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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"The Plastic Gondola"



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"Weh, ragazzi!" Better the son of a bitch you know than the jackass you don't know. That's how we see it. "Only In Italy!"

Hello. I'm second generation Italian/American who's father's family is from Sicily and mother's is from Naples. You can imagine the enjoyment I got from the "Southern Italy May Flood At Any Moment/Dear Northern Italy" article with your reply. It was definitely a fine piece of work.

I enjoy your newsletters and other information and could only think of one minor suggestion to mention.

While I can generally make out most of your Italian Language "snipes", my Italian is not fluent. Occasionally a word may trip me up which is, putting it politely, "idiomatic". While I had thought my command of these "idiomatic" (dirty) words and phrases was an area where my Italian was better overall, I do occasionally come across one now and then I am either not familiar with or just don't remember.

Of course I cannot find a translation for these on line, etc. This is compounded by my living in Texas where there are few Italians and even fewer who speak not only the language but also the dialect and "slang".

Is there a web site of any other suggestion you can give me which will give me access to the "dialect" and/or "slang" meanings of these words and phases when I cannot find them in my memories of 40 years ago? Thanks for all! Leonardo R.

Ciao Lenny and thanks for your kind letter. The reason why we do not translate our slang, curse words, or as we call them, "words of wisdom", is that the newsletter would then never make it past any email filter.

However, do not despair, our dear disciple, for you can find the meaning and even more from just about every Italian "word of wisdom" ever written since the era of Caligula right here: Italian.About.Com

Lenny, you can learn them at your leisure but for the full effect we recommend using them in everyday conversation, especially when there are Italians present (preferably Northern).   

Enjoy the issue, keep writing and Grazie!

Tanti Saluti,             
"Only In Italy" Staff      

Italy Last in European Union For Business Freedom

Rome - April 7, 2010 - Red tape, taxes, labor laws and regulations have made Italy the country with the least economic and business freedom in the European Union, according to a report drawn up for Confindustria.

Confindustria said that the report showed how personal and business taxes in Italy were far above the EU average "and there is no better indicator of the need for a radical overhaul of our tax system".

According to the report, the tax rate on corporate earnings in Italy was 33% compared to an EU average of 23.5%; taxes on profits were 22.9% as opposed to an EU average of 12%; and taxes on personal incomes had a ceiling of 43% compared to 35.7% for the EU.

Italy also has five different tax brackets, compared to an average of three, the report said.

Based on these figures, Confindustria said "it is all too clear that a radical revision of the taxation system is not only needed but can no longer be postponed if we want to give our economy a boost".

Judging economic freedom on a scale of one to 100, the report said, Italy stood at 35 compared to an EU average of 57 and was far behind the 'freest' European country, Ireland at 74.

Aside from economic freedoms, the study from the Bruno Leoni Institute also looked at the problem of national debts in Europe and warned that a real possibility existed of some EU member defaulting on their debts. Italy has the biggest debt in Europe, and third largest in the world after the United States and Japan, "and while it is true that interest rates are at historic lows, they could bounce back up and make the problems Greece, Spain and Portugal have recently been facing something more than a warning bell," the report said.

"It would be best to stop believing in the fairy tale that no member state can fail and remember what happened just a few years ago in Argentina in order to avoid a repeat of that experience," the report added.

Dear naive investors,

"Buon giorno." In case your first impression of Italy was that it was a lawless land, where you could make up the rules as you went along, as long as it didn't attract the attention of the semi-comatose police officer or government're almost there.

It is not that Italy has no laws. In fact, we have so many laws (circa 350,000) that to follow each one would take a team of rat-bastard lawyers, a good-sized fortune and more patience than Pope John Paul II was blessed with, not to mention more time and perseverance than the life span of 13 Roman gladiators combined.

So, we Italians simply find creative and resourceful ways to sidestep laws that wouldn't even have any relevance or logic in 'The Twilight Zone'. If this fails, we can always simply ignore them and move on to the next espresso coffee break. But there is an interesting challenge...

It lies in determining which stupid laws must be strictly observed, which can be creatively interpreted (I think, therefore I am...NOT paying this) and which can be ignored completely. It is for these reasons that every future business owner in Italy should hire the help of a shifty, cunning and slithering "commercialista".

The "commercialista"

A blood sucking mutant cross between an accountant, lawyer and business consultant, a "commercialista" will take on the role of all three in the process of setting up a business in Italy. He/she will take care of the company’s book-keeping, drafting of legal documents, cavorting with lawyers and government officials if necessary, filing all the necessary paperwork at the various and elusive government agencies, and generally making sure that you and your company are in compliance with the "necessary" laws.

Perhaps the most important requirements for setting up a business in a country like ours are self-control, a sick sense of humor, self-control, determination, self-control, and flexibility. Did we mention self-control? "Cazzarola!"

