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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June 2004
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"Are Italians Racists?"


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"Buon Giorno!" Welcome to another nerve racking issue of "Only In Italy!"

"Soltanto in Italia" è meraviglioso! Actually, that's how Babel Fish translated "Only in Italy" is wonderful!

I'm an American with some Italian ancestors who was married to an Italian man for ten years. Needless to say, I was never good enough for my Sicilian mother-in-law, but even as a no-good American mongrel I learned to appreciate some of the finer political maneuverings of being part of an Italian clan, if only by marriage. When my husband became involved with American Mafia, I cut my losses. I'm loving this newsletter! Mille grazie! Nancy

Thanks for the letter, Nancy, and we're sorry to hear of your unfortunate experiences.

However, you shouldn't be too upset. At least you no longer have to wash all those jogging suits and have to be stared at by his mother's evil eye.

And you don't need to tell anyone your ex-husband is a mobster. Just say you were married to a fat man who joined the World Wresting Federation (WWF) because both organizations having amazing similarities; a bunch of big-mouth fat guys wearing funny sports outfits, threatening people with furniture, promising revenge and eating lots of linguini with white clam sauce.

Enjoy the issue, keep writing and Grazie!

Tanti Saluti,              
"Only In Italy" Staff       

French Editor Claims Italy Has a Racist Culture

Rome - August 8, 2004 - A leading French journalist has prompted a debate over racism in Italy after he published a claim that Italian customs officials have a 'cretinous attitude' to any non-white person entering the country. The editor-in-chief of the French newspaper Le Monde, Jean-Marie Colombani, accused Italian border police at Venice's Marco Polo airport of 'harassing' his 20-year-old adopted son, a French citizen of Indian origin.

He said he had watched helplessly as his son was subjected to 'totally unjustified humiliation' and had been left 'deeply disturbed' every year for the past five years when his family arrived in Italy for their holidays.

His son's luggage was always searched and he was asked questions about his private life and challenged about his nationality. 'It is almost as if Italy is also falling into a populist atmosphere that is in fashion, with the same old temptation towards xenophobia,' Colombani wrote.

He acknowledged that border police at airports across Europe have intensified security checks since the 11 September attacks in 2001, but, he said: 'German or English police, when they do spot checks, do not display this systematic interest in colored people.'

The open letter offended Italian leaders and members of the public but many non-white Italians and immigrants responded with claims that they are systematically treated as lesser beings.

'I cannot deny this risk [that Italy is sliding into xenophobia],' Italy's Interior Minister, Giuseppe Pisanu, said in a letter to news agencies. 'But I see a culture of welcome and respect for others that is still well rooted in our country.'

Pisanu apologized for any isolated incidents but said his police forces were not racist, inviting visitors to Italy to report any unjustified excesses or harassment.

Justice Minister Roberto Castelli, of the anti-immigrant Northern League party, defended the Italian police for doing their job in times of high security alert, pitying them for having had the misfortune to 'disturb' an intellectual of the 'gauche francaise'. 'How did they dare, these Italians? These macaroni,' he wrote mocking the Frenchman in the same paper.

The Italian press has rejected Colombani's accusation, complaining that racism is not Italy's but Europe's problem. Newspapers pointed out that Israel's Ariel Sharon had called on French Jews to move to Israel to escape rising anti-Semitism in France.

But the success of an anti-Islamic tract by the veteran Italian war correspondent Oriana Fallaci, who says Europe is turning 'into Eurabia', added to fears that unabashed racism is winning an ever-wider audience in Italy. The book, Oriana Fallaci Interviews Oriana Fallaci, sold 500,000 copies in a matter of hours. Stocks of the volume, sold with a noted Italian daily newspaper, were exhausted and a new edition is being prepared.

'I say what I think and that is what people think but almost never say,' said Fallaci. 'They have found someone who gives a voice to their silence.' Many buyers said they read the volume because they wanted to know how extreme the extremist anti-immigrants were becoming.

