Italy gets Europe’s highest suspended bridge

Italians turned out in force last weekend to inaugurate the country's newly-completed “Bridge in the Sky”, Europe’s largest suspended footbridge.

Italy gets Europe's highest suspended bridge
The newly-inaugurated Valtellina Bridge in the Sky. Photo: screenshot from Luigi Tripiciano Facebook video

According to La Stampa, hundreds of residents and holidaymakers were present for the bridge's opening ceremony in the town of Tartano in the northern province of Sondrio, which forms part of Italy's border with Switzerland.

The 234 metre-long bridge is suspended 140 metres above the valley floor, making it both the highest and the longest bridge of its kind in Europe.

It connects the hilltop towns of Campo Tartano and Frasnino and provides panoramic views over the Valtellina valley, situated at the foot of the Rhaetian Alps in Lombardy.

Excitement about the bridge has been spreading throughout Italy since a Facebook video of his walk over the structure posted by Luigi Tripiciano went viral on social media.

The 700 wooden panels which form the base of the Tibetan-style bridge's walkway were made using locally-sourced larch wood, reports GreenMe. The structure is held together by four large steel cables.
The bridge is open for public use between 9.30am and 4.30pm daily and until sunset on Saturdays, and is free for children under the age of 14 and costs adults €5 per day for an unlimited number of uses, according to the official website of the Valtellina valley.






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The project, born in 2016, was intended not merely to meet a practical need but also give the area a much-needed tourism boost.
To that end, it also includes a new birdwatching site and small bivouac shelter for hikers and birdwatchers at the Frasnino end of the bridge, donated by a member of the Püstarèsc Consortium, the project's main sponsor and promoter.
“The goal was to focus attention with this attraction on our beautiful valley that, unfortunately, is not immune to the phenomenon of depopulation that our mountain areas are experiencing,” said Püstarèsc Consortium president Renato Bertolini.
“I would say we are succeeding,” he added.


Brussels warns Italy to rein in public spending amid pandemic

Most EU member states should continue to invest to support the continent's economic recovery, but heavily-indebted Italy should rein in public spending, the European Commission warned on Wednesday.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi expects the country's GDP to recover in the coming year. Photo: Alessandra Tarantino / POOL / AFP

“The economy is bouncing back from the recession, driven by a rebound in demand across Europe,” EU executive vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis said.

“But we are not out of the woods yet. The economic outlook remains riddled with uncertainty,” he said, warning that the coronavirus is still spreading, prices are rising and supply chains face disruption.

Despite these unpredictable threats, European officials predict a strong recovery, and want eurozone governments to maintain their “moderately supportive fiscal stance” to support investment.

EXPLAINED: How Italy’s proposed new budget could affect you

Italy, however, remains a worry. Its public debt passed 155 percent of its GDP last year, and Brussels is worried that it is still budgeting to spend too much next year.

“In order to contribute to the pursuit of a prudent fiscal policy, the Commission invites Italy to take the necessary measures within the national budgetary process to limit the growth of nationally financed current expenditure,” the commission report said.

The commission did not say by how much Italy’s spending plans should be reduced, and its recommendation is not binding on the government.

The European Union suspended its fiscal discipline rules last year, allowing eurozone members to boost their public spending to help their economies survive the Covid-19 pandemic.

But the European commissioner for the economy, former Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni, said governments should now “gradually pivot fiscal measures towards investments”.

“Policies should be differentiated across the euro area to take into account the state of the recovery and fiscal sustainability,” he said.

“Reducing debt in a growth-friendly manner is not necessarily an oxymoron.”

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, a former European Central Bank chief, has said Italy’s economy is recovering after the pandemic-induced recession.

Draghi forecast economic growth this year of “probably well over six percent” in a statement on October 28th.

Italy’s GDP rate grew by 2.6% in the third quarter of 2021.

While economists don’t expect Italian GDP to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels until 2022, ratings agency Standard & Poor has revised its outlook for Italian debt from stable to positive.