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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"Was Ralph Married?"


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"Buon giorno e buon estate ai nostri lettori!" We welcome you back to another astoundingly late but amusing issue of "Only In Italy!"

I still am not receiving issues of "Only In Italy" - I wrote to this address about a month ago and nothing has changed. Can you help? Bob

I recently subscribed and got one e-mail, some time ago. What's happening? Are you still sending out a "daily" newsletter? Waldi

I enjoy your newsletter, but haven't received one in quite some time. I hope all is well with you! Regards, Kathryn

Ciao subscribers!

We sincerely appreciate all the letters and comments we have received these past months. Once again, we are working on returning to writing and distributing our haphazard newsletter on a daily basis. It hasn't been easy but the writing band is willing and able. We thank you for all your patience and support!

Enjoy the issue, keep writing and Grazie!

Tanti Saluti,              
"Only In Italy" Staff       


Italy Party Hails Bossi's Return to Power

Padania - June 6, 2005 - Italy's right-wing Northern League has hailed its fiery leader Umberto Bossi as he made his first public address since suffering a heart attack in 2004.

Mr. Bossi was greeted ecstatically by thousands of the party faithful as he spoke in the northern town of Pontida. The 62-year-old who suffered partial brain damage looked weak and had to stop several times during his speech.

At the party rally, the Northern League also renewed its call to ditch the Euro and return to the lira. The party launched it campaign earlier in June, arguing that the EU's single currency has led to price increases and hit small Italian businesses.

Bossi's delight

Mr. Bossi looked a shadow of his former self as he addressed the cheering crowd of the largely eurosceptic Northern League. He expressed his delight over recent blows suffered by the EU, in an apparent reference to the rejection of the bloc's first constitution by the French and Dutch voters and also the deepening budget row.

"I knew Europe would fail," Mr. Bossi said to loud cheers.

Mr. Bossi whose party in part of the governing coalition led by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi also renewed his call for the creation of a free Northern Italy, known as Padania.

"No-one will stop us. Free Padania, Padania for ever, then you Pontida," he said.

'Lira plan'

Other Northern League leaders used the meeting to press for Italy's withdrawal from the 12-nation eurozone.

"The Euro has made us all poorer," said senior party official Roberto Calderoli.

Party members were also asked to vote on one of three options: the return of the lira as the single national currency; the introduction of a national currency pegged to the dollar; or the parallel use of two currencies, the lira and the Euro.

"Incredibile!" He figured out the Euro would fail and so would Europe while he was semi-conscious from a hospital bed.

You know what’s more credible than Umberto Bossi? Elvis sightings.

In 2004, this once healthy minister suffered a massive heart attack approximately one week AFTER he stated that: He would send the pontiff three dictionaries of northern Italian dialects so he could speak something other than Polish and Roman. Priests should "go barefoot again" and referred to "thieving monsignors and cardinals".

If you're ever in Venice, you should stop by his circus and listen to his ramblings while he wears a big green bandanna or tacky green tie. With all that green on, he looks like a mentally unstable Italian leprechaun!

You know what that big green tie tells us? It says, "If you're Sicilian, then run!"


Was The Great Raphael Married?

Rome - June 18, 2005 - He was a Renaissance celebrity, known not only for his superb artistic talent but for his personal charm. Very publicly engaged to Maria Bibbiena, the niece of a powerful cardinal, scholars believed him to have had a mistress by the name of Margherita Luti, the daughter of a Sienese baker. Marriage to a woman of such a lowly social status would hardly have helped his career; general public knowledge of such a liaison could have damaged his reputation.

But recent research conducted by Italian art historian Maurizio Bernardelli Curuz suggests that Raphael Sanzio may have followed his heart and secretly married Margherita Luti.

Important clues to the relationship can be found in the recently-restored "Fornarina," the portrait of a seductive beauty begun in 1516 and left unfinished by Raphael. Half-clothed and smiling suggestively, the subject wears a ribbon on her left arm bearing Raphael's name. Pinned to her turban is a pearl and the meaning of "Margherita" is "pearl." X-rays taken during restoration reveal in the background quince and myrtle bushes, symbols of fertility and fidelity. And on her left hand was a ring, the existence of which was painted out, probably by Raphael's students after the master's death.

