"Ciao Bella Gente!" Welcome to another issue of the most famous travelers' guide to Italy, "Only In Italy!"
I very much enjoy your site and newsletters. I have a question about your mail a mafia threat. My daughters birthday is coming up in March and was wondering if you have something I can have mailed to her about the cheap presents I get for my birthday from her and the good ones I get her? She is going to be 15 years old. Thank you. Domenick
Thanks for your letter, Domenick.
We sincerely don't think that our "Corleone Consultant" letters would be the perfect gift for a 15-year-old however you can show her the love only a parent could by taking into consideration the following wise advice from one of our uncles.
Uncle Ugo always preaches to his kids about how life sucks. Everyday when his kids leave the house, he hides by the door and trips them right before they get on the school bus. He says, "My dear children, thatís the best lesson a father could give his children. Life sucks."
Enjoy the issue, keep writing and Grazie!
Rome - January 19, 2007 - Sandwiched between temperate Europe and African heat, Italy is on the front line of climate change and is witnessing a rise in tropical diseases such as malaria and tick-borne encephalitis, a new report says.
Italy was declared free of malaria in 1970, but it is making a comeback, said the Italian environmental organization Legambiente. Tick-borne encephalitis, a virus that attacks the nerve system, is also on the way back. While only 18 cases had been reported before 1993, 100 have been since, mostly around Venice.
A third ailment, visceral leishmaniasis, carried by sandflies and potentially fatal, is expanding rapidly, the report added. Cases in Italy have risen to 150 a year from 50 before 2000, with the southern region of Campania a hot spot.
Of six sustained droughts in Italy in the past 60 years four have occurred since 1990. The average temperature has increased by 0,4 Celsius in the north in 20 years and by 0,7 Celsius in the south. Ten million hectares are at risk of desertification.
Twenty percent of the fish now swimming in the Mediterranean, including barracuda, are types that have migrated from the Red Sea as water temperatures rise.
"We are at the southern edge of the globe's temperate area and that is why Italy is being particularly hit by the collapse of the climatic equilibrium, said Legambiente's director general, Francesco Ferrante.Ah...Non mi sento tanto bene.
Visiting Italy? Your "Only In Italy" Guide to Survival:
1.) Protect Yourself: If you are traveling overseas to a malaria-risk area like Italy, visit your health care provider four weeks to six weeks before leaving for any necessary vaccinations, as well as a prescription for an anti malarial drug.
2.) Wear insect repellent to prevent mosquito, other insect bites and Italian vendors pushing expensive souvenir crap. To prevent malaria, wear insect repellent if outdoors between dusk and dawn when the Italian mosquito that transmits malaria is singing and biting.
3.) Wear long pants and long-sleeved clothing (Italian designer clothes are optional). A comfortable tick collar would not hurt.
4.) On humid days, lock yourselves in your hotel rooms.
5.) Several parts of southern Italy may have the climatic, social and economic aspects of deep Africa. Wear a mosquito net over your head if you're in doubt of where you are.
6.) Avoid marital and family disputes. Example: The deaths of two members of the noble Florentine Medici family attributed to malaria instead were a result of arsenic poisoning. The team of experts from the University of Florence believe that Cardinal Ferdinando de' Medici decided that his older brother Francesco was a peckerhead and unfit to govern. He didn't like Francesco's ugly second wife Bianca Capello, either. It only took 420 years to solve the crimes.
Como - January 13, 2007 - Italians were aghast yesterday when it emerged that a grisly murder that has gripped the country was perpetrated by an unremarkable middle-aged couple, who confessed to slaughtering four neighbors over a noise dispute.
Olindo Romano and his wife Rosa Bazzi seemed to share the sense of national shock when they were interviewed on TV before Christmas about the murder of their upstairs neighbors. They echoed the suspicion of many Italians that their neighbor, Raffaella Castagna, 30, her two-year-old son, her mother, and a third woman had their throats cut on December 11 by Castagna's drug-dealing Tunisian husband.
But now, in a twist that has gripped Italy and monopolized front pages, the couple have confessed to the crime after blood traces were found in their car, telling magistrates that they were angry about the noise made by Castagna and husband, Azouz Marzouk.
"We just could not stand them anymore," Bazzi, a petite housemaid obsessed with cleanliness, told investigators as she confessed to killing the two-year-old with a knife. "He was always screaming, my head was exploding," she said, according to media reports.
In a well-prepared murder, apparently planned over months by Bazzi, the pair rang Castagna's doorbell at 8 pm, wearing gloves and armed with knives. Castagna was stabbed in the face by Romano, 43, as she opened the door. In all, she was stabbed 12 times.
Romano then stabbed Castagna's mother, Paola Galli, while Bazzi moved to silence two-year-old Youssef. In her full and detailed confession she told investigators that she cut the boy's throat.
The couple's well-laid plans then went awry. As they set fire to the apartment to destroy the evidence a neighbor, Valeria Cherubini, arrived in the hall outside the front door, where she was also stabbed to death. Coming to her aid, Cherubini's husband, Mario Frigerio, was stabbed and left for dead, but survived and was able to describe some of the mayhem to police.
But the key evidence that trapped the couple was the trace of Mr. Frigerio's blood, left in Romano's car as he and his wife drove rapidly from the scene of the crime to a nearby McDonald's, to get a receipt they hoped would provide an alibi.
