Co-living startup Habyt closes $24M Series B, merges with Homefully

When WeWork appeared, other entrepreneurs looked at the model and thought that if you could apple co-working to property, then why not apply co-living. Thus, in the US, Common appeared, as did Hmlet in Asia. Imn the EU, Habyt launched, but has already gobbled-up its competitors Quarters, Goliving, and Erasmo’s Room.

It’s now closed a series B round of €20M / $24M, and merged with another competitor, Homefully, founded by Sebastian Wuerz in 2016. The round was backed by HV Capital (formerly Holtzbrink Ventures), Vorwerk Ventures, P101 and Picus Capital.

Founded in 2017 by Luca Bovone, Habyt will now have over 5,000 units across 15 cities and 6 countries. The merged companies will offer fully furnished and serviced living units, coupled with a tech-enabled user-experience and a focus on community, aimed at young professionals between 20 and 35 years old who move jobs and cities fairly frequently.

Luca Bovone, Founder and CEO of Habyt, said: “We have been on an incredible journey in the past year and a half. In spite of less than perfect market conditions we have been able to grow a lot via a very successful M&A strategy that brought us into the position of leaders of our sector in Europe and that still has a lot of potential. This 20M series B round really opens our doors to keep building Habyt both via organic growth and via more M&As. We are now looking at strategic targets in Europe, specifically in France and Italy, and also in other continents, especially in Asia.”

Sebastian Wuerz, Founder of homefully, said: “The coliving market is going through a consolidation phase and Habyt has really seized this opportunity quickly and effectively and is on the best track to become the leader of the sector at a global scale. Joining forces is a crucial step in this direction and I am very excited for the team to be part of this journey.”

Felix Kluehr, Partner at HV said: “We are happy to see that Habyt has emerged as the leading player in the European co-living market and HV is excited to support the team in their ambitious plan to build the leading European coliving company”.

Over an interview, Bovone told me: “It’s like a member’s club. We have a subscription model, where people pay a monthly fee, which is your rent, and then you can, of course, apply for a room somewhere else and know that we have a fairly decent scale across Europe and eventually, also in southern Europe. You are able to move from one place to the other. Our motto is live anywhere.”

He said that the pandemic had meant that people were ditching co-working spaces and “They would prefer to spend 50 to 100 euro more per month on getting better housing where they can work comfortably from home.”

“We are already seeing within our customer base, they want to stay six months in Berlin, three months in Madrid, then move back to Berlin and so on. The traditional housing market just doesn’t allow that to happen. You have contracts with utilities and so on, which you can never break and it’s just an outdated product offering, and we’re trying to tackle that.”

#asia, #berlin, #ceo, #co-living, #economy, #europe, #european-union, #france, #housing, #hv-capital, #italy, #madrid, #partner, #picus-capital, #sharing-economy, #tc, #united-states, #vorwerk-ventures, #wework

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House Hunting in Italy: Sitting Seaside on Sardinia for $760,000

The pandemic has driven up prices in the coastal areas of northern Sardinia, where home buyers are now competing with investors.

#italy, #real-estate-and-housing-residential, #sardinia-italy

0

Euro 2020: Italy Bets on Youth, and Fun

A nation steeped in soccer stopped producing trophies because it stopped producing players. Can a commitment to youth, and fun, bring back the glory days?

#italy, #mancini-roberto-1964, #serie-a-italian-soccer-league, #soccer, #uefa-european-football-championship

0

The Enduring Appeal of Italian Composers’ Dramatic ‘Library Music’

Compositions made from the 1960s through the ’80s to soundtrack films and ads have found new homes on hip-hop tracks and compilations. New artists have been inspired, too.

#advertising-and-marketing, #audio-recordings-downloads-and-streaming, #collectors-and-collections, #fabrizi-lorenzo, #italy, #movies, #music, #natura-morta-album, #rap-and-hip-hop, #sonor-music-editions-record-label, #wunder-sven

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Apple Maps upgrade brings more detailed maps, transit features, AR view and more

Among many updates coming to iOS 15, Apple Maps will receive a number of upgrades that will bring more detailed maps, improvements for transit riders, AR experiences and other changes to the platform. The improvements build on the new map Apple begin rolling out two years ago, which had focused on offering richer details, and — in response to user feedback and complaints — more accurate navigation.

Since then, Apple Maps has steadily improved.

The new map experience has since launched in the U.S., U.K., Ireland and Canada and will now make its way to Spain and Portugal, starting today. I will then arrive in Italy and Australia later this year, Apple announced during its keynote address during its Worldwide Developer Conference on Monday.

maps driving

Image Credits: Apple

In addition, Apple said iOS 15 Maps will include new details for commercial districts, marinas, buildings, and more. Plus, Apple has added things like elevation, new road colors and labels, as well as hundreds of custom designed landmarks — for example, for places like the Golden Gate Bridge.

Apple also built a new nighttime mode for Maps with a “moonlit glow,” it said.

 

For drivers, Apple added new road details to the map, so it can help drivers as they move throughout a city to better see and understand important things like turn lanes, medians, bus and taxi lanes, and other things. The changes are competitive with some of the updates Google has been making as of late to its own Google Maps platform, which brought street-level details in select cities. These allowed people — including those navigating on foot, in a wheelchair, on a bike, or on a scooter, for example — to better see things like sidewalks and intersections.

Apple is now catching up, saying it, too, will show features like crosswalks and bike lanes.

It will also render things like overlapping complex interchanges in 3D space, making it easier to see upcoming traffic conditions or what lane to take. These features will come to CarPlay later in the year.

Image Credits: Apple

For transit riders, meanwhile, Maps has made improvements to help users find nearby stations.

Users can now pin their favorite lines to the top, and even keep track on their Apple Watch so they don’t have to pull out their phone. The updated Maps app will automatically follow your transit route and notify you when it’s time to disembark, making the app more competitive to third-party apps often favored by transit takers, like Citymapper, for instance.

maps train stop

Image Credits: Apple

When you exit your station, you can also now hold up your iPhone to scan the buildings in the area and Maps will generate an accurate position, offering direction in augmented reality. This is similar to the Live View AR directions Google announced last year.

