Cristina, who isn’t afraid to let loose on stage despite what her occupation implies, has transformed the song into an emotional ballad, whose music video features her singing in front of various religious Italian monuments.

“Reading the text, without being influenced by previous interpretations, you discover that it is a song about the power of love to renew people [and] rescue them from their past,” Sister Cristina told Italian newspaper Avvenire.

Sister Cristina skyrocketed to fame when she belted Alicia Keys’ “No One” for her Voice of Italy audition. Her eponymous album is out on Nov. 11.

TIME Italy

Putin Seeks Deal on Ukraine

Europe Asia Summit
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, center, Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko meet on the sidelines of the ASEM summit of European and Asian leaders in Milan on Oct. 17, 2014 Daniel Dal Zennaro—AP

Leaders emphasized the need to separate the warring sides in eastern Ukraine and talked about monitoring the cease-fire

(MILAN) — Russian leader Vladimir Putin is meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and key Western leaders in an attempt to negotiate a full end to hostilities in Ukraine that could ease sanctions against Russia.

Putin met separately overnight with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has insisted that Russia fully respect a Ukraine cease-fire deal signed last month that has reduced hostilities but not stopped all fighting.

The Kremlin, in a readout on the nearly 2½-hour meeting, said the leaders emphasized the need to separate the warring sides in eastern Ukraine and talked about monitoring the cease-fire. They continued to disagree on the roots of the conflict.

The meetings Friday are on the sidelines of an ASEM summit of more than 50 Asian and European leaders in the Italian city of Milan.

TIME Television

Neil Patrick Harris Put Guests To Work At His Wedding

They were given tasks when they arrived

Neil Patrick Harris revealed to Seth Meyers on Late Night Wednesday evening that at his wedding to David Burtka in Italy, guests were given special tasks to complete at the ceremony.

Harris said that some people were told to give speeches, some people had readings, and some people were greeters, but no one knew what task they were going to get until they got a clue handed to them. Harris and Burtka also had Elton John and Kelly Clarkson perform at their wedding.

 

TIME World War II

Most Countries Are Not Doing Enough to Recover Wartime Jewish Art

Only a handful of nations are trying to help

Italy is among the countries doing the least to identify and research works of art looted or otherwise acquired from Jews during the Holocaust, according to a report published on Wednesday. It is joined on the list by Poland, Hungary, Ukraine, Argentina and Brazil, among others.

The report, compiled by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany and the World Jewish Restitution Organization, measures the progress of 47 countries that signed the Terezin Declaration in 2009 and the Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art in 1998. Both agreements involve a commitment to making greater efforts to repatriate art confiscated or bought from Jews during World War II.

However, the report has found that only 34% of the 43 countries for which reliable information is available have made “major or substantial progress” toward implementing the principles outlined in the declaration.

Austria, the Netherlands, Germany and the Czech Republic are ranked highest in terms of commitment to restitution efforts. But Greg Schneider, executive vice president of the Claims Conference, told the New York Times that even those nations could do more. He said there was still a need for “countries to recognize that this is the right thing to do.”

TIME animals

This Italian Beach Says ‘Si, Per Favore’ to Dogs

So your four-legged friend can enjoy the beach like you would

Have you ever brought your dog to the beach only to see a sign of your best friend with an “X” on top?

You won’t see any such thing at Italy’s “Baubeach,” one of the few places that welcomes both two-legged and four-legged guests, according to the Agence France-Presse. The dog-friendly beach is located on the outskirts of Rome and features a play circuit, parasols for shade and, of course, the sea–open to all pooches, whether they want to jump some waves or simply paddle in the shallow water.

[AFP]

TIME Photos

Feel Good Friday: 9 Fun Photos to Start Your Weekend

From cliff climbers to underwater elephants, here's a handful of photos to get your weekend started right

TIME Sudan

Sudanese Christian Who Refused to Renounce Faith Meets Pope

APTOPIX Italy Mideast Sudan
Mariam Ibrahim, from Sudan, disembarks with her children Maya, in her arms, and Martin, accompanied by Italian deputy Foreign Minister Lapo Pistelli, after landing from Khartoum, at Ciampino's military airport, on the outskirts of Rome, Thursday, July 24. Riccardo De Luca—AP

Mariam Yahya Ibrahim and her family landed in Italy en route to a new life in the U.S.

Updated: 9:14 a.m.

A Sudanese woman who faced the death sentence for refusing to renounce Christianity met with Pope Francis on Thursday, hours after she safely landed in Italy en route to the United States, the Vatican said.

