Monday, January 3

Italy 2010 - The Best & Worst of a Year in Review

Following is my serendipitous selection of the Good-Buono, the Bad & the Ugly-Brutto of Life in Italy 2010.  Feel free to add your own.

buono      Milan’s train station grows up – and starts adding slick services & fancy stores for passengers.
brutto       You’ll have to count on those stores for your water supply…Milan has ripped out all the fountains all around town (you know, the ones from which water flows out all day & night) because people were – gasp! – taking advantage of the freely flowing H2O and using it to wash their cars, while the homeless got cleaned up.
While I’m all for not wasting water in today’s day & age, I’d like someone to please tell me that the clean water isn’t just flowing freely underneath our feet and that shelters now provide showers.

buono      Rome turned into ‘Roma Capitale’ following other capital cities in their pursuit of providing more cohesive tourist services and so on under one umbrella. Add to this a number of free evenings to the major attractions throughout the year (and the Vatican museums deserve a shout out for their night openings as well – and still free on the last Sunday of each month), and the latest announcement -- you get in free on your birthday! (Trust me, I’ll be testing their meddle on the upcoming missing Leap Day & see how the ticket agents react...) 
For now, I'll hold off judgment seeing that the latest free evenings at State-run museums in Rome, were not mentioned anywhere on the Roma capitale nor rome city websites – shame on them.
Jan 1st also marks the day that ‘no more plastic bags’ will be used by stores – large & small – even green grocer market stands.  Not exactly true, as we’ll just be using biodegradable plastic bags.  Hopefully, it will be heavily enforced by the authorities like the hugely successful anti-smoking law.  But so far, I’ve been handed regular plastic bags, but hey, it’s only a few days in…

Activists from Retake Rome finally taking the rampant & ridiculous graffiti into their own hands – and gaining the interest (perhaps by disgracing them into action) of the Mayor's office as well.  But, will they make a long-lasting impression?  Too early to tell.
brutto     January 1st also marks the day that tourists will start paying a tourist tax, with an increase of 1 euro at all museum entrances (not to mention at the hotels) – “To pay for all the terrific services we have in mind to offer.”  As if the 20% VAT on all that isn’t already covered.  I start losing my mind every time I think about this, so, if you want my long-winded opinion on the entire tourist tax scam, click here (or find it under Caveat Emptor on the right hand column on my blog page).

buono     Turned its Piazza Duomo into a pedestrian area – and it’s wonderful.
brutto      Outlawed eating in that same inviting area and no sitting on the church steps. It's an effort to keep illegal immigrants & the homeless away, but ultimately hurts the millions of tourists who just want to take a break in a breathtaking area.

buono      Authorities will be investigating the reasons why none of the dozens of archeologists on site could forecast the felling of the buildings.
brutto       That they fell in the first place.  Besides, the cases will probably take so long, we may never know the reasons why nor prevent it from happening again (Save building a rooftop over the entire place - a solution I'm sure the local Camorra is pushing for...)

buono       Sell out shows by Saviano, the Gomorrah author both live and in TV audiences and the courage that this man has to name the most well-known secret in Italy.
brutto        That the trash piles up again for all the world to see -- along with the Neopolitans’ pat refusal to recycle, open up dumps, or see to it that those same dumps aren’t run by the mob & toxic waste isn't spilled in their path.

buono        Mrs. Berlusconi finally decided not to ‘stand by her man’ – collecting her pieces and leaving the game.  Her example of walking out of the marriage farce may finally set thousands of cuckholded women and millions of ‘separati in casa’ free (of course, it eases the pain of leaving when you walk out with bags full of your Monopoly money).
brutto         Silvio’s economic plan for the underemployed youth of his time, reiterated throughout the year, “Marry rich.” 

buono        A 3hr. train ride from rome to Milan.
brutto          The price of that train ride.

Thanks for the packages, I can't wait to empty them out (Boxes carry Union labels)
with its foray into America, fiat becomes a strange source of pride for all & sundry, while taking on the unions, who have done their fare share of damage to Italy’s productivity.  and, continuing to give us colorful little 500s, they keep the love alive…

the advent of consumer’s associations. finally exercising their muscle, and getting results – on class action suits and otherwise. go to their websites to see who they’re going after.

many young women being the pride of Italy and winning competitions in fencing, tennis and swimming, among others.

prosecco outsells champagne this holiday season

Losing in the world cup along with their display of fakery on the pitch was a double-header of disgrace.

Young women who want to be showgirls or politicians (or both!) fueling the macho- man legacy and a sad statement for the future of Italy.

Aquila still in piles of rubble. But, I’m not one to complain – Ground Zero is still an open pit and New Orleans has not returned to its former self.

the last word

Blue mozzarella & fuchsia ricotta – Colorful rainbows aside, why are we importing cheeses from Germany?  Talk about a carbon footprint!

An Italian going up into outer space – for 6 months, no less.

Arrest & sequester of hundreds of mafia men & their properties

Movies set in Italy, The American, The Tourist, Eat-Pray-Love

What did you love or hate about events in Italy this year?


CelesteD said...

Roma, Venezia, Firenze, L'Aquila - I miss it all. Can't wait to go back to Italy. Hoping to go to my dad's town this August with a friend who is dying to experience the "Spaghettata!"

Context Travel said...

Florence - Buono: Matteo Renzi injecting some new, vital blood into the city's political scene and making some daring and welcome changes.

Rome - Brutto: Tourist tax. We agree! Check out our interview on Al Jazeera about the tax:

Buono: MAXXI and Macro liven up the city's art scene.

Irreverent Italy said...

Hi Context - Al Jazeera needs to have reporters do a little bit more than tow the line being fed by Alemanno's office. Since I was unable to post my comment there, I will here:

Sabrina's headline and ditty are a load of rot.

- The money being stolen by tourist income will have nothing to do with crumbling sites. The City budget is one thing, the State monuments are a totally different entity and budget responsibility.

- The money is being used to cap off what they don't get from all the people-esp. retailers & taxis & non-ticketed passengers on public transport who don't pay their way

- They say they'll use the money to improve tourist infrastructure. yeah right. Why don't they start handcuffing the swarms of gypsies who operate on a daily basis that the police now know by name?

- And, their usual line, 'tourists who use services' will finally be contributing to them??? With the amount tourists spend & pay in IVA (VAT), they more than pay for the waste removal etc. of their city.

Alemanno would be well-advised to start getting his politician buddies and his citizens to cough up their due...