This feature is launching in select cities in 2021 with more to come in the year ahead, Apple said.

Image Credits: Apple

 

read more about Apple's WWDC 2021 on TechCrunch

#apple, #apple-inc, #apple-maps, #apps, #australia, #canada, #computing, #google, #google-maps-platform, #google-maps, #ios, #iphone, #ireland, #italy, #itunes, #operating-systems, #portugal, #software, #spain, #transit, #united-kingdom, #united-states, #wwdc-2021

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Wedding Receptions Are Back, and Italy’s Candy Makers Are Delighted

The sugarcoated almond confections known as confetti are the favorite of brides but also of the Vatican.

#candy, #italy, #weddings-and-engagements

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Young Italian Men are Taking Over the French Open. They Have No Idea Why.

Italy has 10 players in the top 100, the most ever, and two 19-year-olds who look like major stars in the making. Just don’t ask them what’s going on.

#assn-of-tennis-professionals, #berrettini-matteo-1996, #fognini-fabio, #french-open-tennis, #italy, #musetti-lorenzo-2002, #sinner-jannik-2001, #tennis

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Migrants Are Forgotten in Italy’s Vaccine Drive, Doctors Say

A temporary ID number is supposed to give the undocumented some access to health care, but that’s not how it’s working for coronavirus vaccines.

#emilia-romagna-italy, #immigration-and-emigration, #italy, #vaccination-and-immunization

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How Khaby Lame Took Over TikTok

A former factory worker in Italy has become the fastest-growing content creator on TikTok.

#content-type-personal-profile, #immigration-and-emigration, #italy, #social-media, #tiktok-bytedance

0

Mafia Killer Who Became a Turncoat Is Released from Prison in Italy

Giovanni Brusca completed 25 years in prison for murder, including the killings of Giovanni Falcone, an anti-mafia crusader, and a 14-year-old boy he dissolved in acid. He later became an informant.

#brusca-giovanni, #informers, #italy, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #organized-crime, #sicily-italy

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Cable-Car Tragedy Shakes a Town Already Wounded by the Pandemic

The disaster that killed 14 people in Italy on Sunday struck a small lakeside community just as its tourism-dependent economy was starting to revive. Three people have been arrested.

#accidents-and-safety, #cable-cars-and-trams, #deaths-fatalities, #hotels-and-travel-lodgings, #italy, #lombardy-italy, #mottarone-mountain-italy, #piedmont-italy, #rescues, #travel-and-vacations

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Italian Cable Car Tragedy Shakes a Town Already Wounded by the Pandemic

The disaster that killed 14 people in Italy on Sunday struck a small lakeside community just as its tourism-dependent economy was starting to revive. Three people have been arrested.

#accidents-and-safety, #cable-cars-and-trams, #deaths-fatalities, #hotels-and-travel-lodgings, #italy, #lombardy-italy, #mottarone-mountain-italy, #piedmont-italy, #rescues, #travel-and-vacations

0

Kevin Spacey Cast in Italian Film After Being Sidelined in the U.S.

He will play a detective in the movie, directed by Franco Nero, in what is believed to be his first film since sexual assault allegations started surfacing in 2017.

#metoo-movement, #actors-and-actresses, #italy, #luomo-che-disegno-dio-movie, #movies, #nero-franco-1941, #redgrave-vanessa, #sex-crimes, #spacey-kevin, #suits-and-litigation-civil, #television

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Crash in Italy Caused by Cable and Brake Failure, Investigators Say

Charges including manslaughter and negligence are being considered following the accident in northern Italy that killed 14 people on Sunday.

#cable-cars-and-trams, #italy, #mottarone-mountain-italy, #traffic-accidents-and-safety

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Cable Car Plunges in Italy, Killing at Least 11 People

The cable car was traveling at a height of nearly 40 feet from the Lake Maggiore area in northern Italy to Mottarone Mountain when it suddenly fell.

#cable-cars-and-trams, #italy, #piedmont-italy

0

Italy’s Vaccine Drive Runs Up Against a Sacred Institution: Summer Vacation

The inoculation campaign in the country is speeding up, but it is heading smack into the holiday period, prompting fears among officials that some would rather get away than get a shot.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #italy, #summer-season, #travel-and-vacations, #vaccination-and-immunization

0

Global Cactus Traffickers Are Cleaning Out the Deserts

A recent raid in Italy involving rare Chilean species highlights the growing scale of a black market in the thorny plants.

#atacama-desert, #black-markets, #cacti-plants, #chile, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #italy, #wildlife-trade-and-poaching, #your-feed-science

0

Traveling to Europe? A Country-by-Country Reopening Guide

Members of the European Union are welcoming vaccinated travelers, including Americans. But there are still rules and restrictions to abide by. Here’s how to navigate them and what to expect.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #croatia, #european-union, #france, #great-britain, #greece, #italy, #travel-and-vacations, #turkey

0

Franco Battiato, Pop Singer and Versatile Composer, Dies at 76

Though hugely popular as a singer-songwriter in Italy, he never stopped experimenting. He composed for movies, opera and ballet, directed films and painted.

#art, #battiato-franco-1945-2021, #classical-music, #deaths-obituaries, #italy, #music, #pop-and-rock-music

0

Capri — First Choice of the Jet Set — Gets First Dibs on Vaccines

Eager to jump-start the lagging tourist economy and compete with Greece and Spain, Italy allows residents of its island playgrounds to get first in line for inoculations.

#capri-italy, #italy, #travel-and-vacations, #vaccination-and-immunization

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Once Too Radical for Italy, Goliarda Sapienza Is Belatedly Getting Her Due

Largely unrecognized during her lifetime, the 20th-century Italian actress turned writer is now considered a feminist icon. Her novel “Meeting in Positano” is being published in English for the first time.

#books-and-literature, #content-type-personal-profile, #italy, #meeting-in-positano-book, #sapienza-goliarda-1924-96, #the-art-of-joy-book, #women-and-girls, #writing-and-writers

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Google hit with $123M antitrust fine in Italy over Android Auto

Google has been fined just over €100 million (~$123M) by Italy’s antitrust watchdog for abuse of a dominant market position.

