"Ho le palle girate di nuovo oggi!" Welcome to a heart warming and sensitive issue of "Only In Italy!"
Oh My God! Nothing cracks me up more than reading your newsletter. (If I don't laugh, I'll cry). Perhaps those who criticize have a difficult time facing reality. From my point of view you are right on target. L. Owens
Thanks for your letter, Signore Owens. For your information, we're living a backwards life in Sicily where we're cut off from the rest of Europe. We forced to write these stupid newsletters to keep our sanity otherwise, we would be crying.
We'll bet many of our readers aren't aware we're the ones doing the criticizing...because we're the ones having a difficult time facing Sicilian reality.
"Sniff sniff", "cavolo", now we've gotten all emotional on you. So sorry.
Enjoy the issue, keep writing and Grazie!
Venice - October 5, 2010 - Venice's gondoliers have been criticized for serenading tourists with 'culturally deficient' songs that have no relation to the lagoon city.
The boatmen are under attack for ignoring local ballads and instead singing songs from other parts of Italy such as 'O Sole Mio'.
Tourists pay up to 200 Euros ($280 USD) to be serenaded as they are taken around the lagoon city's canals. However, of the 10 songs that visitors most frequently request from their gondoliers, only three have the slightest connection to Venice. The rest come from faraway parts of Italy such as Naples and the holiday island of Capri.
They include "Nel blu dipinto di blu" which is Italy's 1958 Eurovision entry and one of the country's best known songs and "That's Amore", the 1953 song from the film The Caddy, which was sung by Dean Martin and is not even Italian.
Gondoliers who belt out such songs are 'culturally deficient', said a Venetian politician, Alberto Mazzonetto.
"They are ignoring the Venetian identity in a way that is detrimental to tourism. They're offering a distorted image of Venice as a sort of cultural Disneyland which has little to do with local traditions," said Mr Mazzonetto, a city councilor.
He said the city's Gondola Authority received 600,000 Euros a year in funding, had "a great deal of power", and should encourage the revival of Venetian songs.
"The authority can sanction gondoliers if, for example, they wear tennis shoes instead of approved footwear. It has a code of discipline but it has never tried to influence the gondoliers' repertoire."
Michele Bozzato, a Venetian singer and former gondolier, said: "I'd like gondoliers to gradually introduce more Venetian songs into their repertoire, teaching the listener to enjoy them," said.
But singers from the south of Italy hit back, saying that their ballads are the most requested because they are so catchy.
"O Sole Mio is a song that is known and loved throughout the world. It is no longer tied to one region. Nobody has forced the gondoliers to sing it," said one of Naples' best known pop and folk singers, Nino D'Angelo. "You would have thought these politicians have better things to think about."
They say taking a trip to Venice and failing to ride a Gondola is like going to France and ignoring the Eiffel tower. Ah, is that so? That's a big "cazzata". It's more like going to the Eiffel tower and avoiding a French man dressed in black who will take you to the top of the tower in a smelly elevator for 100 Euros.
If you're interested in this slow and expensive taxi ride (because that's just what it is), be sure that you understand the facts and choose the right "figlio di una mignotta" from the selection of "figli di puttane" gondoliers.
If you're in so-called "love" and a romantic cruise is what you're after, the serenading will be extra and each of the gondoliers have their own chart of classic Italian hits and price list. But remember, haggling is something you should be good at when dealing with these gondoliers, and if that is not the case, you are best to tell your significant other to calm down, buy her a nice big gelato, and go for a simple romantic walk.
And regarding these 'culturally deficient' songs, there's a Venetian law which states that every gondolier must be born in Venice. So, it's obvious they're purposely avoiding the local songs. "Ma cazzarola", who cares? If the day should come, God forbid, when one of us here is forced to take a Gondola ride to calm down that significant other, you can be sure we're going to get our money's worth.
Gondolier: "O sole mioooo...."
Rome - October 5, 2010 - Italian scientists have found what they call 'an elixir of life', a cocktail of three amino-acids that makes mice live longer.
The study on male middle-aged mice, which appears in the latest edition of the journal Cell Metabolism, was conducted by Enzo Nisoli and Michele Carruba of Milan University.
With the three amino-acids in the mice's drinking water the animals lived an average of 869 days, some 12% longer than the average life span of 774 days. The animals' strength and stamina was also boosted, Nisoli and Carruba reported.
