"Volare!" Welcome to the only newsletter that asks the question, "Is it part of our DNA to wear sunglasses, inside and outside, after dark?"
Ha! Me and my siblings are 2nd generation Italians & we were drinking watered down wine at dinner at the age of 10 or so! Viva Italia! Nina
Grazie for the comment, Nina!
Enjoy the issue, keep writing and Grazie!
Rome - March 10, 2010 - Sophia Loren is playing her late mother in a new TV film to thank her for the hardship she endured to help give her daughter "a fairy-tale life", the screen legend said Wednesday.
Loren, 75, broke down in tears several times as she talked about La Mia Casa E' Piena di Specchi (My House Is Full of Mirrors), a two-parter airing on RAI state TV Sunday and Monday.
"Sorry, even if you talk about things a lot they still stay inside you, you never forget, you can't do anything about it," said the actress, who rose to international stardom from the back streets of Naples.
"This isn't fiction, it's the true story, it's my life, a marvelous fairy tale," said the actress, who won an Oscar in 1962 and was most recently seen as Fellini's mother in the musical Nine.
"My mother's life was unhappy, painful, dramatic. She was a woman who loved life, fragile inside, hard on the outside,," Loren said of Romilda Villani, who "was like a tiger" in protecting her and her sister Maria in Pozzuoli during WWII.
Loren said the story, taken from a book of the same name by her sister, was "a tale of war, hunger, begging, because my mother did that for us, fighting to give a name to her daughters and a future away from poverty".
During the war, the harbor and munitions plant in Pozzuoli was a frequent bombing target of the allies. In one raid, as Loren ran to the shelter, she was struck by shrapnel and wounded in the chin. After the war Loren's grandmother set up a pub, popular with GIs, in their living room where her mother played the piano, Maria sang and Sofia waited tables and washed dishes.
A couple of years later, at 14, she did well in a beauty contest and was spotted by future husband Carlo Ponti who launched her career as an extra in Quo Vadis. But her mother, too, had had similar ambitions before running into showbiz hanger-on and general ne'er-do-well Riccardo Scicolone in the 1930s, Loren recalled Wednesday.
"She won an MGM competition as a Greta Garbo lookalike but her family wouldn't let her pursue it".
"So I was her way of getting back at them. She sacrificed so much for me. She'd greet me at the door with baked melanzane and meatballs, building me up".
If Loren's memories are bittersweet, some of those of Maria Scicolone are downright bitter.
"I was already a tired grown-up when I was eight, and I was pressed hard by my Mom, who was tough sometimes without really meaning to be," said Scicolone, 71, former wife of Benito Mussolini's jazz-playing son Romano and mother to today's rightwing MP Alessandra Mussolini.
Scicolone, who started writing the recently published book 20 years ago, admitted that her own life was "lived in a light reflected from someone else's, but I guess reflected light is OK in the long run".
Despite the hard times, Maria Scicolone has continued to be close to her older sister and found time for some banter Wednesday.
"You were really quite ugly when you were a kid," she told her.
"Oh, che bella!" Sophia would also like to thank:
- Her brilliant ex-accountant and husband for making her spend 18 days in an Italian prison in 1982 for tax evasion (a tax discrepancy of just $7,000),
- A Mexican judge for giving Carlo Ponti, a mediocre Italian producer, a divorce from his first wife and the chance to marry Sophia by proxy, while she was in Hollywood filming and dating Cary Grant (back in Italy, Ponti was immediately charged with bigamy and Loren with being a concubine),
- Her sister Maria Scicolone for her extraordinary taste in men (she married dictator Benito Mussolini's son, Romano Mussolini),
- France for her French citizenship (she gave up her Italian citizenship years ago due to the legal and tax problems she and her husband incurred in Italy),
- the extreme photoshop makeovers necessary for appearing (at the age of 72) in the 2007 edition of the famous Pirelli Calendar ,
- anyone who believed her when she once said (on adultery), "It's a game I never play."
Naples - March 9, 2010 - Italians in the south ought to boycott the upcoming elections unless local politicians step up to the challenge of uprooting organized crime and corruption, the bishop of a town near Naples said Tuesday.
"We have to start saying 'enough'. Either you listen to us or we're going to stop voting," the bishop of Acerra, Msgr. Antonio Riboldi, told Catholic weekly Famiglia Cristiana a week ahead of local elections in Campania and 12 other regions on March 28-29. The interview came as a follow-up to a dossier on southern Italy released in late February by the Italian Bishop's Conference (CEI), which expressed little faith in the ability of local politicians to heal the region's ills.
Riboldi agreed that "in 50 years of living in the south, I've seen it all: factories built and abandoned, pastures and farmland wrecked, the tourist industry a shambles".
He said that the CEI was right in assigning a large share of the blame to collusion between politicians and organized crime.
"We need to be braver about burning the bridges that connect us with these people, who often try to pass themselves off as devoted Catholics," he said.
The bishop added the battle for the hearts and minds of southern Italy's youth was being waged in schoolrooms, that however faced debilitating budget cuts.
"It's up to the state and public schools to debunk the myth that organized crime robs from the rich to give to the poor," he said.
"That's the message the Mafia sends and if the social services in place aren't capable of providing an alternative, than southern Italy has no future".
