"Buon giorno a tutti!" Yes, the city of Palermo does look like it was built in a day. "Only In Italy!"
(Italians Find Sunburn DNA Protection) Valentino...a few face lifts and having millions also helps to keep age away! Lots of olive oil in your diet also helps, big time! John
Thanks for the letter, Giovanni. Hmmm...yes, there are delicate signs of cosmetic surgery. The olive oil certainly does help one's diet but we're not sure what direct effect it could have on his tan...unless he's bathing in it. Now, we're imagining a Valentino bathing in olive oil.
"Vale, make sure it's extra virgin!"
Enjoy the issue, keep writing and Grazie!
Palermo - October 14, 2010 - Assets worth more than 200 million euros were seized Thursday from a local builder believed to be a front for Cosa Nostra, judicial sources said.
The assets included 145 apartments and villas, 13 cars and bank accounts all held in the name of 76-year-old builder Francesco Civello.
According to investigators, Civello, who was investigated in the late 1970s on suspicion of being linked to the Mafia, had acquired the assets by laundering capital for the ex-mayor of Palermo Vito Ciancimino.
Ciancimino, who died in 2002 at the age of 88, was the first Italian politician to be found guilty of belonging to the Mafia.
Civello was described by investigators as being "socially dangerous" because of his alleged links to organized crime. One of these links was to Francesco Zummo, a business partner believe to have been Ciancimino's financial advisor.
Palermo is a Sicilian city that has gone out of its way to prove Darwin’s theory wrong: "Evolution was buried under a gas station somewhere."
In the 1960s, as Palermo's public works commissioner and ex-mayor, the infamous "testa di minchia", Vito Ciancimino, gave thousands of building permits away as if they were winning lottery tickets to some peculiar characters...mostly Mafia members. With the collaboration of another "testa di minchia", Salvatore "Salvo" Lima, later mayor and also senator, Ciancimino and his breed managed to turn most of the city of Palermo into an ugly concrete Disneyland, in the process destroying historic buildings to erect new ones.
Few parks, gardens or playgrounds were ever planned. That would have been ridiculous. So, Palermo families were forced to spend their weekends relaxing, playing, and having barbecues at their local construction sites. In the course of a decade and its long aftermath, a handful of politicians effectively pillaged Palermo, appropriating funds from Italy's development plan for its poor South to construct bizarre buildings, re-zone entire districts and literally wipe important historical monuments off the map.
"The assets included 145 apartments and villas, 13 cars and bank accounts all held in the name of 76-year-old builder Francesco Civello." "Mamma mia", how on earth does an old construction builder from Palermo stockpile such a fortune without sounding off any alarms? Isn't that like walking out in the rain and not getting wet?
Here's another case: One morning, we decided we wanted fresh farm eggs here at the news office (don't ask why). Now, imagine the inferno we went through to obtain a permit to build a small chicken coop in the backyard:
- Survey of the coop (by an architect),
Venice - October 17, 2010 - Tourists arriving in Venice by train, plane and cruise ship are to be charged an entrance tax under plans being drawn up by Italy's government.
Critics are saying it would reinforce the concept of Venice as a kind of historical and cultural theme park. More than 20 million people visit Venice every year but many of them are day travelers who bring their own food and drink and choose not to stay the night, depriving the lagoon city of desperately needed revenue to restore its crumbling palaces, churches and monuments.
The idea of an entrance fee has proved highly controversial in the past, with critics saying it would reinforce the concept of Venice as a kind of historical and cultural theme park. But the government has now drawn up a draft plan which would allow Venetian authorities to extract a one-off fee from visitors who fly into Marco Polo airport, arrive by train or disembark from the growing number of cruise liners which access the city from the Adriatic.
The cost of the tax is still being discussed. It is unlikely to be very high, the city's last mayor, Massimo Cacciari, who stepped down earlier this year, had suggested imposing a one euro levy on all cruise ship passengers.
The draft plan has been drawn up by Renato Brunetta, the minister for public administration and innovation, who is himself Venetian, and has been welcomed by Venice's mayor, Giorgio Orsoni.
Face it, there are hundreds of places to visit and things to do in Venice, among them numerous forgettable, regrettable and overrated tourist traps. But, "porca vacca", an entrance tax is an insult. Why should you pay for admission to enter a lagoon where you are well aware you WILL be fleeced?
If Venice desperately needs revenue, leave the tourists alone and try our suggestions:
Gondolas: At a going rate of 80 Euros for a 40-minute ride, it's the ultimate tourist trap. What you won't imagine, however, is how unromantic and pointless a gondola ride in Venice could be! We're sure there are people out there, such as couples in so-called 'love' who've had different experiences but walk around the city and you'll see long lines of gondolas following each other down overcrowded canals. "Cacchio", how romantic!
And needless to say, none of these gondolier sons-of-bitches will croon since you will need to pay extra for that service. Most will overcharge and lie to you about the length of the trip and where the gondola goes. That's right! You get a 15 minute ride down a small canal. The end!
Solution: Tax the gondoliers 25-75 percent of the rate depending on the disgusted look on the people's faces as they are pulling back in.
Harry's Bar: Some of you look forward to having a 'Bellini' at Harry's Bar, Ernest Hemingway's favorite watering hole in Venice. And some of you are under the idea prices were the same back in his days. Walk into this dark little bar and take a look at the menu. The home of the 'Bellini' charges 15 Euros ($21 USD) for its trademark drink! "Vaffanculo", Harry and Hemingway!
Solution: Tax the recipe!
Rome - October 18, 2010 - For all their high jinks and misbehaving, Homer and Bart Simpson are members of the Catholic flock, Vatican daily L'Osservatore Romano said in an article praising the hit comedy cartoon.
"Not many people know it, and he does everything he can to hide it. But it's true, Homer J. Simpson is Catholic," read an article in Sunday's edition of the newspaper.
The piece, entitled 'Homer and Bart are Catholics', is inspired by a paper by Jesuit priest, Father Francesco Occhetta, published in the latest edition of Italian Catholic magazine La Civilta Cattolica.
"The Simpsons are one of the few TV programs for children left in which Christian faith, religion and questions about God are recurring themes," said Occhetta.
"The family say a prayer before their meals and, in their way, believe in the afterlife".
In his paper, Occhetta focuses on a 2005 episode in which Bart enrolls at a Catholic school after being expelled from Springfield Elementary, which leads to Homer converting to Catholicism.
L'Osservatore Romano praised The Simpsons for ditching the simple distinction between good and evil typically seen in Disney productions and poking fun at modern life in the Western world, in the process addressing issues such as the quality of life and its meaning.
Calm down, folks. This is not an official announcement from that Vatican. It's a commentary by a Jesuit priest in a Vatican newspaper. That's like a sheep farmer from the hills giving commentary on how to breed thoroughbred stallions.
And since we're reasoning on a 4th grade level, we'll point out the cartoon fact that Homer has been attending Reverend Lovejoys protestant church for 25 years.
Let's also include the following immature dialogues from the show:
Homer Simpson: "I was working on a flat tax proposal and I accidentally proved there's no God."
Homer Simpson: "Now I know I'm not a praying man, but if you're up there, help me Superman."
Perhaps the priest in question should concentrate on more important affairs in the Vatican before making silly headlines such as cleaning the pigeon poop off from the statues on top of St. Peter's Basilica.
"Mah..." Can't the Church explain to Catholics that cartoon characters should not be considered religious references and teach them about something real like Adam and Eve?