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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"How To Get an Italian College Degree."   

(05/13/04)

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"Buon Giorno!" Welcome to another fun loving issue of "Only In Italy!"

So, you want to move to Italy. You want to leave baseball, apple pie, and the Fourth of July behind and come to the Old World, see how life is on the other side of the Atlantic. No more fast food, no more daily grind, no more ugly buildings--just sit-down restaurants, art, and romance.

Forget it.

In the cultural center of Florence, McDonalds is opening their second grease outlet, Dominos is delivering pizzas, and Italians are foregoing Piazza Michelangelo for a quite night at home sitting on the sofa and watching the latest film rented from Blockbuster Video.

Fortunately, Italy hasn't been totally Americanized--nor is it likely to be any time soon. Italians take pride in their culture, even as they adopt the conveniences from abroad.

If you're looking for a change in lifestyle, Italy is still a great place to find something different. It's not an easy transition, though.

First, you have to be able to work. Since there's not quite enough work to go around for Italians, you won't be able to get a work visa. Without a work visa, you can't get a job. You can't be a member without a union job, and you can't get a union job without being a member.

So, how do you get work? There are two ways. First, find an Italian to marry. There are many single Italians, and many of them are attractive, though they may not necessarily speak English, which can make for interesting charades-like conversation.

The other option is to work "in black" as they call it here. As you might imagine, that consists of working without proper documents, and is a good way for an employer to get fined large sums of money if you get caught. Despite the risks, many restaurants, bars, and pubs hire Americans to work without documents, especially in the summer when they need people who can speak English.

Also, you'll need a place to live. This is easier--though not much. Flipping through the local ads, you'll find that many apartments are let out only to students or to people who are relocating from one city to another because of their job. Once you find a place that you can rent, the process is much the same as in America. You pay first and last month rent, plus a fee to the rental agency equal to one month's rent.

This is the basic stuff. What about the day-to-day of living in a new country, especially one as interesting as Italy? Here's some advice.

Start smoking. Nearly everyone in Italy does, and they don't have the non-smoker protections that you're used to in the States. While you can find a non-smoking section in a restaurant, people usually smoke in them anyway. In fact, a non-smoking sign in Italy is usually considered a good excuse to light up.

Learn not to do anything. It's what many Italians do best--and most Italians I know will consider that a compliment. In fact, people get very creative here to keep from being creative. Strikes every other week, stores that stay open for 5 hours a day, these are just a couple of nationally accepted methods of not doing anything. When you first get here, you will probably have an urge to be active at every moment of the day, as this is considered a virtue in our fast-paced American culture. In Italy, it is considered rude, and is a good way to earn enemies. Relax, sit down, smoke a cigarette.

Forget everything you think you know about driving. For your first month or so, leave the driving to an Italian. Unless you're a New York cabby or a Formula 1 racer, not only will driving be frustrating for you, it could be dangerous. Take a bus, take the metro, walk--don't get behind the wheel.

When you do start driving, here's some things to remember:

a) The lines on the road mean nothing at all. They are there solely for aesthetics. If you think they do some silly thing like divide the road into lanes, tell you where to stop for a light, or separate traffic driving in one direction from the traffic driving in the other direction, you will be the only person who thinks so and that could get you into trouble.

b) Do not drive defensively. If you are a defensive driver, stay home. Only angry, aggressive, and outright obnoxious drivers make it from point A to B in one piece.

c) If the two points above do not make you stop and think "Hmmm, maybe I'll just take a cab," but instead make you think, "Wow, that Italian driving sure sounds fun!" you will probably be okay.

It would take two web sites on three different servers to give you all the information possible on moving to Italy. I won't attempt it. Instead, come here yourself, and see what it's like. 90% of Americans who move to Italy stay here for the rest of their life--one in 5 chew Trident.

Enjoy the issue, keep writing and Grazie!

Tanti Saluti,              
"Only In Italy" Staff       


Mafia Wives Getting Fed Up With Mafia Husbands

Bari - June 25, 2004 - A women's revolt has torn apart one of Italy's most notorious Mafia clans. Almost 90 alleged members of a gang that terrorized the Gargano, a growing tourist area on the Adriatic, are in custody after raids by paramilitary Carabinieri that also led to the arrest of two of their colleagues and a police officer.

