Only in Italy is a daily news column that reports funny and weird news on Italy, the mafia, Italian culture and Italian travel.

Only in Italy is a daily news column that reports funny and weird news on Italy, the mafia, Italian culture and Italian travel.

Only In Italy is a daily news column that translates & reports on funny but true news items from legitimate Italian news sources in Italy.
Only in Italy is a daily news column that reports funny and weird news on Italy, the mafia, Italian culture and Italian travel.Only in Italy is a daily news column that reports funny and weird news on Italy, the mafia, Italian culture and Italian travel.
 
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"The Vatican: The Holy Working Place"

(05/27/04)

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"Buon Estate!" Welcome to the only newsletter that promotes the slogan "make cheese, not war", "Only In Italy!"

The Italian Race...

Unfortunately, race has long been a factor in Italian identity. After national unification in 1861, northern Italians racialized the South as a land of lazy, violent, criminal inferior people. "Africa begins at Rome," is an old adage still heard today in Italy.

"Ignoramus begins at Perugia and spreads north till it spills over into Switzerland, Austria and France" is a new catchy adage all of us at the news office are trying to spread and we hope our readers will give us a hand.

Enjoy the issue, keep writing and Grazie!

Tanti Saluti,              
"Only In Italy" Staff       

 

Bill Gates Running Out Of Italian Friends

Sardinia - June 28, 2004 - Bill Gates dream Italian vacation seems to have left him with few Italian friends, after his celebrity tantrums angered residents in Sardinia, Italy.

According to local newspapers, the Microsoft founder was not allowed to have dinner in the town because he wanted to bring in tables, chairs and 300 torches from his yacht in order to create a romantic ambience.

The local residents raised an outcry as they felt it would dirty their beach and called in the Eco-police who stopped him. The billionaire had earlier been barred from dropping anchor in the Italian town of Stromboli.

"Per favore!" What's wrong with dropping anchor in Stromboli?

Stromboli is one of the Aeolian Islands of Italy. It is one of the most active volcanoes on Earth and in nearly continuous eruption for about 2,000 years. And the population of around 500 has to be on the constant lookout for falling rocks, gas explosions, landslides and lava.

If you have to make a comparison, your 'Windows XP' OS would cause less damage than the lava.

 

Vatican Winds Up In the Red Again

Vatican City - July 8, 2004 - The Vatican is often described as the world's richest state, but its balance sheet in 2003 was as red as a cardinal's cassock for the third straight year, according to figures released today.

A supervisory committee of eight cardinals said there was a loss both for the Holy See, referring to the central bureaucracy of the Roman Catholic Church, and the tiny Vatican city state in the heart of Rome, which has its own employees and sources of income.

The cardinals said the Vatican had an income of 203.6 million Euro ($351.4 million) in 2003, and a deficit of nearly 9.6 million Euro ($16.6 million) compared to 13.5 million Euro ($23.3 million) the previous year.

The Vatican gets income from investments, real estate, legacies and donations by the faithful called Peter's Pence, which increased 5.7 per cent last year to 45.2 million Euro ($78 million). But officials said the pope gives this money away to people affected by war and natural calamities.

The Vatican would not have registered a loss last year had it not made up the 10 million Euro ($17.3 million) deficit of Vatican radio, which maintains a global broadcasting system.

Presenting the figures, Cardinal Sergio Sebastiani said the Vatican spends most of its money on wages for the 2674 employees of the Roman Curia, the central bureaucracy, and nearly 1000 pensioners.

Vatican City, which has its own railway station and helicopter pad, employs 1534 people, including the Sanpietrini, the workers responsible for the upkeep of its Renaissance buildings and art works. The city state is fabulously rich in cultural treasures, such as Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling or the frescos by Raphael, but these actually cost money to conserve.

However, the city state gets money from museum entrance charges, its own bank, a reputedly efficient postal system and a supermarket known as the Annona where employees and their families can buy goods at discount.

"Per l'amore di Dio!" What a shock.

Just to name a few:

1.) The Catholic Church is still paying settlements from sex abuse scandals caused by priests who couldn't keep still.

2.) The Vatican lost many millions of dollars in lawsuit settlements and legal fees as a result of the extra brilliant intelligence of the Rev. Leonard Boyle, a former prefect of the library, who sold licensing rights to a California businesswoman, Elaine Peconi, whose financial savvy was compared to that of a koala bear.

3.) And the scandal in the early 1980s over the suspicious collapse of 'Banco Ambrosiano', which had strong ties to the Vatican Bank, tarnished the church, cost the Vatican hundreds of millions of dollars and prompted an internal reform of church finances.

A few solutions:

1.) The Vatican sold 30 licenses for souvenirs and religious items with the official Jubilee logo, ranging from a $17,500 platinum watch sold at branches of Banca Intesa, T-shirts, coins, watches, pens, bottle-openers and ashtrays.

2.) The Vatican museum shops sell more than 1,000 different items, ranging from art reproductions to $125 Ferragamo scarves in the papal colors to $20 "The Vatican City" sweat shirts.

3.) The Vatican also rents the Sistine Chapel to private groups for special after-hours tours that cost some $9,500 for a group of more than 200 people.

4.) A few Vatican tour guides offer wealthy tourists, mostly American, unauthorized tours of the Vatican for $150 a person. Such visits include a glimpse at the pope's private Pauline Chapel, with frescos by Michelangelo, as well as the nearby sacristy where holy relics and the pope's ceremonial robes are stored.

