Life Is Too Short For Not Living in Italy

iCub, a child-like humanoid designed by the RobotCub Consortium, taken at VVV 2010

Italy is generally a beautiful country with lots of promises and attractions. Many people from across the world know Italy for its exquisite recipes and romance. The wine, the food and coffee is just out of this world. Even the simple act of walking in this part of the world has a way of cooking up ideas with wishes that this feeling should last forever. If you are considering moving to Italy, it just might be the best move ever. Here are a few advantages of moving to Italy to psych you up.

Inspired by this Ted talk by La Stampa multilingual journalist Ioanna Merope Ippiotis we decided to write our own version on why is better to live in Italy than the Us, and the UK.

1. Networking

Italy has relatively fewer opportunities compared to UK and US. For this reason, Italians have perfected the art of networking, and they spend a lot of time trying to make connections with likeminded people. Whatever your reason for moving to Italy, you will need to stay open minded and interactive to build a supportive network around you.

For starters, and if you can afford it, consider working for little or no compensation at first while targeting to meet new people who will potentially open new doors for you. The best part is you won’t have trouble making networks because this is what Italians do best; they are best at personal relations. Sending cold letters to potential employers doesn’t work well here; Italians prefer networking as their first method of finding a job.

Although there is a partial believe that it’s not what you know, but who you know, you can easily turn this around to your advantage through your networking or marketing skills. There are lots of professional networking platforms and organizations such as Ecademy.com, the American Women’s Association of Rome, Benvenuto Club of Milan, among others. Depending in your interests and location, you should find some if these groups and join. Once your face becomes familiar, people will start to trust you and it will be easier to land jobs and business deals.

 

2. Mark Zuckerberg watch this space.

For many Italy is a paternalistic society lacking of innovation, constantly stuck in cycles of recession or low economic growth. But it is often this lack of opporunities that generates the most creative ideas. As we seen worldwide after the 2008 financial crisis, there is a new wave of innovations, and Italy is not immune to that. From Arduino to the Reggio Emilia food innovation programme , Italy innovation spans from 3d printing technology such as the delta wasp project  to intelligent robots such as the ICub created by the Italian technology institute.

Italy was alredy an innovator in the 60s,70s with many fields such as cinema, design, and fashion, and it is doing it again now. So why only look at the US, and UK for jobs or investment opportunities?

3. Cheaper cost of living

The general cost of living can greatly fluctuate depending on whether you plan to live in the north or south. The northern part of Italy tends to be wealthier compared to the south, for this reason, prices in major cities such as Rome and Milan are considerably higher than in the rural areas. In between, there are medium cities and cultural lifestyles that offer a bit of both. In other words, this country has something for everyone.

You will, however, be pleasantly surprised to note that the cost of living in Italy is generally low compared to most cities in UK and US. Whatever your preferences and tastes, the cost of living in Italy is not a high as many people may expect. Many people who come as tourists leave with the impression that Italy is an expensive country to live in. However, if you keep off tourist hot spots, you will not have to spend a fortune to enjoy life here.

Again, the cost of living will depend on where you choose to settle and your lifestyle. Real estate and accommodation will probably be your biggest expense, so by avoiding major cities and choosing small to medium towns, you can save quite a lot. Other living expenses such as food, fuel, and health are fairly consistent across the country. On a wider scale, we can say that the country has a relatively stable economy, salaries are generally reasonable and standard of living is high compared to other EU countries.

If you want to compare the cost of living of your country with Italy try to have a go on this site.

4. Less violence

Most Italian cities are reasonably safe, and security should not be on your list of concerns. However, as an extra layer of security, always get to know your neighbors. Italians look after their own, so the more people you know the safer you will stay. When it comes to moving around cities, especially at night, there are a few neighborhoods that are best left alone. There are a few cases of petty crime in some Italian cities and you can easily fall prey to pickpockets especially if you don’t speak Italian.

Again, as I have mentioned, security is not a major issue here in Italy. Additionally, there is no binge drinking culture that are known to cause violence and personal security issues in cities in the US and UK. 

