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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May 2004
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"Italian Driving Hazards and Saving Naomi."

(05/19/04)

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"Salve!" Welcome to the only newsletter that doubts the Mafia is an equal opportunity employer', "Only In Italy!"

Ciao Pasquale,

First of all, I love your ezine. I live in America, LOL. We have mosquitoes out here too. There might be some spraying for mosquitoes somewhere in our country, but have you ever tried buying some Citronella candles to keep the mosquitoes at bay while you are sitting at your outside porch sipping on coffee?

Another thing we use here in the USA is an Avon product called "Skin So Soft" this is really to be used after your bath or shower, but if you rub it on your skin like sun lotion, it will repel the mosquitoes. They won't touch your skin.

Hope these couple of ideas may help you out.

Oh, I don't work for Avon or Citronella companies, LOL. Just giving you a couple of ideas... I love your writings, keep up the good work. My parents were from Sicily. Have not had the opportunity to visit Italy, but hope to do so one day. Buon Giorno!!! Angie

Thanks for the letter, Angie!

Hmmm...We sincerely appreciate your list but don't you think you're asking too much for us to do? Where do you think Italians will find the energy and will to go out and buy these products? We're too busy getting industrial strength tans and eating gelato.

Avon's "Skin So Soft" sounds like a great product. Do they make a lotion called "Skull Too Thick"? We do have a lot thick skulls in Italy that need moisturizing.

Enjoy the issue, keep writing and grazie!

Tanti Saluti,             
"Only In Italy" Staff      


Rome To Tame Teenage Scooter Drivers

Rome - June 22, 2004 - Mariolina Moioli dreams of bringing civilization to Italyís chaotic streets.

That means the end of an era for carefree 14-year-olds who for generations have been allowed to drive a scooter without so much as a permit or a driving lesson.

The sight of adolescents buzzing around on their scooters is as quintessentially Italian as pizza and pasta - as are the daily reports of teenagers killed after speeding along the Tiber or running a red light in Romeís hectic traffic.

"Weíre not going to save the world, but itís something," said Moioli, explaining a plan to teach "good behavior" on the roads as part of the preparation for the introduction of a 'mini-license' for under-18s wanting to drive scooters.

Hundreds of thousands of teenagers now face the prospect of having to park their beloved Vespas from July 1 or pay a fine of more than 500 euros ($604) if they are caught without the mini-license.

Currently anybody is allowed to drive a scooter with an engine of 50 cc from the age of 14 without a license.

"Itís about behavior and values, about respect for life, how to behave with others, basically how to drive in a civilized way," said Moioli, director general of the Education Ministry.

But 17-year-old Giovanni De Angelis and many fellow teenagers are crying foul.

"It ridiculous. For more powerful motorbikes maybe it makes sense but not for the smaller ones. And maybe for 14-year-olds - if they're so small they can't even reach the handle bars."

De Angelis will not be taking the exam himself, he added with a shrug, because his scooter has been stolen.

"Itís been chaos, at least they should give a bit more time," he said.

Motor organizations also complain that there has been insufficient time to complete the courses and the tests.

"Itís not that we're against the mini-license but you have to give people the time to attend the free courses in schools," said Claudio de Viti of the National Association of Bicycles, Motorcycles and Accessories (ANCMA) representing manufacturers.

"If you force them to go to driving schools and pay then itís just another barrier to buying a scooter," he said, adding that scooter sales had fallen 30 percent in the year to May because of uncertainty about the new mini-license.

Race to pass exam

Moioli said around 700,000 teenagers had registered for the courses in schools but not all schools offered the classes or tests and 20-25 percent of those who took the test had failed.

"The risk is there will be a lot of people driving illegally which is worrying not just because of the fines but also because their insurance will not be valid. If somebody has an accident the insurance won't cover it," he said.

Moioli said the problem was that young people often had a sense of invincibility. "They seem to believe that they can deal with the risks, that it'll happen to others but it won't happen to them, and this leads to a lot of accidents," she said.

She might not be amused by 16-year-old Andrea De Sanctis, who confesses he had an accident last year on his scooter involving a tree. "It wasn't my fault. It was the tree that was going the wrong way down a one-way street."

