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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February 2007
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"Ughh, che giornata lunga!" Welcome to another medieval issue of "Only In Italy".

Hi! Do you by any chance do cookbook reviews? Thanks. Cheril

We're so sorry. We don't do cookbook reviews, Cheril.

Quite frankly, who in their right mind would want our insane staff to do a cookbook review? Give us a bowl of "Pasta con le Sarde" and homemade wine and we'll be thrilled. However; we would be more than happy to collaborate with any of our readers who is interested in writing a book about "baccala".

By the way, we're referring to salted codfish and not the "Bay Area Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse" (BACALA) in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Enjoy the issue, keep writing and Grazie!

Tanti Saluti,             
"Only In Italy" Staff      

Italy Teacher Wins Fame for Fake Alitalia Bid

Rome - January 30, 2007 - An Italian high school aviation teacher earning 1,200 euros ($1,500) a month became a minor celebrity in Italy on Tuesday by slipping through a fake plan to buy ailing Alitalia as a protest against years of mismanagement.

"This was a provocation. It was my way of making a citizen's protest," said Fabio Scaccia, who teaches aerodynamics and aircraft design at a trade high school in the city of Frosinone just south of Rome.

When Italy's Treasury Ministry announced the 11 expressions of interest to buy struggling Alitalia on Monday night, even the most well-connected business journalists were stymied by the number three entry: "Fabio Scaccia (individual)".

No one knew who he was, perhaps because, in their high-flying world, he is a nobody.

"I read the papers. I saw the tender document on the Internet. I saw the address (of the financial advisors) and sent in my expression of interest," he told reporters by telephone.

He said no one made any checks on his credentials, even though the Italian Treasury has said anyone expressing interest must have assets of at least 100 million euros.

So, the penniless professor found his name along with the likes of private equity powerhouse Texas Pacific Group and Italy's No. 2 bank UniCredit on the Treasury's list.

He said he did it to express his rage about how the company, a national symbol, had been run for years and was bitter that it risked bankruptcy several times in the past.

"I've followed the Alitalia crisis for the past 20 years," the 46-year-old Scaccia said. "I wanted to show that a company like Alitalia should not be allowed to remain in a state of crisis for so long," he said.

Critics have said Alitalia, which for most of its existence has been state-owned, was often run more as a political tool, a place to give cronies top jobs, rather than a real business.

"We all have to make economic sacrifices. But there are people at the Treasury Ministry who waste millions of dollars a day and have not lost their jobs," Scaccia said.

The Treasury, which has a 49.9 percent stake in the airline, is looking to unload most of that stake.

"I make 1,200 euros a month as a teacher and I think I could run Alitalia for the same salary. I'm not in it for the money," he said.

Alitalia's CEO Giancarlo Cimoli, by comparison, takes home 225,000 euros ($294,000) each month.

"A company that loses more than a million euros a day is alarming," he said.

So, what would Scaccia do if he did have the money to buy Alitalia?

"I would concentrate on maintenance, invest in new aircraft and center all the activities around a single hub in Rome (instead of having a second hub in Milan)," he said.

He thinks the big money boys with whom he rubbed virtual shoulders with for a brief fleeting moment of fame should listen up.

"Volare, Wa-oh!"

We have to sincerely apologize to all our subscribers and readers. Had we known about this we would have supplied the contact information of the Italian Treasury Ministry for anyone who was interested in placing a bid to purchase this playground airline.

Airport security screeners at Italian airports will perform cavity searches and the metal detectors sound off at passengers who have too many fillings in their teeth but Professor Peppe Roni can get through a screening process at the Treasury Ministry just by smiling.

Treasury Ministry: "Professor, you do have 100 M Euros worth of assets, correct?"
Professor Peppe Roni: "Of course. I'll just make out a personal check. When can I start painting balloons on my planes?"

If everyone at that Treasury Ministry continues humping each other long enough until they lose consciousness, who knows what will happen at the next auction.

Treasury Ministry: "We are now selling the Roman Coliseum. Any bids?"
Only in Italy: "Do you accept trades?" We have a number of Italian people in New York who own the Brooklyn Bridge and are willing to trade for it."
"Is this going to take long? We have to put handles on our walls so that they'll be easier to climb."


Gas Stations Prepare 14 Days of Strikes

Rome - January 26, 2007 - Unions representing Italy's gas station operators on Friday announced 14 days of strikes to protest against a government move to deregulate their sector. The first, 48-hour stoppage will take place on February 7-8, the three unions said.

"The government is forcing an entire category of workers into an extremely tough response" they said after Thursday night's cabinet approval of a deregulation bill. Gas station operators are particularly angry at plans to allow shopping centers and supermarkets to distribute gas.

They also oppose the planned abolition of minimum distances between petrol stations and the extension of opening hours. The unions said they were "not prepared to be sacrificed to do a favor to the powerful gas distribution lobby".

