Italian News Bites

sistine chapelFLR biking Sistine chapel celebrates 500 years

Welcoming 20,000 people a day-5 million per year-the Sistine chapel is the most visited room in the world. The Vatican recently celebrated the 500th year of its most precious treasure, Michelangelo’s masterwork on the chapel’s ceiling, with a special Vespers held by Pope Benedict XVI.  Michelangelo’s magnificent frescoes, which depict scenes of the Old Testament on the 1,100 square-metre vault of the chapel, were first unveiled to the public on October 31, 1512, All Saints Day, when Pope Julius II celebrated Vespers to mark the event.  It took Michelangelo four years to complete the ceiling frescoes, while the most recent restoration, completed in 1994, took 14 years. AntonioPaolucci, director of the Vatican Museums, stated that the Sistine Chapel would not put a cap on the number of visitors anytime soon: ‘Although there are a set of concerns about the conditions in the chapel, we won’t be setting any quotas.’

Direct connect to Bologna airport

 A new shuttle service began  between Florence and Bologna’s G. Marconi airport. Called the Apennines Shuttle, the service offers 10 departures daily from the Bologna airport and 10 from the Firenze Fortezza and Calenzano Carrefour stops. With tickets priced at 19 euro (reduced prices for children), each coach can seat 51 passengers. Find more information and purchase tickets at Tickets are also available at the Bologna Airport website (

Biking in Florence

With the nation’s unemployment at a record 10.7 percent and facing the prospect of deepening austerity cuts and rising inflation, many Italians are trading in their more costly cars for cheaper two-wheelers. Recent statistics indicate that new car sales are falling below bike sales in Italy for the first time since World War II.  There are many reasons why biking is better than driving, but there is still room for improvement. Biking in Florence (and other Italian cities) is still a far cry from the high safety levels of pedalling in more bike-friendly cities across the Atlantic, such as Portland, Oregon. I can attest to this fact, having cycling in both cities.  Though I must admit, I feel safer cycling in the Tuscan countryside than the rural roads outside of Portland.  The Italian rural drivers, young and old alike, seem to feel the country roads are to be shared by all.

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