Today in Italy: A roundup of the latest news on Friday

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Today in Italy: A roundup of the latest news on Friday
Environmental activists from the Ultima Generazione group hold banners after smearing the facade of Milan's La Scala theatre with paint in December 2022. Photo by Piero CRUCIATTI / AFP

Snow on the way, big fines for climate 'vandals', an anti-speed camera vigilante and more news from around Italy on Friday.


Italy’s top story on Friday:

Snow was expected for many parts of the country with a cold snap forecast over the coming weekend.

Northern regions were braced for an abrupt four- to five-degree dip in daytime temperatures on Friday, and below-zero conditions overnight, as a cold air front moves in from northern Europe.

The sudden drop in temperatures was expected to favour abundant snowfall at locations across the Alps, with snow also forecast at lower altitudes.

By Saturday, central regions were likely to see temperatures drop and stormy conditions move in.

Italy brings in fines for climate protesters 

A new law allowing fines of up to 60,000 euros for anyone found guilty of damaging or defacing Italy's monuments got final approval from parliament on Thursday.

The clampdown was announced in April last year after environmental activists, mostly from Italy's Ultima Generazione group, staged a string of controversial protests targeting some of the country’s most famous buildings and artworks over the past two years – demonstrations which often resulted in thousands of euros’ worth of damage.

Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano welcomed the decree as a "principle of respect for national culture".

“It is good that it is no longer Italians who pay but those who are responsible for the acts of damage," he added.

The decree was met with criticism by opposition forces, with Democratic Party (PD) MP Laura Boldrini saying the new rules "did nothing but restrict the right to dissent and protest".


Magistrates slam 'unacceptable' wiretap bill

A proposed bill seeking to limit the publication of information obtained via wiretaps came under fire on Thursday, with Giuseppe Santalucia, the president of Italy’s magistrates union ANM, described it as an “unacceptable” form of government control on the judiciary.

Italy's Senate on Thursday approved the bill, which looks to outlaw the transcription and publication on news media of wiretap information “relative to people other than" those subject to wiretapping.

Political commentators have also condemned the proposed bill as a new “gag law” limiting the powers of the press and freedom of expression.

Italy’s Justice Minister Carlo Nordio earlier defended the bill as “a minimum norm of civility” to protect third parties, saying wiretaps as a judicial tool are “excessive [and] disproportionate in number and costs when compared to their results”.


Police hunt for anti-speed camera vigilante

A man believed to have knocked down some 11 speed cameras between Veneto, Lombardy and Piedmont  months was at the centre of a police manhunt in northern Italy. 

The suspect, whom social media users have dubbed Fleximan based on his tool of choice (a flessibile, or angle grinder) is believed to have last struck the night between Friday, January 12th and Saturday, January 13th, when he allegedly cut down a speed trap on state road 343 in Martignana di Po, Lombardy.

Police forces in the area were sifting through CCTV footage to identify the man. “I can’t make any predictions, but we’re at work,” said the commander of Rovigo’s (Veneto) Carabinieri unit Edoardo Campora.

Meanwhile, Fleximan’s fame is growing by the day on social media platforms, with users praising him as a “hero” or as the “new Robin Hood”.


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