The Monocle Minute

The week ahead, opportunities and observations
Saturday 15 December 2018

Urbanism

Image: Alamy

DIY city

Activists impatient with Rome’s slow progress when it comes to restoring its buildings have taken things into their own hands.

You’ve heard of guerrilla gardeners and cyclists but the newest addition to the urbanism-activist dictionary comes from Rome in the form of guerrilla restorers. City hall’s chronic underfunding of maintenance works around the Italian capital has meant that much of its infrastructure and cultural heritage is not being looked after as it should. Enter Gap (or Rapid-reaction Artisan Groups), anonymous collectives that have decided to skip the country’s infamously lengthy bureaucratic procedures and act in secret to fix its structures. Their first intervention consisted in the clean up and waterproofing of a fountain in the city’s south; another, fixing up a football pitch, is now in the works. Given Gap members are not professionals, they can’t replace municipal governments when it comes to larger projects – but theirs is a message that the mayor’s office needs to hear loud and clear.

Tourism

Image: Getty Images

Revolution reloaded

One of China’s largest developers is building a theme park inspired by an emerging tourism trend: communism.

There’s nothing like the passing of a few years to help people look back fondly at times of famine, classicide and bewildering cruelty. Or so it would seem with the emerging trend for “red tourism” in China, where people joyfully don period costume and re-enact significant chapters of the Cultural Revolution. Now one of the country’s biggest developers Wanda Group is ploughing $1.74bn (€1.53bn) into a theme park dedicated to glorifying the formation of the Communist party. The park will sit in the party’s birthplace, Yan’an, with construction beginning in 2019 with completion by the first half of 2021 – in time for the Chinese Communist party’s centenary celebrations.

Culture

Taking credit

The European Film Awards begin today – but is anyone outside the continent watching?

Today the cameras start rolling at the European Film Awards in Seville. The programme for the 31st edition of what is sometimes known as the European Oscars includes this year’s Cannes-selected Italian revenge drama Dogman, Swedish genre-blurring Border and Polish Cold War, which leads the charge for awards with five nominations. Though critically acclaimed, most of this year’s nominations didn’t manage to translate critical success to the box office. Film-making in Europe is much less financially driven than in the US and distributing to other countries remains a problem. Netflix’s plan to launch a European production hub in Madrid next year is likely to shake up the European industry.

F&B

Image: Alamy

Well oiled

The fertile soil of Istria has made it the best region for extra virgin olive oil in the world for the fourth year in a row.

Those who hail from olive oil-producing regions usually maintain that theirs is the best. But there is only one definitive guide and it has decreed that the best region is Istria, a coastal landmass shared jointly by Croatia, Italy and Slovenia. Last week it was rated the world’s best olive-oil region for the fourth consecutive year by the 2019 edition of Flos Olei. The guide includes a record 79 Istrian olive growers, with oils from Istrian producers Chiavalon and Eno Zubin placing highest, and Oleum Maris from Vodnjan declared the best up-and-coming brand in the world. This should come as no surprise for a region whose symbol has been an olive since 50AD.

From Monocle 24

Developing beer culture

The Menu

Garrett Oliver, brewmaster of Brooklyn Brewery, on the next big thing; a Florence cooking school taking a relaxed approach to teaching; and Lisbon’s top chef Hans Neuner.

From Monocle Films

On design

To celebrate the collaboration between Swiss watchmaker TAG Heuer and Japanese designer Hiroshi Fujiwara, we contemplate the pursuit of perfection to achieve timeless appeal.

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