"Buon Giorno a tutti!" Welcome to the only newsletter that will one day discover what song Nero played on the fiddle while Rome burned, "Only In Italy!"
And this makes three in a row! We thank you all for the love and hate mail. We hope the newsletter grows on you like a humorous fungus.
Enjoy the issue, keep writing and Grazie!
Rome - February 16, 2010 - A neoclassical tomb in Rome's monumental Verano cemetery fetched the price of a super luxury apartment in the city's first Web auction of other worldly assets.
The tomb, described as "classical style with decorative elements in white travertine and Carrara marble, able to house ten," drew a flood of buyers to an auction site, boosting its value from an asking price of 150,000 euros ($206,000) to a winning bid of 940,000 euros ($1.3 million).
"It's a crazy price, you could get prime real estate in the real world for that," said a delighted head of the Rome graveyard body Ama, Vittorio Borghini.
The successful bidder, who was not identified, can look forward to rubbing shoulders with literary luminaries like Alberto Moravia, Eduardo De Filippo, Grazia Deledda and Giuseppe Ungaretti; cinema legends Marcello Mastroianni, Vittorio De Sica, Roberto Rossellini, Luchino Visconti and Isa Miranda; composer Pietro Mascagni; and American philosopher George Santayana, famous for saying: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it".
Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno hoped to raise some 2.5 million euros from the sell-off of 34 plots at Verano and two other historical graveyards, but the final take was 3.8 million.
The scheme has been such a hit that a repeat will be staged over the next six months, with 20 Verano tombs and ten others at Flaminio and Maccarese on offer.
The tombs were empty, no longer used, or belonged to people Ama was unable to trace.
Bidders were able to view their desired resting places on Google Earth.
"Most of the money will be going to the upkeep of Ama properties but some of the leftovers will be used on other municipal assets," Alemanno said.
Unlike most Italian graves, which have a relatively short sell-by date, the newly available tombs have a 75-year lease.
This is dedicated to any of you who wake up every morning and listen to the song, "I Woke Up and Went To Work", over and over.
$1.3 million...What a "faccia di culo!"
No one is shameful anymore. There is no shame in Italian society.
"The successful bidder...can look forward to rubbing shoulders with literary luminaries like Alberto Moravia, Eduardo De Filippo, Grazia Deledda and Giuseppe Ungaretti..." "Minchia", as if tourists and visitors are going to stop by and plop tulips on your majestic tomb too.
How angry would you be if you were one of these great writers or actors? You finally die, you go to heaven and you find out you have to rub shoulders for eternity with someone who probably made his fortune producing cement...and whose probably wearing an "I'm stupid" T-shirt?
"...American philosopher George Santayana, famous for saying: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it".
Those who can't remember they were a jackass in the past are condemned to repeat it.
Rome - February 16, 2010 - The family of Italy's last king are locked in a bitter court feud over who has the right to lay claim to the country's defunct throne more than 60 years after the monarchy was abolished.
The battle pitches Prince Victor Emmanuel, the son of Umberto II, against his third cousin, Duke Amadeo of Aosta, both of whom are descended from the 19th century king of Italy, Umberto I.
The dispute has reached court after four years of public bickering which divided the country's small but ardent band of monarchists.
It began when the duke declared he, rather than his cousin, was the real head of the House of Savoy, the name of the Italian royals until the monarchy was abolished by referendum at the end of the Second World War.
The duke, 66, argued that his cousin was no longer eligible to call himself Prince of Savoy because he had failed to secure the legally-required permission of his father, king-in-exile Umberto II, to marry a Swiss biscuit manufacturer heiress and champion water skier, Marina Doria, in 1971.
The duke also argued that the prince forfeited his right to the dynastic title because in order to be allowed to return to Italy from exile in 2002, Victor Emmanuel had to formally recognize the Italian republic as the country's legitimate government.
The feud even erupted into violence when Victor Emmanuel was accused of punching the duke twice in the face following a dinner held by King Juan Carlos I of Spain in honor of the wedding of his son.
But now a court in Tuscany has finally ruled the 73-year-old prince is the true heir to the dynasty, which has its roots in the north-east of Italy and ruled the whole country after it was unified in 1861.
It ruled the Savoy royal title can now only be used by Prince Victor Emmanuel and his son, Prince Emmanuel Filiberto, who is best known to Italians as the recent winner of a reality television show, Dancing with the Stars.
It also ordered the Duke of Aosta to pay his cousin 49,000 Euros in compensation as well as the costs of the trial.
The court pointed out that the "dynastic squabbles underlying this affair" had no legal relevance to the modern Italian state because the monarchy had been abolished more than 60 years ago.
It also highlighted the fact the prince was descended from the last king of Italy while the duke came from only a "junior branch" of the royal family.
The court ruled that the duke's use of the Savoy name had been "unmerited" and ordered him to bring his "harmful conduct" to an immediate end.
