"Buon giorno e bentornati!" Welcome to another issue of "Only In Italy!"
Rome - January 16, 2007 - British supermodel Naomi Campbell has agreed to a huge out-of-court settlement with an Italo-American actress who accused her of a Rome hotel attack.
"Porca di quella supermodel" Those anger management courses are not working.
She's hassling these so-called friends more than Pavlov's dogs were.
It's very clear why Naomi decided to settle out of court; to avoid the breathtaking and inspiring efficiency of the Italian legal system.
FACT: In the Italian legal system cases drag on endlessly and most never come to a conclusion. A World Bank report of 2004 on the efficiency of the legal system put Italy in 135th place (second to last), just ahead of Guatemala. Italian justice is notoriously slow and it takes on average 3,041 days to obtain a definitive sentence in a civil case.
She can't let the case go to court in Italy. Do you know what she'll look like in 3,041 days? She would have been better off smacking her friend around in Guatemala.
Naomi has to really calm that attitude down and enjoy life as Italians do.
Palermo - January 16, 2007 - Mob-related murders in Italy fell by a third in 2005 as the Sicilian Mafia moved to lower its profile in an attempt to ease business and political relations, the country's anti-Mafia prosecutor said today.
Mafia homicides fell to 143 in 2005 from 212 a year earlier, representing a quarter of all murders in Italy, according to a study by Ansa news agency and Eures research institute published today.
"The decline of homicides by Cosa Nostra was part of a precise strategy," anti-Mafia prosecutor Pietro Grasso said in Rome, commenting on the data. "Fewer homicides don't mean that the mob is weaker. It means that there are fewer internal disputes."
Crime syndicates drained $45 billion from Italy's economy in 2005, and that excludes income from drug and arms trafficking, according to SOS Impresa, a Rome-based group that fights corruption. Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi promised before last year's election to make the fight against the Mafia an "absolute priority" in order to cultivate growth in southern Italy, known as the Mezzogiorno.
Mob-related murders continued to decline in 2006, Grasso said, without giving the exact number. The data exclude what are called "bloodless" murders, where mobsters disappear and are never heard from again. The number of those each year is unknown, Grasso said.
Camorra, Cosa Nostra
Half of all mob murders in 2005 were committed by the Camorra, or the Mafia located in and around Naples, which is driven by rivalries between more than 40 different clans. Cosa Nostra, which has a unified, vertical command structure, was responsible for only 12 percent of the murders in 2005.
Sicilian mob boss Bernardo Provenzano was still a fugitive in 2005 and was the undisputed leader of Cosa Nostra, Europe's most powerful crime syndicate. He was captured in April of 2006.
Almost 92 percent of mob-related homicides go unsolved during the year that they are committed, according to the report. Ninety five percent of Mafia murders are executed with a firearm. The homicides are committed mostly in the evening between 6 p.m. and midnight, with the victims gunned down either as they walk in a populated city center, or as they drive their cars.
The report also indicated that the murder rate in the U.S. is five times higher than Italy's. Murders as a result of domestic disputes, totaling 174, outpaced mob-related homicides in 2005, the report said."Meno Male!" It's comforting to know there are now fewer "internal disputes". Italians were starting to get worried.
There's lots of Mafia in Italy. You know how the Americans have iPods? We have Mafia.
"Crime syndicates drained $45 billion from Italy's economy in 2005, and that excludes income from drug and arms trafficking." And that income happens to be a modest $55 billion.
"Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi promised before last year's election to make the fight against the Mafia an "absolute priority" in order to cultivate growth in southern Italy, known as the Mezzogiorno." Our beloved and befuddled Prime Minister is not in touch with Italian reality. You can't believe what he says because he's lying. Instead of his nose growing, though, his stomach grew. It's like Pinocchio gone haywire.
"Mob-related murders continued to decline in 2006, Grasso said, without giving the exact number. The data exclude what are called "bloodless" murders, where mobsters disappear and are never heard from again." There's no such thing as a "bloodless" murder. Have you ever heard of a painless headache? There's a lot blood. It just happens to be somewhere else where you won't see it.
"Almost 92 percent of mob-related homicides go unsolved during the year that they are committed." Hmmm... Who would commit mob-related homicides? It can't be the mobsters themselves thanks to the fewer internal disputes. The 8 percent that are solved are from prosecutors or cops who accidentally bump into them around street corners or bars.
