"Buon giorno!" Welcome to another Italian recipe issue of "Only In Italy!"
The old Italian saying, "between wife and husband don't put a finger between them" has to be one of the most entertaining proverbs ever written.
Enjoy the issue, keep writing and Grazie!
The commission, which as the EU's executive is responsible for policing its laws, has for a long time complained that people calling 112 from a mobile phone in Italy could not be automatically located. The EU digital development commissioner, Neelie Kroes, said this was 'a serious breach of EU law that endangers citizens' lives and well-being,' as being able to find quickly people in danger 'is often a case of life and death.'
The EU's court of justice in January 2009 condemned Italy's failure, but the despite the ruling the country has not yet complied with the commission's demands. The EU executive has therefore turned again to the EU's judges, asking them to fine Italy 39,680 euros ($51,000) for every day that has passed since they ruled on the case.
To date, the bill amounts to $24,225,000. But in case Italy had not yet put its house in order by the time the EU court returns on the case, the commission has asked for a heftier, 178,560-euro ($231,000) daily fine to be imposed, to run until the Italian 112 service is upgraded accordingly.
Kroes's spokesman, Jonathan Todd, said the commission's objective was not to raise revenue, but to introduce sufficient financial incentives for Italy to comply with EU rules.
Hello? Pronto? Bonjour? Vaffanculo? Anyone there?
Si! Itís the sad truth that Italy has a really hard time complying to just about any of the European Commission's demands. But you see, that's the beauty of Italy. We splendidly go against the tide. We're a nation filled with stylish and gorgeous anti-conformists.
"Cazzarola", how trivial these Europeans are?"
Why don't we all just go to a whore in a handbasket?"
When you remind these Italian politicians that we've been fined $51,000 a day since January 2009, that the bill has already amounted to over $24 million, and that the fine will soon go up to $231,000 a day, the typical response you'll get is:
"Minchia, che bella giornata! I'm in the mood for a chocolate and pistachio gelato."
In the most dramatic episode in the long story of Italy's unification, Giuseppe Garibaldi, set sail from Genoa with two small steamers crammed with red-shirted comrades from northern Italy. They were known as the Mille, "the thousand", and they sailed south to conquer Sicily. In less than a month, and against all odds, they had seized Palermo. Soon Garibaldi was master of Sicily and had crossed over to the mainland to continue the rout.
This event has long been regarded as a crucial moment in the creation of the Italian nation, celebrated in romantic paintings and public monuments. The anniversary this week was the starting gun for a whole year of celebrations as Italy looks back on its short but tumultuous history as an independent nation. Organizers promise four major exhibitions and "an extraordinary program of culture, sport and entertainment". The central exhibition, in Turin, examines Italy's independent history.
The only problem is that, despite the exhortations of the head of state, President Giorgio Napolitano, and lectures from on high by the establishment media, Italians appear conflicted about even marking the anniversary.
The Northern League's founder and leader, Umberto Bossi, called the celebrations "useless things." The party's newspaper demanded rhetorically, "The unity of Italy...what's there to celebrate?" and described the birth of the unitary state as "contrary to nature and history."
Another senior figure, Robert Cota, went so far as to describe Garibaldi as "a criminal who sowed death and destruction".
The League began life as a coven of extremists in the prosperous north, inveighing against "Big Thief Rome" and demanding secession from the supposedly blood-sucking south.
Silvio Berlusconi brought League members into his first government in 1994, and though they pulled the plug on that fragile administration, today they are his strongest coalition allies. They may have backtracked on their secession demands but they never tire of reminding people that the unity of the nation should not be taken for granted while they are around.
President Napolitano was on the defensive when he traveled to Genoa this week to honor the Thousand. "To celebrate the unity of Italy is not a waste of time or money," he declared. He urged Italians to show "a stronger sense of Italy and of being Italian".
And he defended Garibaldi, long regarded as the national hero but recently, as he put it, "incomprehensibly the object of gross denigration by new detractors".
"Let us incite ourselves," he said, "to have a bit more national pride."
The President's problem is that, a century and a half after the founders of the unified state set about, as they put it, "making Italians," the work is still only half done.
