TIME Italy

Disgraced Concordia Captain Was ‘Trying to Impress Passengers’

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

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.


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.


TIME Italy

Venice Has Not Decided to Ban Wheeled Luggage After All

jeangill—Getty Images St Mark's Square , Venice

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.

TIME The Vatican

The Vatican Is Building Showers for the Homeless in Rome

CEZARY ZAREBSKI PHOTOGRPAHY—Getty Images/Flickr RF St. Peter's Basilica

Three showers are going up near St. Peter's

The Pope traditionally washes the feet of the poor on the day before Good Friday. But now the Vatican has unveiled plans to offers bathrooms to the poor all year round.

Rome’s homeless will soon be able to shower in the shadow of St. Peter’s Basilica.

The Vatican plans to build the showers for Rome’s homeless to wash and change, the Vatican Insider, run by the Italy’s La Stampa, reports. It’s also helping ten parishes across Rome provide access to showers.

Pope Francis, TIME’s Person of the Year in 2013, has made poverty alleviation a priority, and this week he called on leaders converging in Australia for the G20 meeting to take responsibility for the “poor and marginalized.”

Read more at The Vatican Insider.

TIME fashion

Emilio Pucci at 100: Brilliant by Design

LIFE remembers the Italian designer known for striking, geometric patterns and his wonderful use of color

Emilio Pucci, the Italian designer known for striking, geometric patterns and wildly (but always tightly conceived) variegated colors in his fashion work, was born 100 years ago this past November, in Naples. A member of an old Florentine noble family, Pucci studied in the United States (the University of Georgia and Reed College in Oregon); flew as a bomber pilot in the Italian Air Force in World War II; served in the Italian Chamber of Deputies; and, in his long career as a designer, founded and guided a celebrated label embraced by movie stars (Sophia Loren), style icons (Jackie Kennedy) and royalty (Mette-Marit, Crown Princess of Norway).

His influence, meanwhile, extended well beyond the runway, working with NASA on the distinctive Apollo 15 mission patch, for example, and the American airline, Braniff Airways, on a complete re-imagining of its aesthetic in the mid-1960s.

“Gaiety is one of the most important elements I brought to fashion,” Pucci once said. “I brought it through color.”

[See more about Pucci in the time.com piece, ‘Prince of Prints’]

[See all of LIFE’s galleries]



TIME Photojournalism Links

Photojournalism Daily: Nov. 4, 2014

Today’s daily Photojournalism Links collection highlights Marcus Bleasdale’s work on child marriage in Tanzania, East Africa, where four out of 10 girls marry before their 18th birthday. The photographs, made on assignment for Human Rights Watch, draw attention to young girls and women who have been pressured or forced to marry as adolescents and undergo female genital mutilation. It’s a blunt, compelling look at the hardships these girls face.

Marcus Bleasdale: Child Marriage in Tanzania (Human Right Watch)

Lynsey Addario: Amid Record Waves of Refugees, Italy Finding Limits to Its Compassion (National Geographic News) These photographs from Sicily show how the island has become the entry point for migrants trying to reach Europe by sea.

Tanya Habjouqa: Widows of Syrian ‘Freedom Fighters’ (The New York Times Lens) These pictures document the poverty and uncertainty faced by Syrian widows and their families in Jordan.

Luca Locatelli: Where Ferraris Are Born (Wired Raw File) Inside the famed car factory in Maranello, Italy.

Twelve Views on Israel (Le Monde) Pictures from a project, This Place, for which 12 international photographers were invited to document Israel. NB The post is in French. Also published on TIME LightBox in April 2014.

Photojournalism Links is a compilation of the most interesting photojournalism found on the web, curated by Mikko Takkunen, Associate Photo Editor at TIME. Follow him on Twitter @photojournalism.

TIME Italy

‘Last’ Victim Thought to Be Found From Costa Concordia

GIUSEPPE CACACE—AFP/Getty Images The refloated wreck of the Costa Concordia cruise ship is being dragged to the harbor of Pra di Voltri near Genoa early on July 27, 2014.

An Indian man who had served as a waiter

The body of the last victim from the Costa Concordia wreck almost three years ago is believed to have been found, Italy’s coast guard said Monday.

Officials have not yet identified the remains, NBC News reports, but a spokeswoman said it was “assumed to be the last victim, Russel Rebello,” an Indian man who had served as a waiter on the doomed vessel.

Thirty-two people died on Jan. 13, 2012, after the Costa Concordia ran aground in a shallow bay near the island of Giglio and listed sideways into the water. The wreckage, weighing in at 114,500 tons, was later right-sided and towed to Genoa for scrap.

[NBC News]

TIME European Union

Italy to End Naval Operation That Rescued Thousands of Migrants

U.K says it will not support future EU rescue missions, because they encourage migrants to attempt crossing from North Africa

An Italian search-and-rescue operation of migrants attempting to reach Europe by sea is due to end this week, after rescuing around 150,000 people over the past year.

The ‘Mare Nostrum’ operation, which involves a large part of the country’s navy and rescued on average 400 migrants a day, was launched after a boat disaster off the Italian island of Lampedusa last October killed more than 360 migrants.

The operation has since been deemed unsustainable by Italian authorities. In spite of the efforts of Mare Nostrum, around 2,500 people have drowned or gone missing in the Mediterranean this year alone.

Border officials from European Union countries are meeting in Brussels on Tuesday to discuss how best to regulate the flow of migrants trying to reach Europe from North Africa. Ministers across the E.U. have acknowledged the matter’s importance, but have questioned the effectiveness of expensive search-and-rescue operations.

The U.K.’s Foreign Office minister, Lady Anelay, announced Oct.15 that Britain will not be supporting any future search-and-rescue operations in the Mediterranean, saying that they “create an unintended ‘pull factor’, encouraging more migrants to attempt the dangerous sea crossing and thereby leading to more tragic and unnecessary deaths.” Anelay said the most effective way to tackle the problem “is to focus our attention on countries of origin and transit, as well as taking steps to fight the people smugglers who wilfully put lives at risk by packing migrants into unseaworthy boats.”

The U.K. does not plan to take part in the new “Operation Triton” being launched by the European Frontex border agency on Nov. 1. This joint EU operation will not include search-and-rescue plans but focuses on border protection, involving patrols within 30 miles of the Italian coast. Frontex spokeswoman Isabella Cooper told the BBC: “We only have a few vessels and a few aircraft. The Mediterranean Sea is over 2.5 million square kilometres large – it is virtually impossible to have a full overview of what is happening at sea.”

Human rights groups like Amnesty International and refugee organizations have criticized the new plans. Michael Diedring, Secretary-General of the European Council on Refugees, told the BBC that the EU should fundamentally change its approach to the problem by offering more safe and legal channels for migrants. “There are almost no safe and legal means to access European soil to file an asylum claim, for example.”

U.K. Refugee Council chief executive Maurice Wren agreed, telling The Guardian that “the world is in the grip of the greatest refugee crisis since the Second World War. People fleeing atrocities will not stop coming if we stop throwing them life rings.” He warned that withdrawing help would only lead to more people that “needlessly and shamefully dying on Europe’s doorstep.”

Read more: Shining a Light on the Plight of Europe’s Migrants, From Rome to Brussels


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