Racism monitors say non-white Italians and colored immigrants are treated systematically with less respect than white Italians in Italy.

'We are still at a stage in this country where colored people are considered different and treated, if not as inferiors, as children,' said Luciano Scagliotti, representative in Italy of the European Network Against Racism.

"Francese...per favore!"

Italians are not known to be racists. We just like to have a little fun with people who cross our borders. The French have no sense of humor. On the other hand, Italians think it's very funny that they are trying to rewrite history:

-This is a country that, during the great war, was conquered in a couple of afternoons and turned into the top producing country for the Nazis.

-They still try to convince everyone that they were part of the big invasion. The French weren't part of any invasion. They were already invaded! How can you be part of an invasion in your own country?

-For the love of Napoleone! The French did everything for the Nazis except trim Hitler’s moustache and they would have gladly done that as well.

Italy also laughs at France's contribution to world cuisine. You know what they gave us?
1.) The Soufflé: something puffed up with a lot of hot air and full of fattening crap.
2.) Cordon Bleu: sausage and eggs or heart disease on a plate.


Italy Politely Asks 40 Airlines To Raise Air Fares

Rome - August 10, 2004 - Italian authorities say they have asked around 40 competitors of ailing national carrier Alitalia not to undercut some of the state-controlled airline's long-haul fares. The Enac civil aviation authority said only British Airways had refused to comply with the request, which it insisted was grounded on unspecified bilateral aviation service treaties.

"The Enac authority ordered them to raise their tariffs, and this step was taken in agreement with the EU," agency Chairman Vito Riggio told reporters on Monday.

British Airways confirmed it had lodged a complaint with the European Commission and the Commission said it would reply in "the next few weeks." However, it was unclear whether Italy had a case to answer under EU law.

"It is clearly a problem for the internal (EU) market," a Commission official told reporters in Brussels. "But today, we are not sure if we have a strong enough basis to make a case against Italy."

The move comes as Alitalia scrapes together a rescue plan needed to stay in the air and unlock a 400-million-euro emergency loan backed by the Italian government.

The airline lost nearly 2 million euros a day in the first half of the year.

European Commission spokesman Frederic Vincent told reporters on Monday that specifically BA had complained in July about an Italian request to raise prices on the carrier's Rome-New York route, offered via London.

British Airways' public affairs office in Italy said the Rome-New York route cost 322 euros.

Alitalia said it was offering a direct Rome-New York flight for 342 euros.

German airline Lufthansa said it had also been asked to raise it fares on certain routes to match Alitalia's, but it had not complained to the European Commission. It instead hoped to resolve the issue through talks in Rome.

The British government also said it had been in contact with the Italian government over the issue.

"We are more than happy for airlines to be free to set their fares as they wish in line with EU policy on competition, but this right must be available to all airlines," a UK Transport ministry spokesman said.

Industry sources said that in calling for long-haul fares to be brought into line with Alitalia's, Italy was invoking bilateral aviation service agreements which between European Union members had been largely superseded by the completion in 1997 of the single internal EU aviation market.

But they said these agreements could still have a bearing on carriers covered by a bilateral with regard to their competing on services to destinations outside Europe.

"It is really between governments to negotiate on air service agreements." A BA spokeswoman said.

"State scherzando?" Alitalia stands for "Aircraft Landing In Tokyo, All Luggage In Athens"

How does a typical Italian company save itself from bankruptcy and extinction? Easy! Just threaten your competitors!

Alitalia is not run like a professional company. It's a big political football game; a place to give friends, family and lovers jobs, a reservoir of votes and favors.

To help keep the Italian "Titanic" afloat, the airline added a new extra charge in recent months: For those purchasing tickets by phone, the airline charges a 10 Euro fee for the "emission of the ticket" and 30 Euros for those buying tickets through a travel agent. Next, they'll force you to leave a 20% tip when served food and to pay a fare for the tarmac bus ride from the stupid plane to the terminal.

