"Ciao a tutti!" Welcome to the only newsletter that could have convinced Pavarotti to eat less and sing more, "Only In Italy!"
Scusate - we've been sprinkling our pasta con le vongole and pizza con le alice with Romano for years. I found out how barbaric this practice is when I visited friends in Rome. They were terribly embarrassed when I requested cheese for my pasta con le vongole; even the waiter couldn't contain his horror. I sate officially, that our family takes credit for pairing cheese with seafood. Grazie. Carole
Thanks for the feedback, Carole.
You should sprinkle cheese on your seafood if that is what you prefer. You can do so just as long as it's done moderately. Don't overkill the dish.
The next time you order a seafood dish in Italy and the waiter gives you that look of disgust when you reach for the cheese, ask him who was the culinary genius that invented the sandwich stuffed with french fries, ketchup and mayonnaise that is the rage with young people?
Make it complete! Order the potato sandwich with grated cheese!
Enjoy the issue, keep writing and Grazie!
Trieste - October 7, 2008 - An Italian man was caught playing soccer while on sick leave and faces fraud charges.
The name of the 47-year-old, identified as L.D.C, was found on the teams sheet of an over-40s game in a northern Italian amateur league.
At the time, the man was near the end of a three-month medical leave for spraining his calf.
L.D.C is under investigation on suspicion of defrauding his firm by getting a doctor to give him a false medical certificate."You "minchione", how dare you!"
"My soccer team needs me. I'm the star player!"
Unfortunately, the cornerstone of Italy union policy is job security. With the assistance of a bizarre and kooky coalition of Catholic and formerly Communist politicians these political whores have set up a bulletproof system that allows Italian companies to hire...but makes it almost impossible for them to fire!
They invented the famous labor law known as "Article 18" that makes it virtually impossible for firms with more than 15 employees to cut the workforce because of an economic slowdown. Under this law, any employee can seek an immediate appeal at an independent court of law to decide if there was "just cause" for the dismissal. If the court rules in favor of the worker, he or she is given their job back along with backdated pay.
Is the new employee (public or private) lazy, comatose, meaningless, inefficient, scheming, nasty and smells of ricotta? Tough! "Cazzi tuoi!" Assuming he or she isn't caught taking money from the safe, driving the company car into a church or setting fire to the machinery, there's not much a company can do and even then an end to the working relationship is not a foregone conclusion.
Contrary to popular belief, a lazy employee CANNOT be easily misunderstood. Lazy DOES mean unproductive or inactive.
Someone may spend countless hours in one position seemingly not doing anything and could quickly be labeled as lazy. But if someone spends countless hours, days and weeks on vacation or on a soccer field nursing a sprained calf, that someone could be labeled as a sly and lazy "figlio di puttane."
Rome - October 7, 2008 - US director Spike Lee has fanned the flames of controversy again in Italy, suggesting survivors of a Nazi massacre in Italy were unlikely to remember the incident accurately. Speaking in a TV interview to be broadcast Wednesday, Lee defended his new film, which has generated heated debate in Italy for its portrayal of the 1944 atrocity.
"Anyone who survived that massacre would only have been eight or nine at the time," he said. "I sincerely doubt that a child of that age would remember precisely everything that happened on August 12, 1944".
The movie tells the story of four African-American soldiers in Italy in 1944 but also explores an infamous Nazi slaughter in which 560 villagers, including 116 children, were killed.
Miracle At St. Anna was released in the US last month to unenthusiastic reviews, which applauded the subject matter but said the film was overly long and disconnected.
The film has created a stir in Italy, where the massacre is a sensitive national issue, for suggesting that a partisan betrayed the coastal village of Sant'Anna di Stazzema to the Nazis. Survivors have also expressed anger that the award-winning director failed to meet with them to discuss their memories of the event.
"I and the other survivors were available to work with the director but it did not happen," said 76-year-old Enrico Pieri, who was twelve at the time and escaped only because he was hidden under a mass of bodies.
However, Lee says he spent considerable time in talks with survivors and also insists there are two sides to every story.
"There is one thing people refuse to accept and that is there not just a single version of what happened that day," he said during the interview, which will be screened on Rai 2 channel late Wednesday evening.
"The only thing that is certain is that 560 people died or rather, were assassinated".
Critics in Italy have also pointed to a war crimes trial on the incident, which concluded last November with the country's supreme court upholding the convictions of three former SS officers, now in their 80s and living in Germany. They say Lee ignored the mass of new information that emerged from the long-running proceedings in the Tuscan city of La Spezia.