Also so far Italy has been spared by terrorist attacks that are plaguing countries like the UK and France. Amongst other reasons experts claims that  migrants are less likely to live in ghettos in Italy than in other countries, this leads to a drecreased marginalisation and better integrations, therefore a less violent society with lower inequalities.

 

4. Weather and foods

It’s globally known that Italians take their foods really seriously. The quality of food you get in any restaurant or supermarket will normally be superior to what you can expect in the US. While you have to really search for good food in the US and UK, you have to equally search for bad food in Italy. Generally, the Italians have the best supermarkets. And even the smallest food stores in the smallest towns have a great spread of vegetables, fruits, cheese, and meat.

The strict food laws here prevent excessive use of chemical pesticides, colorings or preservatives. This makes their food quality and safety exceptional. When it comes to their restaurants, you will love the locally grown, fresh foods that making eating here such as delightful experience. The convenience of frozen pizzas and fast food are rare here, and dinner actually lasts for hours.

While many visitors imagine that the weather in Italy is dry and sunny throughout, the climate here actually varies based on location. If you are planning to settle in Milan for instance, you will have an entirely different weather calendar compared to someone living in Palermo. Generally, there are not torturing extremities that can make life unbearable or uncomfortable during your stay here.

 

5. Surroundings and moving around

No matter where you decide to settle in Italy, you will always be surrounded by incredibly rich natural beauty and heritage. After a while, you will absorb in the culture and rich history and start to appreciate your beautiful environment. With time, you will never want to step on a treadmill as there is always plenty to see when you walk around. It’s surprisingly quite easy to move around as most cities and towns are well connected. Additionally, major cities are never far away from the mountains and sea and you can enjoy the view as you speed past in the high-speed trains.

 

6. You will Live longer

Seriously, though, remember when I said Italians take their foods seriously? Aside from strict food regulations, locally grown fresh foods and minimal junk and fast foods, the Mediterranean diet seems to have taken this country by storm in the last two decades.

For starters, the Mediterranean diet essentially incorporates all the basics of healthy eating. Most of these diets include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, and limit unhealthy fats. So if you want to live a few more years in better health and fewer medications, please carry on with your relocation to Italy.

 

Digital Fabrication Helps The Bees With An Opensource Beehive

 Did you know that one in every third food bite you consume depends on successful pollination of plants, specifically attributed to pollinators like bees? According to scientists, if we are to overlook this continued decimation of the bee population, then that time is not far away when we may find ourselves at a huge irreparable loss.

This calls for an undertaking from our parts to protect bees and their beehives, who are on a rapidly decline due to climate change and various other reasons. This very need led to the formulation of an open source beehive project  and resulted in the creation of an open source beehive, the design of which is open to use and modification.

What is Open source beehives all about.

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Top bar open source beehive

Their main goal is to build and facilitate a group of citizen scientists, to understand the reason behind the rapid decline of the bee population; which as of yet, remains a mystery. There are some points that need to be taken into cognisance, these points would help us better analyze this project.

Furthermore, these set of digital files ( the usage of which has been presented below), could be used on a CNC machine to replicate these stylish beehives. One such beehive would follow the best beekeeping practices, as well as create a conducive environment for your bees!

1. The beehives so designed are known to respect best beekeeping principles, which, in turn, create a facilitating environment for our bees and help them grow as well as work to their maximum potential.

2. They also use a field data logger mechanism which assesses the audio and video inputs provided by the bees. Such an input helps the project observe the state of the bees, and prods you into taking corrective measures if necessary.

3. After that comes the beehive classification algorithm, which is used to observe and analyze the various audio signals emitted from the beehive. Such input, one obtained, would help characterize as well as segregated the behavior shown by the bees, tallying it from a long list of beekeeping practices. This list includes intimidation on various factors like swarming, moth invasions or the worst possible case – Catastrophe ( theft or invasion ).

