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Italian repport Italian repport
by Euro Reporter
2010-05-14 08:06:21
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Silvio and Veronica Discuss Alimony

For Veronica Lario, yesterday was like the day after an exam, a moment in which to absorb the fact that a long, long chapter of her life was coming to a close. Nineteen years of marriage and thirty of living together have been set to one side with the legal papers and the settlement negotiations. As she sat through the four and a half hour preliminary conciliation hearing on Saturday afternoon, Silvio Berlusconi’s almost-ex wife was well aware that there was little left to conciliate. And as in any other civil law case, the issues at stake were property and money, not sentiment or feelings.

Perhaps that is why people who spoke to Veronica Lario yesterday thought she sounded anything but happy. In fact, she was downright sad, in stark contrast to the “satisfaction” expressed by the premier’s lawyers at the end of the court encounter. “Sad” also contrasts with the unofficial messages from the prime minister’s staff yesterday, which described Mr Berlusconi as satisfied and relieved at the outcome of negotiations. It’s as if the premier is at last seeing the light at the end of an obstacle-strewn tunnel that had looked forbidding from the outset. Veronica Lario perhaps has less to feel reassured about since this in any case sets the official seal on a failure. For the Veronica Lario-Silvio Berlusconi story is a complicated one with too much anger and too many recriminations, as is often the case with two people who were once in love. Then there were the public letters and the respective memoranda of alleged unfaithfulness, offered up to judges and public opinion.

Unsurprisingly, the first hearing was a test of strength. Ms Lario demanded three and a half million Euros a month in alimony. Mr Berlusconi’s counter-offer was a tenth of that figure: 200,000 up to a maximum of 300,000 Euros. All this was served up with a smattering of spite, such as Mr Berlusconi’s demand for the return of Villa Belvedere, the stupendous home at Macherio where Veronica and her three children have always lived. She likes to call it “my castle”, underlining the sense of loneliness that pervades the silent park and the rooms of the baroque property. Ms Lario’s whole life is there. Villa Belvedere is where she raised her children. Its lawns were the backdrop for the bucolic photos of her and the children strolling in the park with its baby goats. Year after year, she had meticulously furnished it rooms, which is why making her move out smacked of spitefulness. However on Saturday, an agreement was reached, at least over Macherio. Veronica will keep Villa Belvedere. In exchange, Ms Lario is believed to have agreed to renegotiate the alimony payments, which the opposing party views as excessive. She is also thought to have abandoned her application for judicial separation in favour of a less drastic “consensual separation”.


Sardinia Protests as Liguria Tops Clean Sea Table

Which are the best places in Italy to go swimming? Where is the cleanest water? And which places have the best environment-friendly facilities behind the foreshore? These are the key questions for the 2010 edition of five-star beaches, which sees Liguria topping the list with 17 resorts. Menfi in Sicily flaunts a record 13 consecutive flags since 1998 for a total of 14 awards (the first dates from 1992).

With only two Blue Flags for Sardinia in the overall classification, the regional authority is up in arms. Officials challenge the criteria used by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), pointing out that the island’s tourist appeal “is absolutely beyond question” and that 143 of the Sardinia’s 560 beaches are accessible to all. The regional cabinet members for the environment and tourism, Giuliano Uras and Sebastiano Sannitu, went on the offensive, declaring their “astonishment, and also disappointment, at an initiative that each year reads from the same old script”. They deny “the authority and scientific validity of the selections since these are not based on objective criteria”.


Naples to Enter Vesuvius’ Red Zone

For the time being, Vesuvius is, as the expert say, dormant. The mighty volcano has not been active since March 1944, when Allied military newsreels documented the soaring lava fountains and the ash showers that killed 26 people. The 1944 eruption palls in comparison with the destruction of Herculaneum and Pompeii in AD 79 but experts warn that in terms of Vesuvius’ normal cycle, the return of volcanic activity is long overdue. That’s why preparations are necessary. The head of the civil protection agency, Guido Bertolaso, said so in no uncertain terms to foreign journalists who asked him for an assessment of Italy’s volcanic risk after the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland. Mr Bertolaso said: “Vesuvius is the biggest civil protection problem we have”. If the volcano became active again, Naples itself would be affected by the eruption. Part of the city could be included among the “red zone” municipalities this year and at least one million residents are reckoned to be affected by the new evacuation plan, almost twice as many as are involved today.

For some weeks, leading scientists from the Vesuvian observatory, including Marcello Martini and Gianni Macedonia, from the Federico II University in Naples, and Professor Franco Barberi from the major risks commission have been analysing possible scenarios and updating in progress emergency plans. Mr Bertolaso pointed out: “Currently, there are 18 municipalities in the red zone, officially with 500,000 residents, but in fact there are 650-700,000 people living there. A volcanic explosion would produce a column of smoke and lapilli up to 20 kilometres high and the area affected by falling ash could extend from Salerno to the Lazio border”. Any new eruption would be preceded by earthquakes “with effects comparable to those at L’Aquila.” “There will be a week at most, more likely only three or four days”, in which to evacuate everyone before the disaster strikes. However, these are not scenarios “that should be taken as gospel”. Prevention, not alarmism, is the watchword. In contrast, Mr Bertolaso was highly critical of the Campania regional law (“a total failure”), which sought to encourage residents to move out of the danger zone around Vesuvius. “In the event, many people built homes in safe zones with public money and rented out the ones in the red zone”. According to Mr Bertolaso, there is only one solution to the problem of unlicensed building today: “What’s there is there. But anything new that goes up must be demolished”.

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