Monday, February 28

Tante Belle Cose: February in Italy

Even though it's a short month, there was lots happening in Italy, and lots to be happy about (that is, if you're not an immigration official based in Lampedusa - Italy's most southern outpost and just miles from the Tunisian-Libyan borders...).  

First off, we were all delighted to hear about the opening of the house of the Vestal Virgins - appropriately timed to Berlusconi's opening of his homes and apartments to those, say, a bit less virtuous...
A full report is offered here by RomeReports
I'll be even more delighted to attempt to see it tomorrow...and try my luck at the 'Free entrance on your Birthday' to Rome's museums&monuments.  Problem is, I was born on Leap Year - we'll see if I can talk my way around this - perhaps I should bring my dog Trevor as a sacrifice?

Down in Sicily, important artefacts were found in the homes of two presumed tombaroli (grave robbers), and who are being prosecuted for having stolen them or ordered them stolen. 
As for our dear TV personality, Mike Bongiorno, the grave robbers who didn't settle for the loot, but the body itself, have put in a bribe request of 300.000 euro (approx. $400,000). Hoping these nefarious thieves get caught red-handed.

Italy at the forefront of imposing biodegradable plastic bags is off and running.  These bags are cooler feeling, much much stronger, and are (supposedly) going to decompose in the trash heaps. 
Compare this with wasteful USA, which now gives you about 3 bags per item, they're so weak they can't hold a carton of milk & a loaf of Wonderbread.  This is something that every country on earth should be demanding.  I just wish we could flash forward 5000 years to see if the claims are, in fact, correct.

And, finally, the month ends with the third edition of the Rome Carneval, being held until 8th of March in Piazza del Popolo.   You can check out all the activities going on there at: 
I for one don't need any further rationale for pigging out on the Carneval treats...

Friday, February 25

Now That's Italian! FIAT + GUCCI = AMORE

There's one reason to be glad that February is a short month - The arrival on March 1st of the latest Fiat 500, designed by Gucci (well, part-ways).  And the great part is, the entire car even costs less than a piece of Gucci luggage.  Now that's Amore!

So, check out the launch here:
And, read about the car in Automobile Mag here

Wednesday, February 23

The Colosseum - Lit with rage

Although no one is happy about this particular occasion for lighting up the Colosseum, Rome City put the spotlight on abuse of women after first an American and then a Spanish tourist were raped this week.  While highly unusual in our fair city, shining the lights on the subject of rape and domestic violence is quite welcome.
Now if we can only see the day when the Colosseum goes dark - but people's lives will be sparkling.
Picture from lifeloveandgelato

You can read my full posting on this initiative here, which was announced on 25 November, international day of recognition against violence toward women.

Saturday, February 19

Cappuccino Caldo with Carol

My friend Carol is always scoping the news to come up with an eclectic mix of fun, strange and otherwise obtuse comments around the globe that have to do with Italy.  They are so delicious that I am embarrassed that I've kept her findings all to myself. So, every so often when something truly rich comes along, I thought I'd repost here for all to see.  So, watch this space as we bring you the best of the antics of my paesani as seen from abroad (or rather, from a broad...).!5763799/jon-stewart-weighs-in-on-silvio-berlusconis-giant-balls

As reported today by on  "Now I know why Venice is sinking—it is under the weight of Silvio Berlusconi's giant balls." So said Jon Stewart at the beginning of tonight's Daily Show, wherein he detailed the shocking, unrepentant behavior of Italy's Prime Minister.  And, although it's not true that the immunity law passed (thus his current legal battles, boiling up to the surface), it's still a fun piece of reporting.

In other pictures, one terrific sign posted with unusual irony that was brought to light during the protests reads (after the govt passed huge cuts to education & research),  

Silvio - If you can get it up, you owe it to RESEARCH!


