Sunday, January 1

Italy: A Year in Review

To conclude my monthly Tante Belle Cose feature of all good Italian things, this year I thought I'd offer my own highlights of the year that has just expired.  There was lots to celebrate but here is my brief recap, month by month (note: many items in color and/or bold are live links):

December 2011
Of course the Big News of the month was that Burnt by the Tuscan Sun - the book came out which took the world by a storm...! Don't I wish--you can try & win a signed copy by posting to blogger Bleeding Espresso's contest (click here).
Parmalat's Thief-in-Chief, Mr. Tanzi got 9 years in jail (18 in some reports - boh?!) for his part in hiding the money under his mattress along with his master paintings collection.
TV presenter Mike Bongiorno's remains were uncovered.  Perhaps I should say that differently.  His stolen remains (still in the casket) were found and returned to the family who says they didn't pay the piper for them...Either way, we're happy he can rest in peace (and in one piece). 
The year came to a spectacular finish with fireworks displays taking place all over Rome, and a huge concert & party in Piazza Venezia. Milano was the party-pooper by outlawing the fireworks due to smog, but I'd be happy if it was due to budget tightening regardless.

November 2011
The world applauded at the news of Berlusconi finally stepping down as Prime Minister.  But, as he's threatened, and as I've consistently stated, he may be down but he is not out of the Italian political scene (or imbroglio, as the case may be).  Hopefully, in 2012 the judiciary can take care of that, but...don't hold your breath.  He has very deep pockets.
After yet another pedophile scandal erupted across Ireland, the country closed its embassy to the Holy See, citing financial reasons.  Or, maybe it was the smog from the smokescreen lofted by Bishops worldwide over their handling of the pedophiles in their flock.  Either way, it marks a huge schism in Catholic circles.
Italian women's sports chalked up yet another victory, this time winning the Volleyball World Cup.
Businessman & Alfa Romeo/Ferrari Man Montezemolo finally cut thru the red tape and launched Italo, his shiny red NTV trains to compete with Trenitalia.  While competition is a good thing, don't expect any major cuts in ticket prices.  It doesn't take a brain surgeon to check your competitor's prices online and keep them fixed there. 

October 2011
picture from Quest for Nirvana
I was thrilled to take part in the 14th Edition of WIN-Women Int'l Networking Global Leadership Conference which took place in Rome. 1000 Career women, top executives & just an inordinate amount of energy took Rome by a storm, but not that the all-male politicos & industry leaders took any notice. Rome's City Govt continued battling the law to allow an almost all-male team of leaders, Milan's Expo flaunted their 42 all-male managers, & most political parties outlined their visions of renewal with all-male tickets.  
Italy's Women's Beach Volleyball garners the Silver in the Continental Cup.  Not that anyone was looking.
Savvy new media marketing maven, film producer & newfound friend Sarah Marder launches the completion phase of her documentary, The Genius of a Place covering issues of sustainable tourism & focused on Cortona, Italy.  Sarah&Co. reached their goal of raising $20,000 at the stroke of midnight on Dec 31st, but you can still contribute to their enterprise & get bragging rights on what we believe will be an Oscar film!  Every penny counts.

September 2011
"Talent Scount" and Berlusca "Madam" Lele Mora gets thrown in the slammer for fraud & bankruptcy claims despite Berlusconi's paying his buddy millions of euros simply for being a buon amico...
Italy's Census starts shocking the homogenous Italians out of their stupor by reminding them there are immigrants in their midst.
A terrific movie, Terraferma opens revealing results of said census. Click here for a review in hollywoodreporter.
Italians discover their researchers have a hand in Geneva's CERN particle accelerator, even those laboring far away in Abruzzo.  And then-Minister of Education (and barely graduated) Gelmini claims that the tunnel linking the two labs was finally completed, showing that it's not just Americans who are geographically challenged.

