Barbie Nadeau

Stories by Barbie Nadeau

  • Author in Hiding From Mafia

    After writing a best-selling book about the Neapolitan mafia, Roberto Saviano was forced into hiding. With Italian police arresting dozens of mafia suspects, he comes out to talk about his nation's fight against organized crime.
  • Murder Most Wired

    Police in Italy have turned to the Web to unravel a gruesome and heartbreaking homicide mystery.
  • Italy: New Suspect in Sex Murder

    Italian police have arrested another man in connection with the Perugia killing of British student Meredith Kercher.
  • Perugia’s ‘Extreme Sex’ Murder

    An Italian judge believes that a young Seattle woman instigated a vicious 'extreme sex' killing. Her student friends say she is just a dorky sweetheart. Deconstructing the grim tale of Amanda Knox.
  • Test-Driving a Maserati

    Correspondent Barbie Nadeau finds out what a Maserati can do in the right hands.
  • In The Driver’s Seat

    Not long ago Maserati was nearly bankrupt. Now it's growing fast while sales of the big three German luxury carmakers are falling. How'd that happen?
  • Perfecting Pinot

    Scientists—from France, no less—now want to tinker with the DNA of wine.
  • Nautical Pompeii Found in Pisa

    Pisa is famous for its leaning tower, but archeologists there are now uncovering an amazing fleet of ancient ships, some complete with crew and cargo.
  • Correspondents' Picks: Malta

    NEWSWEEK's Barbie Nadeau reviews her favorite sites, beaches and nightlife in the Mediterranean island of Malta.
  • Inside Italy's Ban on Squeegee People

    The plan was to rid Italy's streets of squeegee people and panhandlers. What went wrong—and what it says about the country's attitude toward the nomads known as Roma.
  • Uffizi Expansion: Making Room for Art

    By 7 a.m. on a winter's day in the heart of medieval Florence, the queue for the Uffizi Gallery's ticket booth already winds around the block. Bundled against frigid winds off the nearby Arno River, thousands of tourists wait outside for two hours or more for a glimpse of the world's best collection of Renaissance art. In the summer, the weather is better and the lines even longer; the wait just to get to the entrance can easily exceed four hours. For a hefty premium, tourists can skirt the queue with a reservation. But they still can't beat the press of the crowds inside—melding into what can only be compared to Dante's "Inferno"—as nearly 5,000 people a day jostle through the ancient galleries for a glimpse of masterpieces by Cimabue, Botticelli, da Vinci, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Giotto and Raphael. "Right now the experience could be a lot better than it is," admits Marco Fossi of the superintendent's office of the Uffizi. "The overall crush does not enhance the value of seeing...
  • Walter Veltroni: The Italian Bill Clinton

    In six years as mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni has calmed a notoriously fractious city built upon a 2,500-year-old infrastructure and centuries of ineffective management. He kept the budget in line, increased tourism and, after nearly a decade of stagnation, revved up the local economy, which has grown 6.1 percent since he took office, compared with 1.4 percent nationally. The mayor even brought back the kind of glitterati Rome has not seen since the days of La Dolce Vita in the 1950s, staging a 45th-anniversary party for the designer Valentino that actress Sarah Jessica Parker dubbed "the most glamorous fashion show of all time."Now Veltroni, 52, hopes to bring his touch to the prime minister's office. In late June, he called for an end to the "angry conflicts and poison" of Italian politics, announcing to raucous applause his candidacy to lead the center-left's new Democratic Party, a fusion of the two largest parties in the ruling coalition government. The party primary is in...
  • Luxury Without Labels

    For some, nothing feels as luxurious as a designer insignia. Whether it's a massive C on the bow of glossy sunglasses or the offset LV on a well-crafted piece of luggage, the symbol plays a big part in announcing one's status. So then why did the New York-based Luxury Institute just name Bottega Veneta—which prides itself on sporting no labels at all—the world's most luxurious brand? "Bottega Veneta is a one-of-a-kind classic boutique brand that executes the fundamentals of luxury extraordinarily well," says Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute, which surveyed 500 U.S. homes with a median annual income of $318,000 to find the world's most admired luxury brand. "It's understated, not gimmicky. It is not so involved in labeling itself."But that doesn't mean it's not readily identifiable. Even without a blatant insignia, Bottega Veneta handbags, shoes, clothing and home accessories are easy to distinguish, thanks to their tasteful use of animal prints and telltale hand-woven...
  • Made by Foreign Hands

