As well as being an early chance to get a sense of what will dominate Italy’s pop charts later in the year, the Sanremo Music Festival, which ended this weekend, is also one of the most important events on the country’s cultural calendar. Millions of Italians hunker down in front of the TV, often staying up as late as 02.00 to watch this four-day musical spectacle. Every year it brings with it controversies and amplified scandals: it’s a place where debates happening in politics and on Italy’s streets can take to the stage. And the more reactionary the government in power, the more the artists tend to push the boundaries.
Interestingly, it’s often not the planned “social-commentary” segments that end up shaping the agenda. This year’s saccharine take on the sombre issue of femicide didn’t go down well. But 1990s pop heartthrob Eros Ramazzotti’s not-so-veiled call for a ceasefire in Gaza, after his rendition of his classic “Terra Promessa” (“Promised Land”), was welcomed by critics and the public.
This year’s edition lacked the edge that Achille Lauro’s risqué performances or Elettra Lamborghini’s sexualised antics brought to past years, which Bigmama’s comparatively bland call for people to “love each other freely” this week didn’t quite match. A prominent protest by farmers, who marched on Sanremo accompanied by a celebrity cow called “Ercolina 2” (daughter of Ercolina the first), gave proceedings a whiff of conservatism. Giorgia Meloni’s far-right government has stifled much of state broadcaster Rai’s ability to be critical of her work. Still, the LGBT+ pride (and high camp) on display was a falsetto cry piercing her dreams of promoting “traditional families”. She was definitely among the 10 million people who were watching intently.
Chiara Rimella is deputy editor of ‘Konfekt’. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.
Vladimir Putin’s scheduled trip to meet with Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Ankara today has been delayed. It’s the third time that the official visit has been postponed since last year. Russia’s elections in March have been cited as the reason for the adjournment. If Putin’s rescheduled visit in April or May goes ahead, it will be the first time that he has set foot in a Nato country since the beginning of the war in Ukraine. “Erdogan has maintained relations with Putin, even though Turkey is a Nato member,” Russia analyst Stephen Dalziel tells The Monocle Minute. “The trip would demonstrate his confidence in the face of the international arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes. As well as keeping up his relationship with Turkey, this would be a way to show the West his disdain for international institutions.”
Australia has boosted its investment in its military-drones programme by AU$400m (€241m), in a bid to improve the country’s domestic weapons production. The MQ-28A Ghost Bat is an unmanned Loyal Wingman-class aerial combat vehicle, manufactured in collaboration with Boeing Defence Australia. Notably, it is Australia’s first locally produced combat aircraft in more than 50 years.
The country’s Department of Defence hailed the increase in investment as both a milestone for the sector and a job creator. It also revealed plans for a second project that will develop drones similar to those used in Ukraine. Amid increasing geopolitical tensions, demand for new military technology is rising, so Canberra’s doubling-down on drones is a smart move.
The first stretch of tunnel for a new Athens Metro line has been unveiled to Greek media. Construction company AVAX Group commenced work on the line in 2021; it is expected to be completed by 2029. The new connection will link Metro-free areas in the northern suburbs to popular areas at the heart of the city, such as Kolonaki, Exarcheia and Kypseli.
The Greek capital currently offers an efficient but small three-line Metro network. Expanding its reach should help to reduce traffic in congested areas in the north of the city, where about 53,000 cars take to the roads every day. The plans for the line also involve the creation of seven urban spaces around the new stations, designed by local architects as part of a larger project entitled “Regeneration of Athens”. Here’s hoping that the city’s efforts to upgrade its public-transport infrastructure stay on track.
Monocle’s Tom Webb joins the show to tell us who he met at CIFF, the longest-running fashion fair in northern Europe and a key date for industry insiders. Featuring Stine Goya, designer and founder of the eponymous womenswear label beloved by the city’s smart set; Barbora Surá, co-founder and CEO of sustainable “activist” brand, Our Shift; and Claus Frederiksen, owner of the Danish capital’s landmark menswear shop Troelstrup.