4. Also, there is the buzz box hardware, which could be installed non-intrusively in the beehive. This piece of hardware would help keep a tab on various factors inside and outside the beehive. It would help you track the temperature, battery charge, barometric pressure, and hive vibration. All of this data could be easily accessed on your smartphone and would help you in keeping a tab on your bees.

5. Finally, there is the buzz box phone app, which is meant to provide you with notifications as well as readings of your bees behavior. All of this could be gotten on your smartphone and is easily accessible to read and refer to. Also, if any significant change is noticed, an intimation would be provided to you almost instantly, which would make your life far easier

Why do our bees need help

To understand this important point, we have to understand their importance to us. If bees wouldn’t have been there to pollinate our crops, hard labor related pollination would cost us over 300bn$ ( Global estimate ). Now, that isn’t a small figure to pay no heed to; also, as have been asserted above, they provide us with a third of our food!

There are many factors and facets behind the rapidly declining population of the bees. Some have been enunciated below, this would help you better understand the reasons attributed to it.

1. Pesticides

Pesticides are a major “buzz kill”. Jokes apart, excessive utilization of pesticides in agriculture has lead to the creation of an unhealthy environment for our bees. There are many pesticides that are known as the bee-killers, but there have been no concrete steps taken to prevent their usage. Albeit, they are usually ignored, for the greater good, or something like that!

2. Mass agriculture

Wild pollinators need more than agriculture-related plants to work. Due to the explosive decline in forests, grass and shrubs, bees find themselves at a loss of a place to call their “home”. Also, intensive agriculture commands more than 35% of the ice-free surface area, with it growing year-on-year.

3. Climate Change

The much talked about topic of climate change would have adverse effects on the growth of the population of wild pollinators. This erratic change in temperature, rainfall, and many other factors leads to a confusion in pollinators about the ongoing season.

4. Parasites

Parasites like Varroa mite have, over the years, led to a rapid loss of bee colonies. If research is to believed, then they are as inimical to bee health as are pesticides usage. When pollinators contract such parasites, they tend to experience a rapid decline in their immune system and find it hard to fight and fend off minor diseases. Now, that leads to an unaccounted number of deaths in pollinators.

What can an Open source beehive do

With the ever-growing grasp of technology over our normal lives, it would be wise to use this knowledge in preserving something that means so much to us. If we are able to create an healthy environment for our bees, then it would, in turn, also benefit us in the long run. Furthermore, such steps taken by an open source project  are always steps in the right direction, as it allows people to participate, modify, and collaborate on such an importa issue.

A decimation of their population due to climate change, pesticides, pathogens etc. could lead to a massive loss of our food security. Hence, Citizen science or public participation in scientific research is the need of the hour. If all of us come together to provide our opinion on the subject, then that time is not far away when the bee population would be more robust.

Also, when we utilize the help of technology, it becomes much easier for us to keep an observant check on bees and their conditions in beehives. This would also aid us in fending off any unwanted attack on them!

The World According To Renato Bialetti

On the 11th of February 2016, Renato Bialetti, the man who has made the moka pot famous in the world, has passed at the age of 93. We would like to honor his memory by honoring his family business and most importantly the moka pot, an invention that has revolutionized the way Italians, and the rest of the world can make excellent coffee even in the leisure of their homes. Moka

The Bialetti Family.

While it was Alfonso Bialetti who invented this revolutionary type of coffee maker, taking inspiration, by the way, his wife used to do laundry, it was his son, Renato, who made the passion for the stove-top creation explode worldwide.

Iconic and useful.

Italians used to be able to make coffee at home by filtering the boiling water over the ground coffee, but with the invention of the moka, which is not only a very useful tool but also a design object, the lives of Italians and others all around the globe (most of the international users of the moka are in the other countries of Europe and in Latin America) have changed radically. The Bialetti moka, as well as other moka pots made by other brands, does everything by itself thanks to the water pressure rising as the liquid comes to a boil and filters, with an upwards motion, the coffee grounds. The result varies according to the quality of the ground coffee used, temperature of water, fineness of grind and type of roast for the coffee beans used, but the coffee made with a moka affords users to drink it whenever, and with bigger moka pots coffee can be served for the whole family after a meal in just one go. Moreover, the new and improved method for extraction of coffee available thanks to the Bialetti invention gives an extraction ratio similar to (or at times higher than) that of an espresso machine found commonly at a bar or café, and the coffee made with a moka pot is decidedly stronger than one produced with drip brewing.

