"Buon giorno" Welcome to the newsletter that backs up Berlusconi's belief that the crisis will end when every Italian can afford a facelift. "Only In Italy!"
Let's just try to enjoy these last days of summer, ok?
Enjoy the issue, keep writing and Grazie!
Rome - August 3, 2010 - Italy's fabled Latin lovers are missing the mark with foreign beauties, according to a poll that found nearly four in five female tourists were unmoved by the charms of Italian men.
Seventy-nine per cent said they would not fall for an Italian, with many saying they lacked cheerfulness and a sense of humor (51 per cent) and others complaining they were childish (49 per cent). Another reason for the lack of attraction is that Italian men now show more of their feminine than their masculine side, according to 57 per cent of the 1000 women polled by tourist and gastronomy magazine Vie del Gusto.
The most likely to make a woman's heart flutter were students, businessmen and holiday resort DJs and entertainers, said the survey, which was published recently.
But although not seen as dream partners, Italian men still won points for being gallant (78 per cent), well dressed (67 per cent) and attentive (59 per cent), although 43 per cent said they were not as athletic as they could be.
Seduction aside, Italian people in general continued to impress foreigners with their style (73 per cent), charm (69 per cent), friendliness (55 per cent) and politeness (51 per cent).
"Seventy-nine per cent said they would not fall for an Italian..."
(51 per cent) We lack cheerfulness and a sense of humor: FALSE
(49 per cent) We're childish: TRUE
(57 per cent) We show more of our feminine than our masculine side: TRUE
(78 per cent) We're gallant: TRUE
(43 per cent) We're not as athletic as we could be: TRUE
Rome - August 5, 2010 - Italy is shopping for a corporate sponsor willing to shell out 25 million euros ($33 million) to refurbish the 2,000-year-old Colosseum, where gladiators once did battle.
Under terms of the contract made public on August 4, the bidder will pay for 100 percent of the restoration in exchange for advertising rights and associated perks linked to Rome’s biggest tourist attraction. The Colosseum draws more than 5 million visitors a year, producing 35 million euros in ticket sales that is used for the upkeep of monuments across the city.
"This establishes a clear precedent," Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno said in an August 2 interview in his office overlooking the ancient Roman Forum and Colosseum. "We hope this method can be used for other large restoration projects."
Italy had the European Union’s biggest debt last year at 115.8 percent of gross domestic product and last week passed 25 billion euros of spending cuts over the next two years to trim the deficit. The Culture Ministry’s budget was cut by 175 million euros for the three years through 2012, straining the country’s efforts to maintain its monuments.
While it’s common for states to reach out for private funds, as France has done for its restoration of the Versailles palace, the Colosseum marks the first time a European state has sought a sponsor to cover the full cost of a project, Francesco Giro, undersecretary at the Culture Ministry, said in an interview. Proposals will be accepted through the end of October, and the winner will hire the companies that refurbish the monument, he said. Firms from Asia to America have already indicated interest, he said.
Tourists and the landmark’s exposure to Rome traffic has taken a toll on the monument. The work, scheduled to begin next year and be completed by 2013, will focus on the exterior, which will be cleaned of the black soot from the exhaust of the cars that circle the monument day and night. A visitors’ center will be built, and the underground passageways where animals and gladiators were kept will be restored and opened to the public.
The sponsor will get to put its name and logo on tickets sold to the monument, and place posters no taller than 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) around the base of the structure. The sponsor also will be able to conduct private guided tours, and will have exclusive film rights of the restoration process, Giro said.
While billboard advertising on the Colosseum won't be permitted, Paolo Landi, general secretary of consumer group Adiconsum, is concerned the ads may ruin the monument.
The posters "won't be allowed to block a single pilaster of the Colosseum," Rossella Rea, director of the Colosseum, said in an interview in a gallery of the ancient stadium. "The advertising will have to be calibrated to fit the decorum of the monument."
After the refurbishment, the entire interior will be open to visitors, compared with 35 percent today, Giro said. The Colosseum will remain open during the restoration, Rea said.
"People must continue to visit, because the income from the Colosseum pays for the maintenance costs of all the state monuments in Rome," Rea said.
The economic crisis that is straining Italy’s budget may help lure sponsors, Giro said. The same process could be used for future restoration projects, including for the ancient Roman city of Pompeii, the imperial palace on Rome’s Palatine hill, or the Forum, he said.
"Many studies show that when there’s an economic crisis like the one we're experiencing now, businesses seek out cultural investments to add value to their brand," Giro said.