"Ninety five percent of Mafia murders are executed with a firearm." They did a study for $3 million that showed that 98% of the victims were mad at their killers at the time of the murders.
"The homicides are committed mostly in the evening between 6 p.m. and midnight..." Of course. The day is meant for espresso, reading the newspapers, collecting "insurance" payments, picking up the little mobsters from school, 2 hour lunch break and the hour nap.
"Murders as a result of domestic disputes, totaling 174, outpaced mob-related homicides in 2005." They forgot to calculate in the homicides due to mob-related domestic disputes.
Torino - January 16, 2007 - In Ivrea, a northwestern Italian town near Torino, one of the strangest and most ancient Italian carnival celebrations takes place every year. Although the tomato throwing battle "La Tomatina" which takes place the last week of August in Bunol, Spain claims to be the world's largest food fight, they are incorrect in their claim. This is the world's largest food fight without a doubt!
Let's go to the history of the Carnival. The first revolt was that of Violetta in 1194, a second revolt appears in the annals for 1266, when the men of Ivrea "expelled" the Marquis of Monferrato. This event is enshrined in the "Preda in Dora" ceremony described in the account of the Carnival of Ivrea that follows. But the most important and remembered event took place in 1194. At that time a Count that ruled the town, (Conte Rainieri di Biandrate) had made a new law to sleep with every new bride, he called it the "right of the first night".
Well, he got away with it until a miller's daughter named Violetta rebelled against him.
Violetta's father ran one of the floating mills that once exploited the waters of the Dora. She killed him with a sword she had hidden under her dress, and then she proceeded in showing his cut off head to the people, she then started a fire in the castle (Castellazzo), which started a revolt against the tyrant's troops. They fought by mainly throwing stones to them, and they won. That fight for liberty is recreated with the Battles of the Oranges, which substitute stones.
Every year there is a new Mugnaia (miller's daughter) chosen who is the heroine of the festivities and is accompanied by a corollary of characters that represent the historical heritage of the town including: the General and his staff, soldiers, musicians and more than 1,500 masked characters that perform in historical parades and pageants throughout the period. Then, 400 tons of oranges are used as ammunition as rival factions battle in a satirical but well-fought re-enactment of the peoples revolt against their lords many centuries ago.
There are more than 40 carri (decorated horse drawn carts) that carry 12 paying throwers (who represent the castle) through the 5 piazzas of the city where over 3,500 rebellious warriors representing 9 teams attempt to overwhelm them with their vicious orange throwing techniques. The winning team is determined by a jury who takes into account the decorations of the piazza (each team gets a half of a piazza to decorate) and the fury and accuracy of their orange throwing talents. The streets, walls and participants take on the color of the squashed and splattered fruit.
Events draw to an end with the final burning of the scarli (which are large wooden poles) and a codfish and polenta feast in the Borghetto area of the city plus, during breaks in the ceremonies, there are dishes of fat beans being handed out (a tradition which dates back to 1325)."Ignoranti, cacchio!"
The United Nations should ask Italy if it has any initiatives on solving the world hunger crisis. It would be fun to hear it explain the ammunition arsenal of 400 tons of oranges it builds up every year.
Italy is the most powerful generator of emotions in the world. Emotions for us are not something to be ashamed of but some idiot Italian towns just don't know what to do with themselves when in the pursuit of emotions (and tourists).
So, what do they come up with? They exceed their production quota of oranges as agreed within the European Economic Community so that the excess comes to be destroyed (just to keep up the retail price).
Our incredibly brilliant co-citizens cooperate in the difficult path towards a unified Europe by pelting each other (and tourists) in the face with oranges.
And you, the naive but much appreciated tourist!
What would drive you to visit an unknown town in northern Italy in the middle of the January cold so that you can participate in a citrus fruit fight and possibly lose an eye or tooth? But at least you can enjoy the scrumptious codfish, polenta (cornmeal) and fat beans while you're recovering from your injuries in your hotel.
"Only In Italy" advice: Go to any simple but nice little Italian restaurant, sit at an outdoor table, order a nice dish of pasta with a tall glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, admire the piazza, the locals and live a little.