"Christians in the South have to wake up and start being part of the solution," he concluded.
Otherwise, he said the region's worst critics would be right in saying that "the south isn't a part of Italy, it's just annexed to it".
"Cavolo", the bishop's right! The south isn't a part of Italy. Iceland is more a part of Italy than Naples is.
All you have to do is listen to the old incoherent men in the Italian piazzas who soak up wine and play cards all day. Ask a few questions about elections, mafia, and the church, and after an hour or two of careful listening, you'll know nothing more about these asinine affairs than you had before lunch. You will be informed about absolutely nothing!
And it's not a case of ignorance but of confusion and marvel on your part. There will be so many words, comments, arguments, opinions and surveys mixed in with the smells of wine, coffee, cheese, and animal farms, which will mean absolutely NOTHING, "porca miseria!" You will wish you could have spent the time better such as being stampeded by a herd of sheep.
"We need to be braver about burning the bridges that connect us with these people, who often try to pass themselves off as devoted Catholics." Hmmm...there's a smell of irony there. Wasn't it Macchiavelli that once said, "We Italians are irreligious and corrupt above others" ... "because the Church and her representatives set us the worst example."? Of course, we wouldn't want the Church to get into a hissy fit so, we'll just say Macchiavelli was a Renaissance blockhead.
Wrong-doing in Italy is excused by the fact that politicians along with the church are thought to be up to much worse things. Therefore, a little tax-evading or bribery by us lowly Italians isn't that important..
Remember: In Italy, no one is ever entirely guilty...and no one ever simply innocent.
Father Gabriele Amorth, 85, who has been the Vatican's chief exorcist for 25 years and says he has dealt with 70,000 cases of demonic possession, said that the consequences of satanic infiltration included power struggles at the Vatican as well as "cardinals who do not believe in Jesus, and bishops who are linked to the Demon".
He added: "When one speaks of 'the smoke of Satan' (a phrase coined by Pope Paul VI in 1972) in the holy rooms, it is all true including these latest stories of violence and pedophilia."
Father Amorth, who has just published Memoirs of an Exorcist, a series of interviews with the Vatican journalist Marco Tosatti, said that the attempt on the life of Pope John Paul II in 1981 had been the work of the Devil, as had an incident last Christmas when a mentally disturbed woman threw herself at Pope Benedict XVI at the start of Midnight Mass, pulling him to the ground.
Father Jose Antonio Fortea Cucurull, a Rome-based exorcist, said that Father Amorth had "gone well beyond the evidence" in claiming that Satan had infiltrated the Vatican corridors.
"Cardinals might be better or worse, but all have upright intentions and seek the glory of God," he said. Some Vatican officials were more pious than others, "but from there to affirm that some cardinals are members of satanic sects is an unacceptable distance."
Father Amorth told a national paper that the devil was "pure spirit, invisible. But he manifests himself with blasphemies and afflictions in the person he possesses. He can remain hidden, or speak in different languages, transform himself or appear to be agreeable. At times he makes fun of me."
He said it sometimes took six or seven of his assistants to hold down a possessed person. Those possessed often yelled and screamed and spat out nails or pieces of glass, which he kept in a bag. "Anything can come out of their mouths finger-length pieces of iron, but also rose petals."
He said that hoped every diocese would eventually have a resident exorcist. Under Church Canon Law any priest can perform exorcisms, but in practice they are carried out by a chosen few trained in the rites.
Father Amorth was ordained in 1954 and became an official exorcist in 1986. In the past he has suggested that Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin were possessed by the Devil. He was among Vatican officials who warned that J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels made a "false distinction between black and white magic".
He approves, however, of the 1973 film The Exorcist, which although "exaggerated" offered a "substantially exact" picture of possession.
In 2001 he objected to the introduction of a new version of the exorcism rite, complaining that it dropped centuries-old prayers and was "a blunt sword" about which exorcists themselves had not been consulted. The Vatican said later that he and other exorcists could continue to use the old ritual.
He is the president of honor of the Association of Exorcists.
"Mamma mia!" How intriguing! Is it the same as trying to find a pesky gopher in a large garden?
We don't want to turn this into a moral or religious issue so, please, don't lecture us (it's the spring and the good weather is finally here). Besides, we're not worried. We're surrounded by irritating Italian grandmothers dressed in pitch black who could beat, berate, annoy and criticize the devil in any possessed person to the point of exhaustion.
However...we did do some math, Father Amorth:
25 years as an exorcist?
When did you find the time to write memoirs and leave interviews when you're performing round-the-clock exorcisms with your 'Ghostbuster' squad? And could you tell the difference between a person possessed and one who is simply having a bad day and suffering from an ingrown toe nail?
"...consequences of satanic infiltration included power struggles at the Vatican as well as cardinals who do not believe in Jesus, and bishops who are linked to the Demon." You're not kidding! We remember the power struggles among the Catholic school nuns during our elementary years. "Porca vacca", the incredible beatings we used to receive felt like they came from nuns possessed from muscle-building power demons.
"At times he makes fun of me." Who knew the devil had a sense of humor?
"Father, did you check the neighbor’s house of your last possessed victim? The Easter bunny lives there."