Here's a great cash solution: Go back to selling papal indulgences (a remittance on punishment for sins) at $25 a sin? It can be done through their web site.

 

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Hail Marys Not Necessary: Vatican Mail Will Deliver

Vatican City - June 27, 2004 - Here where the pope sends religious messages and statues of saints stand against the sky, Dimitri Auerilio comes regularly for a strictly secular reason: to send his mail.

The 109-acre Vatican, walled in against an Italy of labor strife, strikes, long lines, late trains and a maddeningly unreliable postal system, has developed a mail service that is the envy of Italians.

It is both fast and safe, Mr. Auerilio said, describing it as a beacon of bureaucratic success in a landscape of ineffective infrastructures.

"And I can say that because I know the Italian system,'' Mr. Auerilio, a 48-year-old Sicilian compensation board worker, said on a recent day, echoing the thoughts of many of his countrymen who come here regularly to drop off their mail, with no Hail Marys necessary.

"The Italian state of mind is not to work so hard, and you can really see this in its post office,'' he added. "Instead, the Vatican post office is really good. They are efficient. They get things done."

Mr. Auerilio made his point and bounded away past the white marble columns of St. Peter's Square, appearing joyous in spirit after an act that can typically leave those who experience postal bureaucracy feeling aggravated.

Tourists are in on this secret, as well as the Romans, because they flock to this orderly, sovereign religious state enclosed in roiling Rome to send their postcards with papal stamps from the seat of Catholicism.

As a result, more mail is sent each year, per inhabitant, from the Vatican's 00120 post code than from anywhere else in the world - 7,200, compared with about 660 in the United States or 109 in Italy, said Juliana Nel, a spokeswoman for the Universal Postal Union, a United Nations agency based in Berne, Switzerland.

She called the Vatican's service "probably one of the best postal systems in the world.''

Federico Santi, a construction company manager, is one of many Italians who wish Italy would use the Vatican postal system, in which his Aunt Andrea works, as a model to improve its own. The Italian system, "could definitely be better,'' he said, by getting new equipment, hiring more workers and improving the morale of those already on the job.

"They have to change their methods,'' Mr. Santi, 24, said outside the post office on Via Monterone in Rome, adding that people are losing business because of the delays. "The one thing I'd change is the people who work here,'' he said. "They have no will to work."

When asked about the Vatican's postal efficiency versus their own, officials at the Italian postal service shrugged off the comparison, saying the Vatican operation was too small to be taken seriously. Italy sent out 3.6 billion pieces of mail last year, while the Vatican dispatched about 6 million international mail items, mostly postcards, in 2002, the most recent statistics available.

Italian officials released figures showing that their on-time delivery rates are rising. "The Italian postal service has for some time been committed to the bettering of its services,'' Paolo Di Prima, the Italian postal services spokesman, said in an e-mail message.

But the sorry state of the Italian postal system is legendary, so much so that some Italians can still be seen crossing themselves before tossing their mail into an Italian box.

The legends tell of how in a postal strike some years ago, overstuffed post offices put their parcels on trains that simply wandered, full, up and down Italy. Instances of mail arriving a quarter-century late abound.

Officials at the Vatican declined to speak about their mail system.

But Rosy, a woman who has worked for 13 years at a stamp-selling booth in one of its four postal branches, said the system's modest size helped, but she said its methods helped get the job done, too.

"When the letters are sent here, they are on the plane that very night,'' said Rosy, who glanced nervously over her shoulder and declined to provide her last name. "They are where they need to be the next day.''

Then she added, almost in a whisper, "Now, the Italians are getting better, getting faster, because they are working together with us.''

But across Rome, and at the Vatican, people of all stripes spoke freely about the two systems, though many acted like the lucky members of an insiders' club.

From nuns and businessmen to writers, secretaries and mail deliverers, many said they had confidence that mail sent from this holy city would reach its destination safely.

"Mother superior tells us to come here to do our mailing," said Lucy Carrara, a nun who lives outside of Rome, standing outside the St. Peter's Basilica, after sending a package to Jerusalem.

The hook for Miguel Chaveria is he works for the Vatican information service. Four years ago, he said, before the Italian system started to improve, he told his family to send magazines from Spain to his Vatican address, instead of to his home in Rome, "where I'm always surprised when things arrive,'' he said.

In addition to the speed and security, tourists behold the postmark's little smudge of ink as a kind of blessing, like ashes on a forehead.

Bruno Fusser stopped the other day to send a card to his family in Bruhl, Germany. "For my mother, it will be something, like, holy," he said.

Back on the streets of Rome, the experience at a post office is anything but ethereal, said Mr. Santi, the construction manager.

"When I was little, my parents told me, 'The post office is a place where you need to have a lot of patience,' " he said. "The people working there are always talking, taking bathroom breaks or hitting their frozen computers.''

He paused, put his right hand to his temple to simulate a gun, and said, "It's enough to make you want to kill yourself."

"Santa Maria!" The ones that need the "Hail Marys" and a couple of "Our Fathers" are the Vatican employees such as the postal workers...which happen to be mostly women!

Sources say that the decline of the Pope's health "has left a power vacuum in the Vatican in which affairs are dominated by Opus Dei", the extreme right-wing faction that has taken over all the important segments of The Vatican administration. And the small number of women working at the Vatican are facing hostility. One former secretary used to be locked up in her office by her boss every day.

We seriously doubt the Vatican performs employee satisfaction surveys. In fact, the insubordinates probably do time in the "Castel Sant' Angelo" dungeons across the Tiber River.

 

Julian - Julius Caesar's cousin
 
 
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