Tag Archives: Italy

The Heist of the Mona Lisa (1911)

On August 21, 1911, Leondardo da Vinci’s most famous painting, the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre by Italian nationalist Vincenzo Peruggia. He reportedly committed the crime alone and stated that he intended to return the painting to Italy – a restoration of native goods. Peruggia was apparently unaware that Leonardo himself sold the painting to King Francois I.

However,t he case itself is one of the least understood and mysterious art heists in history. Peruggia reportedly walked into the Louvre, removed the painting fro a wall, wrapped it in clothe, and then walked out the door – all in plain view of the Security Guards (who reported that they assumed he was the Museum Photographer).

This month, Discovery News highlights the history of the heist and the man behind it in their article: “The Story Behind the Mona Lisa Heist.”

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Should Pompeii Become a Theme Park?

The Cit of Pompeii is perhaps the most famous and well visited archaeological site in the world. Due to exposure, climate, and, most of all, tourism foot-traffic, the remains of Pompeii are often on the radar due to degradation and damage that the site has experienced – most recently the collapse of several walls and buildings that resulted in the damage to several important regions of the site.

How to address the issue of Pompeii is a large and problematic one. As a major tourist attraction in Italy, it is a large revenue base. Severe cut-backs and revenue problems in Italy mean that funding for conservation habits is always problematic.

Today on the BBC, scholars argue whether or not the site should be closed or if it should just become a full-on tourist attraction/theme park. Will that solve its revenue problems? Check out the podcast here.

American Teachers Do More Work for Less Money than Their Peers

Courtesy of Good is is this infographic that highlights the significant pay and work gap between American teachers and their industrialized peers. You can see the original here or click on the infographic below for a larger image.

The Pompeii of the Etruscans

The Etruscans were one of the most prolific peoples to occupy the Italian peninsula before the Romans and their influence on Roman life and culture is unquestionable. In spite of their importance and significance, very little research has been done on Etruscan life and culture. New excavations in the Etruscan town of Vetulonia have uncovered a fully furnished Etruscan house.

While excavations at the 2,400 year old home are still in process, archaeologists have uncovered pottery, furniture, and many types of tiles. A destruction layer indicates that the house was brought down by a fire in 79 B.C., possibly set by the Roman dictator Sulla. To read more about the excavations and the discoveries being made at this site, read this article by Discovery News.

Roman Shipwreck Had Onboard Fish Tanks

Excavations of the Grabo wreck, off the coast of Italy, have revealed that the ship possessed an ingenious system for keeping live fish on board in tanks. A section of lead pipe found onboard belonged to a pumping mechanism that kept oxygenated water circulating through the tanks – key to sustaining live fish.

The wreck was discovered in 1986 but not excavated until 1999. Archaeologists and scholars are still learning by analyzing the remains. You can read about this finding and more about the Grabo wreck in this month’s Nature Magazine or at Scientific American.

For an update, read my post “More on the Roman Grado Shipwreck.”