"Buon giorno e bentornati!" Welcome to another joyous issue of "Only In Italy!"
I am not Italian but have been researching travel and living in Italy and I have to say, I am lMAO. These stories are unbelievable. It's a beautiful country, but I guess there are morons everywhere. Grazie per le risate! Janice
Thanks for the letter, Janice!
Believe us, there are no morons bigger than the ones who risk their meaningful lives writing and publicizing these stories for you. We're like a bunch of dancing Sicilian monkeys with toothbrushes in our hands being threatened by disgruntled criminals, politicians, the Catholic Church and Germans who threaten never to come back down to Italy for vacations.
Welcome back, Janice.
Enjoy the issue, keep writing and grazie!
Vatican City - January 21, 2006 - Despite reports to the contrary, the Roman Catholic Church is not planning to rehabilitate Judas Iscariot, the Biblical figure who betrayed Jesus and gave his name to generations of traitors, a Vatican official has said.
The name Judas, his reward of 30 pieces of silver and the kiss he gave Jesus to identify him to Roman soldiers have been symbols of treachery in Western culture for two millennia. In Dante's Inferno, he languishes in the lowest circle of Hell.
But the disgraced apostle raises a difficult question for theologians - if Jesus was supposed to die on the cross as part of a larger divine plan, did Judas not simply play his part in the drama by turning him over to the Roman occupiers?
And is Christianity not supposed to be about forgiveness?
The Times of London reported last week that Vatican historian Walter Brandmueller wanted to rehabilitate Judas and present his act as "fulfilling his part in God's plan".
The story sparked lively chatter on the Internet. The Toronto Star daily asked: "Ready to rethink the fink (villain)?"
"This news has no foundation," Mr. Brandmueller, head of the Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences, said.
"I can't imagine where this idea came from," he told a catholic news agency this week.
Judas was one of Jesus' 12 apostles. In the Bible's New Testament, the Gospel of St Matthew says he quickly regretted his treachery, returned the silver to the Jewish chief priests who gave it to him and hanged himself.
One reason why interest in Judas has suddenly arisen is that a long-lost "Gospel of Judas", an apocryphal or inauthentic account of Jesus' life, is due to be published this (northern) spring.
The New Testament contains four Gospels - by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - but many more were written in the century or two after Christ's death and attributed to apostles such as Thomas and Philip or to his female follower Mary Magdalene.
Many were written by Gnostics, early Christian heretics who believed that secret knowledge was the key to eternal salvation.
The original second century Greek manuscript of the Gospel of Judas was lost long ago but an ancient Coptic translation found in Egypt is now being translated by a Swiss foundation.
There has been speculation that any text purporting to be written by Judas would show him in a better light and prompt a rethink of his reputation, but New Testament experts are wary.
"Until we see the text, we won't know exactly what it says, but it seems to be a Gnostic writing and unlikely to change our view of what happened back then," said Richard Dillon, theology professor at Fordham University in New York.
Some experts argue that rehabilitating Judas could help Vatican relations with Judaism, since anti-Semites sometimes use his story to condemn all Jews, but Mr. Brandmueller did not agree.
"The dialogue between the Holy See and the Jews continues profitably on other bases," he told reporters.
Hmmm... Why can't that Vatican use its web site to communicate directly to Catholics worldwide about these constant misinterpretations? Surely, someone behind the secret walls of that Vatican read the news and thought it was perhaps necessary to give a direct and explicit rebuttal. Even an annoying pop-up window on their home page denouncing the article in pig Latin would have been better than nothing.
Hasn't this type of media-driven confusion gone on long enough? Where's the initiative?
The Vatican needs a blog.
But then again, it took them two millennia of Christian-fueled anti-Semitism to declare that Jews were not responsible in the death of Jesus. They must have honestly thought no one would have noticed the many depictions of Judas in art and medieval plays portrayed with a hooked nose and exaggerated (but funny) Semitic features.
"Only In Italy" is contemplating writing an article based on a rumor started by someone who wandered around the Vatican gardens: The possibility that Purgatory will be shut down.
"Purgatory": the exit service station for souls not quite mature for Heaven; a kind of halfway house of temporary punishment for condemned sins waiting for an appeal; a spacious quasi-forgiving waiting room on which many of us have placed our last-chance hopes.
Rome - January 20, 2006 - Italian researchers have found that they could reduce the seasonal flu mortality rate in mice by 60 percent with resveratrol, found in red wine.
Italy's Higher Health Institute, Rome University and the National Research Council found that a molecule found in red wine - resveratrol contained in the skin of the red grapes which give the wine its color - can block the flu virus from mutating.
Red wine has been found to be good for combating cardiovascular conditions and diseases like Alzheimer's disease.