The case relates to Android Auto, a modified version of Google’s mobile OS intended for in-car use, and specifically to how Google restricted access to the platform to an electric car charging app, called JuicePass, made by energy company Enel X Italia.

Android Auto lets motorists directly access a selection of relevant apps (like maps and music streaming services) via a dash-mounted screen. But Enel X Italia’s JuicePass app was not one of the third party apps Google granted access to.

The app is accessible via the smartphone version of the Android platform — but of course a driver shouldn’t be reaching for their phone when at the wheel. So barring access through Android Auto puts a significant blocker on relevant usage.

Google’s market restriction of JuicePass has drawn the attention — and now the ire — of Italy’s competition watchdog.

The AGCM said today that Google has violated Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union — and has ordered it to make the JuicePass available via the platform.

It also says Google must to provide the same interoperability with Android Auto to other third party app developers.

The authority points out that the Google Maps app, which offers some basic services for electric vehicle charging (such as finding and getting directions to charging points), is available via Android Auto — and could, in future, incorporate directly competitive features like payments.

“According to the Authority’s findings, Google did not allow Enel X Italia to develop a version of its JuicePass app compatible with Android Auto, a specific Android feature that allows apps to be used while the user is driving in compliance with safety, as well as distraction reduction, requirements,” the AGCM writes in a press release announcing the sanction [translated to English using Google Translate]. “JuicePass enables a wide range of services for recharging electric vehicles, ranging from finding a charging station to managing the charging session and reserving a place at the station; this latter function guarantees the actual availability of the infrastructure once the user reaches it.

“By refusing Enel X Italia interoperability with Android Auto, Google has unfairly limited the possibilities for end users to avail themselves of the Enel X Italia app when driving and recharging an electric vehicle. Google has consequently favored its own Google Maps app, which runs on Android Auto and enables functional services for electric vehicle charging, currently limited to finding and getting directions to reach charging points, but which in the future could include other functionalities such as reservation and payment.”

Google denies any wrongdoing and says it disagrees with the order. But it did not confirm whether or not it intends to appeal.

The tech giant claims the restrictions it places on apps’ access to Android Auto are necessary to ensure drivers are not distracted. It also told us that it has been opening up the platform to more apps over time — with “thousands” now compatible.

It added that its intention is to keep expanding availability.

Google did not comment on why Enel X Italia’s app for recharging electric vehicles was not among the “thousands” it has already granted access to, however.

Per the AGCM, Enel X Italia’s app has been excluded from Android Auto for more than two years.

Here’s Google’s statement:

“The number one priority for Android Auto is to ensure apps can be used safely while driving. That’s why we have strict guidelines on the types of apps which are currently supported and these are based on driver-distraction tests and regulatory and industry standards. Thousands of applications are already compatible with Android Auto, and our goal is to allow even more developers to make their apps available over time. For example, we have introduced templates for navigation, charging, and parking apps, open for any developer to use. We disagree with the Authority’s decision and we will review our options.”

Google has a dominant position in the market via the Android smartphone platform, with a marketshare in Italy of around three-quarters according to the competition watchdog.

Under European Union law, a finding of market dominance in one market puts a responsibility on a company not to restrict competition in any other markets where it operates — and the EU already found Google to be a dominant company in general Internet search in every market in the European Economic Area back in 2017.

The AGCM said it’s concerned about the impact of Google’s restrictions on app access to Android Auto on the growth of the electric mobility market.

“If it were to continue, [it] could permanently jeopardise Enel X Italia’s chances of building a solid user base at a time of significant growth in sales of electric vehicles,” it wrote, adding that Google’s action in excluding the JuicePass app meant it did not appear in the list of applications used by users — thereby reducing consumer choice and creating a barrier to innovation.

The authority suggests Google’s conduct could influence the development of electric mobility during a crucial phase — as recharging infrastructures for electric cars are being built out and can help fuel growth and demand for recharging services.

“Consequently, possible negative effects could occur to the diffusion of electric vehicles, to the use of ‘clean’ energy and to the transition towards a more environmentally sustainable mobility,” it warned, linking anti-competitive behavior to negative consequences for the environment.

The AGCM added that it will monitor Google’s compliance with its order to ensure it effectively and correctly implements the obligations to provide third party app developers with access to Android Auto.

The authority’s action could be a taster of what’s coming down the pipe for gatekeeper players like Google in Europe under the incoming Digital Markets Act (DMA).

The flagship legislative proposal is intended to supplement ex post competition law enforcement with ex ante rules on how dominant platforms which intermediate others’ market access can behave — including by imposing up front requirements that they support interoperability.

The idea with the DMA is to supplement the slow and painstaking work needed to bring competition investigations to fruition with proactive measures slapped on tech giants to prevent certain types of known market abuse in the first place. Although the regulation is likely years out from being adopted and applied across the EU.

In the meanwhile competition probes of big tech continue.

Italy’s AGCM opened one into Google’s ad display business last October, for example.

Google has already faced a number of EU antitrust decision in recent years — including a $5BN penalty over how it operates Android. Although search rivals continue to complain that the remedy Google devised for that 2018 decision still does not sum to fair competition.

#android, #android-auto, #antitrust, #automotive, #competition, #electric-car, #enel, #europe, #european-union, #google, #google-maps, #italy, #operating-systems, #policy, #tc

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TikTok removes 500k+ accounts in Italy after DPA order to block underage users

Video sharing social network TikTok has removed more than 500,000 accounts in Italy following an intervention by the country’s data protection watchdog earlier this year ordering it to recheck the age of all Italian users and block access to any under the age of 13.

Between February 9 and April 21 more than 12.5M Italian users were asked to confirm that they are over 13 years old, according to the regulator.

Online age verification remains a hard problem and it’s not clear how many of the removed accounts definitively belonged to under 13s. The regulator said today that TikTok removed over 500k users because they were “likely” to be under the age of 16; around 400,000 because they declared an age under 13 and 140,000 through what the DPA describes as “a combination of moderation and reporting tools” implemented within the app.

TikTok has also agreed to take a series of additional measures to strengthen its ability to detect and block underage users — including potentially developing AI tools to help it identify when children are using the service.

