"Buon giorno, cari lettori!" Welcome to the only newsletter that wants to know, "where in the hell did the 1 million tons of Naples garbage go?", "Only In Italy!"
FYI (FOR YOUR INFORMATION): I have flown to Italy several times and have never had and problem with them. Maybe you should check with some of the passengers before you spout off. Bob L.
Thanks for the feedback, Bob. We're glad to see someone is still flying the Italian skies of Alitalia.
We would like to respond to that angry reader by writing that we are absolutely thrilled that Alitalia is a wonderful part of Italy even though we would never fly with them again (not even at gun point). There are many funny things we love about Alitalia; unfortunately, none of them come to mind right now.
But we would like for you to sit back, our lovely reader, and drink in the warmth, the humor, and the truth that is the "Only In Italy".
Enjoy the issue, keep writing and Grazie!
Rome - January 2, 2009 - Amanda Knox, 21, was voted the most popular woman in the poll held by a television news program, beating US vice-presidential hopeful Sarah Palin and French first Lady Carla Bruni Sarkozy.
The University of Washington student, who shared a cottage with Miss Kercher, 21, in the historic hill town of Perugia, came fourth in the internet poll, one place behind US President- elect Barack Obama.
The internet poll was won overall by Roberto Saviano, the Italian investigative journalist who wrote a best-selling book, Gomorrah, about the Naples-based Camorra mafia, since turned into a film tipped to win an Oscar.
Knox and her Italian former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, 24, are due to go on trial in a Perugia court on Jan 16, charged with stabbing Miss Kercher to death in what prosecutors claim was a group sex game turned violent.
The mystery over who killed Miss Kercher and why has gripped Italy since the Leeds University student was found lying in a pool of her own blood in the whitewashed cottage in November 2007.
Knox and Sollecito, with whom she had a brief relationship, have been behind bars ever since.
Miss Knox has appeared on the covers of Italian magazines and in countless newspaper stories, her blonde hair, fresh complexion and good looks earning her the name "angel-face" from the Italian media.
Hundreds of journalists from Italy, Britain and the US are expected to cover the trial, which is likely to last for months.
Knox and Sollecito both deny any involvement in the killing, with their lawyers arguing that they had no motive for murder and that DNA evidence against them is flawed and unreliable."Mamma mia", this doesn't look good for Amanda...or Italy!
Perugia is the chocolate capital of Italy with a paranoid population of 160,000. It has endured a number of invasions through the ages: first, the Etruscans, followed by the Romans, Goths, Napoleon...and Amanda Knox. It appears Amanda was the straw that broke the mule's back and they have intentions of making her pay for it all.
Now, we're not going to defend nor condemn Amanda for the unspeakable crime for which she was arrested. After all, we weren't there. We have our own problems (like trying to convince Zio Goffredo that no one is siphoning the diesel fuel out of his tractor)!
Instead, we're going to put the interrogation hot lamp on the Italian legal system and watch it sweat.
The case is not going well...because there is no case.
You see, our incredibly brilliant legal system stems from the "Inquisition" and also from medieval law. What this means, in effect, is that justice in Italy is based on the supremacy of the prosecution. In other words, you're guilty until proven innocent...cazzo!
How did it all start? Brace yourselves... Three days after the murder, the dazzling senior police investigator on the case woke up one morning and decided it was time to get cracking on the case. He sought out Amanda and Raffaele (two normal, never in trouble, classic middle-class college students) to question them. When he discovered them casually eating in a pizza restaurant, he grew suspicious. "AHHH-HAAAAAAAAAAAAA!" Soon after, they were arrested.
After her arrest, Amanda was detained by the Italian Wyatt Earp and his deputies and interrogated for 14 hours. Amanda, who (shockingly) wasn't fluent in Italian at the time, was provided with neither a professional interpreter nor a lawyer. In a state of confusion and exhaustion, she ended up signing a confession. "Porca miseria", it's amazing they didn't make her admit to the disappearance of the Lindbergh baby.
And to make matters worse, the police performed a blitz on themselves. Amanda also implicated her boss at a local bar where she had worked. A 38-year-old Congolese man called Patrick Lumumba was held for nearly two weeks, then released; Amanda later revealed that it was the interrogators who suggested him as a possible suspect in the crime.
After the interrogation, Amanda and Raffaele were sent to jail...but not charged! You see, in our lovely country, a suspect can be held for 12 months without being charged.