"This discovery is very important because it increases the possibility of combating the virus and has proved effective against all different types of flu," researchers said.
The findings have been published by the Journal of Infectious Diseases.
Italian proverb: "One barrel of wine can work more miracles than a church full of saints."
Unfortunately, wine cannot stop stupidity from mutating so keep these helpful tips in mind when you order a bottle of wine in Italy:
1. Actually look at the wine list. Note the outrageous prices.
2. Never ask, "What's cheap?" Most waiters translate the word "cheap" for chip (as in potato chips). If you must, it's better to say, "Hey! Per favore, good vino, costa poco."
3. Never pick wine where the prices have been modified more than twice. Those are the crappy inexpensive wines in which the prices have been increased dramatically thanks to unsavvy tourists.
4. If you can't pronounce the name of the wine, please don't. Just point to it on the list. Just because you can pronounce "lasagna" and "gnocchi con quattro formaggi" doesn't mean you've mastered the language of Italian cuisine.
5. When the waiter presents the bottle, look at the label and then at him. Sometimes waiters make mistakes, sometimes they'll do it on purpose. It's their way of challenging the wits of the wandering tourist.
6. Don't smell the cork! Ask the waiter to smell it. After he smells it, ask him, "What's the matter with you? Why did you smell the cork? You know you can't tell if a wine is good by smelling the cork!" Then snatch the cork from his hand in disgust and check to make sure the cork is intact and moist (not moldy). This means the wine was stored correctly.
7. Make sure the cork matches the name of the bottle. Sometimes unscrupulous, conniving, Italian rat-bastard restaurant owners put cheap wine in old wine bottles and re-cork them.
8. Don't smell plastic corks either. Wine makers are moving away from natural corks to synthetic corks. Sniffing a plastic cork tells everyone around you in the restaurant that should have burned the money you spent for your vacation to Italy. If the waiter smells a plastic cork, kindly ask the owner to have the dishwasher substitute your waiter.
9. Swirl the wine around in your glass to oxygenate or open it up. This is recommended for expensive wines. Don't spin it as if you're trying to evaporate the liquid!
10. Taste the wine. If the wine tastes like vinegar or smells like moldy cheese, give the waiter a dirty look.
11. If the wine is bad send it back! In some cases, however, people refuse a perfectly good bottle of Italian wine simply because they don't like it. You shouldn't do that. If you don't like the wine, just drink it and give your waiter the dirty look.
12. After you've tasted the wine and decided its acceptable, give a simple "Mona Lisa" smile and say, "It's okay", or "Thank you."
13. Pour your own wine. That way you can control your intake and spending. Some Italian waiters try and finish the bottle before you're done with the antipasto. These helpful Italian phrases will stop your waiter in his tracks:
"Troppo caffè oggi?" Too much coffee today?
14. It's Italian wine. Don’t worship it like a Roman god. Just enjoy it.
Rome - January 20, 2006 - Calabria, Italy's mafia heartland, has thrown up its own "Adam and Eve" political scandal laced with forbidden love, a dramatic death and the sudden end to the promising career of a local mayor and feminist icon.
The illicit affair between "Eve", Evelina Catizone, the first woman mayor in Calabria and "Adam", Nicola Adamo, regional leader of the Democrats of the Left has propelled the pair into the national consciousness.
Ms. Catizone, a glamorous, campaigning anti-Mafia official, was seen as a breakthrough success in a traditionally conservative region, dominated by parties linked to the Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi. The affair, in which Ms. Catizone gave birth to a son, became public when Mr. Adamo confessed to the relationship in a statement and asked forgiveness of his wife and two other children.
Ms. Catizone has fared less well, being forced to resign after a stormy Democrat Party meeting decided she had become an electoral liability in the intensely Catholic region. The outgoing mayor left the meeting saying she that had been "politically raped".
A party spokesman said Ms. Catizone had not been punished for succumbing to temptation: "The son of Adamo does not come into it, this was a situation that could not go on because of her political errors."
As she was preparing to announce her resignation, Antonino Catera, a reporter who has covered the saga from the beginning, died of a heart attack on the steps of the town hall.
"Porca di quella troja!" We would love to eliminate every Italian politician. Well, not all of them, of course, because it would be too inhumane. These two should walk around with T-shirts with the words, "Endangered Species." This way we could leave them alone so they could breed.
Evelina Catizone: Claims to be politically raped, forced to resign because of political errors. She simply made the error of being raped by the wrong politician.
Nicola Adamo: He should put on a mafia cap, get on a jackass and ride out of town. He should go play "bocce" in Calabria somewhere.
The love child: He'll be badgered into selecting a political party at the age of 4.
Antonino Catera: Suffers a Greek tragedy death. Only person in the story not receiving sex.
Conclusion: The only positive thing out of this story was that there was no public money stolen.