"Ciao!" Welcome to the only newsletter written by journalists who believe Italy needs another labor union to protect the rights of state employees who count the number of man hole covers in Palermo, "Only In Italy!"
Please explain to me why you're always knocking the Catholic Church, why is it always open territory to you people? You sure wouldn't say anything about Communists fighting, or Italian Buddhist nuns fighting it out, or Italian Muslims putting up their dukes...
Yes, the Catholics have a past, but so has every damn religious and political conviction... You're into political hipness, I'm glad I'm a published poet and writer (artist also) in that, I guess, you're giving me fodder for the dumb jerks I love to center on. Gian B.
Thanks for the breath of fresh air, Gian.
On a half serious note, we think you're misinterpreting the purpose of our wacky newsletter and the small team of Sicilians (who happen to be devout Catholics) who write for it.
If you were a true Italian you would realize that times in Italy have been particularly tough but it's our sense of humor that has keeps us together, positive and sane. How do you think we survived World Wars 1 and 2? You would also realize that the Catholic Church in Italy is not perfect and it has made its mistakes in the past.
But, Gian, it's okay and do you know why? Because we are all human; even the Catholic Church and Napolitanos!
Gian, three Italian nuns belted each other because they could not agree on who was to lead an abandoned convent. How can you keep a straight face?
And how can you accuse us of being into "political hipness" if we endorse an Italian comic who has captured worldwide interest by leading a very successful national campaign to shut down the entire corrupt political system of Italy? Ma, porca puttana, can you imagine if we began writing about and endorsing Italian politics? Our readers would be more entertained by lowering their heads to listen to the fan whirring in their computers.
Gian, you have to get a grip on yourself because we're not going to give you satisfaction. One of us is writing this edition of "Only In Italy" with a stuffy nose. Who will give him satisfaction?
Enjoy the issue, keep writing and Grazie!
Naples - September 29, 2007 - Mafia bosses normally try to avoid going anywhere near jail, but crime leaders near Naples have been discovered holding meetings in their local police station.
Mobsters linked to a notorious Camorra clan used the station telephone and snorted cocaine at the command post of the traffic police in San Cipriano d'Aversa. Investigators believe that the red carpet was rolled out to gang members by Giuseppe Iovine, a former policeman and the brother of feared Casalesi clan boss Antonio Iovine, who has been on the run since 1996 and is wanted for murder.
Giuseppe Iovine was fired from the traffic police in 1995 for his mob connections, but continued to frequent the police station and even borrow police cars in order to tour local businesses to demand protection money, investigators said. He was accompanied on his rounds by serving officers and even the station chief, who could now face charges of extortion.
"Thanks to the influence he enjoyed as a relation of one of the historic bosses of the Casalesi clan, Iovine wielded absolute power at the police station," investigators wrote in a report released as they raided the homes of local police this week.
Investigators suspect Antonio Iovine's ability to evade arrest is thanks in part to mob infiltration of local government.
The Casalesi clan is believed to be one of the most powerful groups within the Naples Camorra, specializing in construction and keeping a lower profile than clans that focus on drug dealing."Oh, porca di quella troja!" It's fascinating what that Vesuvius volcano can spew out from time to time.
At the first sight, Naples appears to have such an overmanned and overgunned police force that tourists wonder if Neapolitans have ever heard of civil liberties. At times it feels like you're under martial law and you get the urge to run for the hills towards Switzerland.
In addition to the normal police, they also have something funny here called the 'Carabiniere' who are military runway models of the police force.
While the mafia is busy with cocaine and taking emergency calls at police command posts, Carabiniere stand around all day, in very flashy costumes with a trademark white diagonal leather sash across their breasts and a huge gold motif on their hats, brandishing machine guns.
Over the centuries, Carabiniere have carefully nurtured their image as so-called heroes of the people of ridiculous folk proportions, and there's a wide range of promotional crap merchandise such as calendars, pens, posters and toys which they distribute. Much of it is free because no one will pay for it.
