"Io speriamo che me la cavo!" Welcome to the most interesting newsletter in the history of mozzarella and electricity, "Only In Italy!"
Enjoy the issue, keep writing and Grazie!
Naples, January 5, 2008 - An actor in the Oscar-tipped Naples Mafia expose' Gomorrah was back behind bars for the second time in just over six months after police busted him for demanding protection money from local businesses.
Giovanni Venosa, who played a Camorra boss who condemns two unruly teenagers to death in the film, was arrested at the weekend, just days after his release from a half-way house in northern Italy. Venosa was first arrested in July and sentenced to two years by magistrates, who branded him a "habitual delinquent".
After an early release, he returned to his native Caserta, a town north of Naples, where he is alleged to have gone back to asking local shopkeepers for the so-called 'pizzo' at a special Christmas rate. Venosa is the third actor from director Matteo Garrone's largely non-professional cast to have been jailed since the film's release last year.
Salvatore Fabbricino, who played a boss in Naples' notorious Scampia neighborhood in the film, was also arrested in July after a former Camorra drug dealer collaborating with police identified him as one of his "employees".
A third actor, Bernardino Terracciano, who plays Uncle Bernardino in the movie, was busted in October for extortion and for having links to the fearsome Casalesi clan, which is thought to have been responsible for the shooting of six African immigrants in September.
The clan is also believed to have issued a death threat for author Roberto Saviano, who wrote the worldwide bestseller from which Gomorrah was adapted.
The film is bidding for the Best Foreign Film Oscar and also hopes for a nod among the best films of the year as well as screenplay and director nominations at the Academy Awards ceremony in February.
Gomorrah won second prize at last year's Cannes Film Festival and bagged the best screenplay award at the Chicago Film Fest."Cornuto", not the brightest eggplant in the batch, is he?
This is what happens when movie makeup sinks into the brain of a thick-headed Napolitano who thinks he's Mickey Rourke.
What a shame, though. He'll be missed at the Oscars this year.
By the way, just to make him feel better, more people are reading about him in this newsletter than during his entire movie career.
"...he is alleged to have gone back to asking local shopkeepers for the so-called 'pizzo' at a special Christmas rate." "Minchia", how jolly of him. We're positive the special Christmas rate included an autographed copy of his stellar performance in 'Gomorrah'.
We're curious... When the polizia arrested him, did he first think they stopped him for his autograph?
Santa Maria a Monte - January 6, 2009 - A record 279 meter long Christmas stocking made by merchants and residents of this Tuscan town near Pisa was presented Tuesday to mark the Epiphany holiday, also known as the 12th day of Christmas.
The stocking, which took three months to sew together and was stuffed with 4,500 balloons, broke the record which this same town set last year, 216 meters.
Measuring two meters wide, the stocking was again this year hung from a town hall widow and stretched along the via Carducci to reach the town's main church, San Giovanni Battista.
"Che culo!" What a wonderful winter wonderland. What can be more perfect than 12 days of Christmas?
There's jolly Santa Claus running the town hall trying to motivate the comatose and meaningless employees while Mrs. Claus is baking lasagnas, polenta and panettone for its egotistical Tuscan population of 10,000.
"Cacchio!" How can they do all this alone?
Working hard behind the scenes are Santa's elves. Typically underappreciated during the holidays (according to the deafening union leaders), the amount of labor these tiny, mythical creatures do is pretty astounding.
So what do elves look like? Well, they're constantly mistaken for trolls that emigrate from Calabria, Naples and Sicily and invade the north looking for measly work with no health benefits and vacation time.
"The stocking, which took three months to sew together and was stuffed with 4,500 balloons, broke the record which this same town set last year, 216 meters." Take a guess at what they'll be making next Christmas.
Siderno - January 6, 2009 - The man United States President-elect Barack Obama has chosen to head the Central Intelligence Agency speaks the Calabrian Siderno dialect perfectly, the cousin of Leon Panetta told reporters on Tuesday.
"When he was chief of staff for (ex-US president) Bill Clinton I went to see him at the White House and we understood each other perfectly both in our local dialect and in Italian, but not so much in English which I don't speak too well," Domenico Panetta said.
"Leon is very attached culturally to our home (Siderno). He told me he missed it dearly and wanted to visit the land where his family came from. But he was always too busy to do so," he added.
"Maybe in his new job he'll be able to come to Europe and to Italy and even visit us in Calabria. That would be really nice," the new CIA chief's cousin said.
Leon Panetta is the American-born son of Italian immigrants from Calabria. He was Clinton's chief of staff at the White House after serving in the House of Representatives from 1977 to 1993.
Common viewpoint: "An inexperienced CIA chief reporting to an inexperienced President."
Hmmm... Why all the disappointment with Signore Panetta? Just because he lacks experience doesn't mean he'll be foreign to his new work environment. Calabria and the CIA have so much in common. "Cavolo!" Maybe, too much:
"Secluded, thick-headed, often impenetrably strange, home to the oddest of paradoxes, the darkest of secrets, and the weirdest of survivals."
Signore Panetta could introduce the CIA to a new type of stupid but funny torture common with the Calabrese; the "malocchio" or "Evil Eye": an illness brought about either unintentionally or by malice which can result from simple envy or jealousy.
The perpetrator of the "malocchio" can dominate the victim's body by producing such maladies as "dryness", which might take the form of barrenness (the inability to have or bear children). Especially vulnerable to "malocchio" are "wet youth" (for "wetness" represents fertility, the opposite of "dryness"), new brides, pregnant women...and even livestock, if they evoke envy on the part of someone who knows how to cast the "Evil Eye".
It goes without saying CIA agents will have to take protective measures against an "Evil Eye" that backfires by wearing traditional charms, for example "horns" made of red coral, a "mano fica" (a fist), or a "mano cornuta" (a horned hand).
"Tanti auguri" and best wishes on your new career, Signore Panetta. We dedicate this famous Calabrese proverb to you:
"A lavare a capu e ru ciucciu, ci perdi a l'isia!"
We have no idea what it means, but does it matter?