Since then, the police investigation has not been exactly sparkling and quick-witted. For instance, take the alleged murder weapon, a cooking knife that belonged to Raffaele. Amanda's DNA was found on the handle. "AHHH-HAAAAAAAAAAAAA!" It's a shame she used it regularly for cooking, though.
Officials said Meredith's DNA had been found on the blade. "AHHH-HAAAAAAAAAAAAA!" But new DNA evidence released shows that after 183 attempts to match the material on the knife to Meredith's DNA, there is only a 1 percent chance that it is hers. So, another 900 attempts will probably be made until they eventually get tired of the wind whistling through their heads.
Meanwhile, back at Gotham City, the senior prosecutor on the case, Giuliano Mignini, 58, an obese, balding man who should have abandoned vanity at 260 lbs, is himself under investigation for abuse of power, with a trial scheduled for November. He's been charged in a case involving wiretapping the phones of police and journalists, among other things. But we're in Italy! Even if a fat prosecutor reeks of ziti and sardines and suspicion, it is not mandatory to remove him from a case.
Not surprisingly, Amanda's defense lawyers, who finally realized NEVER talk to the Italian press, were denied the "evidence" against Amanda for months. Then, according to what was communicated to Amanda's parents, the prosecution said they could gain access to it for a mere 50,000 euros (around 66,000 USD). After loud protests from the lawyers, the prosecution gave in.
Palermo - January 5, 2009 - A jailbird released early with an electronic tag has begged to go back to jail because he can't stand living with his parents.
Convicted thief Guido Beneventi, 30, had his sentence reduced on condition that he stayed at his parent's home in Palermo, southern Italy.
But he said that his parents constantly lectured him about his life of crime and then began ordering him around "like a child" and telling him to clean his room.
After a string of rows, he broke his curfew to flee to police headquarters and demanded to be arrested.
"You are my saviors," he told them as they sent him back to Ucciardone jail. "I just couldn't take another day with them.
"They spent all their time telling me how useless he was and lecturing me about everything and ordering me to do housework. It was like being a child again. Prison was better."
Guido (to himself): "We're all here, no matter what we are; we're all searching for the truth and trying to make it through this world."
"Porca puttana, everyone except my parents! They claim to know the truth!"
Hey, svegliati! It's 6:30 am!
Did you finish cleaning the sardines? Look what time it is! I have to cucinare!
New clothes?! What is this thing about looking bello?
Wash out the empty barrels of vino!
You want a panino con milza (fried spleen sandwich)?
"Oh Cacchio! I'M OUT OF HERE!"
Rome - January 5, 2009 - A woman who will celebrate her 102nd birthday this week has pledged not to give up on a legal squabble with relatives over her great grandfather's inheritance despite the court case being delayed until 2010.
Amalia Cuccioletti, who will blow out 102 candles on Tuesday, turned to the courts in 1997, when she was 90, to sue relatives after they partitioned up her ancestor's land and real estate without her consent.
A chronic lack of staff at the local Macerata court meant that the case was delayed until March 2010, by which time Cuccioletti would be 103. The court has twice attempted to pull the case forward in the wake of publicity surrounding Cuccioletti's old age, but has so far been unsuccessful.
Cuccioletti's lawyer said Monday that his client "has no intention of giving up" and that she had faith in a recent pledge by Justice Minister Angelino Alfano to reform the country's judicial system.
"She has promised her relatives and friends that she will arrive to the end of the process even if it takes another ten years," said lawyer Giacinto Canzona.
Cuccioletti and her own heirs are meanwhile accumulating a tidy sum in compensation fees for the delay, which the Supreme Court has recently increased from 500 euros to 1,000 euros for each year that a process is put off. A 2001 law also forsees further damages if a case is delayed for longer than three years.
"Cacchio", that's it! This Italian grandmother has declared war...and she's going to win!
What went through her relative's minds when they tried to scheme this?
Unfocused and incoherent relatives in 1997:
Twelve years later, she is still looking up at every crucifix in every room she enters of her house (including the cellar) and chanting the words, "Oh, Signore mio, give me the strength to make it through this...", over and over.
"She has promised her relatives and friends that she will arrive to the end of the process even if it takes another ten years," And she will arrive to the end. The amusing question is, "how many of her ungrateful relatives will?"
After all, the "malocchio" (Evil Eye) goes a loooong way.