From July 2005 adults too will have to obtain a mini-license to drive 50 cc scooters unless they already have a license to drive a motorcycle or car.

The change will close a gap in the law allowing adults, and previously also teenagers, without a license to drive so-called 'mini cars' - tiny, light-weight four-wheel vehicles with 50 cc engines that are classed as scooters.

Long popular with the elderly, the mini-cars have been popping up all over Rome driven by teenagers or adults who have lost their license because of speeding or other infractions.

Of around 10,000 mini cars sold last year in Italy, and a total of 30,000 on the roads, more than 60 percent were owned by pensioners, De Viti said, and only 5-10 percent by under 18s.

"Itís a particularly Roman phenomenon," he said. "You get some parents who are willing to spend 10,000 euros because they think itís safer for their children."

"Piccoli Bastardi!"

Italian Road Hazards: Scooters

1. General
There are approximately 2 billion mosquitoes in Italy which is, more or less, the same amount of scooters. And it's a strange fact of life that at least 42.5% of them are around you at any time when driving in one of our cities. They are maniacs; stark, staring, annoyed, conceited maniacs angry at their parents. You can use all the mosquito repellant you want but they won't go away!

2. Safety equipment - Crash helmets
Helmets are obligatory unless:
a) you simply don't want to wear one or
b) you can't be threatened to wear one.

Helmets should be of the size and shape of a Jewish cap; something as "large" as a motorcycle style helmet might make you look less cool, and show off less of your good looks. If you want to wear a motorcycle crash helmet then you are a moron and not Italian.

3. Clothing
For men this should be shorts or designer trousers, together with a loose cotton designer shirt. For women a bikini is best. On no account should you wear anything with an abrasion protection quotient higher than tissue paper.

Shoes:
Men: Italian leather loafers,
Women: Never attempt to operate scooters in heels lower than 2 inches.

4. Riding style
Do not adjust your mirrors so you can see what is behind you; the first rule of Italian driving applies and they should always be adjusted to show you your gorgeous reflection; to do anything else is to imply that you are a moron and not Italian.

Head immediately for "any" opening that appears, no matter if it's not large enough to allow you through; if it isn't big enough now, it may soon be and you don't want to waste a single second. If another maniac heads for the same gap, accelerate as fast as your little scooter will allow you while shouting at them at the top of your voice; this is another good reason for not wearing a full face lid helmet.

5. Speed limits
Ignore them all. If stopped by the local police (Polizia) or the national police (Carabinieri), simply show an air of total disbelief that you could have possibly been breaking any law. Wave your hands about wildly to indicate you saw no sign, even if you are standing under the actual sign. If you are female, pout your lips and cry a lot.

6. Road markings
As with speed limits, there are a huge variety of road markings for the visitor to come to terms with; there are several varieties of dotted lines, single solid whites, double solid whites, vertical lines, horizontal lines, vertical and horizontal blocks, etc. It can be very disorientating so simply do what the locals do and ignore them all.

7. Pedestrian crossings
(Standard): Very dangerous for the common visitor. If pedestrians are already on the crossing when you happen upon it, merely accelerate towards them; they will get out of the way or they won't. Either way, you don't concern yourself.

(Elderly): Old Italian people are tougher and will happily launch themselves onto crossings with no thought for their safety nor yours; do not attempt the "standard" version above because if you hit them your scooter it will be a write off and they'll hit you with the cane they're carrying.

8. Overtaking
Overtaking is permissible everywhere; don't think for one second think that, just because there's a junction, a level crossing, 3 old ladies, an oncoming truck, or a group of nuns in the overtaking zone that you should for one second consider backing off. Simply attempt the overtake. Things will be fine or they won't. Either way, it's not your concern.

9. Turning signals
There are controls on each vehicle that cause little bits of colored plastic to flash on and off at the corners of your vehicle. Aren't they pretty?

10. Pulling over
If you see a friend, lover, or colleague walking down the street, pull over to have a word with them. Don't worry about signaling, checking or any of that safety; just do it. Other people will get out of your way, even if you're on a scooter and they're in a 30-ton truck. Don't worry; it'll work out or it won't. Either way, it's not your concern.