As the search continued for a further 33 people, the man running the operation, Domenico Seccia, a prosecutor from Bari and the head of the regional anti-mafia department, made a highly unusual gesture of thanks.

"Due gratitude goes to the women who have collaborated in this investigation, breaking family ties and bonds of omerta," he said. Omerta is Sicilian for the duty of silence on Mafiosi and their families.

For the sake of the informers, who will live out their days in fear of a violent death, many of the details remain secret. But Mr. Seccia said the biggest contribution had been made by the 25-year-old partner of the alleged boss of a gang operating from the town of Sannicandro Garganico.

According to reports, she turned up at Mr. Seccia's office and offered to tell all - because she could not longer live in complicity with the violence she had witnessed. Newspapers said she had since signed hundreds of statements about arms and drugs trafficking, racketeering, interference by organized crime in the awarding of public works contracts, and at least six murders.

Mr. Seccia said the woman had been given a new identify and a new home to protect her after her fateful renunciation. "She was an eyewitness to many bloody crimes and saw a lot of people die," he said.

Following leads from her and others, investigators eavesdropped on gangster summits at which, it is claimed, participants boasted of exploits including murder.

The beautiful Gargano promontory has seen more than 35 killings in 23 years and many a blood feud between two crime families. Last July a suspected mobster and his wife were shot dead in front of their two autistic sons.

"Porca Miseria!" You have to give credit and sympathy to these poor wives that have to put up with the cooking, the cleaning and the killing.

"Hey guys! My wife turned me into the police."
"Gee, honey. What do you think I should get you for our anniversary?...You load."

You'll see that she'll get the blame for this in her community.

"She was supposed to understand the community!"
"That's the problem with these wives of today!"
"They don't understand the community!"
"They don't understand that when a husband is involved with drug trafficking, racketeering and murder, he's just working to support his family."
"He's communicating with the community."

"Omerta" is Sicilian for the duty of silence on Mafiosi and their families.
"Ignoramus" is Pig Latin for what you become when you marry a jackass "Goodfella".

 

Alleged Mafioso Hires Image Consultant For Damage Control

Palermo - June 30, 2004 - He served time for laundering the proceeds of an international heroin-trading ring. Now he's on trial in Palermo, charged with belonging to the Sicilian Cosa Nostra.

It is perhaps not surprising that 57-year-old Vito Palazzolo wants a change of image. But his decision to employ a public relations adviser breaks new ground: it is the first known instance of an alleged Mafia godfather hiring a professional image consultant.

Aldo Sarullo is to Sicily what Sir Tim Bell is to Britain. He is a former actor, playwright and director, who advised Palermo's anti-mafia mayor, Leoluca Orlando, and then Silvio Berlusconi's party Forza Italia, which made a clean sweep of the island in the 2001 election.

In a recent letter to the Palermo prosecutors who secured Mr. Palazzolo's indictment, Mr. Sarullo announced he would soon be representing the man they were trying to put behind bars. He told newspapers yesterday that he had not formally completed the deal.

"But unless something happens that I cannot foresee, I shall be taking the job," he said.

"My job will be to see that Mr. Palazzolo is known for what he is," he said. "Right now, I am studying the process by which he came to be considered as a leading Mafioso."

A flick through any news database will be instructive. In 1985, a court in Switzerland sentenced Mr. Palazzolo to five-and-a-half years in jail for laundering $28m (15.5m) from the "pizza connection", which supplied heroin through a chain of US pizza restaurants.

After escaping from prison, he fled to South Africa, was extradited back to Switzerland and returned to South Africa after serving his sentence.

In 1989, a National party MP resigned after reports that he had taken a bribe to ease Mr. Palazzolo's entry.

Granted South African citizenship in 1995, the alleged Mafia don changed his name to Robert von Palace Kolbatschenko. Since returning to South Africa his name has repeatedly cropped up in money-and-power scandals, the latest involving a donation to the ruling party by a property developer.

Asked who he would like as his next client, Mr. Sarullo named Tony Blair.

"Now there's a man who's really in trouble," he said.

"Santa Maria!" Is this an Italian news column or "People" magazine?

Don't they remind you of a few people who take home videos and call it a movie?