Tuesday, February 15

Five things Italian Women can do to Demand Dignity

The movement of women at the If not now, then When? rallies by tens of thousands was quite a sight to see.  So, in an effort to contribute my 2cents' worth, I'd like to provide a quick reference guide to demanding dignity (or, guerrilla handbook) for those who don't know what the next steps should be:

1.  Boycott companies that run negative advertising.  With a special shout out to Sisley & Diesel. Point out to your daughters that yes, they’re attracted to those fashions like a moth to a flame, but…Do they really truly want to be seen as being in submissive positions to the guys in their lives?  It’s not fashion.  It’s subjugation.  In America, many families refuse to buy Barbies, in Italy, just do the same.  Burkahs are not the problem; being depicted bare-waisted and laid out while a guy bites your ass or ties you up - is.

I still refuse to eat Grana Padano cheese, after their 1990s ads depicted a 9-month pregnant woman, rubbing her tummy in front of the fire, which on close-up revealed the hot-branding of the cheese right on it.  I still get nauseous every time I think of it.

2.  Write letters & emailsEvery time. Again & again, until they ‘get it’.  Journalists in Italy need to stop writing headlines like, “Killed out of Love” when a control freak psychopath kills his lover, wife or ex.  This isn’t love, believe me.  When the judiciary claims that rape was consensual because she wore jeans, take to the streets, like only a handful of women did at the time. When newscasters put tits&ass front&center, turn the channel – and then tell them why.  Write their advertisers.  One day soon, as ratings drop, they’ll finally get the message.
    I recently came across an atrocious ‘free magazine’ in my area, Domenica, supposedly for women.  With their select pin-up girl on the cover.  Her lips were so deformed, I was glad they said she had her “piedi per terra” because if her feet weren’t firmly on the ground, those oversized lips would have carried her straight up & away.  The all-male staff needs to understand that these un-‘natural beauties’ do not represent us.  Period.  And, seeing these grotesque versions of beauty on the cover, does not entice us to look inside, either.

    3.  Speak out on all fronts at your Company.  If you go into a man’s office, and he has a nude or semi-nude calendar up there, point it out – embarrass him - Even if he’s your boss – and then take it to HR. If women are getting bypassed, not going to meetings, not getting trained...put them on notice.  It might be wise to point out that, Companies with 3 or more women on the Board, outperform the competition 9 to 1. Yes, Nine to One.  To this, I would add that, if women in Europe make up 60% of College Grads, if women graduate with higher honors, and if companies with all male management say that ‘they hire only the best’, someone is lying.

    The Madonna on the Rocks

    At Abruzzo's Grotta del Cavallone, where both men & women work as guides, these posters were at the lift bringing tourists up and down the mountain.  Sorry. I do not want my 6 yr. old nephew to learn that this is normal. It's not. And, no, they do not 'exalt' the 'bellezze delle donne'. It's Pornografia pure & simple. Look it up in the dictionary.

      4.  Stop attending seminars, workshops & conferences that have an all-male lineup.  It’s insulting and disgraceful to see a bunch of stuffed shirts at the table, eye-balling the babes who bring them their coffee.  If your Company is hosting an event, make sure the organizer briefs the speakers that ‘locker room humor’ is not funny.  They can swap stories behind the scenes.  There will be women executives in the audience, and we’re not interested in hearing demeaning comments about your wife or lover. Grazie.
        Every year I’m invited to La Società del Marketing presentation. And every year, they bring in the top guys in marketing.  And every year, I remind them that the greatest marketeers in history probably have a combined income greater than 167 countries on the planet earth:  J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter), Oprah Winfrey & Martha Stewart.  Add to this, Esteè Lauder & Anita Roddick, and heck, even the Fendi sisters, and you start to wonder what any men are doing up at that table.  I won’t attend until I do see some breasts up there, and hopefully, not those shown by the Pirelli calendar guy like last time.  You can read my blog entry on the whole episode here. 

        5.  Refuse to pay the bolletta RAI – insipid TV Tax.  If women make up 51% of the population, if they outlive the men by 9 years, if they’re responsible for household purchase decisions, if many are in the home watching the tube, then, why aren’t we voting with our wallets?  Hit them where it counts.
        If enough of us resist, perhaps we can even topple the out of touch octogenarians at the helm of the RAI.  As for me? I don’t even own a TV anymore.