"The secret of the amino-acids could lie in their ability to increase the number of mitochondria, the 'electrical engines' in the cell, both in skeletal muscles and the heart," Nisoli said.
The researchers also noted an increase in the activity of a key gene linked to longevity, SIRT1. Nisoli, Carruba and their team are now looking ahead to replicating their findings with female mice.
In the future, they hope, clinical studies on middle-aged humans may be possible.
"It should prove an important contribution to ageing studies," they said.
On behalf of all Italian men, we would like to thank Enzo and Michele for the brilliant discovery. The notion of living longer absolutely thrills us...but is it necessary to have Italian women live longer? Why have the constant rattling in our heads from their voices last 12% longer?
Our imbecile editor, Pasquale, read this story and had some heart touching words for his wife:
"Amore, I love you more than anything else in the world but please...STOP AGING! If you get any older than this, I can't stay with you. Get some help! Per favore, call Ponce de Leon! I can't believe I'm married to a 40 year old!"
"And the unbelievable thing about all this is that I'm getting younger, better looking, and I'll soon be living 12% longer thanks to amino-acids and mice."
"Mamma mia", this discovery calls for a celebration, doesn't it? We'll be celebrating tonight with trays of roasted meat, a few bottles of homemade wine...and grappa (grappa: an elixir of petroleum).
Reggio Calabria - October 6, 2010 - The army is to be sent to guard judicial buildings in Reggio Calabria after a series of threats from the 'Ndrangheta mafia culminated Tuesday in a bazooka being sent to Chief Prosecutor Giuseppe Pignatone.
The decision was made Wednesday by the provincial crime and public safety committee chaired by Reggio Prefect Luigi Varratta. Pignatone and another judge who has been threatened, Prosecutor General Salvatore Di Landro, backed Varratta's proposal.
"The committee unanimously supported my proposal to ask for the presence of the army," Varratta told reporters.
"In this present moment the area needs this presence, especially in the light of yesterday's incident".
He said the army presence would "not be very visible".
"There won't be soldiers on the streets, they'll just be guarding key buildings".
However, Varratta stressed that the army was called for because 'Ndrangheta "controlled" areas of Calabria.
"We have to make sure that the State is in control," he said, adding that, once the government approves, the soldiers "could be in place in a matter of days".
On Tuesday an anonymous caller told police to look near the city's anti-mafia HQ for "a surprise" for Pignatone. Police found a disarmed M80 bazooka under a mattress.
Pignatone had previously been the object of threats on May 27 when a letter containing three bullets was sent to him. Then, on June 16, Di Landro's driver found the bolts on his car loosened. Two months later, on August 26, a bomb damaged the entrance to Di Landro's city-center home, blowing out windows in the vicinity.
The campaign of intimidation, which police attribute to a successful crackdown on 'Ndrangheta, began on January with a firebomb that scorched the entrance to Reggio's main courthouse.
Pignatone recently announced that an 'Ndrangheta boss, Roberto Moio, had turned state's evidence, a breakthrough in the fight against the criminal organization which is tighter-knit than Sicily's Cosa Nostra. Varratta confirmed reports that 'Ndrangheta bosses were worried about the success of recent operations against them.
"The extraordinary work of judges and police is bothering the clans. The Mafiosi are keyed up, and reacting nervously".
"Porca vacca", no one knows what the hell is going on anymore in that Calabria. They should declare it a foreign country, like Afghanistan, and then invade and try to civilize it. Send aid every once in a while.
Itís not even a part of Italy. Barbados is more a part of Italy than Calabria is!
A few examples...
- In 1973, kidnappers snatched young J. Paul Getty III from his catered to life in Rome and rushed him south to Calabria where he was held for $17 million USD ransom. His grandfather, J. Paul Getty Sr., who was at the time the richest person on the planet, refused to pay. After five months, the impatient kidnappers mailed the teenís bloody ear to the Getty family...and "Nonno" paid up, pronto!
- 80 percent of Europeís cocaine supply passes through the Calabrian port of Gioia Tauro and the Mafia operations have also spread to money-laundering and extortion, prostitution and arms trafficking.
"Minchia", what a mess! Every man for himself! It's a battlefield with peperoncini, sopressata, cocaine, and bazookas all over it! Have a nice day! Ciao!