However, traffic cops do little more than sit basking at the side of the road wearing shiny leather jackets, sunglasses and guns, trying to look like Starsky and Hutch, only randomly pulling in the odd looking, sap motorist just to keep their reports up to quota.
Nonetheless, we certainly hope the Polizia di Napoli were able to hold whatever dignity there was left and decline the mobster's requests for coffee and croissants at the command post.
A bit of advice: if you're a tourist in Naples and happen to smell smoke, it's best not to call the Fire Department. They'll send a rescue unit of arsonists to the scene and burn down your hotel room.
Rome - September 26, 2007 - Can you imagine a man letting himself be examined by a female urologist? In a couple of years' time, this will be a situation that many men who are currently reluctant out of pride or embarrassment will have to accept. Italyís medical profession is rapidly changing sex. Already, some 60% of the students at faculties of medicine and surgery are female and forecasts predict that in the next ten years, as many as eight white coats in ten will be worn by women. The topic will be on Friday's agenda at a major conference organized at Caserta by the FNOMCEO, the federation of medical associations chaired by Amedeo Bianco.
Dr. Bianco stated, "We have to address the future differently, otherwise some specializations, especially the ones that today are single sex, will be facing a crisis. I am very much in favor of women doctors but I do admit to a certain concern. We have to design a system that will ensure quality and potential without reducing supply."
Hospital roles will be turned on their heads with beskirted doctors and nurses in trousers. For there is also a new trend in nursing. Once, nurses were female but nowadays the profession offers more promising prospects for men. Nursing is no longer just about care and has acquired a managerial, coordination-oriented focus. In other words, old-style ward sisters are on the way out.
In the world of medicine, the fields traditionally denied to women are now more open. These include prestigious surgery specializations like neurosurgery and cardiosurgery, not to mention those that deal with diseases of the intimate regions.
Vincenzo Mirone, president of the Italian society of urology, reflects on the figures. There are only 173 women out of 2,200 urologists in Italy.
"Let's be frank. We men are never going to let a female examine our prostate nor would we be happy if a woman prescribed us with a drug for impotence. I mean it's not nice to hear a woman telling you that you need the blue pill."
Dr Bianco suggests a way to offset the impact of the female invasion in hospitals and family doctors' surgeries, where numbers of women have tripled.
"There's a danger of a shortfall in surgery or orthopaedics. People think, wrongly in my view, that only men can operate because they are stronger, cooler and more courageous. And there are also objective difficulties. For example, operating theatre hours are hard to reconcile with a family. We need to rethink shifts and maternity conditions".
The FNOMCEO president is not in favor of quotas that would set aside jobs for the sex that continues to be stronger, at least on the management front. The medical profession may be undergoing a sex change but most heads of hospital departments and top managers are still men.
Lorenza Sassi, a dental surgeon and member of the Udine medical association council, stresses that a change of culture is needed.
"A lot of people are still suspicious of us women", she says. "Patients call me 'Signora', not 'Doctor. If I have to extract a tooth, their attitude becomes negative. They think that you need to be physically strong to be good, and that women don't have that strength. In short, itís going to take time before men get used to going to a female urologist without embarrassment, the way women go to male gynecologists"."Dottoressa, il culo mi fa male..."
How disturbing. We never thought there was so much gender based discrimination in the Italian society of urology.
"Let's be frank. We men are never going to let a female examine our prostate..." Speak for yourself, Doctor Frank N. Beans. There's a lot of Italian men who would prefer to go to a female urologist.
Does my doctor care for me?
Studies find Italian female primary-care doctors spend more time with their patients and engage in more patient-oriented, emotion-focused talk during office visits.
Italian male doctors spend more time at their second or third villa and personally engage in more relax-oriented activity. Emotion-focused talk is available over the telephone.
Does my doctor have time for me?
On average, female doctors spent 23 minutes with patients including health-related issues, engaging in positive, emotionally supportive talk and involving patients in their care.
On average, male doctors spent 21 minutes with patients; 10 minutes on their care and 11 on their favorite soccer team's health.
Will my prostate exam be painful?
Female doctors will create a comfortable environment, tend to be more gentle, caring and try their best to keep your discomfort minimal.
