"Eh, buon giorno a tutti!" Welcome to the only newsletter that promotes the official "Italian Tourism" government site ($58 million price tag), "Only In Italy!"
Early morning here in foggy San Francisco. You need to know...this was another hit newsletter! Anon
It's sunny and 75° here in Sicily...and we're just as miserable as you are.
Enjoy the issue, keep writing and Grazie!
Rome - October 2, 2008 - Liza Minnelli gave a sneak preview of her Italian tour Thursday by performing one of her most famous songs in front of Rome's landmark Trevi fountain.
The 63-year-old entertainer delighted hundreds of tourists by dancing and miming to "New York, New York," the song John Kander wrote for her and the title of the 1977 musical film in which she starred opposite Robert De Niro.
The actress and singer star is in Italy to perform for the first time in over 15 years. She will appear in seven concerts across Italy with the opening night in Rome on October 29. In keeping with tradition Minnelli threw a coin into the Baroque Trevi fountain saying she was wishing for love and compassion for all the children in Italy.
She said the international turmoil in the financial world was affecting everyone including the showbusiness industry.
"And I think the only thing that keeps all of us going is music. Do you remember in the 1930s during the Great Depression? Do you know what the number one song was? 'We're in the money, we're in the money.' So entertainment gave people their dreams back and I think that's the job I want to do," she told reporters.
The daughter of actress Judy Garland, Minnelli started performing at the age of 3. She has been a singer, dancer and actress, appearing in films and stage shows and won an Oscar for best actress for her performance in Cabaret in 1972."Non mi scazzare i coglioni, New York, New York!"
What a coincidence. The Italians were just wondering, "Whatever happened to Liza?"
We saw the video to her incredibly entertaining lip-synching song and dance at the fountain. We put it on fast forward and it was still too slow to watch.
No doubt, a better sneak preview would have been to perform in the fountain "alla Anita Ekberg". It would have been so fascinating! Cinecitta would have dug up Federico Fellini so he could meet with Liza to negotiate distribution.
"She said the international turmoil in the financial world was affecting everyone including the showbusiness industry." Looks like her financial advisors in "New York, New York" gave her the little town blues. That might explain her seven-concert "Great Depression" Italy tour.
Rome - October 2, 2008 - A group of Italian university researchers are selling themselves semi-naked on eBay in protest at proposed government funding cuts.
In a photo on the website, the seven male researchers stand in a row dressed only in their socks and holding 'fig leaves' to cover their modesty - in this case letters that make up the Italian word 'vendesi', or for sale.
"We were already in our underwear, now they want to take that from us too," the accompanying product description explains.
"Because of total cessation of public research activity, temporary personnel on offer as a block buy or individually, various sizes and models," it continues.
"Multi-use materials, low maintenance, low consumption, can be conveniently thrown away after use".
The researchers include instructions directing interested buyers to a (fictional) list of prices available on the Italian government website. On Thursday the highest offer for the seven barely clothed researchers stood at 38 euros, but bidders have until October 11 to beat this.
Universities and research institutes have been protesting this week over government plans that unions claim will further endanger job stability in a sector where 50% of personnel are on temporary contracts.
Italy has one of the lowest research expenditure rates in Europe, at around 1.1% of GDP."Palle", I want to bid but the Italian government has a low feedback rating and PayPal won't offer buyer protection.
Forget about straight A’s, reference letters, academic publications and professional experience, you're in Italy.
If you want to teach at an Italian university, the most important asset is your family tree. "Si", because unless you are the splendid child, a relative, or at least the gorgeous protege of a university professor, your chances of teaching are as good as Sicilians adding polenta to their daily diet.
Whenever there is an opening for a position, one of the local deans, or even the president, chooses the winner deliberately. Of course, this choice is not based on merit or experience, but rather on convenience. In fact the position often goes to their own children of questionable intelligence, relatives or that gorgeous protege. Meanwhile an amusing notice of the "concorso" (state competition) is published in the official outlets, and a selection committee is formed among professors of that discipline. However, all members of the committee are informed ahead of time of the candidate that the "barone" or baron (aka professor) wants to hire, so they better act accordingly.
From northern borders to the shores of Sicily, the instances of kinship among academics flourish like the garbage of Naples. A notorious example is the Faculty of Economics at the University of Bari, where Massari is the last name of 8 faculty members. Entire economics departments shut down and dozens of classes are canceled every time a Massari family event occurs!
"Minchia", hard to believe this incredibly gifted family of economic geniuses were not called upon to resolve the global financial crisis.
Venice - October 1, 2008 - A proposal to turn the lagoon city of Venice into a Disney-style theme park has won a prize from a famed Venetian academy, even though it rejected the idea.
The venerable Istituto Veneto described the scheme by British economist John Kay as a thought-provoking critique of the Italian city's unwieldy tourist economy.
Kay won 5,000 euros ($6,700) from the nearly 200-year-old institute for writing that Venice would be better off as a theme park, complete with a 50 euro entrance fee.
"Only one man can save Venice: Mickey Mouse," read the headline for his article explaining the concept, published in March in a British paper. "The city is already a theme park and should be handed over to Disney. They would do a better job of running it."
Its population long dwindling, Venice's remaining 70,000 residents are far outnumbered by the millions of tourists who flock to the city every year creating an artificial economy that cheats tourists and sends locals packing, Kay wrote.
"If the first thing visitors to Venice remember is the magnificence of the setting, the second is the frequency with which they were ripped off," he wrote.
"Disney wants its guests to have a good time because it cares whether they come back. Most residents of Venice would rather that visitors didn't come back."
The academy's decision to give Kay an award for the article outraged Venice's mayor, who the Briton said should be substituted by a theme park manager.
Mayor Massimo Cacciari said he found it "simply comic" that a Venetian cultural institution should reward "the most kitsch images about Venice and its future."
"Cornuto diavolo", $1500 for a Gondola ride? Ah, plus tip?
1.) Rip Off: It's a lovely warm night. You are walking across Piazza San Marco. You're dizzy from the music that drifts all around you. You hear live classical music being played and you decide that you will have a couple of romantic drinks. Just one round. You exchange a couple of kisses and then you get the bill.
"Figlio di una mignotta", how did 2 drinks, 2 kisses and being caught listening to music cost 40 Euros?
Disney solution: For 40 Euros a couple you'll get unlimited wine served by Cinderella and be able to listen to a full orchestra play the entire production of "Fantasia".
2.) Rip Off: You wander around the small streets off Piazza San Marco. You come across a number of seafood restaurants, with heavenly displays of fresh seafood out the front, and model waiters standing in the streets who coax you into their restaurant like "Lady and the Tramp". You decide a couple of seafood salads can't put a dent in your Venice budget.
"Scassacazzo", I didn't realize the shrimp and calamari were fished by Neptune himself and that he's the one who suggested charging the salads by weight!
Disney solution: Every Venice restaurant bill is examined and calculated by Jiminy Cricket, not the owners.
3.) Rip Off: Sit back and snuggle up in a red velvet-cushioned gondola, and let the gondolier paddle you slowly through quiet side canals, under traditional historic bridges like the Bridge of Sighs and the Rialto. As you gently bob up and down on the wakes of passing boats, let the gondolier tell you stories about Marco Polo. You will have an experience to tell your grandchildren someday.
120 bucks to ride in a canoe for half an hour? "Vaffanculo" to you, this lagoon and Marco Polo!
Disney solution: Gondoliers establish official rates with Mickey Mouse. Any violators are prosecuted by Captain Hook and condemned to walking the plank.