"Tanti saluti e baci a tutti" Welcome back, dear friends, to the loopiness that never ends, "Only In Italy!"
I knew you had some tie to Napoli, although it might be bittersweet...you betray your normal loathing for it and southern Italy once in a while in your commentary (the commentary about the Lega Nord sign in schools, for example).
I absolutely love the newsletter. Sometimes I start laughing as soon as I see the title because I'm imagining how funny the commentary is going to be. You do a lovely job at adding humor and shedding light on serious and sometimes sad situations in Italy. Grazie mille! Kathy A. @foodloverkathy
Thanks for the letter, Kathy. We appreciate your comment on how we are trying to "shed light on serious and sometimes sad situations in Italy." That is exactly what we try to do.
Unfortunately, some readers do not understand this (and the lovely hate mail pours in). Instead of venting our criticisms and complaints through endless public protests and petitions that get nowhere, we sit down and start writing... That's all.
Enjoy the issue, keep writing and Grazie!
Rome - September 28, 2010 - Tourism Minister Maria Vittoria Brambilla on Tuesday said she had asked the state attorney's office to take legal action against those responsible for an Apple application she said offends Italy.
The 'What Country' application was developed by MYW Productions for Apple's iPhone, iPod and iPad products and allows users to 'visit' countries around the world.
Each country is symbolized by a number of images and while for France they include romantic squares and wine, for Italy they are pizza, Mafia and motor scooters.
Brambilla, who is also responsible for protecting and promoting Italy's image abroad, said "this is obviously offensive and unacceptable".
"Italy is a beacon in the world for its history, culture and style. As a citizen and as a minister I cannot allow that our country be discredited by having it represented by a criminal organization," she added.
"For this reason I have asked Apple to withdraw the application from sale on its online site and asked the state attorney's office to take legal action against those responsible for the application," the minister said.
The "zoccola"... Why did she have to open her trap over a stupid and unfunny app? Thanks to her outrage which made the rounds on the web, MYW Productions in Belarus (of all places) just hit the mother load with this.
"This is obviously offensive and unacceptable..." Hmmm...Does the word "ignoramus" ring a bell, Minister? We're going to write about all the Italian ignoramuses who offend our country simply by waking up in the morning. Do you think we should include you in this newsletter?
Pizza, Mafia and motor scooters... Everyone likes pizza and scooters, and people do associate Italy with the Mafia, like it or not. But the Minister of Tourism of one of the most beautiful and visited countries in the world should NOT have an asinine and moronic background like the one she has.
Here's a quick video of the enchanting Brambilla showing off her credentials which obviously earned her the position of Italy's Minister of Tourism. Warning: Rated 'R'; please keep children, family and household pets away from your monitor.
After watching the video, the first thought that came to our minds was, "Heaven must be missing an angel."
Rome - September 28, 2010 - The Italian National Bakers Federation (FIPPA) on Tuesday voiced its opposition to the decision by Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti to authorize farmers to make and sell bread.
"We have nothing against farmers entering our sector but only if it is under equal conditions and subject to the same rules," FIPPA Chairman Luca Vecchiato said.
"But from one day to the next we find ourselves having to compete with a category which pays more than three times less tax than we do," he added.
"Making matters even worse is the way they can sell their products, at farmers markets which already receive vast incentives and have drawn criticism from various retailer associations," Vecchiato said.
According to the FIPPA chief, "the decree signed by Minister Tremonti sets the stage for a market free-for-all, where the ones who will lose out will be the 350,000 people employed in over 26,000 artisan bakeries".
In a reply to the complaint, the Coldiretti farmers union said that the bread made and sold by farmers will be exclusively produced using domestic flour "while over half the bread on the market today is made using foreign flour without any indication of its origin provided to consumers".
Tremonti's move to expand the number of farm-related products farmers can transform into a final product and sell, Coldiretti added, "is very important because it allows us to recover authentic ingredients, types of bread and production techniques which otherwise would risk extinction".
"This is also an opportunity to boost the consumption of a product which is essential to the Mediterranean diet, the purchase of which statistics show fell a further 2.4% in the first half of 2010," Coldiretti said.