Mariam Yahya Ibrahim met with the Pope in a “very serene and affectionate” environment, Vatican spokesperson Federico Lombardi said in a statement. He said Francis met with Ibrahim and her family to show “his closeness and prayers” for everyone who suffers as a result of their faith.

Ibrahim, 27, was imprisoned for apostasy in February under Sudan’s strict Islamic law, after converting from Islam to marry her Christian husband, a U.S. citizen. Born to a Muslim father but raised Orthodox Christian, she refused to convert back under threat of death.

Ibrahim was ultimately spared the death sentence amid growing international outrage, but was detained when she tried to leave the country last month. She has since been sheltered in the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum, and the State Department has been negotiating for her departure.

Sudan’s Sharia laws have been used sporadically since they were imposed in the 1980s, and no one has been put to death for apostasy since 1985, according to NBC News. But Ibrahim’s case drew widespread international attention, and the U.S. and human rights groups called for her release. She is now expected to head to the U.S. in the coming days with her two children and American husband.

 

TIME New York

Bill de Blasio Learns How to Eat Pizza Like a New Yorker…in Italy

New York mayor Bill de Blasio (L) eats a pizza made by Napoli's pizza chef Gino Sorbillo (2nd from L) in Naples, Italy on July 23, 2014..
New York mayor Bill de Blasio (L) eats a pizza made by Napoli's pizza chef Gino Sorbillo (2nd from L) in Naples, Italy on July 23, 2014. Pietro Avallone—Zuma Press

Proof the mayor of the Big Apple can also eat pizza with his hands

New York City is a place famous for welcoming inhabitants of all stripes and persuasions—”Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”—but the one thing New Yorkers will not abide, it seems, is a mayor who eats his pizza with a fork.

No New York City mayor—in recent memory, at least—has had his pizza eating style critiqued quite so much as Mayor Bill de Blasio. Within days of his election in January, de Blasio was fending off verbal barbs from irate denizens of the Big Apple after he was caught on camera eating pizza with a fork at a pizzeria in Staten Island. (The Boston-born, Italian-lineage de Blasio later said he was employing the methods of his “ancestral homeland.”)

While on vacation with his family Wednesday in Naples, Italy — that “ancestral homeland” of his — de Blasio was busted again using a fork while devouring an authentic Italian pizza pie. But before your inner Yankee dusts off the old pitchfork, see this photo taken the same day—proof that Mayor Bill de Blasio is fully capable of standing upright while awkwardly wielding a handful of napkins and folding a greasy pizza slice in half before shoving it into his pie hole, like any civilized New Yorker would.

TIME Italy

The Costa Concordia Makes Its Final Voyage

Two and a half years have passed since the cruise ship Costa Concordia ran aground outside of Giglio, Italy, killing 32 people and leaving the ship partially submerged in shallow water. Salvage crews worked tirelessly to re-float the wreck last week, filling steel boxes with air to serve as pontoons. Other boats will now tow the ship on its 240-kilometer (150-mile) journey to Genoa, Italy.

The Costa Concordia operation is the largest salvage attempt to date, with the ship weighing in at 114,500 tons. Dismantling the vessel on the reef was not an option. “It’s far more dangerous to the environment to leave it where it is than to tow it away,” Italy’s civil-protection chief Franco Gabrielli told Giglio residents.

The floatation and salvation project is expected to cost more than $2 billion. TIME takes a look at the Costa Concordia’s journey so far.

TIME privacy

Italy Gives Google Deadline to Change Data-Use Policies

Google must present a game plan in September

An Italian data-regulation official told Google it has 18 months to change how it stores users’ information.

Italy is one of several European countries that have been jointly investigating Google’s consolidation of 60 different privacy policies into one last year, Reuters reports. The Italian watchdog said in a statement that Google’s disclosures about data use were insufficient, despite the company’s efforts efforts to abide by local laws.

A spokesperson for Google said the tech company has consistently cooperated with the inquiry and will continue to do so after it reviews the watchdog’s latest decision.

Google has a year and a half to, among other demands, start asking for users’ consent to profile them based off their data for commercial purposes. The official also asked Google to follow through on users’ requests to delete their personal data within two months.

In addition to the 18-month deadline, Google must also present in September a detailed plan for how it intends to meet the regulator’s demands. If Google ultimately does not comply with the regulator, it could face fines.

France and Spain have already fined the company for violating local data-protection laws. A Dutch regulator is still deciding whether to take steps to enforce changes following similar legal breaches in the Netherlands.

[Reuters]

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