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Gabriele Di Donfrancesco

Rome, Italy
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About Gabriele
Gabriele Di Donfrancesco is a freelance journalist and fixer based in Rome, Italy, focused on investigations and stories on environmental crimes, housing, religion, politics, and social justice.

He has covered Italian affairs for US and UK news outlets, including the Daily Dot, Jacobin, Euronews, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and New Humanist.

In Italy, where he has mainly touched on culture, his stories have appeared on La Repubblica, L'Espresso, Rivista Studio, Rolling Stone Italia, and Mashable Italia.
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How Italy’s Left Tied Its Fate to a Scandal-Hit Influencer

Beyond the Grave, Silvio Berlusconi Lives on as a Meme

04 Apr 2024  |  jacobin.com
The article discusses the legacy of Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister of Italy, who passed away in June. It highlights how his Forza Italia party is attempting to portray him as the founding father of the Right, despite his controversial past. Berlusconi was known for his populist communication style, creating a televised cult of personality, and his antics, which included sexual escapades and inappropriate jokes. His behavior and the resulting memes have become a part of Italy's collective memory, shaping the political discourse. The article also touches on the negative aspects of his tenure, such as weakening laws on safety and environmental protection, and his involvement with xenophobic and neo-fascist parties. Despite numerous accusations and trials, Berlusconi was only convicted of tax fraud. The article concludes by discussing Berlusconi's continued influence on Italian politics through his memetic presence, even after his political power waned.

Eight months to the Jubilee, but in Rome the speculation on rents is already fierce

Giorgia Meloni’s Grip on Italian TV Is Turning Off Viewers

Italian utility in hot water for draining a picturesque lake to send water to Rome

09 Dec 2023  |  thebulletin.org
The article discusses the environmental crisis faced by Lake Bracciano in Italy, which began to dry up in 2017 due to water diversion by the Acea Group to supply Rome during a drought. The local residents have stopped the company from further draining the lake and are now taking legal action for environmental crimes. The trial could set a precedent in Europe for public awareness of environmental crimes related to water use. The article also touches on the broader issues of water management, frequent droughts, and climate change affecting the Lazio region's water sources, including Lake Bracciano, which serves as an emergency water reservoir for Rome.

The frontline of Europe's gender wars

07 Dec 2023  |  newhumanist.org.uk
The article discusses the challenges faced by women in Italy regarding access to abortion, despite it being legal since 1978. It highlights the high rate of conscientious objectors among medical staff, often influenced by Catholic beliefs, which impedes women's access to abortion services. The article also examines the political landscape, noting that Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's government, which includes far-right and conservative parties, is undermining reproductive rights. It details how pro-life groups, such as Movimento per la Vita and Pro Vita & Famiglia, exploit legal ambiguities and receive government funding to dissuade women from abortions. The article further explores the broader anti-gender movement's influence, both in Italy and across Europe, and its connections to the Vatican and other conservative forces. It concludes by highlighting the efforts of pro-choice activists like Silvana Agatone and the challenges they face in countering well-funded anti-choice campaigns.

If Artificial Intelligence Invents the Grand Tour

16 Apr 2023  |  repubblica.it
Artist Roberto Beragnoli has created a reportage of a journey through Italy and posted it on Instagram, featuring beaches, sea views, monuments, and tourists, all generated by an algorithm. This project explores collective memory and captures the enduring charm of traveling in Italy, a theme historically significant to many literary figures.

Italy's Climate Change Duplicity: International Commitments vs. Domestic Rhetoric

05 Apr 2023  |  euronews.com
The article discusses the Italian government's contradictory stance on climate change, highlighting the difference between its international commitments and domestic rhetoric. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, while acknowledging the climate emergency internationally, uses vague language domestically and has not taken significant action against climate change. Her party, Brothers of Italy, has been skeptical about climate change and has opposed environmental legislation. The article also touches on the impact of climate change in Italy, with increased extreme weather events and the Mediterranean region being a climate hotspot. Climate activists face opposition from the government, which has imposed heavy fines for acts of civil disobedience, and from media personalities who downplay the climate crisis.

Italian environmental activists vow to fight the revival of the Messina Strait bridge project

05 Apr 2023  |  euronews.com
The article discusses the controversial plan to build a bridge over the Messina Strait, connecting Sicily to the Italian mainland. The project, which has been on and off for decades, was recently revived by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and backed by infrastructure minister Matteo Salvini. Environmental activists and organizations like WWF and Legambiente oppose the bridge due to its potential impact on natural reserves, seismic areas, and endangered bird species. The European Commission has previously refused funding due to environmental concerns, and the project's compatibility with the European Green New Deal is questioned. Despite the opposition, some local politicians and groups see the bridge as a potential driver for economic development. The article also touches on the history of the project, including past protests, suspected Mafia involvement, and legal battles.

