"Madonna, che palle..." Welcome to the only newsletter written by a staff who believe Sicily needs the labor unions to protect the rights of the manhole cover inspectors of Palermo, "Only In Italy!"
"Si", can you believe another issue published in less than 6 months? "Cavolo", it just might snow tomorrow!
Enjoy the issue, keep writing and Grazie!
Rome - June 13, 2011 - Italy last year overtook France to become the world's biggest wine producer and data for this year show a surge in Italian wine exports, the Coldiretti farmers' union reported.
Citing data from the European Union, Coldiretti said the last harvest produced 49.6 million hectoliters of wine in Italy compared to 46.2 million hectoliters in France.
"It is with great pride that we can say we are the world's leading wine producer, having surpassed France not only in value but also in volume," Italian Agriculture Minister Saverio Romano said.
"This benchmark is also thanks to the excellent performance our wines are having abroad, with a 31% increase in exports to the United States in the first two months of 2011," he added.
"We are also first for quality, with over 60% of the wine we produce bottled with recognized denomination of origin labels. But we can even do better, we must do better," Romano said.
Italy had surpassed France in the past for bulk unbottled wine production, much of which was exported to France where it was used to blend more famous bottled wines like Beaujolais.
Italy overtook France also for the production of sparkling wines with 4.2 million hectoliters of Prosecco and spumante bottled compared to four million hectoliters for French Champagne.
It wasn't tough to overtake France (even for Italy). After all, we're talking about a country whose greatest contribution to cuisine was the souffle...or the flat cake; something puffed up with a lot of hot air and full of fattening crap.
Sometimes ideas or stories take on lives of their own, and some Italian-wine lovers become unconscious and moronic believers in what are the wine equivalent of urban legends. But don't worry, our disciples, we're here to help your loved ones or arrogant friends make less of fools of themselves.
Here are some examples of those myths:
1) Chianti is a cheap wine in straw packaging.
Some very fine Chianti wines have always existed, but they used to represent a tiny minority of all Chianti. Now the red-checkered-tableclothed tables have changed course, taken Fettuccine Alfredo off their embarrassing menus, and offer a majority of Chianti wines of high quality. Chianti Classico, the type of Chianti most commonly found outside of Italy, is particularly ok. Prices have risen with the quality, and now you can easily find $25-$30 bottles of Chianti Classico in decent wine shops. Inexpensive and crappy $10 bottles of Chianti do still exist including some in the ridiculous and flammable straw packaging, but the category as a whole has moved uptown.
2) Italy's best wines are all red.
It's ok, it's an understandable misunderstanding. After all, Italy makes about twice as much red wine as white wine, and most of Italy's most famous wines, Barolo, Brunello di Montalcino, and so forth are red. But certain parts of Italy definitely have what it takes to make fine white wines, and producers in those areas are doing just that. When the Campania region is not juggling a decade-old garbage crisis and the Camorra Mafia, it's producing two terrific whites, Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino.
3) Italian wines should be enjoyed with just Italian food.
Eh, no. Any time you drink the wine of a particular wine region with the food of the same region, the combination is usually suitable and melodic. In the case of Italian food, no wines taste better than Italian wines...even if you drink a hearty wine of the poor and corrupt South with a dish that's typical of a racist Northern region. Luckily, Italy's wines are incredibly food-friendly that their pairing talent extends far beyond the prejudice Italian kitchen.
Rome - June 15, 2011 - More trouble seems to be brewing for Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi after it emerged that he tried to cover up his relationship with a teenage nightclub dancer, a charge which prosecutors say was similar to a "military attack".
Berlusconi, who has been embroiled in several sex scandals, was now accused of abusing his office by telephoning a Milan police station and putting officers under pressure to release Karima El Mahroug, known by her stage name as Ruby the Heart Stealer, from arrest on a charge of theft.
The claims by prosecutors came at the resumption of the trial in which he is accused of paying the young woman for sex, newspapers reported.
According to the report, the 74-year-old PM then allegedly sent two associates to collect the 17-year-old El Mahroug from the police station. The associates were Nicole Minetti, an Anglo-Italian show girl who his party elevated into politics, and Michelle Conceicao, a Brazilian starlet who was known to Berlusconi.
"It was a military attack, an encirclement, and it was all directed towards the police station," the lead prosecutor in the case Ilda Boccassini was quoted as saying.
Berlusconi’s attempt to bail out the teenager occurred on the night of May 27, 2010, after she had been accused by a friend of stealing several thousand euros in cash and arrested by police.
Prosecutors claim Berlusconi was terrified that she would spill the beans on their relationship and he did all he could to extricate her from questioning.
Boccassini dismissed an plea application for the case to be either dropped or transferred to Rome to be heard by a special tribunal of ministers.
"Everything was done with respect for the law and the constitution," Boccassini said.
See, people? Now you know understand why Italians would lactate (yes, even men) in the hopes of entering any meaningless political office.
A 74 year-old billionaire Prime Minister and an ugly 17 year-old nightclub dancer/escort. "Minchia", what a stupid "bestia". Does anyone know how to get through to someone who is limited in his capacity? I don't think pasta and a beating is going to help.
This is a man who also claimed to the police Ruby was the granddaughter of the ex Egyptian president, Mubarak. "Porca miseria", it would have been more convincing if he told them that he received an acknowledgement from Kissinger that Ruby was a distant niece of Cleopatra.
Some of you might think he went with his gut feeling when he made that stupid phone call. After all, he's the Prime Minister. What could happen?