Reached for comment, TikTok sent us a statement confirming that it is trialling “additional measures to help ensure that only users aged 13 or over are able to use TikTok”.

Here’s the statement, which TikTok attributed to Alexandra Evans, its head of child safety in Europe:

“TikTok’s top priority is protecting the privacy and safety of our users, and in particular our younger users. Following continued engagement with the Garante, we will be trialling additional measures to help ensure that only users aged 13 or over are able to use TikTok.

“We already take industry-leading steps to promote youth safety on TikTok such as setting accounts to private by default for users aged under 16 and enabling parents to link their account to their teen’s through Family Pairing. There is no finish line when it comes to safety, and we continue to evaluate and improve our policies, processes and systems, and consult with external experts.”

Italy’s data protection regulator made an emergency intervention in January — ordering TikTok to recheck the age of all users and block any users whose age it could not verify. The action followed reports in local media about a 10-year-old girl from Palermo who died of asphyxiation after participating in a “blackout challenge” on the social network.

Among the beefed up measures TikTok has agreed to take is a commitment to act faster to remove underage users — with the Italian DPA saying the platform has guaranteed it will cancel reported accounts it verifies as belonging to under 13s within 48 hours.

The regulator said TikTok has also committed to “study and develop” solutions — which may include the use of artificial intelligence — to “minimize the risk of children under 13 using the service”.

TikTok has also agree to launch ad campaigns, both in app and through radio and newspapers in Italy, to raise awareness about safe use of the platform and get the message out that it is not suitable for under-12s — including targeting this messaging in a language and format that’s likely to engage underage minors themselves.

The social network has also agreed to share information with the regulator relating to the effectiveness of the various experimental measures — to work with the regulator to identify the best ways of keeping underage users off the service.

The DPA said it will continue to monitor TikTok’s compliance with its commitments.

Prior to the Garante’s action, TikTok’s age verification checks had been widely criticized as trivially easier for kids to circumvent — with children merely needing to input a false birth date that suggested they are older than 13 to circumvent the age gate and access the service.

A wider investigation that the DPA opened into TikTok’s handling and processing of children’s data last year remains ongoing.

The regulator announced it had begun proceedings against the platform in December 2020, following months of investigation, saying then that it believed TikTok was not complying with EU data protection rules which set stringent requirements for processing children’s data.

In January the Garante also called for the European Data Protection Board to set up an EU taskforce to investigate concerns about the risks of children’s use of the platform — highlighting similar concerns being raised by other agencies in Europe and the U.S.

In February the European consumer rights organization, BEUC, also filed a series of complaints against TikTok, including in relation to its handling of kids’ data.

Earlier this year TikTok announced plans to bring in outside experts in the region to help with content moderation and said it would open a ‘transparency’ center in Europe where outside experts could get information on its content, security and privacy policies.

 

#age-verification, #artificial-intelligence, #beuc, #children, #childrens-data, #europe, #european-data-protection-board, #european-union, #italy, #policy, #privacy, #social, #social-network, #tiktok

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Direct-to-consumer orthodontic startup Impress raises $50M to scale across Europe

As the famous phrase goes, ‘software is eating the world’ and now software is eating dentistry. Or, perhaps more accurately, the arena of orthodontics — the specialty of dentistry that deals with things like braces — is slowly but surely being digitalized.

To whit, Impress, a Southern European player in direct-to-consumer orthodontics, has raised a $50 million Series A funding round led by CareCapital (a dental division of Hillhouse Capital in Asia), along with Nickleby capital, UNIQA Ventures, and investors including Michael Linse, Valentin Pitarque, Peter Schiff, Elliot Dornbusch, and others. All existing shareholders, such as TA Ventures and Bynd VC, also participated. 

Impress is an homage to the direct-to-consumer startups in this area in the US such as SmileDirect< and now plans to scale across Europe from its existing bases in Spain, Italy, Portugal, UK, and France.

The company was founded in 2019 in Barcelona by orthodontist Dr. Khaled Kasem and serial entrepreneurs Diliara and Vladimir Lupenko.

Speaking from Barclenoa, Lupenko told me that the idea was to “combine the best orthodontic tradition with the most innovative technology in the sector.”

As things stand, most of the time, consumers can usually only access cosmetic teeth alignment treatments or orthodontic medical treatments in conventional clinics. The new wave of clinics employs 3D scans and panoramic X-rays to check nerve and bone health.

Impress’s model is to offer these high-quality medical treatments directly to consumers, by developing its own chain of orthodontic clinics, which also put an emphasis on design and a ‘modern’ patient experience, it says.

As Diliara Lupenko says: “We didn’t copy what other companies in the space were doing and approached the market from a different angle from the get-go. We doubled down on the doctor-led digital model which brought us way better conversion rates and treatment quality even though on paper it looked complex in the beginning. It’s still very complex but we were able to crack it and scale exponentially.”

Impress now has 75 clinics in Spain, Italy, the UK, France, and Portugal which optimize costs and automate key parts of the value chain.

It now says it’s approaching €50m in annual run-rate and is projected to grow to €150m of revenue in 12 months. 

Andreas Nemeth, managing partner of UNIQA Ventures GmbH commented: “Impress’s customer-centric focus, as well as its demonstrated ability to blitzscale, attracted us to the business. Vladimir and his team leverage technology to create a seamless customer journey for invisible orthodontics and optimized their cost structure in a unique way using software.”

#andreas-nemeth, #asia, #barcelona, #dentistry, #dentists, #europe, #france, #hillhouse-capital, #italy, #managing-partner, #michael-linse, #orthodontist, #player, #portugal, #spain, #ta-ventures, #tc, #united-kingdom, #united-states

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Paris Teenager’s New Gig: Would-Be Queen of Italy. A Nation Shrugs.

The son of Italy’s last king has tapped his teen granddaughter to eventually lead the House of Savoy, pretenders to Italy’s defunct throne. “Totally illegitimate,” says a rival clan.

#italy, #royal-families

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These Neanderthals Weren’t Cannibals, So Who Ate Them? Stone Age Hyenas.