August 2011
Of course, the season brings the best in Jazz Festivals, concert series, sagre of every gastronomic delight, and all kinds of happenings throughout the country.  Not a town is still.
Tourists in Rome are given free water bottles to handle the hot metro (subway) system.  Although this news seems to be steeped in controversy - as some say it ain't so.

July 2011
A huge statue of Roman Emperor Caligula is recovered & returned to the town of Nemi. And you can read about his sex life in my Irreverent Italy section above, in the outlandish book entitled Sex Lives of the Roman Emperors
Olympian Swimmer Federica Pellegrini breaks a world record & along with diver Tania Cagnotto are the first Italians to win in 4 consecutive events. Are we paying attention to the bold & outstanding women of the Bel Paese yet?

June 2011
Although events have been taking place all year, we finally celebrate 150 Years of the Unification of Italy in full force.  Our embarrassment-in-chief outdoes himself by touching the King of Spain in order to grab his attention.
Silvio's childhood buddy Lucio Stanca, the IBM man who ran through 42 million euro to create the defunct $4.99 website resigns from Milan Expo 2015, aka the Backscratch Bazaar. Too bad the other 41 men managers are still in place.
Since it's a year of unification, we got to witness the reopening of the (finally) unified Barberini Palace or Rome's National Gallery of Art. Stupendous.  Take time to enjoy the gardens as well.
And, while we're on the subject of art, the Vatican Museums reached out to new visitors by opening guided tours for the deaf, and a route using braille & bas-relief for those with limited sight.
Italy's water nymphs collect another medal, this time silver, in water polo.   
Italians throttle the government's attempts to hand out contracts to cronies for public water, nuclear energy, and a host of other initiatives on the referendum.  In response, Berlusconi's Ministers say that they will not let the public dictate their law-breaking - errr...making.

May 2011
Milan elects a left-wing Mayor, signs of tarnish appearing in Berlusconi's shiny facade (and I don't just mean the glow from his forehead and hair dyes).

April 2011
The first audience takes place for Silvio's soliciting prostitution from a minor, in the Ruby Heartstealer trialNot that it's actually going to go anywhere, but it makes for fun reading.
The movie about the last days of my favorite Italian author, Tiziano Terzani and the cycle of life, La fine √® il mio inizio opens. 

March 2011
The cute FIAT '500 hits American roads (and the Gucci model coming out in flying colors not far behind).

February 2011
Italian women finally are fed up and take to the streets in the hundreds of thousands in the first national (& even int'l) protest of its kind, Se non ora, Quando? 
I got to climb atop the rooftops of Rome's City Hall perched above the Capitoline Hill and take in all of Bella Roma in all its splendor.

January 2011

Italy is the first country on earth to introduce biodegradable plastic bags-making it mandatory.  Of course, just like the frail bags, no sooner was the law introduced than we started to see the rips in August the law had to be reinstated, and this very December 28th, it looks like the law has mysteriously disappeared off the books.
Tod's businessman Della Valle offers to pay for restoring the Colosseum but with all the bickering about the handout, by December, it seems no work has truly started.

Tante Belle Cose a Tutti per un Magnifico 2012!!


Anonymous said...

Hmmmmm.....I just "stumbled across" your blog while reading "Goatberries." Since Italy fascinates me I will be reading to discover new and surprising information about her. Thanks.
And....I know I should NOT call my West Highland White Terrier, "Titolini Berlusconi." It rhymes so well. Actually I discarded that name a long time ago and now maybe it could be "Titolini Mario Monte?"
Just kidding. His name is "Tito."

Irreverent Italy said...

Ciao Caterina! Benvenuta -- although, I recently met a dog named Benito (as in Mussolini) and the owner's father was quite embarrassed to tell me the name...he calls the dog Romano.
And so the son, who happens to be a big fan of our dear dictator, but who claims not to be a Fascist, just happened to like the name...
So, your Tito is in good company??
Just saying...

Have a look at the early early entries which are more about the culture rather than the daily events...!

And, thanks for commenting.

Anonymous said...

Ooops! Mario Monti, not Monte.
I prefer to spell things correctly no matter who or what.