Che caldo! Welcome to another sweltering 100+° and very thirsty edition of "Only In Italy!"
Fried zucchini, roasted peppers, sizzling lemons...
No, it's not a new salad dish from Sicily. It's what you get when you add 102-105° of outrageous Sicilian sun.
What a scene! The zucchini and peppers were actually trying to dig themselves into the ground to get away from the trauma, lemons were passing out and the cherries were begging to be eaten by birds (but the birds couldn't even help because they were too busy avoiding crashing into each other due to sun glares and heat exhaustion).
So, be careful, keep cool and enjoy yourselves this summer!
Enjoy the issue, keep writing and Grazie!
Rome - June 13, 2007 - A drunken man drove down Rome's famed Spanish Steps at dawn on Wednesday, thinking the world-famous monument was a city street. Eye witnesses said people had to dive out of the way to avoid being hit by the car.
The man, identified as a 24-year-old Colombian, apparently turned down onto the monumental stairway, the longest and widest in Europe, at a fair speed. About half-way down his bumpy descent he realized his error, got out of the car and tried to push it back up with the help of disco-goers who gather there for early-morning refreshment.
The effort soon proved impossible because of the steep incline so the man's helpers decided to ease the car down to the bottom.
Meanwhile police had arrived on the scene. The driver was arrested and a breath test showed his blood alcohol content to be twice the local limit for driving. Conservation experts were called in to start inspecting the 18th-century landmark for damage. Several of the 200 year old steps were chipped and scuffed.
Wednesday's incident came less than a month after a group of drunken immigrants took a screwdriver to the famous Barcaccia (Old Boat) fountain at the foot of the steps."Testa di Culo!"
After apparently drinking since half-past yesterday, he mistook the stairway for a city street like downtown South America. He could of, at least, signaled the turn.
And with a stroke of brilliance, he decided it was best push it back up the stairs with the help of other ambitious drunk scientists who usually gather there to star gaze. This was until the law of physics proved to be stronger than their grappa, beer and wine.
It's a shame the police didn't accidentally trip him into the "Fontana della Barcaccia" at the bottom of the steps, handcuff and question him and make him take a breathalyzer underwater.
Rome - June 18, 2007 - Grannies could be the vital ingredient that would make health and development projects in poor countries really take off, according to the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization.
While Westerners often treat older people as second-class citizens, in Africa and much of the non-western world elders are listened to as respected members of their families and communities, experts say. Getting grandmothers to understand and take part in nutrition, health and community development projects can significantly raise success rates, says FAO Nutrition Expert William Clay.
Grannies, who in many countries may be aged 40 or less, are "an abundant resource for development in all countries that is vastly under-utilized," he notes. The pro-granny approach was pioneered by American community development and health specialist Dr. Judi Aubel who presented her "grandmother-inclusive methodology" at a seminar held at FAO recently.
"Elders are natural leaders. Young people are taught to value their knowledge and experience and are expected to look to them for advice," Aubel explained. Aubel directs a fledgling NGO called The Grandmother Project. Using the grandmother-inclusive approach it says it has greatly increased the success of maternal and child health projects in Senegal, Mali and Laos.
The Grandmother Project's method often uses songs written by local trainees to encourage other senior women to become involved.
One song goes like this:
"When one group heard that song it brought tears to their eyes. They couldn't wait to come on board," Aubel said."Madonna mia! Io sono cool!" It's obvious a few people at the UN have had Italian grandmothers and realize the stubborn and insistent powers they hold. And they'll be easy to find. Most of them will be grandmothers who want to get even with their kids who simply suggested putting them in retirement homes.
"The pro-granny approach was pioneered by American community development and health specialist Dr. Judi Aubel who presented her "grandmother-inclusive methodology..." Her methodology is more mystic, mesmerizing and unexplainable than "Lord of the Rings".
"Grannies could be the vital ingredient that would make health and development projects in poor countries really take off..." Of course! Their complaining in a sing-song intonation at an average 10 db louder than the majority of other languages while flailing around their hands will force the project leaders to go insane:
"Hey, Signore FAO! How long is it going to take to build that water well?"
A "Nonna Anti-Terrorism Task Force" would also be quite effective:
"Porca puttana, landmines?" "Who the hell would plant landmines?" "Do you know how many tomatoes, eggplants and zucchini I can put out there?"
With the 2 tons of lasagna, sausage, eggplant parmigiana and cannolis they'll prepare everyday, starvation in Africa will be a thing of the past.
"Bambini, look at yourselves!"
"No, really, stop insisting!" "I can't have another bite."
Rovigo - June 12, 2007 - Two elderly Italian farmers have ended the reign of terror of a bow-and-arrow-wielding Russian 'ninja' bandit who spread fear across northeastern Italy for weeks.
Police had been vainly scouring the countryside for the black-clad villain, his head wrapped in a black bandana, a powerful bow in one hand and a knife strapped behind one leg. The sinister figure struck isolated farms at dusk, forcing farmers to hand over cash and valuables at arrow-point. Victims were usually so afraid that they didn't report the attack until the next day.
The ninja's spree ended after his sixth raid on Monday night, when the feisty oldsters gave him more than he'd bargained for after he smashed down a door and leaped into their house. Undaunted by the fearsome intruder, 73-year-old Luigi Zampieri started shouting at him to get out. His brother Giovanni, 71, ran down the stairs with his hunting rifle and took a tumble on the last step that let off a shot, scaring the ninja off.
"The fellow took fright and ran away, slipping on the broken glass from the door, then hopped on a bicycle and went hell-for-leather through the cornfields, riding his bike as if it were a horse," Giovanni said.
"I took another potshot at him for good measure". "In situations like that you get all your old strength back".
Police raced to the scene and trailed the robber to an abandoned farmhouse where he gave himself up without a fight. As well as his bow and knife, police found three daggers in a knapsack along with a night scope he used to scout targets and a head-torch for breaking into unlit premises.
The man was identified as Igor Vaclavic, 32, a former infantryman in the Russian army.
Quizzed by police about his chosen get-up and weapons, Vaclavic claimed to have been "inspired by my idol Robin Hood".
A police inspector said: "I've seen a lot of things in my long career but this takes the cake".
"Ninja Robin Hood?! Ma Vaffanculo!"
As if farmer Luigi and his trusty sidekick, Giovanni, haven't gone through enough in their lives (Nazis, Mussolini, Mafia, floods, droughts, missing vegetables). Now, you deal with confused and drunk Russians riding bicycles through cornfields at night. It can't be possible that so much was lost in the Russian translations of Errol Flynn movies.
Most farmers like Luigi and Giovanni are tough, rugged and quiet people but this experience must have slightly changed the expressions on their stone faces. It's a miracle Giovanni didn't throw out his hip on that last step!
Of course, the possibility of something wacky like this happening again are 1 in a 16 in Italy (depending which insane province you're from) but, rest assure, reasoning will not stop them from keeping the farm animals locked in and circling the farm house with tractors, cars and donkey carts like covered wagons.
"Ah! You never know!"
And who the hell is going to believe this story at the town piazza?
A revolting stampede from fed-up sheep is more believable!