The stunning salvaging of the Costa Concordia

Admirers of mind-boggling engineering feats take note: Above is just a peek at the extensive effort undertaken to raise the wrecked Costa Concordia from the Italian coast.

Our own Tom Kington has the story on the salvage effort, but for now, we’re just going to look at those crazy photos.

Photos: Andrea Sinibaldi / Associated Press, Vincenzo Pinto / AFP

The pope has left the building

Outgoing Pope Benedict XVI has departed the Vatican and will spend the final hours of his papacy at a summer retreat, soon leaving the Catholic church without a figurehead while the church tries to sort out who his successor will be.

Pope Benedict will now be known as the “Pope Emeritus,” becoming the first living ex-post in hundreds of years.

From the scene in Italy:

The courtyard at the Vatican was lined with clapping well-wishers, church officials and the plume-hatted Swiss Guards, the pope’s protectors, as Benedict left the papal apartment for the last time. On the Vatican’s helipad, he raised his arms in farewell, still wearing his white papal vestments, and the chopper lifted off into blue skies. The bells of St. Peter’s Basilica pealed during the departure.

Read more on his departure here, via World Now.

Photos: Alberto Pizzoli / AFP/Getty Images, Guido Montani / EPA, Alessandra Tarantino / Associated Press

Italy in unfamiliar role in seizure of art: The work by Renaissance master Girolamo Romanino was seized by U.S. authorities while it was on loan to a Florida museum. Paperwork protecting it had not been filed.

"Christ Carrying the Cross" had belonged to the Gentilis, an Italian Jewish family living in Paris that fled the invading Nazis. In 1941, Nazi-controlled French authorities sold the collection. In 1998, the Italian government bought the Romanino from a private owner and hung it in the Pinacoteca di Brera, a government-run museum in Milan. Italy ignored the Gentili heirs’ requests for its return — unlike France, where a court ruling in 1999 prompted the Louvre to turn over five of its paintings.
… Niccolini thinks that Italy didn’t fight the seizure in court for economic reasons — and because it didn’t want to be branded a hypocrite. The moral high ground it enjoys in its fight to repatriate looted antiquities might crumble a bit were it to be seen clinging to a painting stolen during the Holocaust.

Fascinating article on art theft, cultural exchange and international law.
Photo: A portion of Girolamo Romanino’s mid-1500s painting “Christ Carrying the Cross.” Credit: Christie’s New York

Italy in unfamiliar role in seizure of art: The work by Renaissance master Girolamo Romanino was seized by U.S. authorities while it was on loan to a Florida museum. Paperwork protecting it had not been filed.

"Christ Carrying the Cross" had belonged to the Gentilis, an Italian Jewish family living in Paris that fled the invading Nazis. In 1941, Nazi-controlled French authorities sold the collection. In 1998, the Italian government bought the Romanino from a private owner and hung it in the Pinacoteca di Brera, a government-run museum in Milan. Italy ignored the Gentili heirs’ requests for its return — unlike France, where a court ruling in 1999 prompted the Louvre to turn over five of its paintings.

… Niccolini thinks that Italy didn’t fight the seizure in court for economic reasons — and because it didn’t want to be branded a hypocrite. The moral high ground it enjoys in its fight to repatriate looted antiquities might crumble a bit were it to be seen clinging to a painting stolen during the Holocaust.

Fascinating article on art theft, cultural exchange and international law.

Photo: A portion of Girolamo Romanino’s mid-1500s painting “Christ Carrying the Cross.” Credit: Christie’s New York

Ready for post-bimbo era in Italy: Critics blame Berlusconi for bombarding Italy with degrading images of women. Since his fall from power, many women are hoping that the damage can be undone.
Photo: A demonstrator in Milan carries an effigy of Berlusconi behind bars during a protest last year. Credit: Luca Bruno / Associated Press

Ready for post-bimbo era in Italy: Critics blame Berlusconi for bombarding Italy with degrading images of women. Since his fall from power, many women are hoping that the damage can be undone.

Photo: A demonstrator in Milan carries an effigy of Berlusconi behind bars during a protest last year. Credit: Luca Bruno / Associated Press

Clues to long-lost Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece found: Samples from a hidden wall in Florence seem to contain a pigment like one in “Mona Lisa” and brushed-on material, say UC San Diego researchers who are looking for Leonardo’s “Battle of Anghiari.”
Photo: Experts carry out research on a wall in Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio. Credit: National Geographic / EPA

Clues to long-lost Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece found: Samples from a hidden wall in Florence seem to contain a pigment like one in “Mona Lisa” and brushed-on material, say UC San Diego researchers who are looking for Leonardo’s “Battle of Anghiari.”

Photo: Experts carry out research on a wall in Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio. Credit: National Geographic / EPA

Is this the skeleton of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa”?
Photo: A skeleton recently unearthed in Italy that could be the remains of the model for “Mona Lisa.” Credit: Maurizio Degl’Innocenti / European Pressphoto Agency

Is this the skeleton of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa”?

Photo: A skeleton recently unearthed in Italy that could be the remains of the model for “Mona Lisa.” Credit: Maurizio Degl’Innocenti / European Pressphoto Agency