"A man from Battipaglia, near the southern Italian city of Salerno, was arrested after telling a barman he was a mafia chief in order to get free drinks and croissants…. He even backed up the story by leaving a bottle of petrol outside the bar in Battipaglia in response to a request to pay."
This website is in its fifth year, and I cannot count how many times I have wondered aloud in its pages if Italian prostitute associate Silvio Berlusconi's political career has reached its end. (I mean, I could count, but you have no idea how depressing it is to go back through the archives.) So even though there has been a good deal of turmoil in Italy's already chaotic political scene of late, I remained skeptical that it would in any way draw the curtain on the Berlusconi era. Still, it is hard not to perk up to [...]
Guy Whose Job Is Putting On Face Paint And Frightening Children Resents Being Compared To Scary Old Man
"The head of Germany's most prominent circus has criticised Social Democratic candidate Peer Steinbrueck for comparing the clown profession to former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi…. 'Being a clown is an honorable, very difficult, sensitive and artistic occupation,' he said. 'How can you compare that with bunga-bunga?'"
Do you speak German? No? How sad for you. I do. And I have done you the favor of translating the narration of this incredible video of 26-year Lutz Eichholz his friend Stephanie Dietze unicycling in the Dolomite Mountains in northern Italy.
Eicholz: "Attention! I am Lutz Eichholz!"
Dietze: "Unt I am Stephanie Dietze!"
Eicholz: "We are German unicyclists, who have come to Italy to teach our neighbors to our south an important lesson about the value of austerity."
It's not just Greece where the established political parties are losing power. In Italy, comedian Beppe Grillo, "who rails against their corruption and ineptitude and says Italy should default on its debt and quit the euro is going from strength to strength. In local elections on Monday, Grillo's Five-Star Movement shook Italian politics by winning control of the northern city of Parma and several smaller towns, capitalising on voter discontent with economic stagnation and austerity." Grillo was the subject of a terrific New Yorker profile a few years back; it's worth reading again to see what he's on about.
Mario Monti, the Prime Minister of Italy, spent New Years Eve at home with "his wife, their son, daughter and respective partners, Mrs Monti's sister with her husband and four children aged between one and six." His wife served dinner. God, Italy, it's like I don't even know you anymore.
It's Silvio Berlusconi's greatest comedy hits. The article omits a lot of his "ladies from the opposition are so ugly" bits, but there's enough here to give you a general sense of his material.
"Mr. Berlusconi embodies some of the best, and many of the worst, features of the Italian character. He has a few of our virtues and all of our vices in spades. He is intuitive, easygoing and often very funny. He knows his soccer, enjoys good food and appreciates romantic songs after dinner. He loves lavish homes, hates rules, tells jokes and uses the odd swear word. He knows how to make money and has no compunction about cutting corners in the process. He cares about his friends (as long as they do what he says), talks fondly about his late mamma and adores his kids. In fact, he loves families [...]
"An article on Friday about voter disillusionment ahead of parliamentary elections in Italy — where a party founded by a comedian, Beppe Grillo, was drawing strong support — referred incompletely to the reason Mr. Grillo’s conviction for manslaughter prevents him from serving in Parliament. It is because his party’s bylaws do not allow it; there is no Italian law prohibiting convicted criminals from serving."
"The coming election campaign will be, above all, a test of the maturity and realism of Italian voters. One could feel more confident if they had not on three occasions chosen Mr Berlusconi as their leader."
— News from Italy (@newsfromitaly) February 9, 2012
This is what happens when you turn your government over to a gaudy prima donna whose contempt for civility is only surpassed by his own self-interest—the whole goddamn system falls apart.
"Berlusconi's political agenda is very clear: he has been reported as saying that his party will 'unplug Monti's government life support whenever necessary'. And this is likely to happen as soon as his name rises in the polls again. There couldn't be a clearer indication of Berlusconi's plans: in the expectation that Italians will quickly forget the incompetence he displayed while in power, Berlusconi hopes to lead his party to success at the next general election in 2013. Those who had hoped that Berlusconi would finally withdraw from politics to write his biography will be sorely disappointed."
"Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has said he will step down after the next budget is approved by Parliament, a statement from the president's office said Tuesday, marking a painful end to his long dominance of Italian politics." OR IS IT?
"Silvio Berlusconi lived in chaos, taken advantage of by hangers-on and vastly overpaid for groceries, his girlfriend said in the latest interview about her relationship with the politician 49 years her senior."
Is it too cynical to suggest that if Pier Paolo Pasolini were alive today he would have mellowed to such an extent that he would be making rom-coms with titles like Mussolini's Gay Island? Probably. Had he survived I bet he'd be making short clips for Italian Funny or Die.
How messed up is Italy after its most recent election? How about, "The results have created the remarkable possibility that Italy could find itself next week without a government or a pope." Or, "Democratic Party leader Pier Luigi Bersani and resurgent ex-Premier Silvio Berlusconi may be seeking to avoid a ballot that would favor populist Beppe Grillo, whose movement was the top vote-getter in its first national contest…. Recession- scarred voters repudiated budget rigor and made Grillo, a former comedian, a political force. In the four-way race, Bersani, the pre-election favorite, won the lower house by less than a half a point. Berlusconi, [...]
Can Italy change? Tim Parks addresses the question here. Meanwhile, guess who this passage is describing: "When he is perorating about the inadequacies of the Italian constitution, he leans back in his yellow silk sofa, right ankle on his left knee, and runs his hand through his hair, like an emperor surveying his slaves. But when he has a meatier point to make, a defense of his sex life, for example, he leans forward and thrusts his hands up and down between his legs as if potting a large plant."