11. Riding a motorcycle in Italian cities
Don't get out of the way of scooters. Ride your line and hold on to it with a death grip; they will get out of the way. Motorcycles, particularly large ones, are seen by the average Italian as being owned by homicidal lunatics and they will get out of your way. If they don't, feel free to bang your bike against the scooter. The little weasel will shout at you; merely turn your head and stare at them. They'll disappear.

 

In Italy, He Who Laughs Last Laughs Best

Rome - June 2, 2004 - Francesco Totti, the AS Roma forward now training with Italy's national team in preparation for soccer's European Championship in this month, calls a travel agency to ask how long it takes to fly from Milan to Rome. "Just a second," responds the agent. "Thanks a lot," Totti says and hangs up.

Totti goes to a courtroom. When the judge asks him for his defense he promptly reels off his teammates' names, "Pellizzoli, Pannucci, Chivu, Candela, Mancini." Then there's the one about Totti not wanting to go out for dinner because he's reading the New Testament and wants to find out how the passion of Christ turns out.

If America has its dumb blonds Italy now has Francesco Totti to gently poke fun at. From the moment the 27-year-old forward opened his mouth and began speaking in colorful Roman dialect, he quickly substituted the carabinieri, Italy's military police, as the butt of national humor.

But the soccer star is getting the last laugh. A year ago, prompted by friends and family, he collected the jokes circulating at his expense and published them in a book that became an instant - and surprising - best seller, with more than a million copies sold. Joke: When Totti is asked whether it's true that his book sold a million copies he replies: "That's not possible. I only wrote one."

A second book, "The New Jokes About Totti, Collected by Me," was published May 11 with a first run of 480,000 copies. Two weeks after its release it was No. 3 on the best-seller list of the Turin newspaper La Stampa.

If Totti didn't technically write the book, he didn't keep the proceeds either; he is splitting them equally between a project for senior citizens sponsored by the city of Rome, and a Unicef project in the Congo to help street children. "It was an enormous gift for us," said Rossella Del Conte of Unicef Italia, which netted E250,000, about $305,000, from the sales and a lot of publicity. Totti was already a Unicef good-will ambassador before he made the donation.

The jokes play on a supposed dim wittedness that stems from Totti's strong Roman accent. He's teased that his command of the Italian language has not always been as punctilious as his command of the ball. "He speaks Roman, so he makes some grammatical errors every once in a while; it was easy to criticize him," said Vito Scala, Totti's trainer and closest friend. "But initially he found a lot of the jokes offensive."

Gabriella Ungarelli, the editor of Varia, the division of the Mondadori publishing house that put out the book, agreed: "He wasn't very happy that these jokes were going around on his behalf, he didn't think it made him look good. But he turned it around and made it his own, and that has made him very simpatico with the public."

Totti's ability to laugh at himself has made his popularity skyrocket. "He can laugh about himself, he's poking fun at the dumb stereotype," Del Conte said. "It's really changed his image, people look at him differently."

About 80 percent of the books' jokes were found on the Internet, and the rest were picked up at soccer stadiums during games. "All you had to do is go to the Curva Sud and you'd hear jokes," said Ungarelli, referring to the southern section of the Rome stadium where Roma fans cluster.

Because the books had to have a broad appeal, especially with children, only G-rated jokes were included. "They couldn't be too dirty," Scala said.

In an interview last month with Venerdi, the weekly magazine of a Rome newspaper, Totti even confessed to having a favorite joke. There's a front-page headline: "Totti's library burned to the ground, it had two books." Totti is desperate: "Damn it, I hadn't finished coloring in the second one."

He tells that joke with an aw-shucks delivery in a videocassette that came out this month with the Milan newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport. The video, which sells for E6.90, alternates some of the Roma forward's more spectacular goals with Totti and his friends from the sporting world telling Totti-jokes - like Christian Vieri, the forward for Inter, or Fabio Capello, the Roma coach (who is leaving to coach Juventus). The video is now in its third edition.

