Ohhh, quanto è bella Romaaa! Welcome to the newsletter that backs up Berlusconi's belief that the crisis will end when everyone in the world can afford a facelift. "Only In Italy!"
What seems to be your major problem with Sicily? Karen
Thanks for the question, Karen.
FYI: Our news staff lives and (barely) operates 25 minutes from Corleone. What gave you the idea we have a problem with Sicily? It's well known one should NEVER have a problem with Sicily.
We love it! It's our Disney World...and Palermo is our Epcot center!
Enjoy the issue, keep writing and Grazie!
Rovereto - March 14, 2009 - Is Europe bringing back the automat? Claudio Torghele hopes so.
Over the last decade, Mr. Torghele, 56, an entrepreneur in this northern Italian city who first made money selling pasta in California, has developed a vending machine that cooks pizza. The machine does not just slip a frozen pizza into a microwave. It actually whips up flour, water, tomato sauce and fresh ingredients to produce a piping hot pizza in about three minutes.
The machine, which Mr. Torghele calls "Let's Pizza", is only the spearhead of a trend. Restaurants reminiscent of the old Horn & Hardart chain in the United States, which are fully automatic, are also showing up around the Continent.
Unlike the old automats (the last Horn & Hardart closed in 1991), which were staffed with workers who refilled the machines with creamed spinach and baked beans as fast as customers pulled them out, these restaurants consist entirely of vending machines.
In Milan, a two-hour drive west of Rovereto, a franchise chain called Brekky has opened the first three of what is planned to be a large chain of restaurants in which customers can buy cold dishes like salads and sandwiches, and warm dishes like pasta, from vending machines.
The idea for a pizza robot came to Mr. Torghele after he worked in California in the mid-1990s creating a fresh pasta manufacturer. "At food courts I saw a trend toward vending machines," he said at his office in this mountain town. "In fast food, I saw pizza everywhere."
With backing from a Dutch investment fund, his own capital and money from friends, he set to work. A plan to simply miniaturize industrial technology for producing frozen pizza failed, but by 2003 Mr. Torghele had produced a machine ready to be tested in Chicago and shown at a trade fair in Orlando, Fla.
That same year, with the help of Unilever, the British-Dutch food giant, he test-marketed 20 machines in Germany. "We had a bicycle," he said. "Now we had to pedal."
The machine Mr. Torghele and his engineers produced is outfitted with little windows so the customer can watch the pizza being made. As in the Charlie Chaplin film "Modern Times" (in miniature and without Chaplin) wheels turn and gears grind. The customer presses a button to choose one of four varieties - margherita (plain cheese and tomato sauce), bacon, ham or fresh greens. A plastic container dumps flour into a drum resembling a tiny washing machine; a squirt of water follows, and the drum goes into a spin cycle, forming a blob of dough that is then pressed flat to form a 12-inch disk.
Tomato paste is squirted onto the dough and cheese is added before it is lifted into a small infrared oven. The baked pizza then slips onto a cardboard tray and out into the customer's waiting hands. Mr. Torghele says the pizza will cost as little $4.50, depending on the variety.
It is not surprising that the new drive to offer fresh-made food is coming from Italy. Italians may be legendary for long lunches of pasta and wine, but they also lead Europe in vending machines, with more than 614,000 installed, compared with 593,000 in France and 562,000 in Britain, according to the European Vending Association in Brussels.
Much of Italy's strength in vending comes from coffee. An Italian coffee vending machine may offer up to 18 different varieties, including espresso, cappuccino, ristretto, lungo and macchiato.
But with coffee markets increasingly saturated, machine manufacturers are casting about for new products to push, like books, DVDs, scarves and handkerchiefs, even model cars and trains.
Operators are also increasingly offering fresh produce, like apples, and other healthy food at schools and fitness centers.
Now, with the economic crisis spreading across Europe, the industry faces a different landscape. On the one hand, as factories close, potential vending machine sites disappear. On the other hand, as consumers find themselves with less cash, the lower-priced items in vending machines become attractive.
Where does this leave Mr. Torghele and his pizza machine? Initially, he thought the United States would be his primary market, but he learned that market would be hard to penetrate. Instead, when his machine goes into regular production this summer, he will be focusing on Italy and its neighbors. But vending machine prices there average about $2,600, and his machine will sell for $32,000.
Still, experts in the business are not discouraging. "You have to have a location; you have to understand where to go with that machine," Mr. Iannuzzi said. "But there is a future for that.""Porca vacca!" How sad. The only pizza worse than frozen pizza.
- A plastic container dumps flour into a drum resembling a tiny washing machine,
'Fanculo, that's a lot of entertainment for $4.50!