An archaeological excavation south of Rome uncovered fossil remains of nine Neanderthals, along with the bones of hyenas, elephants and rhinoceroses.

#archaeology-and-anthropology, #caves-and-caverns, #fossils, #hyenas, #italy, #neanderthal-man, #paleontology, #research, #skull-body-part

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Milva, Redheaded Italian Diva of Many Artistic Hues, Dies at 81

One of Italy’s best-known singers, she sang pop songs and political anthems, and appeared at festivals and on theater stages.

#deaths-obituaries, #italy, #milva-1939-2021, #music, #theater

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ifeel, another well-being platform that blends self-care tools with 1-2-1 therapy, scores $6.6M

If the pandemic has been good for anything it’s been good for the therapy business and for startups targeting mental health, with VCs kept very busy signing checks. To wit, here’s another one: Madrid-based ifeel has bagged €5.5 million (~$6.6M) in Series A funding, led by Nauta Capital.

The startup was founded back in 2017 — initially as a consumer-focused therapy platform — but last year it pivoted to a hybrid business model, tapping into demand from businesses to offer staff emotional support during the public health crisis. So it’s available both to individuals via monthly subscription or as part of employer’s or insurance provider’s cover

It says that pandemic pivot has resulted in 1,000% growth in its b2b business.

Companies it’s signed up to offer its platform to their staff include AXA Partners, Glovo and Gympass.

“We have a total of 400K users on the platform (b2c and b2b),” says co-founder Amir Kaplan. “We have 100,000 eligible covered who have access to ifeel as a benefit (through our insurance and wellness partners or direct with ifeel).

“The 100K grew 10x from September 2020 and is the largest trend we are experiencing these days. Employees of 100 companies use ifeel on a weekly basis.”

ifeel’s platform delivers both live therapy sessions with licensed psychologists but also provides users with self-care tool such as daily mood trackers, recommended exercises and activities to expand the support available.

“By combining self-care and guided therapies, ifeel maximises engagement and retention of its users — with 90% reporting improved emotional and mental well-being after using ifeel,” it claims.

The startup is using AI technology in the self-care portion of its platform — to recommend “the most relevant” content or exercise to its users, per Kaplan. But he also says it’s looking at using the tech to assist the therapist practice by developing dedicated tools inside the platform.

ifeel has an international founding team, hailing from three countries (Israel, Italy and Mexico), and says its main markets so far are Spain, France, Brazil and Mexico. While its b2b and insurance network coverage extends to 20 countries and four languages (English, Spanish, French and Portuguese).

With so much competition in the mental health tools space — from mindfulness apps, to internet-delivered CBT programs, to therapy platforms — how does ifeel see itself standing out?

Kaplan suggests it has an advantage of being “global from day one”, and also flags a “strong technology integration focus” which he says has allowed it to plug into insurance companies and wellness players — to become a “main service provider”.

“Very early we partnered with global leading companies and we support them in many countries (compared to specific country players like in Germany and UK,” he tells TechCrunch. “The platform approach is different from ‘online therapy’ companies or ‘mindfulness apps’.

“We want our users to manage their emotional well being on our platform no matter the need. In this way we create millions of engagement events that are customized to the user’s needs and allow users over time to use different parts of our platform in different life situations.”

#brazil, #europe, #france, #fundings-exits, #germany, #health, #ifeel, #insurance, #israel, #italy, #madrid, #meditation, #mental-health, #mexico, #mindfulness, #nauta-capital, #online-therapy, #self-care, #spain, #therapist, #therapy, #united-kingdom

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2 Americans Found Guilty of Murder of Italian Police Officer

The two men were in their teens in July 2019 when an early-morning scuffle with two plainclothes police officers in Rome turned deadly.

#attacks-on-police, #cerciello-rega-mario, #elder-finnegan-lee, #hjorth-gabriel-christian-natale, #italy, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #rome-italy, #united-states, #varriale-andrea

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Life and Death on Stromboli Volcano, Lighthouse of the Mediterranean

Stromboli’s volcano is always active, always at the brink of devastating paroxysms. For those who visit the island as tourists or scientists, it is a spectacle like no other.

#italy, #mediterranean-sea, #nature-communications-journal, #research, #science-and-technology, #stromboli, #travel-and-vacations, #volcanoes, #your-feed-photojournalism, #your-feed-science

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Be It a $10 Wine, or Much More, the Judgments Come Free

Inexpensive wines can be just fine. They also illuminate the harsh opinions that some people seem to cherish about the preferences of others.

#chile, #content-type-service, #france, #italy, #prices-fares-fees-and-rates, #wines

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France Arrests Former Members of Italian Extremist Group

The seven militants had been given refuge in France decades ago, a move which poisoned diplomatic ties between France and Italy. The arrests signal a strengthening of ties between the two governments.

#draghi-mario, #dupond-moretti-eric, #france, #fugitives, #italy, #macron-emmanuel-1977, #mitterrand-francois, #politics-and-government, #red-brigades, #terrorism

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Solar roof-tile and energy startup SunRoof closes €4.5M led by Inovo Venture Partners

SunRoof is a European startup that has come up with a clever idea. It has its own roof-tile technology which generates solar power. It then links up those houses, creating a sort of virtual power plant, allowing homeowners to sell surplus energy back to the grid.

It’s now closed a €4.5 million round (Seed extension) led by Inovo Venture Partners, with participation from SMOK Ventures (€2m of which came in the form of convertible notes). Other investors include LT Capital, EIT InnoEnergy, FD Growth Capital and KnowledgeHub. 

Sweden-based SunRoof’s approach is reminiscent of Tesla Energy, with its solar roof tiles, but whereas Tesla runs a closed energy ecosystem, SunRoof plans to work with multiple energy partners.

To achieve this virtual power company, SunRoof CEO and serial entrepreneur Lech Kaniuk (formerly of Delivery Hero, PizzaPortal, and iTaxi), acquired the renewable energy system, Redlogger, in 2020.

SunRoof’s platform consists of 2-in-1 solar roofs and façades that generate electricity without needing traditional photovoltaic modules. Instead, they use monocrystalline solar cells sandwiched between two large sheets of glass which measure 1.7 sq meters. Because the surface area is large and the connections fewer, the roofs are cheaper and faster to build. 