All these symbols would have been extraordinarily meaningful to the average Renaissance viewer. To anyone who understood the symbolism, the portrait practically shouts "this is my beautiful wife Margherita and I love her."

In addition to the portrait, Curuz has uncovered documentary evidence that Raphael and Margherita were married in a secret ceremony. Curuz also believes Margherita to be the subject of "La Donna Velata" (the Veiled Lady), which one contemporary noted was the painting of the woman Raphael "loved until he died."

It had been theorized that Raphael didn't paint the Fornarina at all, and that instead it is the work of one of his pupils. Curuz and his associates now believe that Raphael's pupils deliberately obscured the nuptial symbolism to protect his reputation and continue their own work at the Sala di Constantino in the Vatican, the loss of which would have bankrupted them. To reinforce the pretense, Raphael's students placed a plaque on his tomb in memory of his fiancée, Bibbiena.

And Margherita Luti (Sanzio)? Four months after Raphael's death, the "widow Margherita" is recorded as arriving at the convent of Sant'Apollonia in Rome.

We always thought that talented people of intellectual and personal refinement like Raphael became popular artists to impress women and not Cardinals and Popes? I guess we were wrong.

"Povero disgraziato!" It’s amazing what guys from the Renaissance period had to put up with just to get a good piece of Italian ass.


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99 Days To Deliver Letter 500 Meters Away

Como - June 18, 2005 - We may well be living in the age of real-time and multimedia communication but this doesn't seem to apply to the Italian village of Magreglio, near Como. Here, a letter sent by ordinary mail from the local town hall took 99 days to be delivered at a distance of 500 meters.

When it finally made it to Paolo Solbiati's letter-box, the letter, containing a notice that Mr. Solbiati's identity card was about to expire, was already three months old, having been sent on March 8.

"I just couldn't believe it, I thought it was a joke," says Paolo Solbiati. But the mayor of Magreglio objects.

"Unfortunately, all the letters posted in this area are forwarded to the post office of Roserio, near Milan. From here, they are delivered to the final addresses. Obviously that also applies to letters in which sender and receiver live in the same town."

The press office at Italian Mail explains that "in Lombardy, there are 9 million inhabitants and thousands of firms. Every day, we are faced with enormous amounts of letters which are sent and delivered worldwide. That explains why we may make the occasional mistake. I personally think Mr. Solbiati's letter got lost somewhere before it was eventually found and delivered. We do apologize for the inconvenience, which is however understandable considering the huge amount of work we do every day."

"Ma porca puttana...!"

Please don't blame our postal system. After all, how can it deliver mail, give stock tips and run a bank all before the 1:00 PM closing time?

Unlike some sane countries, the Italian postal service provides a vast and unnecessary array of financial services in addition to simple mail delivery (just picture asking an Italian farmer if he could milk a goat with one hand and prepare your retirement plan with the other).

Eventually, insanity sets in and it's due to the fact that it does too many things it shouldn't. Each month, for example, millions of Italians receive their pensions and salaries at the post office. Hundreds of thousands of individuals and businesses have savings deposit plans with the post office. In addition, one can purchase state bonds and certificates or pay utility bills, traffic tickets, state and local taxes. Some types of special payments to the government can even be made, e.g. fees for school lunches and the annual television tax. (Yes, you read correctly. Italians pay a television tax so that they can have the legal privilege to watch a bunch of bad TV variety shows.)

If you are lucky enough to only need to mail a letter, you could buy stamps at a shop that sells tobacco. But registered letters could only be registered at the post office and, given the incredible reliability of the delivery service, it is necessary to register anything whose delivery you actually cared about.

The banking sector functions like the "Mad Cow" disease. Each payment slip has three portions: one that vanishes into an unknown hemisphere (although the transaction is also recorded on a computer somewhere in the country), one that you give to the payee to prove you had paid, and one that you are supposed to keep for the rest of your natural life.

Another exciting aspect about banking in the post office is that it means that, during the early part of the month, an office with the security of a hog farm is holding enormous amounts of cash and paying it out to little old fifty-pound ladies. This leads to regularly-scheduled muggings and fleecing of old people just outside the post office and to the national sport of post office armed robbery.


Julian - Julius Caesar's cousin
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