Male doctors will impatiently wait until you finish your enema and assume the position. Discomfort to them is a foreign word when they shove a proctoscope large enough to see the moon.
What will happen to my doctor?
As the medical system evolves and the number of female doctors increases, expect to see women taking a leading role in defining the practice of medicine in Italy.
The number of male doctors will eventually decrease. Expect them to explore more promising prospects, such as dry cleaning.
Last year Guido Mussolini, the 69-year-old son of the Fascist dictator's son Vittorio, mounted a legal effort to establish "by judicial means, and therefore definitively" the cause of his grandfather's death.
Prosecutors in Como, which is near the village where Mussolini was shot by partisans, have asked for the case to be shelved but Guido Mussolini's lawyer has opposed this. The court is expected to decide on Thursday whether to drop the question immediately or continue with a trial. The circumstances of Mussolini's death have been the subject of much debate, with different historians and political groups giving slightly varying accounts.
Il Duce was arrested near the village of Dongo, not far from Como, on April 27, 1945, as he tried to escape to Switzerland. An Italian resistance fighter recognized him among a truckload of retreating German soldiers even though he had disguised himself by putting on a German army uniform.
According to the standard historical reconstruction, Mussolini was executed on April 28 by order of the National Liberation Committee, a sort of 'government' of the resistance movement. Guido Mussolini says this decision was "unlawful" and that his grandfather should have been handed over to national or international courts.
Some historians appear to agree, saying the leftwing partisans who captured the fleeing dictator had taken the law into their own hands, killing him immediately in order to avoid having to negotiate with allies and foreign powers over his fate.
In a declaration released when he began his battle, Guido Mussolini said he wanted to know "how, when, why and by whom Benito Mussolini was killed".
"I have no desire for vengeance. I just want to know the truth about a case which, in the version given by official history books, seems ridiculous", he said.
Doubts linger over who carried out the execution and the exact sequence of events after the capture. It has also been suggested that foreign secret agents might have been involved, although no evidence for this has emerged. The grandson's lawyer Luciano Randazzo said that no proper judicial enquiry had ever been carried out into the death of Mussolini.
"Historians have put forward 19 different versions of the events but there has been no judicial enquiry to establish the truth", he said.
After his execution, Mussolini's body, along with that of his lover Claretta Petacci and a few other officers, were taken to Milan on April 29 and hung upside down from the roof of a petrol station. Mussolini was buried in Predappio, the town in northern Italy where he was born in 1883. Every year his tomb attracts hundreds of visitors.
"Ma chi cazzo se ne frega!" Sometimes you just have to learn to let go, Guido.
"I have no desire for vengeance. I just want to know the truth about a case which, in the version given by official history books, seems ridiculous". No, Guido. The truth is the official history books were not funny enough. First, the Italians want to know the truth about the following facts about Grandpa Benito:
Is it true he would ward off the evil eye by touching his testicles? Would this mean he walked around with his hand down his pants all day?
On June 2 1946, support for the monarchy had crumbled because the King of Italy had supported Mussolini. So hostile was the public, that the royal family was exiled from Italy forever as punishment. Do you realize the so-called royal family has remained so shell-shocked today, they can't believe they have to fly coach.
Is it true Mussolini never made the trains run on time, contrary to what he declared? You have no idea how many Italians today curse out your grandfather's name every time they get stuck during rush hour.
Is it true, as a youth, Mussolini stood on a hill, demanded God strike him dead, and when it did not happen declared God did not exist? He was court-martialed, shot and hung upside down from a gas station. We don't know how God could have topped that.
Is it true one of Mussolini's favorite drinks was a strawberry sherbet frappe and that, near the end of World War 2, a man named Giuseppe Marscone was lynched by an angry, anti-Mussolini mob because he had ordered the drink? Are you aware of how many Italians get nervous and have to look over their shoulders every time they order this?
Is it true, "Mussolini ha sempre ragione" or "Mussolini is always right", was one of the most famous political slogans of fascist Italy, and was plastered on walls and buildings everywhere in the country? His government office was 90 feet long! How right can you be about that?