          And…a final word for the men out there, and I paraphrase Sociologist Michael Kimmel from the Women’s Int’l Networking Conference
          Women who work outside the home are happier, they’re better role models for their kids, they (ideally) have husbands who share responsibilities (notice that I didn’t say ‘help out’), and…lo and behold!  When they feel confident, and not frustrated nor depressed (even though working in a ‘man’s world’ might make you so) they will see their partner in a better light and want to share in those good feelings.  If you’re satisfied at work, you’ll be able to satisfy in the bedroom, and if you have a supportive husband at home, you’ll have more time for sex.  So guys, in the end, if you let women work, give them gratifying careers, help them out at home, you’ll get more sex.  The choice is yours.  
          But if not now, then when?

          Friday, February 11

          Not just the Egyptians have found their voice

          a new sun rises over the Nile
          Immersed in the broadcasting of this - and this is one occasion where the use of the word actually fits - awesome moment in history, my thoughts drift to Italy. A place where elected officials are not truly elected, where corruption runs deep, and 'the youth' are just as disenchanted and disenfranchised from the day-to-day workings as their Arab brethren.  Problem is, with such a low birth rate, Italian youth simply doesn't have the numbers - and, with the coercive coddling at home by mamma (a force to be reckoned with, not unlike Egypt's secret police), they most certainly don't have the drive.

          On Sunday, women are leading the change in over 257 piazzas in Italy, with protests held even in New York & Tokyo.  Holding a sort of 'take back the day' rally, they want to give women back their dignity, after centuries of being ruled under the iron fist of a macho regime - who offers women only one choice - be a mamma madonna or a whore - a regime with a complicit media who do all they can to keep women in their place.
          If not now, WHEN?
          In today's Italy, 'barefoot & pregnant in the kitchen' has turned into 'bare-breasted on TV' which, under this media mogul government, has morphed into 'bare-legged for political placements.'
          And while I'd personally like to start my own revolution here - to cut government employee wages (especially thin-c.v. 'friends' of political heavyweights) with the fury of a swash-buckling tea partier - it looks like the fervor of Arab protest has beaten me to it and breached Europe's borders.

          Reports have come in that immigrants are demanding to be heard, and demanding rights in Bari, Greece and Australia.  A group of immigrants have commenced a hunger strike, others protesting on the roof of a detention center, thousands arriving in Lampedusa - all the while delineating their pleas.
          Will their host states show as much compassion as the Egyptian military?

          Tuesday, February 8

          Berlusconi takes a cold punch

          As anyone who's seen my full blog knows, Rome is famous for its 'talking statues'.  I regularly post updates (in the lower right hand corner) from Pasquino who, after getting spruced up, was one of the first to fall victim to the media 'gag rule' attempted by this government. [so my entries are now few & far between].
          But in a country in which stately statues appear on every corner and atop of every edifice, in gardens, piazzas, palaces and pizzerias, it seems that things have gotten out of hand: an entire cabal of them decided to try and put some solemnity back into the country's political discourse, by staging their own protest.

          So,150 statues, under the aegis of a spontaneously combusted 'Nessun dorma' committee, staged their own rigid protest; posting upstanding messages for all to see.  Their simple plea? That Italy stands firm and puts its best face forward, despite what images our governing body is putting out (ahem - in more ways than one).  As the declaration states, Italy's a country with women & men who work, provide for families, and don't strive to prostitute their kids at wild parties at Prime Minister's villas as in days of the Emperors of yore.  And so it is, that even the statues have gone stiff with anger. 

          Heard on the street:
          Erected due to merit - Italy's body is not for sale - Petrified over all this rubbish - and of course, with a nod to the Sphinx..."Game Over".

          See more photos here
          Protests are being organized across the country this coming Sunday, to bring dignity back into the institutions of government and to stop the country from being derided outside its borders.

          Saturday, February 5

          It's World Nutella Day!

