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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"Monday Night Vatican Football"


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"Bentornati!" Welcome to the only Italian newsletter written by journalists who believe Italy needs another political party to protect the interests of lifeguards and jellyfish, "Only In Italy!"

Ah! The glory days of Parochial school and the unrestricted nuns. May I tell you of an incident I had back in the third grade with a nun? (I fail to recall her name, grazie a Dio)

I don't remember what I did wrong perhaps, breathe too loud. But as a punishment she had me kneel in a corner of the classroom after the others were dismissed. As I was kneeling, I happened to look around and saw her coming at me with a wooden rod. Well, I jumped up (at that tender age) grabbed the stick out of her hand and broke it over my knee and ran out of the class. "Mamma Mia!" I thought I was going to be excommunicated but my mother came to my rescue. That was one of my experiences with my inquisition of the 20th century. Saluti a tutti! Geraldo

Thanks for the letter, Geraldo!

It's a good thing you didn't attend a Parochial school in Italy. Your mother, grandmother and 4 of her closest relatives dressed in black would have dragged your irritating rear-end back to the school, made you apologize to the nuns, priests, the cross and then hold you down while 3 nuns take turns whacking you until your rear-end would have become as thick as a Sicilian pizza with extra cheese.

Enjoy the issue, keep writing and Grazie!

Tanti Saluti,              
"Only In Italy" Staff       


Women Discouraged From Joining Italian Army

Rome - August 14, 2004 - Recruitment of women in the Italian army has plummeted as male soldiers likened to "molesters in uniform" pester female recruits with salacious messages and requests for sex.

When the nation's armed forces began admitting women in 2000, about 23,000 women applied to military academies, making up 56 percent of the applicants.

By 2002, however, female applicants represented 21 percent of those seeking admission. Women seeking to enlist in the Italian military, which traces its roots to the mighty legions of Rome, likewise dropped from 40 percent to 25 percent within three years.

A report in an Italian magazine this week blamed unwelcome sexual advances by male soldiers for the decline in the number of women interested in military life.

The weekly cited the example of a woman serving at a barracks in northern Italy whose superior officer fired off text messages to her such as: "I can't sleep because I'm thinking about you," "You excite me very much," and "Would you come on a cruise with me?" When the woman failed to reply, the officer sent her an unchivalrous message with a one-word sexually explicit epithet. Another female soldier found herself alone with her commanding officer in his office. "Without warning he lowered his trousers, showing her his boxer shorts," reporters said.

A short time later, the same officer stunned two female soldiers by recounting how both he and his wife shaved their private parts. "We like it that way," he added.

The women were not amused and filed a formal complaint. The officer denied the charges, saying they were invented as a vendetta by women who received mediocre marks in training.

"There has been too much silence on sexual molesters, but the military and civil courts are beginning to work," the magazine said.

Not all the disenchantment with Italian military life is caused by sexual harassment. Carla, 27, quit an officers training course and went back to working in the bar her parents own near Verona.

"It was traumatic when they cut my hair as short as a boy's. I imagined this adventure would be easier, but after a year of officers training I was in crisis. There was too much discipline; one had to study such a lot and above all there was too much punishment. I thought I was tough but I found myself crying often. So one fine day I packed my bags and left," Carla said.

Another female recruit stayed in the army but confided to the magazine that she lives in fear of peacekeeping duty in Iraq or Afghanistan. "When I applied I never thought one day I might really have to fight."

In all, 1,736 women are serving in the Italian army, navy, air force and Carabinieri paramilitary police. Their arrival also led some male soldiers to complain of discrimination, the magazine reported. A regiment based in Piceno said relations with female soldiers were complicated.

"The officers punish the men and offer the women coffee. If it rains, outdoor exercises are canceled to avoid complications for the girls. Men are transferred out of units by overzealous superiors to avoid embarrassing situations," the magazine quoted one soldier as saying.

"Sparatevi!" Why should beautiful Italian women join the remarkably befuddled Italian armed services?

Italy as a nation is famous for, among other things, its art, fashion, racing cars and beautiful women... but not for its military system!

Italian Military History 101:

WWII Tanks
- equipped with one forward and three reverse gears,
- so light they could be destroyed by a boy's toy BB gun,
- armed with MG's only and nicknamed self-propelled coffins,
- useless over rough terrain and had dodgy engines, let alone spares.

Officer Training
- trained like 19th century gentlemen.

Tactical Doctrine
- infantry formed a square in the open, tanks in the center and artillery on the corners,
- soldiers practically walked everywhere.

Pride and Honor
- their allegiance was often to their own city, region, church, or soccer team rather than the Italian state (even Mussolini couldn't change that idea),
- Italians themselves admit that the Italy victory in the 1986 Soccer World Cup promoted greater national pride than any other event in recent history.


Vatican Sets Up and Promotes Sports Department

Vatican City - August 3, 2004 - He made saves as a soccer goalkeeper in his high school years in Poland, skied and kayaked in Europe and swam laps in the papal pool. Now Pope John Paul II has set up a sports department to give the Vatican a kind of new playing field in its drive to spread Christian values around the world.

"The Holy Father has always been interested in sports, and as a means of evangelization and a great way to form youth," said the Rev. Kevin Lixey, an American priest involved in establishing the department in the Pontifical Council for Lay People.

With doping scandals and fan violence marring cycling, soccer and other sports, the pope's initiative is aimed in part at countering negative images, said Lixey, a member of the Legionaries of Christ, a conservative religious institute with headquarters in Rome.

There is a need to "let people know that there are sportsmen who are also virtuous," Lixey said in a telephone interview.

While the 84-year-old pope has given Roman Catholics a record number of saints as fresh role models, the sports initiative will see the Vatican promoting what it calls "testimony of Christian life" from the sporting world.

"The church, which has always shown particular attention to various and important sectors of human coexistence, is called upon without doubt to pay attention to sports, which certainly can be considered one of the nerve centers of contemporary culture and one of the frontiers for new evangelization," the Vatican said.

However, the Vatican said that "tendencies that have distanced more and more the practice of various disciplines from the original ideals of sports pose with urgency the need to appeal to fundamental values in this field."

The Vatican didn't say what disturbed it, but stadium violence, athletes' failing doping tests and game-fixing inquiries have grabbed many sports headlines recently.

John Paul wants to make "the Holy See's solicitude felt in the world of sports," the Vatican said.

The pontiff has given the weeks-old department its marching orders. Among the directives, the Vatican said, is fostering a "sports culture which promotes a vision of sports activity as a means of integral personal growth and as an instrument in the service of peace and brotherhood among peoples."

Sports have played a prominent part in many of the public activities of the pope, who early in his papacy was dubbed "God's athlete" in the media. Two summers ago, he gave his blessing to Real Madrid, the Spanish soccer powerhouse, when the players paid a call on the papal vacation residence in Castel Gandolfo.

Those who thought Krakow's bishop, Karol Wojtyla, might renounce athletic passions when he was elected pope in 1978 were wrong. Until hip and knee problems that developed in the last decade and the onset of Parkinson's disease slowed him down, John Paul would set out on long mountain excursions during summer vacations in the Alps. In his first years as pope, he occasionally slipped away from the Vatican to ski in the Appennines of central Italy.

"Finalmente!" We were all just wondering with all the incredible free time the Vatican has, why doesn't it enter the wonderful world of sports? After all, what better institution in the world can promote fundamental values such as fairness, legality, transparency and ethics into sports?

Now they will just need some teams:

The Vatican Cardinals
The Cappuccino Monks
The Catholic Centurions

But wasn't it Pope John Paul II who said Sunday should be a day for God, not for secular diversions like entertainment and sports?

"When Sunday loses its fundamental meaning and becomes subordinate to a secular concept of 'weekend' dominated by such things as entertainment and sport, people stay locked within a horizon so narrow that they can no longer see the heavens."

Hmmm... Sounds like a few Cardinals at that Vatican tripped over their elegant bath robes and landed right into that horizon where they saw the wonderful heavens of exclusive TV rights.


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Italian Arrested for Throwing Hamsters

Rome - August 12, 2004 - A retired Italian man could face up to a year and a half in prison if found guilty of killing his six pet hamsters and one guinea-pig by throwing them off his terrace into passing traffic.

The man, detained by police after the guinea-pig crashed into the windscreen of a car, told officials that he had accidentally knocked the animals off his terrace while sweeping, news agencies reported on Thursday.

Police in the northern coastal town of Imperia discovered the hamsters' bodies littered across the street after the motorist complained about the broken windscreen.

By studying the trajectory of the pets' bodies they were able to identify the pensioner's apartment.

Under a new cruelty to animals law, the man could be sent to jail for between three to 18 months for killing the pets. He will also be held responsible for the damage to the windscreen.

"Vaffanculo!" This is the result of being fed with a slingshot instead of breast-fed.

There is no explanation for this behavior other than the possibility that the hamsters were trying to join an Italian labor union. But that couldn't be it either because it would only force employers to throw themselves over the terraces.

Although, a similar tragic incident once occurred to a doctor in Palermo, Sicily.

While examining a woman on his gynecologist’s table, a mouse ran out! He lured it out with a piece of Parmesan cheese and then stepped on it.


Julian - Julius Caesar's cousin
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