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kottke.org posts about italy

Fiat’s Rooftop Racetrack

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 16, 2021

a photo of the racetrack on top of the Fiat factory in Turin, Italy

a photo of the racetrack on top of the Fiat factory in Turin, Italy

When it was built in the 1920s in Turin, Italy, the Fiat factory was designed with a racetrack on the top of the building, both for car testing purposes and for racing.

The factory’s best-known symbol is the test track, which is a superb piece of design modeling, and construction that occupies the whole roof surface of the workshops. Two 443 meters straights, joined by parabolic bends, form a continuous track for testing the cars.

Originally, as soon as the cars left the assembly lines they could flow directly upward to the test track through the snail-shaped ramps completing the whole processing cycle inside the factory. Moreover, these spiraling ramps inside the building allowed the cars to be driven back down and into showrooms.

The track was a little over 1/2 mile long. Many more views at Rare Historical Photos. (via @laxgani)

Italy Sings Together During Coronavirus Lockdown

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 14, 2020

People under quarantine lockdown in Italy due to the country’s COVID-19 outbreak have been singing and playing music out their windows and on their balconies to keep their spirits up while social distancing.

Here’s a Twitter thread with more videos from Salerno, Turin, Naples, Siena, Florence, etc.

No matter how much fear and panic and anxiety and negativity are on display during a crisis, it also brings out the best in people. Humans are social animals and we can’t help sharing with our neighbors, comforting one another, and coming together even when we’re physically apart.

COVID-19: Not Just A Bad Flu

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 10, 2020

A few days ago, Dr. Daniele Macchini, a physician in Bergamo, Italy, made a long post on Facebook (also reprinted here) about how the outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus) is overwhelming the hospitals there and pleads with the rest of the world to take the virus seriously. The original post is in Italian and Google Translate does pretty well with it. Dr. Silva Stringhini translated the important bits of Dr. Macchini’s post in this Twitter thread and is somewhat easier to read:

After much thought about whether and what to write about what is happening to us, I felt that silence was not responsible.

“I will therefore try to convey to people far from our reality what we are living in Bergamo in these days of Covid-19 pandemic. I understand the need not to create panic, but when the message of the dangerousness of what is happening does not reach people I shudder.

“I myself watched with some amazement the reorganization of the entire hospital in the past week, when our current enemy was still in the shadows: the wards slowly ‘emptied’, elective activities were interrupted, intensive care were freed up to create as many beds as possible.

“All this rapid transformation brought an atmosphere of silence and surreal emptiness to the corridors of the hospital that we did not yet understand, waiting for a war that was yet to begin and that many (including me) were not so sure would ever come with such ferocity.

“I still remember my night call a week ago when I was waiting for the results of a swab. When I think about it, my anxiety over one possible case seems almost ridiculous and unjustified, now that I’ve seen what’s happening. Well, the situation now is dramatic to say the least.

“The war has literally exploded and battles are uninterrupted day and night. But now that need for beds has arrived in all its drama. One after the other the departments that had been emptied fill up at an impressive pace.

“The boards with the names of the patients, of different colours depending on the operating unit, are now all red and instead of surgery you see the diagnosis, which is always the damned same: bilateral interstitial pneumonia.

Dr. Macchini urges: “Let’s stop saying it’s a bad flu.” But this is the part that stopped me in my tracks and got me to write this post:

So have patience, too, that you cannot go to the theater, museums or gym. Try to have mercy on that myriad of older people you could exterminate.

His overall message is that we shouldn’t panic, but that we should take COVID-19 seriously. The goal here is to keep the most vulnerable of us as safe as possible and work to slow the spread of the virus so it doesn’t overwhelm our healthcare system. So let’s do that — the elderly and those most at risk are counting on us.

How Parmesan Cheese Is Made

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 29, 2018

Officially, according to the Italian government and the EU, parmesan cheese (or more formally, Parmigiano-Reggiano) can only be made in a small region in northern Italy. Wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano weigh about 85 pounds, can be aged for three years or more, and can cost upwards of $1000. With all the fakes out there (see also olive oil and canned tomatoes), it can be tough to find the real stuff, but when you do, it tastes amazing.

Update: Headline writers might wait their whole careers for an opportunity like this: A Bank That Accepts Parmesan As Collateral: The Cheese Stands A Loan. (via @jazzfishzen)

Italy to the rescue

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 09, 2009

The entire collection of Kim’s Video in the East Village, all 55,000+ hard-to-find films, is now headed to a formerly abandoned town in Italy that is now run entirely by artists.

In a notice pasted on a wall inside the front door [of his video store], he wrote, “We hope to find a sponsor who can make this collection available to those who have loved Kim’s over the past two decades.” He promised to donate all the films without charge to anyone who would meet three conditions: Keep the collection intact, continue to update it and make it accessible to Kim’s members and others.

(thx, cliff)

The front pages of some Italian and

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 10, 2006

The front pages of some Italian and French newspapers on the day after the World Cup Final.

Allez les Bleus!

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 09, 2006

French Flag

I’m rooting for France today, but I feel that Italy has the best chance of winning. But we shall see. Allez!

Update: I’m stunned. Not so much about the loss, but Zidane…what was that? That headbutt is one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen in sports.

Update: Video of the headbutt. There’s some speculation that Materazzi twisted Zidane’s nipple…or if not, I wonder what he said that could have riled the Frenchman so?

Update: Ok, here’s a video of the whole exchange. No twisting that I can see…Materazzi obviously said something. With all his experience, hasn’t Zidane heard it all before?

Update: Video of some of Materazzi’s dirty plays.

Update: From a 2004 profile of Zidane in the Guardian:

One of the theories about Zidane as a player is that he is driven by an inner rage. His football is elegant and masterful, charged with technique and vision. But he can still erupt into shocking violence that is as sudden as it is inexplicable. The most famous examples of this include head butting Jochen Kientz of Hamburg during a Champions League match, when he was at Juventus in 2000 (an action that cost him a five match suspension) and his stomping on the hapless Faoud Amin of Saudi Arabia during the 1998 World Cup finals (this latter action was, strangely enough, widely applauded in the Berber community as Zidane’s revenge on hated Arab ‘extremists’).

Update: More detail on some of Zidane’s past misdeeds. (thx, daniel)

Update: Zidane’s agent says Zidane “told me Materazzi said something very serious to him but he wouldn’t tell me what”. “Zinedine didn’t want to talk about it but it will all come out in the next week. He was very disappointed and sad. He didn’t want it to end this way.”

Update: Zidane’s headbutt, now in video game format.

Update: With the help of lip readers, two UK newspapers have deciphered what Materazzi alledgedly said to Zidane to set him off.