On January 5 last year, 11.6% of air stewards were off sick. On any given day this year, the number of Alitalia staff off sick never goes below 8.4% The air stewards were sick from constantly being called "male hostesses"...which they are!

"Besides the usual executive perks, the company had a Mexico City office, with a 15 member staff, even though flights to Mexico had stopped in 1985" They also have an office staff of 18 at the North Pole to keep the polar bears company.

"Sent a staff of 22 to recover an aircraft from Brazil, with stopovers in the Cape Verde Islands and Ireland." Yes, five to recover the plane and the rest to help chug down a few ales in Ireland, catch a tan on Cape Verde and watch the Brazilian babes at Rio.

"A 1,200 Euro bonus introduced temporarily to compensate staff made to fly in aircraft without sufficient sleeping space. They also had their feet massaged by the passengers.

"Alitalia was one of the few European airlines whose pilots are collected at home and driven to the airport, whose traveling staff are accommodated in city center hotels and often driven to work in fleets of half-empty coaches. The company spent 161m Euros on catering and in flight entertainment, including its own airport-based chefs last year." Is this an airline or the Golden Nugget Casino?


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Italy and U.S. At Odds Over De Niro Gangster Image

Rome - August 13, 2004 - A bid to give Hollywood heavyweight Robert De Niro honorary Italian citizenship has pitted adoring fans in Italy against Italian Americans who say his movie Mafia roles give them a bad name.

Italy's Culture Ministry plans to make De Niro and Martin Scorsese Italian citizens during the international Venice Film Festival in September, a decision that has thrilled Italians who already consider the film greats their own.

But this week the Order Sons of Italy in America (OSIA), with more than 600,000 members in the United States, sent a letter to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi urging him to cancel plans to confer citizenship on the actor.

"De Niro has made a career of playing gangsters of Italian descent," the group said in the letter.

"He has done nothing to promote Italian culture in the United States. Instead, OSIA and its members hold him and his movies responsible for considerably damaging the collective reputations of both Italians and Italian Americans."

But the mayor of Ferrazzano, the village of 3,280 that De Niro's family originally hails from, feels differently.

"This is a moment we're all waiting for. He's a great actor and has helped make Italy known all over the world," said Giovanni Gianfelice. "Sure, movies exaggerate, but not just about Italy, about America too."

The mayor said he has received a wave of supportive phone calls from fans and politicians around Italy.

De Niro's great-grandparents emigrated from Ferrazzano, in Italy's central Molise region, at the end of the 19th century, joining thousands of Italians seeking a better life in America.

But as in films like "The Godfather," De Niro more often portrays mobsters who trace their roots back to Cosa Nostra, the Sicilian Mafia.

The New York-born actor will be in Venice to promote "Shark Tale," a new animated film produced by DreamWorks, about a shark mob boss and full of characters with Italian names.

"From our conversations with DreamWorks and from what we have seen to date from the studio's own Web site, promotional material and trailer, this movie will perpetuate the image of Italian Americans as Mafia gangsters," OSIA said.

The group has repeatedly criticized Hollywood's stereotyping of Italian Americans in programs such as "The Sopranos."

Italy's Culture Minister Giuliano Urbani is evaluating OSIA's complaint, but at this point has not changed his plans to confer citizenship on De Niro, a source at the ministry said.

"It could conceivably be put off, but so far the process is unaffected," the source said.

"Chi se ne frega!"

What is the matter with the 'Order Sons of Italy in America'? When will they stop humping each other long enough to realize that the Mafia has been and always be an important part of Italian culture...unfortunately.

Quite frankly, we honestly think the stereotyping of Italian Americans from films like "The Godfather" and programs like the "The Sopranos" is entertaining and harmless compared to what REALLY goes on here in Italy, particularly in the south.

So, what is Hollywood supposed to do now in order to satisfy the 'OSIA'? Tame these films down and bore everyone? Have you seen what has come out of Hollywood lately?

Okay by us! Get rid of De Niro and bring in Meryl Streep.


Julian - Julius Caesar's cousin
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