According to investigators who had bugged their home after the murders, Romano and Bazzi were heard to say to each other: "See how peaceful it is now? We can finally sleep well."
Prosecutors in the nearby town of Como said that they would seek to try the couple for premeditated murder, while the couple's lawyer said a psychiatric examination would be carried out.
Bazzi, 43, was unable to have children, which Italian media have suggested as a possible cause of her anger with the sound of the child's crying.
Earlier this week, before their arrest, Bazzi and Romano were seen on TV shooing reporters away when suspicions mounted against them, insisting they "had nothing to do with it".
Italian politicians and newspapers initially suspected Castagna's husband after it was discovered that he had just been released from prison for drug dealing. The nature of the murders also led to theories of a drug-related vendetta.
A media uproar about lax immigration and crime subsided when Mr. Marzouk was found to be in Tunisia on December 11. Yesterday he demanded a public apology from politicians belonging to the rightwing Northern League and National Alliance parties. "They called me a monster on the front pages, and now no one is prepared to apologize," he said, adding that he did not share the forgiveness expressed by Castagna's father, Carlo. "He did not see the state of the bodies," he said.
Romano and Bazzi are now being held in isolation in Como jail after other prisoners threatened to kill them.
Castagna and Youssef are due to buried in Tunisia today.
"Love Thy Neighbor...Ma Vaffanculo!" No one is exchanging recipes in that lovely Italian community.
And how many times have you heard the great liberal phrase, "We have to learn to live together, we can't run."
Sure we can run! The whole world is running. What else can you do when you're under attack by savage Italian Indians like Olindo? Take your cars and circle your homes like covered wagons?
And what would make you name a child, Olindo?
We know exactly what it's like to live in a neighborhood where people say, "Oh, excuse me. I'm going out to get the mail...Cover me!"
Olindo and Rosa deserve lots of peace & quiet now. They should be forced for the rest of their lives to live in Palermo. Now that's a city where even the sun makes noise at dawn.
Rome - January 11, 2007 - It looks like a guidebook, with its glossy pages, fold-out maps, and tips on where to eat and sleep in Rome.
The only difference is that its readers are homeless.
The new edition of what its authors have dubbed a "Michelin Guide for the Poor" was presented on Jan. 10 as promoters warned that the ranks of the have-nots in Italy's capital were growing.
The guide, created by the Sant' Egidio Catholic peace organization, is divided into sections covering the basic needs of the homeless or poor, "Where to Eat," "Where to Sleep," "Where to Wash Up."
According to Sant' Egidio, which has been nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize for its charity work and international peace negotiations, there are some 7,000 homeless people in Rome.
Some 2,000 sleep on the street, not far from luxury hotels and world-renowned monuments like the Forum and the Colosseum. Some 3,000 sleep in charity shelters and 2,000 others in dilapidated abandoned buildings.
"Rome is 'home' to some 10% of people living in extreme cases of poverty in Italy," said Mario Marazziti, a founding member of the Sant' Egidio group.
The numbers have swelled after two waves of enlargement of the European Union in 2004 and 2007 relaxed entry requirements for immigrants.
The 176-page guidebook, titled simply "Dove" (Where), tells the poor and homeless where they can get free meals either at Catholic parishes or city-run centers or mobile soup kitchens, which are marked by a drawing of a small sandwich on the map.
Volunteer organizations where the homeless can either spend the night or bathe marked by a small shower head on the map are also listed with instructions on how to get there on foot or public transport.
The guide, now in its 17th edition and which has spawned copycat editions in four other Italian cities as well as in France, Spain and Austria, also contains pages on legal and medical assistance.
"This is such a good guide that we give it to everyone coming out of jail," said Raffaella Milano, Rome's councilwoman for social services.
"People who leave jail and have no place to go have to get back on their feet. This guidebook has become precious for them and precious for us as public funds have been cut," she said.
As the cost of living in Italy has grown, so has the number of people who have homes but go to charity soup kitchens to eat several times a day, Marazzitti said.
The authors of the guide, which has an initial printing of 13,000 this year, made it a point to keep Rome's many cultural sites on the map.
"As the poor go from shelter to soup kitchen, we think it is nice and uplifting for them to know what they are passing," Marazzitti said.
"Che bello." It's nice to see the homeless in the nation's capital no longer have to battle it out with gladiators and lions in the Coliseum.
For all tourists who are planning to visit the Eternal City, it wouldn't hurt to pick up a copy of the "Michelin Guide for the Poor". Have you any idea of how expensive Rome has gotten?
Piazza Navona: Menu prices there are about 20% higher than a few steps away in the smaller streets next to the Piazza.
Coffee: Avoid sitting down for a cappuccino (or anything else for that matter) without having looked at the prices. Just imagine the surprised look on your beautiful faces when you're charged 8 Euros ($10.30) for a couple of cappuccinos (1 Euro each, standing up).
Monument Visiting: If you plan to visit the Coliseum and Palatine, make sure to visit them on the same day because the tickets (10 Euros per person) are valid for both sites. The official ticket booth whores will not point this out when selling them to you. And you will certainly notice this when it's too late.
Minestrone Index: There is a fast way to check the price levels of any restaurant. It's called the Minestrone Index. Just look on the menu for the plain vegetable soup (Minestrone). This price is almost always the base price for all other prices. An average price for a Minestrone in Rome should not exceed 3 Euros. If it exceeds 3 Euros, then call the waiter over and demand satisfaction: