Gondolas and gondoliers, one of the characteristic presences of the canals of the city of Venice, have resumed carrying tourists around with small limitations on the number of contemporary passengers to avoid possible infections.

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LONDON — The euro zone economy lost some momentum in August but is still on track for solid growth in the third quarter of this year, according to preliminary data released Monday.

IHS Markit’s flash composite PMI for the euro zone, which looks at activity across both manufacturing and services, hit a two-month low of 59.5 in August versus 60.2 in July. A reading above 50 represents an expansion in economic activity.

“Encouragement comes from a second month of job creation at the strongest for 21 years, which reflects efforts by firms to boost operating capacity and meet demand, which should ultimately further help bring price pressures down,” Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, said in a statement.

The latest business activity data come as many consumers in the region enjoy the lifting of Covid-related restrictions, which has boosted the economic recovery in the wake of the pandemic.

Growth estimates last month showed that the euro area had bounced back from a technical recession (defined as two consecutive quarters of economic contraction) by growing by 2% in the second quarter of this year.

These data releases are important as the European Central Bank is due to meet next month and some of its members are pushing for talks on reducing some of the ongoing stimulus.

There are, however, some concerns about supply chain issues and higher inflation.

“The concern is that we are seeing some upward movement on wage growth as a result of the job market gain, which could feed through to higher inflation, and supply delays from Asia in particular look likely to persist for some time to come,” Williamson added.

As a result, momentum slowed more in manufacturing than in services. The former hit a six-month low in August, whereas services fell to a two-month low.

Speaking to CNBC’s “Street Signs Europe” Monday, Williamson said that supply chain issues are not as widespread as before but are still curbing growth in manufacturing activity.

Nonetheless, he said: “These numbers are still very high in terms of these PMI growth rates. It’s very rare for these indexes to stay at this level for long simply because it is such a surging growth being recorded so some cooling is nothing really to worry about.”

France

French businesses did not escape the slow down in momentum during August.

The flash composite PMI for the country slipped to 55.9 in August from 56.6 in July, representing 4-month low. However, the data still points to solid growth in the third quarter of the year.

“Despite some of the challenges businesses are facing on the supply side, it’s encouraging to see PMI data consistently signaling robust expansion,” Joe Hayes, senior economist at IHS Markit, said in statement.

He added: “Given we’re now

Keenan Forson

Even while taking a break from playing football, Keenan Forson – like so many of us – has been enraptured watching it.

The 19-year-old midfielder, now heading into his second season as a fully contracted professional, was one of a small number of West Ham United U23s players to return to training at Chadwell Heath on Monday morning.

With typical diligence, however – Forson is renowned for his tenacious work-rate off the ball – the youngster kept one eye on his development, even while still recuperating from a demanding 2020/21 season.
 

I’ve been watching a lot of UEFA Euro 2020 as well, watching how top players in my position perform and seeing what I can learn from them

Keenan Forson

“It feels good to be back after my summer break, seeing all my teammates and coaches again,” Forson smiled. “I’m really hungry and ready to get back to work.

“For the first two weeks of my time off, I just wanted to relax, chill with my family and see some of the friends I hadn’t seen in a while – but in the two weeks after that, I’ve been doing running work and getting touches with the ball to make sure I am ready for pre-season. 

“I’ve been watching a lot of UEFA Euro 2020 as well, watching how top players in my position perform and seeing what I can learn from them. I’d love to play at that level one day.”

The youngster is looking to channel all the lessons of his first full season at Premier League 2 level, in which the U23s turned a difficult opening round of fixtures into a triumphant fightback to seal Division 1 status late on.

Forson’s season was something of a microcosm of that fightback, with the midfielder initially struggling to establish himself within the U23s squad and appearing only on the bench until November.

When Forson’s opportunity did arrive, however, he grasped it, making such an impression that he went on to record 17 starts in the U23s’ subsequent 19 games, scoring three times in the process.

“I feel like I learned a lot from last season, and enjoyed the experience,” Forson recalled.

“I especially realised how physically demanding U23s football is in every game, as well as the quality of opposition you can face at that level. When you come up against top teams, you need to know how to use your mind to control your body. 

“I also learned about mentality – the motivation to keep going. We were in a relegation battle, which is somewhere we didn’t want to be, but we stuck in there and managed to stay up, so we learned how to stick together as a team.”
 

Keenan Forson

The U23s’ fresh pre-season programme is now underway, with Dmitri Halajko’s development squad scheduled to travel for a training camp in Leicestershire in early July, culminating in a first fixture against United Counties League side Loughborough University on Saturday 10 July.

Having taken the time over off-season to

(CNN) — The pandemic is raging, quarantine rules are changing by the day, and there’s still uncertainty over when we might vacation again, but one thing remains constant in the travel world: the €1 houses of Italy.

This month, it’s the turn of another Sicilian town, Castiglione di Sicilia, to offer houses for the price of a coffee.

On the slopes of Mount Etna, near chic Taormina and the beaches of Sicily’s east coast, the town is selling a bumper crop of houses: roughly 900 abandoned homes.

Most are located in the oldest parts of the town. Around half are ruined, and will be given away at a symbolic price of €1 ($1.20). The rest are in better condition, and will be sold off cheaply, starting from €4,000- €5,00.

Mayor Antonino Camarda has undertaken an ambitious project to breathe new life into his village where the population has shrunk from 14,000 in the early 1900s to barely 3,000 today.

“We have a huge architectural heritage to rescue, packed with history. Over time, too many people have left, leaving behind a bunch of old, picturesque houses, many even dating back to the Renaissance,” he says.

Where some other towns operating similar schemes have put together a job lot of houses for €1, Castiglione di Sicilia is pricing the properties according to their condition.

“We’ve carried out an in-depth study cataloguing each property based on maps and land registry data. According to their conditions buildings will be sold at different prices, starting from €1”, says Camarda.

If there’s a lot of interest for the same property, an auction will be held.

A bumper crop

castiglioni di sicilia 4-7

The town is racked up on different levels of the hillside.

Michele La Rosa/Comune Castiglione

The scheme, which launched in March 2021, is the largest of its kind, with at least 400 properties in the town that are in a decent shape and require minimal renovation.

Want to snap one up? Potential buyers should get in touch with a detailed plan of what kind of house they’d like, and how they’d renovate it, in order to best match demand with supply, and help liaise between parties. A special task force has been set up to oversee the project.

“We are moving along two parallel paths: reaching out to old owners who are showing great interest in getting rid of their family homes, and new buyers,” says Camarda.

“We have already received many emails from investors and people across the world. There’s a wide choice here.”

So what’s the catch? Buyers must complete renovations within three years. Unlike most other schemes, however, there’s no deposit payable to guarantee doing the works.

Instead, they require owners to take out an insurance policy from a bank, worth €4,000.

“It would cost the new owner €100 per year, which seems a fairer sum then a deposit guarantee,” says Camarda.

Local taxes are low in Sicily compared to the rest of Italy. Buyers can also take advantage of the Italian government’s “superbonus” scheme,