SunRoof give homeowners an energy app to manage the solar, based on Redlogger’s infrastructure

Tesla’s Autobidder is a trading platform that manages the energy from roofs but is a closed ecosystem. SunRoof, by contrast, works with multiple partners.

Kaniuk said: “SunRoof was founded to make the move to renewable energy not only easy, but highly cost-effective without ever having to sacrifice on features or design. We’ve already grown more than 500% year-on-year and will use the latest funding to double down on growth.” 

Michal Rokosz, Partner at Inovo Venture Partners, commented: “The market of solar energy is booming, estimated to reach $334 billion by 2026. Technology of integrated solar roofs is past the inflection point. It is an economical no-brainer for consumers to build new homes using solar solutions. With a more elegant and efficient substitute to a traditional hybrid of rooftops and solar panels, SunRoof clearly stands out and has a chance to be the brand for solar roofs, making clean-tech more appealing to a wider customer-base.”

The team includes co-founder Marek Zmysłowski (ex-(Jumia Travel and HotelOnline.co), former Google executive, Rafal Plutecki, and former Tesla Channel Sales Manager, Robert Bruchner.

There are rollout plans for Sweden, Germany, Poland, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, and the US.

#automotive-industry, #co-founder, #delivery-hero, #electricity, #energy, #europe, #executive, #germany, #google, #italy, #partner, #poland, #renewable-energy, #smok-ventures, #solar-cell, #solar-energy, #spain, #sweden, #switzerland, #tc, #united-states

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TikTok to open a ‘Transparency’ Center in Europe to take content and security questions

TikTok will open a center in Europe where outside experts will be shown information on how it approaches content moderation and recommendation, as well as platform security and user privacy, it announced today.

The European Transparency and Accountability Centre (TAC) follows the opening of a U.S. center last year — and is similarly being billed as part of its “commitment to transparency”.

Soon after announcing its U.S. TAC, TikTok also created a content advisory council in the market — and went on to replicate the advisory body structure in Europe this March, with a different mix of experts.

It’s now fully replicating the U.S. approach with a dedicated European TAC.

To-date, TikTok said more than 70 experts and policymakers have taken part in a virtual U.S. tour, where they’ve been able to learn operational details and pose questions about its safety and security practices.

The short-form video social media site has faced growing scrutiny over its content policies and ownership structure in recent years, as its popularity has surged.

Concerns in the U.S. have largely centered on the risk of censorship and the security of user data, given the platform is owned by a Chinese tech giant and subject to Internet data laws defined by the Chinese Communist Party.

While, in Europe, lawmakers, regulators and civil society have been raising a broader mix of concerns — including around issues of child safety and data privacy.

In one notable development earlier this year, the Italian data protection regulator made an emergency intervention after the death of a local girl who had reportedly been taking part in a content challenge on the platform. TikTok agreed to recheck the age of all users on its platform in Italy as a result.

TikTok said the European TAC will start operating virtually, owing to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. But the plan is to open a physical center in Ireland — where it bases its regional HQ — in 2022.

EU lawmakers have recently proposed a swathe of updates to digital legislation that look set to dial up emphasis on the accountability of AI systems — including content recommendation engines.

A draft AI regulation presented by the Commission last week also proposes an outright ban on subliminal uses of AI technology to manipulate people’s behavior in a way that could be harmful to them or others. So content recommender engines that, for example, nudge users into harming themselves by suggestively promoting pro-suicide content or risky challenges may fall under the prohibition. (The draft law suggests fines of up to 6% of global annual turnover for breaching prohibitions.)

It’s certainly interesting to note TikTok also specifies that its European TAC will offer detailed insight into its recommendation technology.

“The Centre will provide an opportunity for experts, academics and policymakers to see first-hand the work TikTok teams put into making the platform a positive and secure experience for the TikTok community,” the company writes in a press release, adding that visiting experts will also get insights into how it uses technology “to keep TikTok’s community safe”; how trained content review teams make decisions about content based on its Community Guidelines; and “the way human reviewers supplement moderation efforts using technology to help catch potential violations of our policies”.

Another component of the EU’s draft AI regulation sets a requirement for human oversight of high risk applications of artificial intelligence. Although it’s not clear whether a social media platform would fall under that specific obligation, given the current set of categories in the draft regulation.

However the AI regulation is just one piece of the Commission’s platform-focused rule-making.

Late last year it also proposed broader updates to rules for digital services, under the DSA and DMA, which will place due diligence obligations on platforms — and also require larger platforms to explain any algorithmic rankings and hierarchies they generate. And TikTok is very likely to fall under that requirement.

The UK — which is now outside the bloc, post-Brexit — is also working on its own Online Safety regulation, due to present this year. So, in the coming years, there will be multiple content-focused regulatory regimes for platforms like TikTok to comply with in Europe. And opening algorithms to outside experts may be hard legal requirement, not soft PR.

Commenting on the launch of its European TAC in a statement, Cormac Keenan, TikTok’s head of trust and safety, said: With more than 100 million users across Europe, we recognise our responsibility to gain the trust of our community and the broader public. Our Transparency and Accountability Centre is the next step in our journey to help people better understand the teams, processes, and technology we have to help keep TikTok a place for joy, creativity, and fun. We know there’s lots more to do and we’re excited about proactively addressing the challenges that lie ahead. I’m looking forward to welcoming experts from around Europe and hearing their candid feedback on ways we can further improve our systems.”

 

#artificial-intelligence, #bytedance, #chinese-communist-party, #content-moderation, #dsa, #europe, #european-union, #ireland, #italy, #platform-regulation, #policy, #privacy, #recommendation-technology, #social, #social-media, #tiktok, #united-kingdom, #united-states

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After Covid Upended a Dying Woman’s Rome Dream, Her Twin Stepped In

When Lisa Maksym tested positive for the coronavirus, she was forced to stop cancer treatments, threatening a long-planned return to Rome. Her sister hatched a plan.