The only thing more entertaining is watching the Italian inventor put on a straight face while explaining how fantastic it could be to eat a fresh cooked pizza from a vending machine. Keep in mind the infrared oven gives the pizza that extra special flavor.
Mr. Torghele, should take his invention a step further by adding a little atmosphere. Let's say...Naples:
Put money in the vending machine and it gives back the incorrect change. It plays loud Napolitano music from Nino D'Angelo while spinning and squirting your ingredients. After you finish your pizza, you throw out your cardboard tray and dirty napkins in the middle of the street.
Hmmm...The only positive we see coming from "Let's Pizza" is, at least, you won't have deal with an incoherent pizza man who mixes cement during the day and makes your pizza at night...all without ever washing his hands!
Let's hope the pizza won't get stuck and dangle there like a bag of chips, and you're forced to rock the machine back and forth.
Rome - March 13, 2009 - Speed traps must be signposted in time for motorists to slow down, Italy's highest court said Friday.
The Cassation Court said signs alerting drivers to the cameras must be placed "at least 400 meters (440 yards)" before the devices.
The court, whose rulings set precedents, issued its verdict in the case of a Calabrian company, Speed Control, which was found guilty of hiding cameras to make profits with municipal authorities who fined speeding drivers. The supreme court recalled that, by law, 400 meters is the minimum distance for alerting drivers to the presence of speed traps.
It pointed out that Italian traffic law is aimed more at preventing accidents than punishing offenders.
"Scassacazzo", can you believe it? A sign warning you you're about to get fleeced out of 150 Euros (195 USD). Welcome to the Italian Twilight Zone.
So, why are the chances you will actually see one of these warning signs on the road very slim? Because while you're driving in the Twilight Zone you'll be too occupied with defending your car and dear life from the happy little bands of Italian jackasses screaming down the highways in their ignorant and customary fashion!
- Use the rear-view mirror? FAIL!
- Overtaking with inches to spare, forcing you off to the side of the road? PASS!
Wearing sunglasses at night, talking on a mobile phone while overtaking you with inches to spare? PASS with HONORS, you "figlio di puttana!"
Basically, the four main points of highway safety can be summed up as:
- "Don't speed, cornuto!"
After driving in Italy, the highways of the United States looked like a trip on a tricycle around a Kindergarten playground.
Palermo - March 13, 2009 - A love of Neapolitan music proved the downfall of a Sicilian Mafia boss on Italy's 100 most dangerous fugitives list who had managed to give police the slip for more than a year.
Investigators burst into an elegant apartment in Bagheria, near Palermo, to find Antonino Lo Nigro, 30, sitting at his computer in a tracksuit and listening to an mp3 file at full volume with his headphones on. Lo Nigro only realized the game was up when a policeman stood in front of him.
He had twice managed to flee from police, first when an arrest warrant for Mafia association was issued in January 2008 and again in July, when investigators caught up with him as he holidayed on the Calabrian coast with a girlfriend.
Police said they were alerted to his presence in Bagheria after noticing an "unusual" number of young people with criminal records visiting the apartment, which was being rented by a 29-year-old woman. The woman, who dropped off several bags of shopping for Lo Nigro minutes before the police bust, was arrested for aiding and abetting.
"Lo Nigro was among the main players in the attempt to rebuild the (Cosa Nostra) hierarchy and he was the boss of a strategic outfit for the Sicilian Mafia," said Senator Giuseppe Lumia of parliament's Antimafia Commission.
"Today's arrest confirms that police and magistrates will continue to work without cease to prevent Cosa Nostra from reorganizing itself".
After the arrests of leading Cosa Nostra figures in recent years including those of Palermo Mafia kingpins Salvatore Lo Piccolo and his son Sandro in November 2007, police are on high alert for mobsters stepping in to fill a possible power void at the head of the organization.
'Fanculo, what a cacasenno! The battery in his MP3 player is brighter than him.
This goes to show there is a serious flaw with the list of the "10 Mafia Commandments" found at the hideout of a top Boss captured in 2007.
"Police said they were alerted to his presence in Bagheria after noticing an "unusual" number of young people with criminal records visiting the apartment,..."
In order to avoid a repeat of the incredibly intelligent blunder committed by disciple Antonino, whoever the mobster nicknamed "Moses" is will have to hold a counsel to discuss the obvious problem with the first commandment:
1. No-one can present himself directly to another of our friends. There must be a third person to do it.
Hmmm...just imagine the entertainment that goes into worshipping this commandment: Befuddled mob members taking along other mob members as chaperones to visit...another mob member who happens to be a top Mafia boss on the run in a Sicilian city notoriously famous for Mafia activity!
"No, Toto, we weren't tailed...were you?"
We would also like to add the illegal downloading of bad Neapolitan music couldn't have helped Antonio Lo Idiot keep a low profile.