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Other recent articles
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Wettest summer in 35 years
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Sari's e-book on sale this weekend at Amazon
Alitalia’s fate hangs in the balance.
Berlusconi cannot leave Italy (for now)
Keep an eye on (or rather, in) your bill fold.

 

Attention Italian men! Touching yourself in public is now illegal!
Feb 29, 2008 at 09:33 AM
       You notice it soon after you arrive here. A man, perhaps feeling uncomfortable in his too-tight pantaloni, or feeling superstitious about something, allows his hand to wander and, over the clothing, I grant you, cups his genitals or shifts them from one position to another. How crass, right? But how common here, especially in certain less-refined circles. But now, says Italy's Corte di Cassazione, such behaviour must stop. It is "an act contrary to human decency" the country's highest court said this week and from now on will be considered illegal.

        Well, lots of luck. It is well known that Italians have a habit of ignoring laws which are far more important than this one so, figuriamoci, if they are going to stop grabbing for their "attributes" when they hear that a fellow smoker has just died of a brain tumor or that last week Gianni lost a leg in a motorcycle accident. "Mi tocco le ....." is an oft heard phrase whenever some pending disaster is mentioned.

       The court's ruling came in answer to a third and last-stage appeal by a 42-year old worker from Northern Italy who two years ago was convicted of "ostentatiously touching his genitals through his clothing," The Cassazione, which confirmed the umpressive fine - 200euros plus 1000 euros in legal costs - ruled that such behaviour is contrary to public decency, something we foreign women had figured out long ago.

 

Election fallout: Rome to lose mayor
Feb 27, 2008 at 12:57 PM

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Walter Veltroni
 Rome's left-leaning mayor Walter Veltroni is running for office again....this time as prime minister. Now the leader of the new-born Partito Democratico (PD), Veltroni - who first took office as mayor in 2001 and ably used his role as mayor of the Eternal City to increase his standing in the country - announced his resignation from the Campidoglio in early February when Italian president Giorgio Napolitano called elections for April 13 and 14th. This means that that on the same day as Italians go to the polls to elect a new parliament - and thus a new government - for their country, Romans will have another decision to make.

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Ma i vecchi dove sono?
Feb 12, 2008 at 12:00 AM
        Ogni volta che torno a Roma da un viaggio a New York, la mia città natale, mi viene a domandarmi, parafrasando la famosa canzone di Pete Seeger: "Dove sono andati tutti i vecchi" o, se vogliamo, gli infermi, gli handicappati, i non-vedenti? Non credo che la popolazione americana sia più malandata di quella italiana; se si toglie l'impatto della obesità, ormai un'afflizione gravissima che avrà un "peso" inevitabile sulla salute futua di molti cittadini statunitensi, verrebbe da pensare che il numero di persone con gravi disabilità dovrebbe essere più o meno uguale nei due paesi. Ma dove sono?

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Senate Shenanigans
Jan 28, 2008 at 07:17 PM

ImageIn post-war Italy the two houses of Italian parliament  have often been the scene of  high jinx, rowdy drama, unruliness and even occasional violence, but  a new low was reached last month in the Italian Senate, when  spitting, shoving, vulgar insults and spraying champagne caused embarassment and disgust among both political observers and  normal, self-respecting Italian citizens. During the roll call for a crucial vote of confidence on the fate of Prime Minister Romani Prodi’s fragile government, which subsequently fell, there were two unbelievably vulgar scenes in the upper house. (I've chosen somewhat larger than normal pictures so readers can get a good idea of what I'm talking about here.)

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La freccia, questa sconosciuta
Feb 14, 2008 at 09:09 PM
        Se fossi una mosca, mi piazzerei all'interno dell'abitacolo di un automobile di un Autoscuola per osservare il modo col quale a Roma si insegna a guidare. Alle scuole di guida dove ho posto la domanda, mi si assicura che gli istruttori insistono sull'uso della cosiddetta freccia, il segnale direzionale che dovrebbe servire a chi sta al volante per far sapere agli altri - automobilisti e pedoni insieme - quali siano le sue intenzioni. Ma stento a crederlo. La freccia, a Roma per i più è una sconosciuta.

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Of Beauty, Bernini, Organizational Bizzarie and Broken Elevators
Jan 21, 2008 at 03:40 PM

Image Anyone will tell you that a visitor to Rome must absolutely make a point of going to, or returning to, the Galleria Borghese. And whether or not you’ve heard that caveat a million times,  believe me it is true. The Galleria, open daily except for Mondays from 9.00 alle 19.00 (call 06.32810 for obligatory reservations)  is an unparalleled gem.  This doesn’t mean that visiting it is easy. In fact, in more than one way the Borghese Gallery can be seen as a microcosm of Italy; gloriously rich in art and sorely lacking in solid, practical organization.

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Rome's "vigili" (traffic police) aren't vigilant
Jan 30, 2008 at 03:28 PM

      The other day the doorbell rang but it wasn't , as I had expected, Letizia, our big-haired postina, or postwoman; a throaty voice, identified itself as  ne belonging to a vigilessa, a woman traffic policeman and said it had come to deliver my latest traffic ticket, probably for parking my motorbike on a sidewalk when I couldn't find any other place to leave it. Delivering traffic tickets by hand? Another Italian custom that reminds me that this is a very strange place. Haven't they heard of the post office?

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Cobblestone cabaret
Jan 25, 2008 at 07:02 PM

          As someone who gets around Rome on two wheels (a ciclomotore, a small motorcycle, not a bicycle), I was delighted to read the other day that this spring the city will be going ahead with its plan to replace the sampietrini (cobblestones) of Via Nazionale with plain old smooth asphalt. This, thank goodness, has already been done on the Lungotevere roads on both sides of the Tiber and on several other major central-city arteries such as Via delle Botteghe Oscure and Via Po. Much to the disgust of cyclists and many motorists as well, Via Nazionale, the avenue that runs from Piazza Venezia (although the first bit is called Via IV Novembre) up to Piazza Esedra, the oval piazza in front of Diocletian's Baths, has been a hold-out, making for rocky riding that is damaging for the back and the neck, bad for your kidneys, hell for hemorrhoids and which in wet winter weather can become downright dangerous.

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Cannoli to celebrate his conviction. Huh? Say Again?
Jan 29, 2008 at 12:00 AM

Image  Sicily's Governor Totò Cuffaro, who was forced to resign his office on January 26th, knew who to make friends and influence people. But he must certainly regret the cannoli he distributed to supporters on January 19 to celebrate his criminal conviction, one carrying a five-year jail sentence,  on charges of the favoreggiamento (aiding and abetting) of several of the island's known or suspected criminal bosses. Celebrate?  Huh? Say again?

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I Vigili
Jul 30, 2007 at 05:44 PM

Suonano al campanello di casa mia a Trastevere e una voce di donna mi annuncia che è arrivata una contravvenzione. Non è la postina, come a volte succede, ma una simpatica vigilessa in borghese la quale, mi spiega, per guadagnarsi qualche straordinario dopo il lavoro della mattina, consegna a mano, casa per casa, le multe che  i suoi colleghi fanno agli automobilisti colpevoli di qualche trasgressione.

 

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