#amalfi-coast-italy, #arizona, #breast-cancer, #chemotherapy, #colosseum-rome, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #italy, #phoenix-ariz, #rome-italy

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Italy’s Problem With School Dropouts Goes From Bad to Worse in Pandemic

Even before the coronavirus hit, Italy had among the worst dropout rates in Europe. But closed schools and online classes have pushed students out in ever higher numbers.

#computers-and-the-internet, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #dropouts, #e-learning, #education-k-12, #education-secondary, #italy, #naples-italy, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #shutdowns-institutional, #teachers-and-school-employees

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Italian Police Accuse Man of Getting Paid for 15 Years While Skipping Work

A hospital worker in Italy’s south was allegedly paid for 15 years without working a single day. Investigators blame the inefficiency of checks at all levels.

#absenteeism-and-truancy, #calabria-italy, #emergency-medical-treatment, #hospitals, #italy

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After a Tragedy at Sea, a Wrecked Ship Becomes a Powerful Symbol in Italy

The relic of the deadliest shipwreck in the Mediterranean in living memory — in which some 1,000 migrants died — is being re-envisioned as a human rights monument.

#italy, #maritime-accidents-and-safety, #middle-east-and-africa-migrant-crisis, #monuments-and-memorials-structures, #ships-and-shipping

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Writing in Italian, Jhumpa Lahiri Found a New Voice

In an unusual literary and linguistic feat, the Pulitzer-winning author of “Interpreter of Maladies” and “The Namesake” wrote her latest novel, “Whereabouts,” in Italian and translated it to English.

#americans-abroad, #books-and-literature, #content-type-personal-profile, #in-other-words-book, #italian-language, #italy, #lahiri-jhumpa, #language-and-languages, #translation-and-interpreters, #whereabouts-book, #writing-and-writers

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On the Menu at a Lunch in Italy: Protected Songbirds

The Italian police were called to investigate a luncheon for a potential violation of coronavirus rules. They found a feast of migrating finches.

#birds, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #italy, #wildlife-trade-and-poaching

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‘Bowl food’ startup Poke House closes $24M Series B led by Eulero Capital to expand in Europe

The FoodTech industry is effectively now going into fast food. Sweetgreen in the US is a ‘fast-casual’ restaurant chain that serves healthy “bowl food”. It’s raised $478.6M. A similar firm is Sweetfin. Both employ a lot of tech in their back-end to improve efficiencies.

Into this area has come European startup Poke House, which is effectively industrializing the production of “poke bowls” for food delivery platforms. Poke House specializes in bowl food that often includes marinated fish that’s cubed and layered up with sticky rice, pickles, noodles, etc.

The company has now raised €20 million ($24m) in a Series B funding round led by Eulero Capital, with the backing of FG2 Capital and reinvestment from Milan Investment Partners SGR. It using tech and data to optimize the production and delivery of its product via all the major food delivery platforms such as Uber East etc. The Italy-born food tech startup claims to have built a “€100M+ company” inside two years.

Founded by Matteo Pichi and Vittoria Zanetti, Poke House has opened 30+ stores in Italy, Portugal and Spain, and now has 400 employees. It’s claiming an expected turnover of €40M+ in 2021.

With the funding, the startup will start opening new stores in existing markets, enter France and start in expansion in the UK.

Poke House says it uses a lot of tech on its back-end, tracking every element of the supply chain to optimize the business. It also analyzes data from third-party delivery platforms (ie. Deliveroo, Glovo, UberEats) to deliver a sub-10 mins food preparation time, and a delivery time under 25 mins.

Matteo Pichi, Co-Founder of Poke House said: “The pandemic has challenged our food sector, and we see technology as the way forward to innovate and digitalize the traditional restaurant experience. We are seeing a shift in people’s desires in fast but healthy food. Poke bowls fit this new need and it promotes a more balanced, active and sustainable lifestyle with quick and healthy food options available nearby.”

Speaking to TechCrunch, Pichi added: “Our competitors are the fast-growing healthy concepts such as Sweetgreen or Sweetfin in the US. But in the same time, we think we are lucky because we really are one of the first brands built 100% from food delivery experts or former employees. Our next competitors are gonna be full native virtual brands extremely strong in data analysis and digital brand building. We use food delivery platforms as media platforms and we invest heavier than competitors in the channel.”

Gianfranco Burei, Founding Partner of Eulero Capital said: “Poke House business model rides some of the main trends in the food sector (food-tech, healthy food, delivery, customization) and has all the characteristics and talents to position the company among the top players at European level. We are thrilled to be a partner of Poke House in an innovative and forward-looking project, in line with our investment strategy which is based on the search for companies included in the macro-trends that will characterize the economic, technological and social evolution of the coming years.”

#co-founder, #companies, #deliveroo, #distribution, #europe, #food, #food-delivery, #food-tech, #france, #healthy-food, #italy, #online-food-ordering, #partner, #poke, #portugal, #spain, #supply-chain, #sweetgreen, #tc, #uber, #uber-eats, #united-kingdom, #united-states

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Netflix to Debut Italy’s First TV Show With a Majority Black Cast

The creators of “Zero,” including the co-writer Antonio Dikele Distefano, say they hope viewers enjoy it so much that the characters’ racial identity becomes irrelevant.

#black-people, #citizenship-and-naturalization, #italian-language, #italy, #netflix-inc, #television, #writing-and-writers

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IBM acquires Italy’s MyInvenio to integrate process mining directly into its suite of automation tools

Automation has become a big theme in enterprise IT, with organizations using RPA, no-code and low-code tools, and other  technology to speed up work and bring more insights and analytics into how they do things every day, and today IBM is announcing an acquisition as it hopes to take on a bigger role in providing those automation services. The IT giant has acquired MyInvenio, an Italian startup that builds and operates process mining software.

Process mining is the part of the automation stack that tracks data produced by a company’s software, as well as how the software works, in order to provide guidance on what a company could and should do to improve it. In the case of myInvenio, the company’s approach involves making a “digital twin” of an organization to help track and optimize processes. IBM is interested in how myInvenio’s tools are able to monitor data in areas like sales, procurement, production and accounting to help organizations identify what might be better served with more automation, which it can in turn run using RPA or other tools as needed.