LGBT Community Denounces Italian Government's Attacks on Homosexual Parents' Rights

17 Mar 2023  |  es.euronews.com
The Italian LGBTQ+ community accuses Giorgia Meloni's government of trampling on the parental rights of same-sex couples, highlighting Italy's position as one of the least progressive in Europe on this issue. The Senate recently voted against an EU regulation for cross-border recognition of same-sex parents, aligning with the Visegrad group. Activists have repeatedly denounced the government for discrimination and propaganda against homosexuals. The ruling party, Brothers of Italy, with neo-fascist origins, led the vote against the EU regulation, citing concerns over surrogacy laws. Legal battles continue, including against a 2019 decree requiring identity documents to specify 'mother and father.' The government's focus on surrogacy among same-sex couples is seen as an old right-wing obsession, despite its prevalence among heterosexual couples. The Constitutional Court's 2021 ruling called for the adoption regulatory framework to be opened to same-sex parents, but the government has not prioritized this. The LGBTQ+ community vows to continue having children despite discriminatory policies.

AI Photography: The Next Frontier in Artistic Controversy

06 Jan 2023  |  The Daily Dot
The article discusses the emergence of AI photography and its impact on the art world. Artists are using AI art generators like DALL-E and Midjourney to create images of fictional subjects and events, sparking controversy over authorship and copyright infringement. While some visual artists accuse these generators of theft, others, such as Gossip Goblin and Sam Finn, explore the medium's potential to create unique compositions without directly copying other artists' styles. The article highlights how AI photographers are navigating ethical concerns by ensuring their work is original and not a mere imitation of existing art. It also touches on the implications of AI training on personal images uploaded to the internet, as exemplified by Ryan Wendell Bauer's fake family albums. The debate over AI art's legitimacy and ownership continues, with some calling for regulation of AI art generator companies.

Sheena Patel: 'Beware of the class struggle on social media'

10 Dec 2022  |  repubblica.it
Sheena Patel's debut novel 'Ti seguo' serves as a metaphor to narrate our times through the obsessions of a woman disappointed in love. The book, which has been released in Italy this autumn by Atlantide, tells the story of a nameless thirty-year-old who falls for a married man and finds herself competing with his many lovers, including a wealthy influencer with a significant following on Instagram. Patel, born in '92, was previously highlighted by the Observer as one of the ten authors to watch this year.

How the far-right is keeping Giorgia Meloni’s Wikipedia page free of any ties to fascism

30 Nov 2022  |  The Daily Dot
The article discusses how right-wing users have been altering the Italian Wikipedia page of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to downplay her connections with far-right movements. Comparisons are made with Wikipedia pages in other languages, which are more explicit about Meloni's ties to fascism. The article highlights the efforts to moderate the image of Meloni and her party, Brothers of Italy, which has neo-fascist roots. It also touches on the challenges of maintaining neutrality on Wikipedia, especially during politically sensitive times. The article includes comments from Italian journalist Mattia Salvia and writer Christian Raimo, as well as Wikimedia Italia user Maurizio Codogno, who emphasizes that his views are personal and not representative of Wikimedia. The article also notes the protective measures taken by Wikipedia admins to prevent biased edits and vandalism.

Inside the global rebellion of scientist-activists agitating for climate action

31 Aug 2022  |  Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
The article discusses the Scientist Rebellion, a movement where scientists engage in civil disobedience to advocate for climate action. It highlights actions against companies like Eni and Scottish Power, accusing them of greenwashing and contributing to climate change. The movement, which started in the UK, has gained international traction, with over 1,000 scientists in more than 25 countries participating in protests. The article contrasts the experiences of activists in the Global North, like Italy, with those in the Global South, like Sierra Leone, where activism strategies differ due to varying levels of risk and awareness. It also touches on the role of African countries in exploiting natural resources and the challenges faced by local populations in understanding and responding to climate change. The Scientist Rebellion supports initiatives like 'Debt for Climate' and seeks to leverage scientists' credibility to influence public opinion and policy on climate issues.

With Blind Console, even the visually impaired will be able to play video games

07 Oct 2019  |  it.mashable.com
A startup from Turin, Novislab, created by Flavio Accossato, Arianna Ortelli, Dario Codispoti, and Enrico Allais, has developed a video game console for the visually impaired called Blind Console. The console features a joystick that connects to a mobile phone and provides tactile feedback and stereophonic sound to simulate the gaming environment. The project is in collaboration with the Associazione pro retinopatici ed ipovedenti and the Unione italiana ciechi e ipovedenti, whose members test the games. Initial funding of 100,000 euros was received from Social Faire, and the controllers are assembled in Piedmont with materials sourced from Italy and Europe. The Blind Console is not yet released but is expected to be priced at around 250 euros. A demo is available for Android, and a version for iOS is in development. Xbox is also mentioned as working on a controller for the visually impaired.

Here's how I built my 9 sqm tiny house to travel around the world

24 Sep 2019  |  it.mashable.com
Leonardo Di Chiara, a 28-year-old architect, built a 9 sqm tiny house, the first of its kind in Italy, to demonstrate that a fully functional home with a bathroom and kitchen could fit within such a small space. The house, named aVoid, is mobile, mounted on wheels, and features solar panels for self-sufficiency. Di Chiara has traveled over 10,000 kilometers across Europe with his tiny house, visiting 16 locations. The tiny house movement, which offers an alternative to traditional housing, is gaining traction in Europe, with Di Chiara participating in the Bauhaus Campus exhibition in Berlin. His project aims to provide affordable, sustainable living spaces, with his prototype costing around 50,000 euros, partially offset by sponsorships.

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