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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
Animal rights activists on Thursday sprayed washable paint on a lion statue in Rome to protest against the use of animals in circuses. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP)

Animal rights activists target Rome fountain, Italy's government announces new museum, and more news from around Italy on Friday.


Italy's top news story on Friday:

Italy's news headlines were dominated again on Friday by the story of Ilaria Salis, the 39-year-old school teacher and activist on trial in Hungary accused of attacking two members of a neo-Nazi group in February 2023.

Her father said on Thursday he would sue Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini, who had commented that it was “absurd that this Salis is a teacher” and linked the activist to the tearing down of a League party gazebo in Monza in February 2017 – a charge which Salis was acquitted of last December.

The Italian government this week demanded an explanation from Hungary's envoy after footage emerged of Salis attending court in Budapest with her hands and feet bound in chains, sparking outrage in Italy.

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and Hungarian premier Viktor Orban discussed Salis’s case during a meeting on Wednesday, with Orban later telling the press that “all of [her] rights will be guaranteed". 

Activists spray paint on Rome fountain in circus animal protest

Two activists from Italian campaign group Animal Rebellion threw paint over the lion fountain in Rome's iconic Piazza del Popolo to protest against the use of animals in the country's circuses.

They used what they said was washable yellow and red paint, before putting up a banner saying: "End animals in circuses," AFP reported.

In a statement, the group said the action marked the launch of the "Kimba campaign" to end the "violent and oppressive" exploitation of animals in circuses in Italy.

It was named after Kimba, a lion which escaped from the Rony Roller Circus in the seaside town of Ladispoli, near Rome, in November.


Rome museum announced in memory of Foibe massacres

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s cabinet has approved the creation of a new museum in Rome commemorating the victims of the Foibe massacres – a series of mass killings perpetrated in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Istria and Dalmatia by Yugoslav forces both during and after World War II.

The announcement came ten days before Italy’s Memorial Day of the Foibe, falling on Saturday, February 10th. 

The Museo del Ricordo (Remembrance Museum) will “preserve and renew the memory of the tragedy [...] of all the victims of the Foibe” and “of the exodus of Istria, Fiume and Dalmatia residents from their lands", Italy's culture ministry said in a statement.

The exact number of Foibe victims is disputed, though historians estimate that the toll may be as high as 15,000.

John Travolta to appear at Sanremo music festival

American actor John Travolta is to make a guest appearance at Italy’s popular Sanremo music festival on Wednesday, February 7th, the show's host Amadeus told reporters.

This won’t be Travolta's first time on the Ariston Theatre’s stage. He made a previous appearance at Sanremo in 2006, when he gave actress and presenter Victoria Cabello a foot massage in a humorous nod to an iconic scene in Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction.

Travolta, who will turn 70 on February 18th, has Italian roots as his paternal grandfather emigrated to the US from Godrano, near Palermo.


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