Pompeii's Second Destruction

You may have thought Pompeii died after that battle with Vesuvius in A.D. 79. In fact, the gloriously preserved Roman town is being destroyed now, thanks to human neglect.

Bunga-Bunga Nation: Berlusconi's Italy Hurts Women

It's 8:30 p.m., and all eyes turn to Italy's most popular satirical news program, "Striscia la Notizia" ("Strip the News"). Two middle-aged men stand under a strobe light, one of them holding a belt from which dangles a vaguely phallic string of garlic.

Naples Suffers as Garbage Piles Up

Tons of rotting garbage have piled up in the Cava Sari landfill just outside Naples. Since Silvio Berlusconi's election promise to solve the Naples garbage crisis nearly three years ago, the landfill has been used to hide the Italian government's unwillingness to deal with the Camorra crime syndicate. Some residents say the prime minister should fix the problem or resign.

Coral Ban Hurts Italian Craftsmen

Torre Del Greco is a postcard-perfect fishing village a few kilometers down the coast from Naples. The city is also a stellar example of "clean" economic success in an area known for its mafia corruption. The Torrese pride themselves on making an honest living off a $217 million international red coral jewelry and cameo trade. The local university even offers a special degree in the art of coral jewelry making and cameo carving—two crafts that have supported the people of Torre del Greco...

Rome's Subculture of Gay Priests Rocks the Vatican

For residents of Rome, the sight of courting priests is hardly an anomaly. But a recent exposÈ is rocking the Catholic Church, which victims' advocates say has responded with more urgency to the rumor of gay priests than to the history of child sex abuse.

For Van Der Sloot, the End

Joran van der Sloot, the Dutchman thought to have killed Natalee Holloway, is a murder suspect again. By behaving like a sleaze for the last several years, he has already sealed his fate in the court of public opinion. Why do postadolescent perps behave like reality-TV stars?

Why Can't Rome Protect Its Cultural Treasures?

The Roman Coliseum is not only one of the world's most visited monuments; it is also one of the most threatened. The outer walls are stained black by exhaust fumes from buses, mopeds, and cars that whiz around the ancient amphitheater as if it were a traffic circle. Reverberations can be felt from the subway trains far below the cobblestones. Permanent scaffolding shores up the subterranean corridors where gladiators and animals once waited to fight to their death. Four stories above street...

Berlusconi's Coalition Faces Collapse

Italy's government is again on the brink of collapse. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has survived sex scandals and corruption allegations for years, but now he faces an imminent threat from within his own ruling coalition. The leader's two strongest allies, Gianfranco Fini and Umberto Bossi, are in a power struggle and even they say the row will end the Berlusconi era.The internal feud became public drama last week during a live television program. Fini, who has always been loyal to...

Europe Turns Against The Pope

The sex-abuse scandal of the early 2000s never did much damage to the popularity of John Paul II, the pope at the time. Pope Benedict XVI can only wish he were so fortunate. Ahead of the pope's official visit to Malta last weekend, Hitler mustaches and the Maltese word for "pedophilia" were painted on billboards displaying his picture. A petition opposing a papal visit to Britain this coming September has already collected more than 10,000 signatures in that country, and the writers...

Tracking Down Truffles in Tuscany

Most people who live in Italy for any period of time eventually become curious about truffles. It's not so much that Italian truffles, with their pungent smell and earthy flavor, are an acquired taste; they are simply hard to acquire, appearing on menus only at certain times of year and in certain regions. Unlike French black truffles, which are far more common, the Italian Precious Whites are a rare delicacy, worth as much as €4,000 a kilo, and surrounded by colorful folklore. Personally, I...

White Truffle Tips

Truffles have been a staple in family homes in Tuscany and Piedmont for generations. Now an increasing number of area restaurants are featuring truffles as niche cuisine. In July 2009, the old abbey of Castel Monastero (castelmonastero.com) just outside Siena was converted into a tony resort hotel, complete with a Gordon Ramsay restaurant whose menu is built around truffles. Locals have objected to some of the nontraditional dishes, including one that mixes onions with fresh truffles. But all...

Sex Scandals Could Finally Fell Italy's Berlusconi

In Europe, the sex lives of politicians rarely create scandals the way they do in the U.S. But the continent's lenience may have finally hit its limit in Silvio Berlusconi's latest antics. The Italian prime minister has shrugged off all sorts of tawdry allegations during his three terms in office, from mafia collusion to bribery. Voters have also turned a blind eye to his former rumored affairs, so a sex scandal seemed like the last thing that would fell the media mogul. But when...