Lead prosecutor, Ilda Boccassini, "It was a military attack, an encirclement, and it was all directed towards the police station." A military huh? "Per favore." What attack could possibly come from an Anglo-Italian show girl/escort/politician and a Brazilian starlet/escort/nitwit? They would have done more damage if they showed up in bikinis, wore sandwich boards, and paraded the sidewalk in front of the station.
One thing is certain in this comedy...when he pulled down his pants, he was sticking his neck out.
Perugia - June 15, 2011 - Italian president Giorgio Napolitano is following the legal case of American student Amanda Knox who is appealing her conviction for killing her English housemate in 2007 while studying in Italy.
"I am keeping track of developments in this complex story," president Napolitano said through a diplomatic advisor on Tuesday.
He was responding to an open letter from Italian politician Rocco Girlanda, who asked the president to intervene to avoid international controversy over what he claims was an unfair trial.
Girlanda heads Fondazione Italia USA - an organization that aims to strengthen ties between Italy and the United States - and wrote of book on Knox.
Girlanda says prosecutors mishandled the case and is seeking an investigation.
Knox, her ex-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito and African immigrant Rudy Guede were jailed for murdering Knox's housemate Meredith Kercher, a British exchange student in November, 2007.
Knox and Sollecito together return to a Perugia court on 21 June to jointly appeal against the 25 and 26 year prison sentences handed to them for murdering Kercher, who was found semi-naked with her throat slit in the cottage she shared with Knox in Perugia.
Thanks for your letter. The Fondazione Italia USA and Amanda's family may have a chance of seeing this situation end happily if President Giorgio makes an effort to stop wearing socks with sandals and staying awake long enough each day to follow the trial highlights.
"Baci e abbracci", Only In Italy
Dear Presidente Giorgio,
Here are the Sicilian cliff notes on what the hell went wrong with the case and our comical justice system:
1) 11 Italian lawmakers in Silvio Berlusconi's coalition request a probe of the prosecutor's office. (That's called back-peddling alla Parmigiana.)
2) Amanda was a fat high school student, had acne and was more devoted to rock climbing and backpacking than to dating. Her best friend, Madison Paxton, "She's a little dork who doesn't wear matched socks." (Then our cousin, Maurizio, must be unstable as her. He wears mismatched socks but it's hard to tell because they're always dirty.)
3) Sollecito, a gawky, pale 23-year-old with rimless glasses and zero history with women. His father, a rich urologist, had set him up with the apartment in Perugia. But there was a problem...whenever he used the sink, the pipes leaked and water pooled on the floor. Sollecito was so stumped by the puddles that he called his father for advice on how to get rid of them. ("Papa, after you explain how to stop the magic puddles from appearing, please, explain to me...air.")
4) Amanda returned with Sollecito to the apartment and called the "Carabinieri" to report a burglary. Two officers soon arrived. They weren't Carabinieri, however. They were the postal police. (A comatose, high school unit of the state police responsible for investigating crimes like stolen phones and late mail. Imagine what would happen to them if Italy adds 4 new numbers to the zip code.)
5) Italy's jamboree-like judicial process: no order in court, lawyers and defendants constantly interrupting the proceedings with catcalls, groans, and wild hand gesticulations, the press in the peanut gallery whining like soccer fans at the stadium. (Si, we're just a few months away from drinking, belching, and farting in court.)
6) The prosecution's failure to establish motive or intent. "Well, we live in an age of violence with no motive," said one prosecutor. (So true. Cousin Maurizio is battling an ingrown toe nail. We're afraid he might want to wipe out the local bread baker.)
7) According to the prosecutor, Mignini, things are often touched by Satan. In the Monster of Florence serial-killer case of 2001, Mignini proposed that the suicide of a Perugian doctor was actually a murder committed by a satanic cult, practicing since the Middle Ages, that demanded human organs for their Black Masses. He later accused a hostile journalist of Satanism. In the early stages of the Kercher investigation, Mignini suggested that the victim had been slaughtered during a satanic ritual, but in his closing argument, he only went so far as to refer to Knox as a sex-and-drug-crazed "she-devil." (First, you need to stop watching bad Italian horror films and get out more often. Second, it would have made more sense if you claimed a chocolate loving bear committed the murder.)
8) One officer was certain Knox had lied about taking a shower that morning because "she smelled like sex." (Ok, he got us there. What does sex smell like? Whenever "dirty socks" Maurizio returns home from a night of drinking, his breath always smells like Gorgonzola cheese no matter how many times he washes his mouth out.)
9) Knox signed a confession...written in Italian. It declared that Knox had accompanied pub owner, Lumumba, to her house on the night of the murder. She had been standing in the next room while Lumumba stabbed Kercher to death. When Knox signed the confession, the interrogators all started hugging one another. ("Porca vacca, we did it! Yes, she confessed to the murder...and the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby!")
10) Knox and Sollecito were not formally charged until...a year after their arrests. The prosecution's case leaned heavily on two pieces of evidence. Kercher's bra clasp which was not retrieved until 47 days after the murder, by which point it had been moved across the room and lay in a pile of debris had tested positive for trace amounts of Sollecito's DNA. And a knife,...selected at random by a detective from Sollecito's kitchen drawer, tested positive, albeit at extremely low levels, for Kercher's DNA. (DNA evidence released shows that after 183 attempts to match the material on the lottery-winning knife to Meredith's DNA, there is a less than 1 percent chance that it is hers. So, another 387 attempts will probably be made until they eventually run out of lab supplies, funding, and wind up in the insane asylum.)
"Con amore", Only In Italy