Terms of the deal are not being disclosed. It is not clear if myInvenio had any outside investors (we’ve asked and are awaiting a response). This is the second acquisition IBM has made out of Italy. (The first was in 2014, a company called CrossIdeas that now forms part of the company’s security business.)

IBM and myInvenio are not exactly strangers: the two inked a deal as recently as November 2020 to integrate the Italian startup’s technology into IBM’s bigger automation services business globally.

Dinesh Nirmal, GM of IBM Automation, said in an interview that the reason IBM acquired the company was two-fold. First, it lets IBM integrate the technology more closely into the company’s Cloud Pak for Business Automation, which sits on and is powered by Red Hat OpenShift and has other automation capabilities already embedded within it, specifically robotic process automation (RPA), document processing, workflows and decisions.

Second and perhaps more importantly, it will mean that IBM will not have to tussle for priority for its customers in competition with other solution partners that myInvenio already had. IBM will be the sole provider.

“Partnerships are great but in a partnership you also have the option to partner with others, and when it comes to priority who decides?” he said. “From the customer perspective, will they will work just on our deal, or others first? Now, our customers will get the end result of this… We can bring a single solution to an end user or an enterprise, saying, ‘look you have document processing, RPA, workflow, mining. That is the beauty of this and what customers will see.”

He said that IBM currently serves customers across a range of verticals including financial, insurance, healthcare and manufacturing with its automation products.

Notably, this is not the first acquisition that IBM has made to build out this stack. Last year, it acquired WDG to expand into robotic process automation.

And interestingly, it’s not even the only partnership that IBM has had in process mining. Just earlier this month, it announced a deal with one of the bigger names in the field, Celonis, a German startup valued at $2.5 billion in 2019.

Ironically, at the time, my colleague Ron wondered aloud why IBM wasn’t just buying Celonis outright in that deal. It’s hard to speculate if price was one reason. Remember: we don’t know the terms of this acquisition, but given myInvenio was off the fundraising radar, chances are it’s possibly a little less than Celonis’s pricetag.

We’ve asked and IBM has confirmed that it will continue to work with Celonis alongside now offering its own native process mining tools.

“In keeping with IBM’s open approach and $1 billion investment in ecosystem, [Global Business Services, IBM’s enterprise services division] works with a broad range of technologies based on client and market demand, including IBM AI and Automation software,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “Celonis focuses on execution management which supports GBS’ transformation of clients’ business processes through intelligent workflows across industries and domains. Specifically, Celonis has deep connectivity into enterprise systems such as Salesforce, SAP, Workday or ServiceNow, so the Celonis EMS platform helps GBS accelerate clients’ transformations and BPO engagements with these ERP platforms.”

Indeed, at the end of the day, companies that offer services, especially suites of services, are working in environments where they have to be open to customers using their own technology, or bringing in something else.

There may have been another force pushing IBM to bring more of this technology in-house, and that’s wider competitive climate. Earlier this year, SAP acquired another European startup in the process mining space, Signavio, in a deal reportedly worth about $1.2 billion. As more of these companies get snapped up by would-be IBM rivals, and those left standing are working with a plethora of other parties, maybe it was high time for IBM to make sure it had its own horse in the race.

“Through IBM’s planned acquisition of myInvenio, we are revolutionizing the way companies manage their process operations,” said Massimiliano Delsante, CEO, myInvenio, who will be staying on with the deal. “myInvenio’s unique capability to automatically analyze processes and create simulations — what we call a ‘Digital Twin of an Organization’ —  is joining with IBM’s AI-powered automation capabilities to better manage process execution. Together we will offer a comprehensive solution for digital process transformation and automation to help enterprises continuously transform insights into action.”

#automation, #enterprise, #europe, #fundings-exits, #ibm, #italy, #ma, #myinvenio, #process-mining, #rpa

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How Mario Draghi Is Making Italy a Power Player in Europe

The new prime minister is leveraging his European relationships and his solid reputation to make Italy a force on the continent in a way it has not been in decades.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #draghi-mario, #europe, #european-union, #international-relations, #italy, #politics-and-government

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How Working From Home Changed Wardrobes Around the World

It wasn’t all sweats and leggings. A whirlwind tour of how the pandemic affected what we wore, from India to Italy.

#brazil, #fashion-and-apparel, #france, #india, #italy, #japan, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #russia, #senegal, #shopping-and-retail

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A Classic Venetian Dish That Doesn’t Need Improvement

With some trepidation, Gabrielle Hamilton puts her own spin on risi e bisi — rice and peas.

#cooking-and-cookbooks, #italy, #peas, #recipes, #vegetables, #zucchini

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Help! I Want to Go to Europe in August. Is This a Pipe Dream?

Much of the continent remains closed to Americans because of the virus, but many travelers want to visit this summer. Will their plans materialize?

#content-type-service, #delta-air-lines-inc, #europe, #four-seasons-hotels-ltd, #great-britain, #hilton-worldwide-holdings-inc, #icelandair, #italy, #lisbon-portugal, #oliver-wyman-group, #prices-fares-fees-and-rates, #quarantine-life-and-culture, #travel-and-vacations, #travel-warnings

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Turmoil Continues for the Artisans Behind Italian Fashion

The small, family-run businesses hope a new government aid package will bring the relief that one in 2020 didn’t provide. They say their skills are at stake.

#bertelli-patrizio, #fashion-and-apparel, #handicrafts, #italy, #prada-spa, #small-business, #your-feed-fashion

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Italy Bans Cruise Liners From Venice Lagoon, With a Catch

Though environmental groups praised the decision to detour big ships outside the fragile area, they are concerned about plans to temporarily dock them at Marghera, the lagoon’s industrial hub.

#italy, #ships-and-shipping, #united-nations-educational-scientific-and-cultural-organization, #venice-italy

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Shut Out on Vaccines, Tiny San Marino Turns to Old Friend: Russia

A microstate surrounded by Italy, San Marino feared being left behind in Europe’s inoculation campaign. Now it has jumped ahead, with the Sputnik vaccine sent by an unlikely, faraway friend.

#coronavirus-2019-ncov, #italy, #russia, #san-marino-republic-of, #vaccination-and-immunization

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