Serf City, Here We Come
Since 2018, the Tainy Usadby (Secrets of the Manor) immersive festival has seen evening-dressed and frock-coated fauxristocrats descend, like feudal-system re-enactors, on different Russian estates for an annual history-suffused weekend of pleasure and learning. Activities, according to The Moscow Times, run to ballroom dancing, hoops and sticks (for children), and croquet, rather than, oh, hunting runaway serfs and seizing property. Not that such things ever would have happened at this year’s estate, once the home of the geographer, statistician, and traveler Pyotr Semyonov-Tyan-Shansky, in Lipetsk. “At many, if not most estates, the owners took care of the peasants of the surrounding villages, building schools, hospitals, almshouses, and vocational workshops,” notes the newspaper. So check your kindjals (daggers) at the gate, and see you down by the samovar for tea.
Leave it to the Italians to put an exciting new spin on prison food. During an altercation at the Rebibbia jail, according to the local press, a Sicilian Mafia boss bit off a guard’s finger, which vanished, leading prosecutors to an obvious and unfortunate conclusion. As it was merely the little finger—essentially an antipasto—the prisoner’s subsequent cry of “I’ll slit your throats like pigs!” while attacking six more guards might simply be interpreted as an indication that he was now ready for the secondo.