But asked about the trial by interviewer Giovanni Minoli, the US director rejected the notion it had revealed an ironclad truth about what happened that day. He also suggested the furious response to the movie was the sign of a deeper problem.
"This affair simply shows that Italy must still examine its conscience with regard to its own history and in particular to World War II," he said.
"We made a film, therefore a product of fiction, based on a few historic episodes, and an introduction at the start of the film points this out.
"For me, all these polemics show just one thing: that the wounds Italy received after the civil war, after the second world war, are still open".
Despite the criticism from survivors and Italy's National Association of Partisans, the village council where the massacre occurred unanimously voted to award the US filmmaker honorary citizenship.
Stazzema Mayor Michele Silicani admitted Lee had used "artistic licence" in his interpretation but said the movie had brought to light "what happened, as well as values such as the sacrifice and resistance of local people".
"This film pays tribute to partisan values," he added.
"It's true that it depicts a partisan who betrayed civilians but above all, it is the tale of those partisans who fought to the death to defend civilians".
Signore Spike, Signore Ford Coppola and Signore Scorcese, we guess you all understand now that every survivor of every tragedy that has ever occurred in Italy has to be consulted before shooting.
It's not for us to say that the film was inaccurate, after all we do not personally know any of the survivors nor do we want to. However; these old folks should stop counting the silverware, pick up their pants and realize one important aspect of the film: It is a work of fiction.
"Si", we've given you credit where credit was due:
- April 27, 1945: Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci were captured by partisans while trying to escape to Switzerland. On April 28 they were summarily executed. Many of the corpses, including those of Mussolini and Petacci, were later taken to Milan and hung up-side down in a square in the center of the city, called "Piazzale Loreto". A total of fifteen Fascists were thus exhibited.
- The 1948 democratic Constitution of the Italian Republic declared itself to be "built on the Resistance".
"This affair simply shows that Italy must still examine its conscience with regard to its own history and in particular to World War II." You see, that's the kick in the coglioni" the Italians especially, those who lived through the war, don't ever want to receive.
Let's examine this befuddled conscience, shall we?
- Who were politically responsible for the 140 bomb attacks Italy suffered between 1968 and 1984 - the most dramatic being the bombings of the Central Train Station of Bologna and Piazza Fontana in Milan?
- Why did the new government headed up by the king of pepperoni, Berlusconi, launch a concerted campaign for the rehabilitation of fascism in Italy?
Regarding the film, these survivors and Italy's National Association of Partisans seem to be "counting little hairs but they don't see the elephant in the room."
Unless we see fascists hanging up-side down from our local gas station, we're going to keep our mouths shut when it comes to Italian history.
Rome - October 8, 2008 - Wine started flowing through taps in dozens of homes during an Italian grape festival in Marino, south of Rome.
At the heart of the town's famous Sagra dell'Uva, or Grape Festival, is the moment when sparkling white wine flows from the fountains in the main square.
But this year locals and tourists had to make do with water, as bad plumbing meant the wine supply was switched by mistake to local homes.
People come from as far away as France and Germany to watch the display.
"Every year, during the Grape Festival, we interrupt the water supply to the main fountains in the town center and we channel wine into them instead to re-evoke a famous victory," Mayor Adriano Palozzi said.
"But this year," Mr Palozzi said, "Due to a technical error, instead of connecting wine to the fountains, we accidentally channeled it into some local homes.
"Apparently the people living around the square who got the wine coming out of their taps were very surprised, they thought that it might be some kind of present from the local council! It only lasted three minutes, we corrected it right away."
About 10 to 12 houses were affected, and the main bar on the town's square also had wine instead of water.
Each year, they hand out 150 tonnes of grapes and provide 3,000 liters of the local white wine during the four-day festival. The grape festival, which is one of the oldest in Italy, commemorates the return of Admiral Marcantonio Colonna to his home in Marino after his victory over the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto in October 1571.
The town sent more than 250 sailors to the battle. The Sagra is celebrated on the first Sunday of October to give thanks for their safe return.
Quick, open the taps and fill the bottles!
Ah, life in Italy is so beautiful, isn't it? Celebrating the return of an Admiral dating back over 430 years ago.
Come to think of it, we'll drink to celebrate the honor of anything: any saint, Epiphany, Liberation Day, Italian Arbor Day, D-Day and mothballs. Any excuse to take the day off from work...
"Welcome to Marino, folks!"