The method with which the moka produces coffee isn’t the only aspect that has participated in making the coffee maker an incredible invention, but it’s also the shape of the moka that has become such a symbol that nowadays most of the moka pots produced tend to keep the same design. Its shape is so recognizable by Italians and globally thanks to the effort made by Renato Bialetti who spread the love, passion and knowledge for this invention to the rest of the world.

The Bialetti Company.

 In 1952, the joined efforts with an advertiser made possible the creation of the symbol of the Bialetti company, the “little man with a mustache” that can be seen as the brand’s mascot on the moka pots produced.
We can say that the creation of Alfonso Bialetti and the efforts of Renato Bialetti have made it possible for the Italian coffee tradition to evolve, allowing women to enjoy the pleasure that was until then exclusive of men who frequented bars in their own home and allowed men to enter the kitchen to create original and high-quality coffee with a simple gesture.

What Made in Italy and Silicon Valley Have in Common

Google Cultural Institute, in collaboration with the Italian Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies and Unioncamere, founded Made in Italy, a section of the international cultural site devoted to give users information about the authentic Italian products.

It goes without saying that we looked for Emilia Romagna features and are proud to see Aceto Balsamico di Modena, Parmigiano Reggiano, Mortadella di Bologna and other delicacies among the results. Each product page actually emphasizes their historical and geographical origins and give useful information about the production process. The gallery of products is enriched with great photos too. Each of the products can be found by keywords or by area of production looking up into a user-friendly map.

The creation of Made in Italy has been announced by Erich Schmidt, president of the Mountain View colossus, at the Big Tent of Rome last 9 October and has been realized on January 2014. The site seems to be aimed to promote the typical food and handicraft products actually Made in Italy. But it is more than that. Find out what.

asiago dop e aceto balsamico tradizionale di modena
Made in Italy – source

 New strategies for the Italian producers

As you may guess, the main target of the Made in Italy project is not only to provide a simple search tool for foodies. Eric Schmidt believe that going digital can contribute to the economic growth of many Italian agro-alimentary businesses.

Italy has many valuable products with unique taste and traditional methods of production but they need more visibility on the web. Statistics say that only 34% of Italian businesses have a website, and of these, the 13% is an e-commerce site. That means that only a minimum percentage of Italian entrepreneurs, use the Internet to advertise their products. But the situation could change since it has been noted how an accurate Internet strategy could help to grow the national income.

New opportunities for the Italian economy

Roberto Moncalvo, Coldiretti president, is proud of the Google Cultural Institute’s program since it helps to fight the Italian Sounding phenomenon – which steals up to 60 billion euros from the Italian turnover each year – through accurate information spread to international customers.

While Ministry Nunzia de Girolamo praised the initiative defining it as “link a Food Valley and Silicon Valley”, she pointed that the strategy lacks of concrete results. Maybe an e-commerce platform supporting the existing elegant gallery – she suggests – may turn into a great opportunity for the Italian SMEs to reach a wider market and sell their products worldwide.

New challenges for future partnerships

Google seems to be quite happy to give the deserved visibility to the Italian “excellences”, so they are called the products already part of the Made in Italy site. But president Eric Schmidt pointed that a fast internet connection should be available even in the rural areas of Italy since any new Internet user can turn into a new Google services user, advertiser or buyer.

While the broadband connection is on the must-do list of the Italian ministry De Girolamo, there is another step to be accomplished. That is the introduction of the famous “Google Tax” for all the international giants such as Google – but also Facebook and Amazon – since, at present, they pay only a little fee for the big amount of transactions made from Italian purchasers.

While we wait for more updates, let’s get an appetite for good things here: google.it/madeinitaly!