Everybody has to be a superstar! This Mafioso thinks an image consultant can convert him into Al Pacino and the courtroom into the movie set of "Scent of a Woman".

I think what the consultant, Mr. Sarullo, is trying to say is that he wants a world where everyone can afford facelifts.

 

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Affairs Scandal Wakes Up Italian University

Professor acquitted of trading better grades for affairs with series of young women.

Camerino - June 9, 2004 - For the aging university professor, his success with young women was down to one thing: oodles of charm.

To the authorities, there was a more plausible explanation for the exploits of the 68-year-old lothario Ezio Capizzano, who videoed some of his romps; he was trading sex for better grades.

In a trial that has scandalized the academic community and threatened to uncover the bedroom shenanigans that are allegedly widespread in Italian universities, Professor Capizzano was charged with misusing public property - the sofa on which he carried out his romancing.

Though the professor was acquitted of the misdemeanor his subsequent boast in a newspaper interview that the women involved willingly had relations with him has done nothing for the suspicion that academics in Italy abuse their status to take advantage of their pupils. Speaking to La Stampa, the professor said: "I have never needed to fall back on either violence or blackmail to have a woman."

He added: "Love is the expression of a gift, of something given without recompense that has nothing to do with an exchange. If that were not the case, then you would need to drag into court all those married couples in which the man is a university teacher and the woman a former student or assistant who has been favored in her university career."

He said: "If an affair like this were to have arisen in a northern European university, it would never have reached trial."

The scandal erupted three years ago after scenes from some of the 19 videos made by the professor were passed to newspapers. It emerged that the tapes, which had been locked in his study, were stolen by an assistant and his brother.

The academic was found not guilty of all four charges against him. He had been accused of extortion, for having allegedly promised exam passes in return for relations, and of corruption, for having allegedly won the connivance of teaching colleagues whose help he needed to secure good marks for his lovers.

The former professor of commercial and agricultural law was also tried on two counts of indecent assault.

The court heard claims from a student that she had been forced to have relations with him while her young daughter waited outside his study.

The judge returned his verdicts on Monday after four hours of deliberation, interrupted by a request to court officials that he again be shown one of the videos. According to reports yesterday, it showed the professor in flagrant delicto with a blond woman.

Three of Prof Capizzano's female students had also been indicted for corruption, having allegedly offered sexual relations in return for good marks. They were all acquitted.

Professors at Italian universities enjoy a god-like status and the power to make and break the careers of their students and assistants. In the case of undergraduates, this is reinforced by a reliance on oral, rather than written, examinations. There have been repeated claims of students being coerced into relations by the offer of good marks or the threat of bad ones. Similar allegations have been made of students prostituting themselves to get a degree.

Last month a 64-year-old law professor at the university of Messina, Sicily, jumped to his death after being charged with sexual harassment. In 1998 a conference was held at the University of Bari, in southern Italy, on the exploitation of academic power for sexual favors.

At the time the number of formal complaints by students was running at 10 a year, but an organizer of the conference, Ida Mastromarino, told reporters: "I believe that this is only the tip of an iceberg."

The prosecutor in the case of Prof Capizzano had asked the judge to impose a four and a half year prison sentence. Sentences of up to two and half years had been sought for the three former students accused of proffering sexual favors. All have since graduated, married and found jobs.

A court ruled last month that Prof Capizzano should pay the University of Camerino 120,000 Euros (80,000) for the damage he had done to its reputation. But the only person involved who has been jailed is one of the two men who took the tapes. Both were charged with handling stolen goods and one was given a six-month sentence.

After his acquittal, Prof Capizzano said that since being charged his marriage had broken down and he had suffered two strokes and become partially deaf. But he added: "I would do everything again, though perhaps not in the same place and taking greater care over the people involved."

Hmmm...Where do you find the time to teach commercial and agricultural law when you're acting in and producing 19 amateur videos?

One thing for sure. If getting a good grade means going to bed with a 68 year-old professor pecker-head named Ezio, I'd learn the table of elements in Italian, English and Swahila.

Prof. Capizzano: "Love is the expression of a gift, of something given without recompense that has nothing to do with an exchange."

Translated in Italian it means, "Bend over, per favore."

 

Julian - Julius Caesar's cousin
 
 
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