Attempts to speak to the Roma captain were unsuccessful. He and the rest of the national team have been segregated in their training site in Coverciano, near Florence, cut off from reporters save for a nightly press conference.

Even Totti's wife-to-be, Ilary Blasi, 23, is allowed to visit him only according to a strict schedule. He has said that they plan to marry after the European Championship. Joke: Totti's girlfriend asks him: "Honey do you love me, huh do you love me, huh do you love me?" He answers. "Hey, slow down, one question at a time."

Totti is now trying to spin his popularity into a television career - he has made a commercial for Pepsi with the film director Gabriele Muccino (which again pokes fun at himself).

Recently two other Italian soccer superstars have also hit the advertisement airwaves. The Juventus forward Alessandro Del Piero sings a duet with a bird for a brand of mineral water, while the Milan defender Paolo Maldini pokes fun at his own fancy footwork, for a cellular communications company.

Totti has not decided where the proceeds for the second book will end up. "He hasn't chosen a charity yet, because an emergency could come up and he could devolve it to that," Scala said.

The one thing Roma fans are not laughing about are the rumors that Totti could be sold to Real Madrid this year to offset the Italian team's dire financial straits.

"I hope that never happens," said Paolo Altomonte, a retired carabiniere officer and a Roma fan who likened Totti to the idols of the capital's ancient past. "It would be as if they brought the Colosseum to Madrid."

"Porca Puttana!" Here are some more incredible & brilliant jokes coming from this multi-millionaire soccer player:

Totti and Alex Del Piero come out from an exam at the CEPU (a remedial school for high school dropout losers):
Totti: Alex, how did it go?
Del Piero: Not so well, Francesco, I handed in a blank sheet.
Totti: You too? Now they're going to say I copied...

Totti and his girlfriend, Ilary, also not known for her staggering intelligence:
Totti: Ilary you know, I'm a genius!
Ilary: Why?
Totti: Last week I went into a toy store and bought a puzzle. On the box it said 4-6 years. And I finished it in less than a week!

Ilary: Honey, will you take me to dinner tonight?
Totti: I can't, love, I'm doing this really difficult puzzle. It's full of small pieces, and there's a rooster on the box. Why don't you come and help me?
Ilary comes over and looks at Totti's puzzle: Francesco, leave those cornflakes alone and take me out to dinner.

We are also publishing a book for charity. It's about the most exciting things in our lives that all our readers can certainly relate to. It's called, "I Woke Up and Went to Work."

 

Elegant handcrafted sterling silver tableware directly from our little factory in Italy. At "Caterina Collezione", you'll find over 300 examples of artistically designed tableware such as tea sets, platters, flatware, centerpieces and more. Fast & very low cost FedEx shipping. Take a look at our grand catalog and you'll find that perfect & unexpected gift! Visit the "Caterina Collezione" at SilverFromItaly.com!

Visit the "Caterina Collezione" at SilverFromItaly.com!

 

Cops Rescue Bikini-Clad Naomi

Sardinia - July 1, 2004 - Police in Italy had to come to Naomi Campbell's rescue when a crowd of up to 4,000 men swarmed a beach to catch a glimpse of her in a bikini.

The Italian news agency Ansa says the sight of the celebrity model shooting an ad in a skimpy swimsuit caused a near stampede on the beach in Sardinia.

Security guards employed during the publicity shoot for a mobile phone company had to call police to help them keep the crowd behind metal barriers.

Campbell is featured wearing the phone in her bikini, flanked by an enormous black dog.

"Maria Santa!" Isn't there something wrong if you see a beach with 4,000 men on it?

Instead of swarming around an old super model, shouldn't they swarm around a few job applications?

Facts on Naomi:

1. Known to have assaulted many women. (She should try assaulting Italian women and see where it gets her.)

2. Known to have hit her personal assistant on the head with a mobile phone. (Now that would have been an interesting mobile phone commercial.)

3. She has the letters F.B. tattooed on her arm. (It stands for Flavio Briatore; a middle-aged, paunchy, Italian, pecker-head, multi-millionaire who dumped her & drove her to go to anger management courses.)

 

Julian - Julius Caesar's cousin
 
 
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