In Garibaldi's day, all the peoples of the peninsula spoke the dialect of their own region, so when the red shirts turned up on the shores of Sicily, they were regarded as scarcely less foreign than the British naval sailors who backed them up.
National wars, a national education system and nationwide television helped to forge a national language, but dialects are still alive. Pride in one's home town and its culture and food is still far more commonly encountered than pride in being Italian.
No Martini? No Garibaldi...no party!
Most Sicilians (including yours truly) would agree that the promises of the 'Risorgimento', Italy's so-called unification movement, never really came about under the rule of the royal nitwits at the House of Savoy:
- 150 years have gone by and we still have a large underclass (permanent welfare recipients, spoiled drop-outs, low-quality prostitutes, incredibly entertaining drunks, and released mental patients),
- Land reform (to break up the largest estates) came only in 1948, after the royal nitwits had finally been forced to pack up and leave,
- Unemployment remains as high to this day as it was back when our great-grandfather, Beppe, used to go down the main dirt road to an abandoned chicken shed that was converted into an unemployment office,
- Sicily's autonomy was not decreed by the Italian Republic but by King Umberto II in 1946 when the Allies' power of persuasion included a stinging slap to the back of his sweaty neck.
Garibaldi: "You have the duty to educate the people - educate the people - educate them to be Christians - educate them to be Italians. Viva Italia! Viva Christianity!"
Well, thanks for blowing some sunshine up my ass, Giuseppe. Tell that to the Palermitano who just picked up his hefty welfare check and is swinging a hula-hoop around while waiting for his mother to prepare his 'pasta con le sarde' (sardines). "'Fanculo, Viva Italia!"
Organizers say the event in Milan aims to help divorcing couples with legal proceedings and how to start afresh. Services include life coaching, beauty tips and advice on how to get rid of ex-spouses who turn into stalkers.
Divorce levels in the traditionally Catholic country have been relatively low until recently, but there has been a dramatic rise in the last few years. The fair, Ex? Punto e a capo, meaning "Ex? Stop, and start again", includes workshops and stalls on not just the process of divorce, but how to adapt to living alone again.
There will be a special speed-dating evening, as well as art therapy and spa offers to raise self-esteem, say organizers. Franco Zanetti, the fair's founder, says that he got the idea from Austria and has adapted it for his own country.
"Us Italians are not very used to divorce, it's still seen as very negative," he told local news agencies.
"So we want to help people see how to start over again, and maybe learn from the errors they made in the past."
Although divorce was made legal in the 1970s, it is still frowned upon by the Catholic Church and can take three years, including two years of separation and a year more for the legal process.
More than 130,000 couples in Italy split up or divorced in 2007.
Look, contrary to popular belief, Italians don't come together primarily for love, at least not the kind of love that our readers would understand...you know, the sentimental kind; the kind that requires you to vow your undying love to your one and only, your amore, blah-blah-blah, etc. That would be stupid.
But this is not because Italians are not in love. It is because, to us, marriage is a vow, a contract, and a commitment. A spouse is chosen because he or she would make a good partner for the almighty "Family", rather than for personal, romantic, sexual, or sentimental reasons.
The statistics, which are as undeniable and distinct as the smell of fried baccala in Naples at Christmas time, back up the argument: When asked if they betray their partner, 70 percent of Italian men responded, "Porca vacca, YES, I HAVE TO!" But the number is almost matched by the lovely and innocent women whose positive response is 64 percent.
You see, the occasional cheating, a small, insignificant betrayal, as a true Italian could express it, is good for the marriage because it keeps it alive. To us, vowing to be faithful and having only one partner is acceptable if you knew you were going to die within the next five years. But Italians today live to reach their seventies and eighties therefore, how can one expect two Italians to end up 40, 50, or even 60 years together without going astray? Again, that would be stupid.
Who wouldn't confess to being interested in someone else, and tempted to act on impulse?
Why deny the fun, if it is conducted with discretion, smoothness, and, of course, taste?
"Ti amo, my love."
"Si, vaffanculo to you too!"