Only in Italy is a daily news column that reports funny and weird news on Italy, the mafia, Italian culture and Italian travel.

Only in Italy is a daily news column that reports funny and weird news on Italy, the mafia, Italian culture and Italian travel.

Only In Italy is a daily news column that translates & reports on funny but true news items from legitimate Italian news sources in Italy.
Only in Italy is a daily news column that reports funny and weird news on Italy, the mafia, Italian culture and Italian travel.Only in Italy is a daily news column that reports funny and weird news on Italy, the mafia, Italian culture and Italian travel.
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"Communists to Help Calm Winter Game Protests."


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I subscribed to 'Only In Italy' over a week ago, and I have not received the daily email. Is there a problem with my browser, or did my order get lost? I would like to hear more about my 'relatives' in Italia. Roberto

Ciao Roberto! Thanks for the letter!

Who knows what is going on with your browser! We're in Sicily, Roberto!

It's nice to know you would like to hear more about your relatives in Italy but who are they? Do they know who you are? Do you speak Italian because odds are they do. But we do have some good news for you. "Only In Italy" is happy to announce the unexpected return of our controversial newsletter.

We would like to thank all our past and present subscribers for all your patience. We're slowly but surely getting back to a timely publishing schedule. Stay tuned for a new year packed with outrageous Italian events: An Italian court will entertain the world by trying to prove that Jesus existed. Plus, the electoral campaigns for the new Prime Minister are under way!

Enjoy the issue, keep writing and Grazie!

Tanti Saluti,              
"Only In Italy" Staff       

Catholics Starting to Get Fed Up With Vatican Edicts

Rome - January 22, 2006 - Nearly 90% of Italians call themselves Catholics, but more than two-thirds favor legal recognition for unmarried couples, according to a study that sociologists say is evidence that Italians tailor their religion to their lifestyles.

The survey released by the research institute Eurispes, based in Rome, also found that 78% of Italian Catholics believe divorced people who remarry should receive communion.

The poll also revealed that just a third attend mass at least once a week.

"We take from the Pope whatever suits us," said Domenico De Masi, a sociologist at La Sapienza University.

It's the same minestrone...

Someone ought to pull the Pope aside and say,

"Listen. Catholicism has been down this year, Papa. We're having a problem. You've got to put more effort into the speeches and edicts. You might as well give it in Latin. Let the gays in the priesthood, don't let them in. No one knows what's going on anymore. Senior citizens are battling the rain and snow to get to sermons."

The Pope has got to do more than give those little signs of the cross. We have to take him to some of these Protestant services Italians have been hearing about where they're doing healings and people are running up and down aisles and passing out.


Most Italians Could Not Care Less About Torino Olympics

Sestriere - January 21, 2006 - Using that most ancient of means for expressing private thoughts publicly - graffiti - someone scrawled OLIMPIADI INFERNALI in black spray paint on a stone wall along a road snaking through the Alps near Turin Games venues.

It's a play on words. Olimpiadi Invernali means Winter Olympics in Italian. Olimpiadi Infernali means "Olympics from hell."

Yet while locals complain about inconveniences caused by construction projects or worry about Turin Olympic finances, they generally are optimistic about their city's moment in the spotlight.

What there does appear to be an abundance of elsewhere in Italy, though, is indifference. Whether it's the country's pronounced north-south divide, or the simple fact that millions here would rather spend a day at the beach than bobsledding, the Feb. 10-26 Winter Games don't seem to be big news.

Even the government official overseeing the Olympics is quick to note that he's a "man of the sea," like many of his 58 million countrymen.

"One of our most famous songs is O Sole Mio. It's not about the mountains; it's about the sun, the sky," culture ministry undersecretary Mario Pescante said in an interview in his Rome office. "Our mountains are near the borders up north, and those are the areas where winter sports are big. Really, only about a quarter of the country is into those sports."

Which is his way of explaining why ticket sales in some parts of Italy have been slower than hoped, why it's taken time - and, he thinks, the torch relay - to get people interested in the games, and why state television isn't showering viewers with segments about the Olympics the way, say, NBC's Today is.

"Here in Rome, among the people I know, I don't hear much talk of it," said 62-year-old Carlo Villa, strolling with his wife near the Pantheon. "Maybe when the games get closer there will be more interest."

Overall, tickets have been more popular in some neighboring countries than spots in Italy's south. That makes sense to Giuseppe Gattino, the Torino Organizing Committee's head of media relations.

"Obviously, you sell more tickets for a Winter Olympics in Switzerland than in Sicily," Gattino said. "And since we have the Euro and no border checks, it's normal to see more people coming from France than from Sicily, which is farther away."

Indeed, Sestriere, the main site for Alpine skiing next month, is only about 10 miles from the French border -- and nearly 1,000 miles from Palermo.

The country has been historically divided between the industrialized north and the underdeveloped south, with resentment flowing both ways. But Italian observers say political or cultural differences aren't as much of an obstacle as the meteorological ones that always affect Winter Games, no matter the host.