    The town of Prato, just outside Florence, is not exactly typical of this part of Italy. Sure, it's got the requisite medieval wall, a handful of baroque churches and charming cobblestone streets. But instead of sautéed garlic, the lingering aroma is of fried wontons. In the cafés, red paper lanterns are as prevalent as red-and-white-checkered tablecloths, and more people speak Mandarin than Italian.In fact, this Tuscan community of about 200,000 is home to Europe's second largest Chinatown, after Paris. It's also the heart of Italy's apparel industry, home of the MADE IN ITALY label, which for many conjures up visions of old Italian craftsmen hunched over workbenches, sewing the last stitches on a pair of leather shoes or designer handbag. Gucci and Prada have their factory outlets here; Prato even houses Italy's official textile museum, which traces the history of the country's luxury-garment industry.But the image of the skilled Italian worker lovingly plying his trade is fading...
  • OnScene: Anti-U.S. Protestors Flood Rome's Streets

    A general rule of thumb when dealing with protesters is that they don't like to be tricked. So when hundreds of would-be demonstrators from across Italy took advantage Saturday of discount train tickets offered to those participating in the peaceful anti-Bush demonstrations in Rome, they were a little more than miffed to find their discount wasn’t exactly a bargain. The trains with high numbers of discount tickets were significantly delayed and one was even diverted to a suburban station rather than Rome's central station near the starting point of the organized protests. Anti-riot police in Milan blocked a protester-heavy train heading to Rome on the tracks for nearly an hour, prohibiting a handful of protesters from boarding after finding fire extinguishers and other telltale violent protest paraphernalia in rucksacks. By the time everyone arrived and the antiwar march began—nearly two hours late—tension was high.For the past week, many Italians have been grumbling about President...
  • Italy: Naples's Stinky, Dirty Trash Crisis

    In Naples, the tourist season is kicking off with a plague of flies, burned rats and nauseating stenches. What happens when an Italian city can't collect its garbage.
  • Italians Revisit Mussolini's Fascist Legacy

    The Villa Torlonia is one of Rome’s last existing examples of 17th-century grandeur. But when city authorities recently unveiled its main palazzo after a $6 million restoration, the result was anything but majestic. The 20th-century interior is ostentatious, the chandeliers gaudy and the frescoes grandiose. The reason for the jarring décor: to showcase the lifestyle of its last Italian resident, former dictator Benito Mussolini.Mussolini lived in the Villa Torlonia with his wife, Rachele, and their children from 1925 to 1943. And while the decision to restore it in the image of a pro-Nazi Fascist may seem an odd choice to outsiders, it reflects a growing fascination among Italians with Il Duce. A spate of Mussolini-themed movies and documentaries are in the works; visitors are snapping up clothes and flags with Fascist insignias from the Villa Mussolini Museum at the seaside village of Riccione, where the family kept a summer home. Additional souvenir stores and museums are opening...
  • Stromboli, Italy: Building On The Volcano

    The view from Punta la Bronzo Pizzeria on the upper reaches of the volcanic island of Stromboli is stunning. Tiny islands dot the turquoise sea in the distance, and dramatic cliffs tower above a black-sand beach below. The lifestyle is a blend of opulence and simplicity: Stromboli is car-free, the local community is generous to visitors and the food is divine. It's no surprise that wealthy Italians from the president of the republic, Giorgio Napolitano, to the luxe designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana keep summer villas here. Lately, however, the blue skies are hazy and the fresh air is powdered with volcanic ash, thanks to an eruption that began on Feb. 27.The sight of red-hot lava running down the sides of Stromboli should not have come as a surprise to its swank residents. Stromboli is the most active volcano on the planet, says the U.S. Geological Survey. Yet new construction has risen nearly 20 percent in the last decade, mostly multimillion-euro villas tucked into the...
  • Let Them Eat … CSB?

    Chef Heinz Beck’s kitchen at Rome’s exquisite La Pergola restaurant is arguably one of the best in the Eternal City, serving up innovative cuisine like cannelloni with duck, foie gras in kuzu béchamel, and venison in a pistachio crust with chestnut purée and persimmon jam to a discerning international clientele. But there may soon be a new item on the menu: crème brûlée made with “CSB” and topped with pineapple gelato. Far from a trendy new acronym for the latest in haute cuisine ingredients, CSB stands for corn soya blend, the same vitamin-enriched food-ration substance that humanitarian aid workers truck through mine fields in Afghanistan and air drop from C-130s into Sudan. It is generally distributed in 25-pound canvas bags and made into mush or porridge under the dire conditions of war, famine and natural disaster. On its own, it has virtually no flavor, but it does provide crucial daily nutrition with little more than a few drops of water and even the most rustic mortar and...
  • Balmy Biking

    Now you can stay warm and manage to still look hot riding your Vespa this winter. Tucano Urbano, the leader in moped and motor-cycle accessories, has just added a line of fur- and cashmere-lined faux-zebra or -leopard leg aprons that recycle air from the radiator in order to keep you warm ($200 to $800; ). Dainese has introduced a black waterproof overcoat for women that actually makes reflective striping look glamorous (from $400; ). And Italian headwear manufacturer Borsalino is offering a fur-lined helmet, the Lapin, complete with silk-covered neck strap (from $450; ). Not to be outdone, Prada is coming out with a gazelle-fur-covered helmet. It's available only by special order (about $3,000; ). Now keep your eyes on the road. -Barbie Nadeau
  • The Relief Cycle

