An town in Italy has banned pet owners from keeping goldfish in bowls.

The Monza town council claim that fish get a “distorted view of reality” when they are kept in a bowl.

“A fish kept in a bowl has a distorted view of reality … and suffers because of this,” council official Giampietro Mosca explained.

“Also, this type of receptacle generally doesn’t have a filter and doesn’t allow for good oxygenation of the water, unlike in rectangular aquariums.

The new laws also ban the sale of coloured chicks at fairs and the use of small animals as competition prizes.

Mr Mosca said the laws were designed to educate young people about treating animals properly.

“The ruling is intended to transmit a message about the correct treatment of domestic animals,” he said.

“In Monza, where we have no less than 15,000 dogs for 120,000 inhabitants.

“You have no idea of the hygiene problems caused by animals and people living together and we don’t want to see animals treated like objects any longer.”

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Politecnico university, one of Italy’s top universities, has sent shockwaves through the country’s higher education system by announcing that from 2014 its courses will be taught exclusively in English.

The radical move by the Milan-based university will, according to its rector, Giovanni Azzone, “contribute to the growth of the country”.

He said the strategy would attract brain power and yield the high-quality personnel that would “respond to the needs of businesses”.

But the announcement has sparked a furious debate among academics and public officials.

The higher education minister, Francesco Profumo, said that he hoped other leading institutions would follow suit.

Others expressed alarm at the move. Luca Serianni, an eminent linguist at Rome’s La Sapienza university, said the move was “excessive and not only in the ideological sense”.

Despite having some of the oldest universities in the world in cities such as Bologna, not one Italian college appears among the world’s top 200.

Nepotism and closed-shop recruitment of staff have largely been blamed.

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Hospital pharmacists in Italy are threatening to cut Italians off from their Viagra.

The plan will go ahead unless the government amends its plans to reform professions that have high entry barriers.

Union official Loredana Vasselli said that pharmacists decided to focus the protest on Viagra because it is a sought-after drug whose absence “does not put patients’ health at risk.”

Pharmacists will stage a series of labor actions during April, culminating with the so-called “Viagra strike” if their complaints are not redressed.

One group protested Thursday outside Parliament under the banner “No Viagra, No Party.”

Hospital pharmacists, part of Italy’s public health care system, say Premier Mario Monti’s economic liberalization plan is unfair because it gives private pharmacists preference for new licenses. The reform calls for opening 5,000 new pharmacies.

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Since the start of the month it has been illegal to die in Falciano del Massico, a village of 3,700 people some 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Naples in southern Italy.

Mayor Giulio Cesare Fava issued the tongue-in-cheek decree because the village has no cemetery and it is feuding with a nearby town that has one.

This has created a logistical problem about what to do with the deceased.

The mayor told newspapers that villagers are content.

“The ordinance has brought happiness,” he was quoted Tuesday as saying. “Unfortunately, two elderly citizens disobeyed.”

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Emergency personnel in Italy have said that at least 165 people were injured in the traditional Battle of the Oranges – an event that saw nearly 35,000 people throwing citrus around.

The three-day food fight in the small northern Italian city of Ivrea, takes place each February.

The city is said to bring in 57,000 crates, or 400 tons worth of oranges from southern Italy that would otherwise be thrown away for use in the famous battle.

The emergency responders said 152 people were treated Monday at medical stations during the Ivrea event, which commemorates the throwing of stones during an uprising against a local tyrant several centuries ago.

Thirteen of those injured required treatment at a hospital, ANSA reported Monday.

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It was made famous by the novelist Alexandre Dumas as the location for a stash of buried treasure, but the tiny Italian island of Montecristo is now struggling with a rather less romantic reality – a plague of black rats.

The uninhabited island, a protected nature reserve lying between the coast of Tuscany and Corsica, has been invaded by thousands of black rats.

The rodents are believed to have arrived on the four-square-mile island as stowaways on boats a few years ago but have now multiplied.

Authorities are planning to use aircraft to bombard the island with poison pellets in a bid to tackle the infestation. The plan is to drop around 26 tonnes of pellets on the island at the end of this month.

Biologists estimate that there is one rat for every square yard of the island and say they pose a grave threat to the ecology of the nature reserve, which is part of a scattered archipelago of islands off Tuscany.

Some conservationists are worried, however, that the pellets could accidentally land in the sea, killing fish and other marine life.

But the authorities have dismissed those concerns.

“No one wants to poison the island,” Franca Zanichelli, the director of the national park authority, said. “The project will be managed by experts. The poison pellets are similar to those used everywhere to kill rats.”

The pellets will have to be dropped from the air because the island is too rugged for them to be distributed by land.

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