Italy’s bureaucratic engine is a 'Lord of the Rings' type beast, full of body odor, corruption, and inefficiencies. However, choosing good warriors to help you with the legal and lethal aspects of setting up a business, doing a lot of research on the type of business you'd like to start and having self-control (there's that phrase again) with the quirks, peculiarities and mystery of Italian bureaucracy will go a long way towards helping you survive and keep sane.


Italian Scientists Working On The Anti-Obesity Pill

Rome - April 6, 2010 - Italian scientists say they are on track to producing an anti-obesity pill without any potentially dangerous psychological side effects.

The research team led by Uberto Pagotto, an endocrinologist at the University of Bologna, says the new pill works somewhat like the appetite suppressants which were pulled off the market over safety concerns, primarily psychiatric.

But unlike drugs like Rimonabant, which suppressed appetite by blocking cannabinoid CB1 receptors in the brain but tripled the risk of anxiety, depression and suicide, the new medication blocks receptors only in peripheral organs like muscles and pancreas.

The findings of the Bologna team are published in the current issue of Cell Metabolism.

You see? Obesity is not just a problem in the USA. Italians have also had the annoying and boring mantra of "increased physical exercise, better diet, restraint from eating, blah blah blah...basta, porca vacca", ringing in their heads.

But it can be so difficult to resist the temptations of the Italian kitchen. Of course, that doesn't mean you should pop mozzarella balls in your mouth like tic-tacs.

People think that losing weight is one of the most difficult things one can do:

Nonno: "What? Controlling what you eat? Stop that!"

"Serving in World War II was difficult, growing up in poverty is difficult. Stopping the consumption of sausage, pizza, cannelloni and fried eggplant is not!"

What's even more entertaining are the Italians that are so in denial that they don't realize when they are chomping down. To some of them losing weight would be:

1.) putting their mobile phone down,
2.) taking a layer off their 10 layer meat lasagna,
3.) only eating when they are awake.


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Shipbuilder Defends His Plastic Gondola Project

Brindisi - April 7, 2010 - A local shipbuilder has defended his plan to build an exact replica of a Venetian gondola out of fiberglass rather than wood despite criticism from the lagoon city and its association of gondoliers.

"All we are trying to do is make a product which is cheap and even innovative, given that we use technology invented to produce 'Jumbo' jets," explained Giuseppe Gioia, owner and operator of the Cantieri Navali Brindisi shipyards here.

A classic gondola, made out of eight different woods, costs over 25,000 euros to make.

"We know perfectly well that Venice city regulations do not allow gondolas which were not made out of wood, but just the same we wanted to inform Venetian gondoliers about our new product," he added.

The head of the Venice gondoliers association, Aldo Reato, branded the idea of a 'plastic' gondola as "outrageous" and added "we are not in some amusement park here, this is Venice!".

According to Reato, either the Brindisi shipyard did not understand the reality of Venice or it was out to seek some free publicity.

"We gondoliers are a part of this city's history, one of its symbols, and we do not intend to be an advertising vehicle for anyone, in this case or any other one," he said.

Gioia said he would go ahead with his plan to build fiberglass gondolas because "not everyone may know this but gondolas are also used in California and the United Arab Emirates".

"And they could even be used in other Italian seaside cities. Here, for example, we've proposed that passengers on visiting cruise ship be offered a gondola tour of the port," he added.

Gioia admitted, however, that this idea had yet to draw a response from city officials.

"Excuse me, grandissimo cornuto, how much for a 40 minute ride?!"

When one thinks of Venice, gondolas floating in dirty lagoon water with swindling gondoliers hiding behind sunglasses at the helm immediately come to mind. Sure it is cliche and a tourist trap but contrary to popular belief, it is NOT one of the best ways to see Venice. There's nothing wrong with our "vaporettos" or water buses. They're far more interesting and you'll see plenty more for about 6 Euros!

But why do our lovely tourists pay 80 Euros ($110) for that 40 min ride (and come back to dry land with that "look" on their faces)?

For the awe-inspiring craftsmanship: For a classic gondola, one uses 280 parts that consist of eight different wood types, costs over 25,000 euros to build and has a useful life span of about 20 years. (In economic terms, 'cost efficiency' took a left down the wrong canal and sank.)

For the skillful and talented training: A ten year apprenticeship with a 'padrone' is required before a gondolier gets a licence. Only native born Venetians can apply and the number of issued licenses is limited. (I don't think it took so many years for Huckleberry Finn to learn to drift down the Mississippi. And if a prostitute happens to give birth in Venetian territory, does this mean the little bastard has a better chance of pushing an expensive piece of wood with a long stick down a canal than a child born to Olympic athletes in Calabria?)


Julian - Julius Caesar's cousin
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