Prince Emmanuel, who has been embroiled in a series of scandals including an incident in which he fatally shot a German tourist who climbed aboard his yacht off Corsica in 1978 and, more recently, charges of recruiting prostitutes for clients at a Swiss casino, praised the court's decision.
"The judge understood the vile and harmful action that Duke Amadeo had construed against me, my son and the Royal House of Savoy, an action which has been rightly punished," he said.
But a furious Duke Amadeo vowed to fight on. "I respect the judgment but naturally I don't agree with it and I'm going to appeal," he said.
It was not just the claim to a long defunct royal line that was at stake. The Savoy name also confers the control of various charitable institutions and entitles the holder to call himself prince of Venice and Piedmont - although the positions are purely titular.
"Porca di quella vacca", isn't it entertaining to see two people with nothing fight over nothing?
Here are some more fun filled facts about the Prince of Pepperoni:
- Vittorio Emanuele and his family hold no official titles, nor do they have royal or governmental duties because Italy is now and has been a republic since 1946. (In other words, he has plenty of free time on his hands. Therefore, he should put on a cowboy hat, get on a jackass and ride out of town. He should go play "bocce" in Naples somewhere seeing that he is also known as the Prince of Naples.)
- His full birth name is Vittorio Emanuele Alberto Carlo Teodoro Umberto Bonifacio Amedeo Damiano Bernardino Gennaro Maria di Savoia. (Each and every one of those people can kiss my ass.)
- Vittorio Emanuele has worked as a banker and an aircraft salesman, and then an arms dealer. (He would have made a bad mailman.)
- He is also a claimant to the title of King of Jerusalem. (Move over King David and make way for the new King of the Jews.)
- Vittorio Emanuele unilaterally declared himself King of Italy on 15 December 1969. (Hard to believe he was able to do so that morning without the need of getting out of bed.)
- In 1978 he was tried in France on a murder charge, of which he was cleared of unlawful killing but convicted of a firearms offence. Vittorio Emanuele discovered his yacht's rubber dinghy had been taken and attached to another nearby yacht. Arming himself with a rifle, he attempted to board the yacht. He shot at a passenger he had awakened; the shot missed the passenger but mortally wounded and killed a passenger sleeping on the deck of another adjacent yacht. (How do you get through to someone who is limited in his capacity? The dinghy had more brains.)
- Vittorio Emanuele also said in recent years that the anti-Semitic laws passed under Mussolini's regime were "not that terrible". ("Cazzo", there goes the King of Jerusalem title.)
- In May 2004, following a dinner held by King Juan Carlos I of Spain on the eve of the wedding of his son Felipe, Vittorio Emanuele punched his cousin Amadeo of Savoy twice in the face. (Hmmm...First punch for giving a more expensive wedding present? The second for the wives wearing matching evening gowns?)
London - February 17th, 2010 - Richard Lynn, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Ulster (UK), is no stranger to controversy, having argued that differences in intelligence are linked to race and gender. Now he has upset the Italians, claiming that the South of Italy is less developed than the North because its inhabitants are less intelligent.
In his paper, entitled, "In Italy north-south differences in IQ predict differences in income, education, infant mortality, stature and literacy" and published in the psychology journal Intelligence (vol 38, no 1, 2010) Lynn states that the IQ levels of the population of Italy decrease as one travels south, with the Sicilians being the least intelligent of all Italians the most intelligent, according to Lynn, live in the Fruili area. Lynn writes that the reason may be that Southerners have a "genetic admixture with populations from the Near East and North Africa."
You may imagine the disdain with which this news has been greeted in Italy: Corriere della Sera reports that Lynn's theories would not be out of place in a racist pamphlet while La Repubblica publishes a list of high-achieving Southerners. Roberto Cubelli, President of the Italian Association of Psychologists, criticizes Lynnís theories as being seriously flawed, for his methodology and for poor psychometrics (the means by which a personís education and psychological characteristics can be measured). Mr Cubelli also points out the dangers of Lynnís theories, which could lead to racist behavior in individuals or politically.
Neapolitan politician Amedeo Laboccetta has called Lynn a "poor, ignorant man" and has offered him a free stay in the South, so that he can explain his theories in person to the people he has insulted.
Ah, that hurt! Doesn't Professor Richard Lynn Cornuto realize we southerners don't need any further "racial profiling" from the polenta-sucking northerners?
Why is the North so vicious to the South? They act surprised when they see us wearing shoes.
If you ever visit the Lombardy region (you know, the land of butter and lard), listen in on the preschool songs they sing to their kids:
"It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood,"
"Today we're going to learn what not to do,"
"Remember one thing,"
There will never be peace between the north and south of Italy. That is something we have all learned to accept. Let me tell everyone why there will never be peace:
Whenever you have a bunch of Sicilians, there are plenty of people to hate them.
As our grandfather always preached to us; "If thereís an ocean people will swim, if there are Sicilians people will hate. Thatís my history lesson for today. Move out of the way, please."