          Five years ago, 3 intrepid Italy bloggers decided that Nutella is so amazing, so luscious, so thick, so gooey, it deserved its very own giorno for heartfelt recognition & appreciation.  Of course, they were women - we're talking the King of Chocolate here (men just don't get it). And, while Nutella may not be available the world over, we think that between getting its own facebook page, twitter account, and a few treasured websites, it may just very well get spread all over the globe.  Even British top chef, Jamie Oliver offers his own Nutella cake.  Too bad you can't find it in Italy...(although I did happen upon an all-chocolate pastry shop today in my meanderings around Lazio).  As for me, I personally would be satisfied if it came  straight out of my kitchen faucet.
          So, check out the sites, the recipes, the love.  Add some of your own -- But, really, the best way to eat Nutella?  With a spoon.  Straight from the jar.

          Michelle from Bleeding Espresso - and keep an eye out for her choice picks on Monday! and
          Shelley from At Home in Rome, in spirit as Rome is no longer her home, but her blog is still a terrific read.

          ...Do you remember your first Nutella experience?

          Buon Appetito!

          Thursday, February 3

          Attn: All Italian Passport Holders

          Well, the title's a bit misleading.  This is one of my sporadic Public Service Announcements for any of you out there that may hold an Italian passport, and have a dual last name, or kids with hyphenated ones.  I won't go into the details of my odyssey into the bowels of the Italian bureaucracy, like, being told to go up to the 2nd floor, then 3rd floor, down to the ground floor, and no, it's on the first floor (I should have known), and then following the signs for Birth certificates to discuss Marriage ones, and finding the office has moved (but no sign saying as much...) 
          So--in an effort to prevent those of you from the same fate...
          Basically, many years ago, Italians decided that foreigners with Italian grandfathers could gain citizenship. In the USA, this coincided with a vote that Americans could hold two passports as well.  
          The conspiracy theory at the time was that this was a way to bump up their populations in order to gain more money from the EU (I believe it wholeheartedly).  
          I applied for my entire extended family, and after a 3 yr. trip to Dante's inferno and back, we were good to go.
          In the meantime, my sister had four kids, all of whom were put on her single passport.  Her kids have a hyphenated last name.  Hyphens, striking terror in the hearts of Italian pencil pushers, and causing so much angst that people are known to collapse at their desk from brain hemorrhages at the very thought of spotting a dual last name in their piles of papers.  So, out went the hyphen, yet the two names coexisted peacefully for about 12 years.
          That is, until 2006, when Italy allowed for voting from abroad.  And so, they took countless millions of dual citizens and inserted them into computers.  Anyone with two last names was shortened down to one, naturally, the father's.  Unbelievably, this draconian measure was taken only with her oldest child, for no apparent reason.  You were given 30 days to counter.  Unfortunately for you, the Courthouse & address indicated on the form was totally incorrect - they had nothing to do with the entire fiasco.  And so, the record stayed put.  
          [Admirably, they did attempt to inform Consular offices worldwide of the problem, even writing to specific complainants directly - I've seen the files, organized by country.]
          In 2008, a law was passed that outlawed all that happened in 2006. Basically, some wizened old sage understood that you can't have people running around with different names for different countries, especially if it was the very same person.  For that kind of behavior, you'd either be on a 'no-fly' list by now, or considered a mafioso on the lam.  So, orders were given to take those millions, and put their names back.  Except no one got around to it.  
          Add to this, that in 2010, the Courts, taking a major step closer to equality, also decided that kids could bear their mothers' names.  Many single moms can now also have their child's name match their own.
          So, if you recognize yourself as one of these people, you need to ideally restart the process at the Anagrafe di Roma, Ufficio di Correzioni (Corrections Office, in the true sense of the word). You could try going through your Consolate, but I'd go straight to the source (Italian only, per favore).  They will deny, of course, any knowledge of any of the above, and tell you you don't need to change the name.  Press on.  They have to make the change, but you'll have to supply all docs again, even if they have them sitting right on top of their computer screens.  
          Keep in mind that both parents need to sign the request and...Dio ti Benedica if that parent is no longer in the picture.
          While passing (a lot of) time sitting in these various offices, I had a lot of time to mull things over.  The mom's name (of the hyphens) is still her dad's last, it's still paternal after all.  Maybe the Spaniards, with their dozen or so last names, mom's&dad's, have it right after all.  But what would that do to the Italian computer systems?  It'd be worse than the Melissa virus...but then again, that might not be a bad thing.