Sylvia Poggioli

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The number of coronavirus cases in Italy continues to soar. In what has become a grim daily ritual, Angelo Borelli, the chief of the country's Civil Protection agency, announced that in the last 24 hours, the death toll from the virus had risen by nearly 800 to a total of 4,825.

That is the largest daily increase since the outbreak was revealed a month ago today. Italy has already surpassed China with the largest number of deaths from the pandemic. It now has 55,578 cases of the coronavirus, up from 47,021 on Friday.

Daniela De Rosa, a 43-year-old veterinarian in Italy's southwest Campania region, made a video message over the weekend as she was hospitalized with COVID-19. Her video plea has gathered much attention in Italy, which has just surpassed China in the number of reported deaths from the new coronavirus.

"I've been in isolation in a hospital room for so many days I've lost count," she says. "I have no contact with anyone other than doctors twice a day."

It has been less than a week since, along with 60 million Italians, I was put under a government-ordered quarantine to try to curb the spread of Italy's coronavirus outbreak, the worst outside Asia. The new slogan is #iostoacasa — I'm staying home.

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The Italian government has announced extraordinary measures to contain the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Monday declared the entire country a "red zone," meaning people should stay home except for work and emergencies.

The move expands the emergency measures already in place in northern Italy, which is where most of the more than 9,000 confirmed cases are.

As of Monday, 463 coronavirus-related deaths have been reported through the country.

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In Rome, just behind St. Peter's Square, there's a palace that the Vatican owns. Some church officials wanted to turn it into a money-making enterprise. But as NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports, Pope Francis had other ideas.

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They call themselves the "Sardines" — because they want to quietly pack Italy's main public squares like fish in a can. Organizers say their goal is to stop a far-right, anti-immigrant wave rising in Italian society and politics.

On Saturday, tens of thousands turned out in Rome's St. John Lateran Square for their largest rally yet. Retirees mingled with teenagers and families with kids, many holding fish-shaped signs. They sang Bella Ciao, a World War II-era anthem of the anti-fascist resistance.

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The worst flood in more than 50 years has submerged Venice, the historic Italian city built on a lagoon. NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports the city's mayor says Venice is on its knees.

More than seven decades after the fall of fascism in its country of birth, Italy is in the grip of an intense debate about anti-Semitism, racism and hate speech.

The national psychodrama was unwittingly triggered by an 89-year-old Jewish grandmother and Holocaust survivor who has been put under police escort following threats from members of Italy's ultra-right.

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Some of the most recent U.S. tariffs imposed by the Trump administration have infuriated Italians, people who support the sale of formaggio, which is Italian for cheese. If you think that does not sound like such a big deal, listen to NPR's Sylvia Poggioli.

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Pope Francis is heading, this week, to three southeastern African nations - Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius. Why there? NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports.

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In Italy, Giuseppe Conte has resigned as prime minister of a coalition government after only about 14 months in power. His resignation throws Italy into a state of political uncertainty. NPR's Sylvia Poggioli is on the line from Italy. Hi, Sylvia.

Rome is known as the Eternal City. Over many centuries, it has been sacked by marauders and repeatedly resurrected from decline. But this summer, Roman residents are being tested by a massive trash crisis that has prompted doctors to warn of the possible spread of diseases as birds, vermin and wild animals scavenge amid the rotting refuse.

Already, flocks of cawing seagulls have replaced traffic roar as the soundtrack of Roman life.

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In February, Pope Francis acknowledged a longstanding dirty secret in the Roman Catholic Church — the sexual abuse of nuns by priests.

It's an issue that had long been kept under wraps, but in the #MeToo era, a #NunsToo movement has emerged, and now sexual abuse is more widely discussed.

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Pope Francis ended a historic trip to the United Arab Emirates with a papal mass, the first ever in the Arabian Peninsula.

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UNIDENTIFIED CHOIR: (Singing in foreign language).

As clerical sex abuse scandals buffet the Catholic Church, a three-week assembly of bishops is under way in Rome on how to make the Church relevant for young people. But the assembly, known as a synod, will likely be dominated by what many analysts call Catholicism's worst crisis since the reformation.

Roughly 250 priests, bishops, cardinals and some younger laypersons are participating in the synod.

In the opening mass, pope Francis urged them "to dream and to hope."

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The official purpose of Pope Francis' visit to Ireland this weekend is to attend the Vatican-sponsored World Meeting of Families held every three years.

But with multiple sexual abuse scandals buffeting the Catholic Church across the world, the two-day visit may turn out to be one of the most consequential trips of this papacy. The pope is under intense pressure to enact concrete measures to ensure accountability for church officials who ignored or covered up cases of clerical sex abuse.

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