They said the bill would result in the closure of stations and force car owners to travel further for non-gas services.

Consumer groups have applauded the plan, however, arguing it will reduce prices through greater competition. According to the unions, gas distribution has already been deregulated in Italy, since 1998, and there is no justification for a further liberalization. Big gas distributing chains have far less of the market in Italy than in other European Union countries. Italian gas prices are among the highest in Europe.

Earlier this week, Italy's anti-trust authority launched a probe into nine oil companies suspected of price fixing. Thursday's deregulation bill contains a raft of measures including streamlining business start-ups and getting rid of fees for mobile phone top-ups. Praised by consumer groups, the packages seek to rid Italy of the red tape and market rigidities that have made its economy one of the EU's worst performers over the past decade.

"I need benzina!"

What a shock; another strike in Italy.

Gas Stations: There are wonderful gas stations all over Italy, but you must remember that many close for several hours in the middle of the day. You can actually see a gas station with an "open" sign (meaning it is open that whole day) but find that it is closed for lunch (2:00 - 4:00). This may cause a bit of confusion for the unwary driver because he will not know if "Ignazio", the lazy station attendant, is out at lunch, napping behind the station shack, or doing both.

Types of Gas: Italian cars use either unleaded ("benzina verde") or diesel ("gasolio"). Never utter the words, "il pieno" (full tank), to Ignazio. The amount of money you spend will be the equivalent of an extra night at your hotel plus dinner.

Be sure you know what type of gas your car takes because filling a car with the wrong kind of gas will stop it dead in its tracks after you leave the station and have driven awhile. You will have to be towed to a gas station and then have the tank drained while cursing. Don't assume Ignazio would know what gas to put in (his life is difficult enough). Usually there is a sticker on your gas tank cover, either inside or outside, that indicates what gas should be used.

Gas Prices: Italy uses the metric system so a gallon of gas is equivalent to 3.78 liters. The price of gas in February 2007 is about 1.20 Euros therefore; the painful calculations will show that a gallon of gas will set you back 4.54 Euros. That's almost 6 US Dollars for our hard working American tourists.

Now, that's an Italian kick in the head, isn't it?

"Oh, my!", responds the innocent and unwary tourist. "Is it because of all the conflicts happening in the world?"

Close. The gas prices in Italy reflect the ongoing conflicts in the heads of the Italian government. The levels of terrorism and insurgency occurring in their thick and incoherent skulls makes Iraq look like pre-school.

Thanks to these brain cell conflicts, the following current taxes are added to every liter of gasoline you purchase in Italy:

1,90 lire for the Abissinia (Ethiopia) War of 1935; Obviously, this war must be still going on. We would appreciate it if one of our readers in Ethiopia could tell us who is winning.
14 lire for the Suez Crisis of 1956; Egypt against Israel, the United Kingdom and France. Life moved on for these countries but the crisis remained in Italy.
10 lire for the Vajont Dam disaster of 1963; Heavy rains triggered a landslide that destroyed 7-8 towns. The land stopped moving decades ago but not the tax.
10 lire for the Florence Flood of 1966; Florence mopped up, put on dry clothes and moved on!
10 lire for the Belice Earthquake of 1968;
99 lire for the Friuli Earthquake of 1976;
75 lire for the Irpinia Earthquake of 1980; We never realized these 3 earthquakes registered a 14 on the Richter scale.
205 lire for the Lebanon Mission of 1983; Seeing that we returned to Lebanon last year, can we change the tax date to 2006?
22 lire for the Bosnia Mission of 1996; We forgot to leave after the mission was accomplished.
0.02 euro for Autoferrotranviari contract renewals of 2004; If you can pronounce the word, maybe Ignazio will give you a discount at the pump.

And the cherry on the ricotta cake is the 20% Italian state sales tax you pay on top of these taxes.


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Italian 'Robin Hood' Arrested

Cagliari - January 26, 2007 - An Italian Robin Hood who stole from a bank and gave the money to the Church has been turned in by clergymen.

The thief took 8,000 in a bank robbery in Cagliari, but later went to a church where he handed over a sack full of cash to a priest and ran off.

But Father Francesco Matta called police, who realized the notes were stolen from the serial numbers.

Officers tracked down and arrested the Robin Hood, using a description given by the priest.

"Che eroe!" We guess those clergymen won't be joining his group of "Merry Men".

What a poor "disgraziato". It's bad enough the Sardinian swashbuckler has to wear the tights and get his boots on the right feet but to be turned in by the Church was a shame.

We're (almost) sure that money was meant for the poor chaps who attended that church. There was no need for the good father to call the Sheriff of Cagliari and turn him in.

Robin should have taken the money, gotten on a horse and gone to play "bocce" with Little Giovanni in Sherwood Forest.


Julian - Julius Caesar's cousin
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