Bread has been one of the fundamental foods of our tables for as long as Italian history has been recorded. We take it quite seriously. The crucial criteria for the perfect Italian loaf is that it is unsweetened, yeast-leavened, and baked fresh into a thick oval loaf with tapered ends. And the flour has to be exclusively "Made in Italy". Just the slightest imperfection could push our cousin, Maurizio, to almost change the expression on his rigid sunburned face at the dinner table (a very quiet guy, doesn't utter a sound).
"But from one day to the next we find ourselves having to compete with a category which pays more than three times less tax than we do..." That's a lot of bull "cazzate" because Italians farmers lose three times more than bakers do in any given year!
Does a baker have to deal with a sheep that wakes up one morning and says to himself, "That's it, I've had enough of this, vaffanculo!", and run off the side of a cliff with a few faithful idiots close behind? "Cacchio", you know how difficult it is to write that off? You never hear about a bakery employee throwing himself in an oven with other employees following suit, do you?
And what's wrong with hard working farmers baking and selling bread? Can you blame our brothers? They've been screaming over the fact that sub-standard versions of our favorite foods are being imported and that consumers like you are being misled by the branding. Take a look at 'Brenner Pass' which runs under the Alps. That's where the "faccia di culo" truckers bring in milk, meat, cheese and other foods from who knows where.
Cousin Nino: "Where did you get the mozzarella I bought from you yesterday, Paolo?
Rome - September 28, 2010 - Italy's financial police force, Guardia di Finanza, announced that ten individuals would go to trial and another 300 public officials, police officers and corporate employees face indictment for fraud, forgery and public corruption involving the use of red light camera and speed camera equipment.
Salerno prosecutor Amato Barile kicked off the investigation known as "Operation Devius" in June 2009 with a series of dramatic raids in 120 cities that used the services of the private firm 'Garda Segnale' between 2007 and 2009.
The raids uncovered evidence that 'Velomatic 512' and 'Traffiphot III SR' photo radar units bearing the same individual serial number were being used by different municipalities located hundreds of miles apart. Under Italian regulations, each camera used for issuing citations must be properly calibrated and approved. The "cloned" serial numbers helped the firm avoid the cost of testing individual units, along with helping hide the fact that several of its camera units were configured in such a way as to read speeds between 10 and 30 km/h (6 to 19 MPH) faster, generating additional citations.
Prosecutors also believe that some of these the cameras were used in locations not authorized by ordinance, and their operators were not properly trained. Municipalities ignored ministerial directives by entering into per-ticket compensation schemes for the cameras.
Police gathered fifty speed cameras as evidence as well as computers, software, banking records and other documents used to establish a chain of illegal business practices. A total of 100,000 tickets worth 13 million euros ($18 million USD) were issued by the programs under investigation.
The Salerno prosecutor alleges that the mastermind behind the operation set up a chain of interconnected companies to compete for the photo enforcement contracts with Italy municipalities. Although it would appear that five or six companies were involved in a bidding war for the municipal business, each one was part of the same organization.
"Mi scusi Giudice", a 140 Euro fine for speeding with a 1977 FIAT tractor? I'll trade you a goat for the sum of the fine."
It's no surprise local authorities around the world generate a significant percentage of their revenue from fines collected for infractions of various non-penal laws, especially driving regulations. This happens nowhere more than our lovely country where many people and companies pay less income, sales and other taxes than they should...so local towns and governments are forced to find other sources of revenue.
Mayor Minchione: "Buon giorno, I'm interested in purchasing ten 'Velomatic 512' cameras for my one horse town. With a name like 'Velomatic', does your company also produce vacuum cleaners?"
Let's look at a typical city: According to figures recently released by Florence city officials, every 40 seconds, a motorist in Florence receives a damn traffic violation. The traffic police "bastardi" issue approximately 90 tickets every minute, 1,253 tickets a day. Again, "bastardi!"
The fines on these tickets average out to about 140 Euros ($193 USD) per year, per motorist. They haul in about 52 million Euros ($72 million USD) to city hall each year, making it one of Italy's most heavily fined cities. Local officials note that the amount of money that enters the municipal budget through traffic fines has tripled in the last 10 years.
Mind you, these municipalities go through that budget money like our fat cousin, Massimo, goes through a bowl of 'Penne with sardines'.