"We're talking about a 'snow Olympics.' They're always less of a big deal than the Summer Olympics. I don't think the Salt Lake City Games were as big in the United States as those in Atlanta or Los Angeles," said Candido Cannavo, the Sicilian-born former editor-in-chief of La Gazzetta dello Sport, a sports daily.

"Sure, in the north, Alpine skiing is part of the culture. But I think that in the south, if there's an Italian to root for, there could be just as much or more interest, because of patriotism."

Reaching out to faraway southern cities hasn't been the only problem.

"I've been surprised by how few [tickets] were bought in Milan," said Giorgio Lauretta, TOROC's head of ticketing. "It's close by -- an hour by train. I would have expected more."

"I don't know how interesting the Olympics are for us Romans. The Winter Olympics are more for people who are into winter sports -- in places where there's snow," said Sandro Serpente, who runs a sporting goods shop a block from the Spanish Steps.

"The 'real' Olympics were the last ones, in Athens."

Trying to understand the reasons why Italians don't like the Olympics are more interesting than the games themselves.

Winter Olympics Trivia: Did You Know?

"Men's gold medal favorite Yevgeny Plushenko is the first and only skater in history to successfully land a quad-triple-triple jump combination in competition." Translating a "quad-triple-triple jump combination in competition" into Italian for a group of old Italian men around a bocce court is more difficult than the jump itself.

"Curling is one of four winter Olympic sports contested indoors. The other three are hockey, figure skating, and speed skating." Curling would be interpreted very well in beauty salons. The only sports Italians are fond of that are contested indoors is table soccer (foosball) and card playing. If curling must be an Olympic Event, then so should pizza tossing.

"German Luge master Georg Hackl will attempt to add to his legend and win a medal in his sixth straight games at Turin in 2006." Lying on a board, face up and sliding down an icy mountain trail with very little control is not a sport that would inspire most Sicilians. No Sicilian grows up saying, "I want to be a luge-r (loser)". Besides, "luge" is awfully close to the word "lounge".

"Norway has won more gold medals at the Winter Games than any other country." When Italians add meat cakes, pickled herring, cognacpolse, potato liquor and smoked salmon to their diet, then maybe we'll win more medals.

"It's been 18 years since the Jamaican bobsled team made its debut at the Olympics." The Naples bobsled team will never debut at the Olympics.


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Torino Olympics Organizers Call Communists to Help Calm Protests

Torino - January 20, 2006 - Organizers of next month's Winter Games have urged the leader of Italy's Communist Refoundation party to help calm environmental protests on the route of the Olympic torch.

Mario Pescante, Sports Minister and supervisor of the Games, is worried the protests, some of which have halted the torch procession, could continue into the Games which start on Feb 10.

"Can you imagine the impression given if we have these protestors at the competition venues as well?" he was quoted as saying by the Turin daily La Stampa on Friday.

The torch is traveling around Italy and neighboring countries, and organizers estimate around four million people have taken part in the pre-Games celebrations.

However, there have been protests about the environmental impact of the Games on the valleys which host many of the events and in some cases protesters have run in front of the torch-bearer and brought the procession to a halt.

Turin Olympic Committee (TOROC) president Valentino Castellini and CEO Cesare Vaciago have written to Rifondazione leader Fausto Bertinotti asking him to help isolate hardcore protestors from the peaceful majority.

Bertinotti should make a "gesture of differentiation between the protests and their most violent and intolerant fringe," the two men wrote.

However, the appeal looks unlikely to receive a positive response from Bertinotti. Paolo Ferraro, a member of Communist Refoundation's leadership, has already objected to the letter.

"I find it rather odd, this idea that the secretary of a political party can, in some way, put the muzzle on movements that in recent days have interrupted the procession of the torch across Italy on several occasions," he told La Stampa.

"The reasons for these protests can be found in the failed policies of the government and the (parliamentary) majority that Pescante is part of."

This week Maurizio Bruno, a Turin leader of Forza Italia, the center-right party led by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, objected to the color of the flags and bunting put up around the city for the Games. The red flags and trimmings reminded him of communist decorations in China, Bruno said.

Italo Lupi, an architect who helped design the decorations, rejected the charge. He said the flags were closer to orange than the classic 'communist' red and noted that the coloring for the mountain venues was light blue.

"Porca Miseria!" The days of calling the "Polizia" are long gone.

Who wants to be an Italian Millionaire?

Question: Protests and possible riots are about to break out in your valley. Your natural instinct tells you to call who?

A. Police                 C. Ambulance
B. Fire Department   D. Communist Party

"Can you imagine the impression given if we have these protestors at the competition venues as well?" Mario Pescante, Sports Minister and supervisor of the Games, was quoted as saying by the Turin daily La Stampa on Friday.

Can you imagine the impression given if Communist Party supporters waving red flags and shouting leftist slogans cut off and overtake pro-environment supporters?

Italy's Communist Refoundation Party:
- "Peace, Democracy, National Brotherhood and No Olympics."
- All Italian cars must be run on ethanol-based fuels derived from the oil of the olive and juice of the tomato.
- The impossible tenets: Separation of state and religion, unite north and south Italy.


Julian - Julius Caesar's cousin
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