    Last fall, when the Naples police were mopping up blood from the cobblestones near Piazza Plebiscito after a fatal Camorra shoot-out, the orchestra at the nearby Teatro di San Carlo opera house was preoccupied with another violent scene: the battle in Leonard Bernstein's "Candide." Given the violence outside, those inside the San Carlo had reason to believe it would be a good season; in the house's 270-year history, trouble in the streets has often translated into better attendance. So far, the San Carlo has sold nearly 84 percent of its season tickets for this year--some for as much as €800--making it one of the best-attended seasons in recent memory. "In times like these, this opera house has always been a wonderful escape," says Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi, director of the Teatro di San Carlo. "Naples is a difficult, if not desperate, community to entertain."But escalating violence is not the only reason Naples's opera house is full. Despite budget cuts that have plagued all of Italy...
  • The Relics Return

    The dusty Via Garibaldi is about as trendy as it gets in the northwestern Sicilian village of Trapani, known mostly for its salt mines and ferry terminal. The narrow pedestrian street is the site of the daily passagiata by locals, who window-shop at boutiques housed in aging palazzi. But these days, one storefront offers much more than designer shoes or handbags: the Palazzo Milo Pappalardo contains the new exhibit "Selinunte Rediscovered: Materials Restituted from the J. Paul Getty Museum" (through Oct. 15), comprising precious artifacts stolen from the Greek ruins of nearby Selinunte that have recently been brought back to Italy from the Los Angeles museum. The free exhibit, displayed in a series of elegant, simply dressed storefront windows, is a far cry from the spectacularly modern Getty. But the collection, anchored by the sixth-century B.C. funeral epigraph of "Latinos" and a fifth-century B.C. religious text, or "Lex Sacra," looks a lot more at home here.Seeing Italian...
  • The Premiere of Rome

    In one of the most captivating scenes from the 1953 Oscar-winning movie "Roman Holiday," a young Audrey Hepburn hops on a Vespa and weaves through the ancient cobblestone streets of Rome. With Gregory Peck hanging on amorously, they glide past monuments, ruins, fountains and marquees that look exactly the same today. In countless films since, including "Three Coins in the Fountain" and Federico Fellini's "La Dolce Vita"--and even such modern-day flicks as "Ocean's Twelve" and "Mission Impossible: 3"--the Italian capital has served as an unequivocal, if uncredited, film star in its own right. But Rome is more than a picturesque backdrop. With more than 3,000 blockbusters--including "Ben-Hur," "Cleopatra," "War and Peace" and Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ"--filmed or produced by the über -creative Cinecittà Studios over the years, Rome possesses an unparalleled cinematic heritage.It may seem long overdue, then, that the so-called Hollywood on the Tiber is finally getting its...
  • A Touch of Scandal

    Forget red wine; forget pasta. Nothing, not even mamma, is more important to the average Italian than soccer. So when what looks to be the biggest money-laundering, game-fixing, mafia-esque scandal in the history of world soccer cripples Italy just weeks before the World Cup, what do the Italians do? They name the player at the crux of the inquest--Juventus star Gianluigi Buffon--to be the national team's goalie.At one level, the choice is a no-brainer. The Azzurri have long been known for their clampdown defense, and Buffon, 28, is considered one the best goalkeepers in the world. He was named to the 1998 Italian team as a 20-year-old and then started for the 2002 Cup team that lost in a controversial round-three game to host South Korea. With Italy also fielding scoring threats like Luca Toni and Francesco Totti this year, many think the team has its best shot in years of ending a 24-year Cup drought.That kind of pressure eases a lot of suspicions. Buffon has been accused of...
  • A Year of Cappuccino

    Adjacent to the picturesque Piazza Santa Maria in Rome's medieval Trastevere district, the San Calisto coffee bar is the quintessential local haunt. Marcello, the owner, serves spectacular coffee just the way the trendy neighborhood clientele expects it. For nearly two years, Donna Young and her husband, Peter Halewood, both law professors from Albany, New York, lived in Rome and counted themselves among the regulars there, sipping cappuccini at the outdoor tables while watching the world go by. "We spent more time at the San Calisto than anywhere in those two years," recalls Young, who returned to reality in the States with her family late last year. "There were no distractions there. Just bits and pieces of real life--and not ours or anything we even knew about--that were so incredibly interesting. Although we were always stranieri , we became part of the community there. It filled some need; it sort of made us feel whole."Young and her husband, together with their two young sons,...
  • Italy: Dreams of La Dolce Vita

    If you read about Italy in the financial press, you might be excused for thinking that the days of la dolce vita, literally the sweet life, have gone very sour. The numbers are terrible: zero growth, record deficits and staggering unemployment. The main issue raised by challenger Romano Prodi against incumbent Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in this month's elections was this woeful record. (Never mind that Berlusconi is a self-made man worth billions; many of the other corporate titans in Italy concluded he was bad for business.) Yet--Berlusconi very nearly won. The Italian supreme court ruled last week that he fell short of controlling the lower house of Parliament by a mere 25,000 votes out of 38 million. Which shows that half of Italy voted for him, and suggests that many of those same people concluded that life in la bella Italia is still sweet.Are they drinking too much limoncello--or Kool-Aid--or what? Can the euro zone put up with a nation largely populated by delusional...
  • The Curse of Approval

    In 1240, the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II built his military fortress, Castel del Monte, on a lonely hill in central Puglia, where he had a perfect view of approaching enemies. He probably never envisioned it would become a major destination--or that the enemies might be tourists. But these days, the old castle has been polished clean, and hundreds of multicolored Pullman buses snake up the winding roads to its grounds, now scattered with T-shirt stands, Coca-Cola signs and a 200-car parking lot. In fact, all over this usually desolate part of southern Italy, tourists scurry between such stops as the conical trullo houses in Alberobello and the cave ruins of Matera in nearby Basilicata--all sites few would have heard of if not for the fact that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has christened them World Heritage destinations.Officially, UNESCO bestows the honor on places that exemplify an area's ancestry, with the purpose of ensuring...
  • Rome: A Whole New Beginning

    Rome has been built, pillaged, burned and buried so many times that archaeological treasures are commonplace. However, last month new finds impressed even jaded Romans. Archaeologists uncovered the first treasures ever from the period prior to Rome's mythical founding in 753 B.C.E. by Romulus and Remus. In the necropolis, archaeologists found a funeral urn and seven terra-cotta vases filled with bronze miniatures of weapons of the era. And in Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli, just outside the city, workers unearthed a monumental staircase with 15 steps and a headless sphinx. Archaeologists will now have to rethink Rome's beginnings, which are much older than historians have been teaching us, and put some flesh on these old bones.
  • Volcano Fatigue

    While Giuseppe D'Emilio is drawing down cappuccinos at the Ercolaneo coffee bar, Mount Vesuvius may be on the verge of erupting beneath his feet. D'Emilio, though, doesn't look like a man who is worried. He has no plans to leave the mountain, despite the Italian government's offer of aid. "You can't live your life like that," he says. "What if I leave and the volcano never erupts? Think of all I would have lost."But what if it does erupt? In a recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, geologists put the chance of an eruption by the end of this calendar year at a whopping one in two. What does D'Emilio think about that?"I'll worry about that when I have to," he says. "Want another cappuccino?"This penchant for taking difficult news in stride, which seems to be a national trait, is giving geologists and the Italian authorities agita . Surely, Italians are particularly comfortable living with risk. This, after all, is a society that has yet to embrace such...
  • O, SILVIO!

    I promise! From now on, two months of absolute sexual abstinence!" Like an athlete saving himself for the big game, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi made the ultimate campaign promise recently by vowing celibacy until the country's April 9 elections. That earned him the on-air blessing of Italy's popular television evangelist, Massimiliano Pusceddu, who thanked the P.M. for opposing gay marriage and upholding family values. Three days later, Mr. B was back. "Just joking," he told another TV interviewer. "I don't [abstain] at all!"Welcome to the Silvio Berlusconi show. Whether farce or smart politics, scarcely a day passes without another installment. He's a guest on talk shows. He calls into gardening programs, bemoaning aphids in the flower beds of his Sardinian villa. Recently he made a cameo appearance during a traffic report, blasting opposition involvement in a banking scandal.So far, the blitz seems to be working. Once trailing far behind his opponent, Romano Prodi,...
  • Can Rocca Rev up Torino?

    A new sport has taken hold in Italy ahead of the Winter Olympics, which are set to kick off in Torino on Feb. 10. Dubbed "block the torch" by locals, it pits Italy's ardent anarchists against Olympic organizers trying to generate excitement by relaying the Olympic torch across the country. So far Olympic spirit is losing. In late December, anarchists in Genoa actually blew out the flame for 20 minutes during a protest against Coca-Cola as an Olympic sponsor. On Jan. 17, environmental protesters in Venice nearly sunk the gondola carrying the eternal flame. And last week, for the 33rd time since it began winding its way to Torino from Rome on Dec. 8, the torch was not just blocked, but actually stolen in the northern town of Trento. Italian track star Eleanora Berlanda, whose turn it was to carry the torch, tussled with brutish protesters until she finally had to give up the burning bastion of Olympic spirit. "I tried to hold on to the torch but they were pulling on it, twisting my...