"Porca miseria", our poor and beloved Coliseum ('weep'). Ever since Ridley Scott's "Gladiator", we've grown sentimentally attached to this wonder of the world. Who hasn't?
Look at how it's been treated throughout history. During the 16th and 17th century, Church officials sought a productive role for the abandoned shell of the Colosseum. Pope Sixtus V (1585-1590) planned to turn the building into a wool factory to grant employment for Rome's prostitutes, though the idea fell through with his premature death. We believe the idea could be given new life. In between political campaigns and official Parliament missions, Rome's 'escorts' (aka prostitutes) could keep busy by scraping gum off the Coliseum walls. Yes? Si?
In 1671 Cardinal Altieri authorized its use for bullfights. Luckily, a public outcry caused the idea to be quickly abandoned. Today, a Cardinal who would want to authorize the use of the arena for bullfights (substituting the bulls with the above mentioned 'escorts') would not be looked upon badly. "Puttanafights!" Yes? Si?
On a serious note, it's quite frustrating to hear that arena takes in over 32M Euro ($40M USD) in revenues a year but the city has to run to sponsors to help fund the restoration. "Ma porca di quella troja!" Very well then. The $33M USD price tag must include:
1) Completely shutting down the chaotic traffic that circles it 24 hours a day,
2) Washing down the inside and outside of the arena. This includes hosing down the drunk and arrogant sons-of-bitches, "teste di cazzi", gladiators who demand you take a photo with them in front of the arena...and demand 10-15 Euros per photo.
3) Seeing that parts of the arena, including the marble facade, were stripped and used for the construction of later monuments (including St. Peter's Basilica), a few building cranes and hard hats should roam into that Vatican and start taking back what rightly belongs to the great Coliseum.
Rome - August 5, 2010 - A tumbledown building in the Italian countryside is to sell for 1.5M Euro ($1.9M USD) because it once belonged to a British hedonist, writer and occultist who was dubbed "the wickedest man in the world".
The dilapidated, whitewashed Italian villa, set amid the hills of Sicily, was owned in the 1920s by Aleister Crowley, whose outrageous drug-taking, keen sexual appetite and interest in mysticism later made him a cult figure for the Beatles, David Bowie, Ozzie Osbourne and Iron Maiden.
The cottage, near the town of Cefalu in Sicily, contains explicit, erotic frescoes of men and women entwined together, painted by Cambridge-educated Crowley when he lived there in the early 1920s. The frescoes, inspired by the work of Gauguin, also include naked devils, satyrs and serpents.
The estate agents that are selling the property, which has been abandoned for years and is overrun with bushes and long grass, have suggested that it should be turned into a museum devoted to Crowley's extraordinary life. He called the house the Abbey of Thelema and turned it into a kind of commune, where daily life revolved around yoga, adoration of the Sun and the study of his own mystical philosophical writings.
Eventually his libertine tastes so offended Mussolini's fascists that they expelled him and his lovers from the country in April 1923. Local people believe that the villa, which hosted orgies and experiments in free love that predated the hippy movement by decades, is cursed and refuse to go near it.
Crowley, who called himself The Great Beast, created a religious philosophy known as Thelema and is known for his mystical writings, including The Book of the Law, in which he set out the main tenets of Thelema.
He was also a keen chess player and mountaineer, taking part in the first British attempt to climb K2 in the Himalaya, in 1902. He traveled widely in Europe, Asia and the Americas and was thought to have been a spy for British intelligence.
He died in a Sussex boarding house in 1947 at the age of 72.
"Scusate"...are we the only ones who think Aleister was dubbed "the wickedest man in the world" as a result of owning a property in Sicily?
Whoever has their eyes on this enchanting piece of Sicilian crap should look forward to the following:
- A foreign citizen who wishes to purchase property in Italy MUST FIRST OF ALL obtain the almighty tax ID number ("codice fiscale") This can be requested at any government financial office: One hour in these offices and you'll start considering doing drugs and adoring the Sun.
- Open a bank account: Try understanding the Italian fine print in your account contract without turning into the Great Beast.
- Conclude the final purchase agreement with a notary: A fine gentleman who will immediately pocket 3.5 - 4% of the property value; in this case over 52,000 Euros ($66,000 USD). Ironically, a Sicilian notary is also dubbed "the wickedest man in the world".
- Arranging public utilities contracts (gas, water, electricity, telephone): After you finish having all your utilities installed and working properly (about 2 years), you'll be installing handles on the walls so they'll be easier to climb up to your naked devils, satyrs and serpent frescoes.