Tag: Italy

Happy birthday to our patroness!

Tuesday, 24 September, 2013 0 Comments

Mrs Rainy Day and friend

Mobile phone moment in Milan

Sunday, 4 August, 2013 0 Comments

“Franco Ferrarotti, a sociologist at the University of Sapienza in Rome, also believes that the Italian overuse of the phones stems from a national passion for verbal communication. But he said it was abetted by a flair for deception. ‘Lying is a Mediterranean art form,’ he told the Rome daily Il Messaggero. The cell phone […]

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The Doge

Sunday, 23 June, 2013 1 Comment

“And they assembled in the church of St. Mark, and he was declared to be elected Doge; and they stripped off his clothes and led him before the altar, and there he took the oath, and there was given him the gonfalon of St. Mark, and he took it. Then amid great rejoicing he went […]

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Epic wonderland

Thursday, 13 June, 2013 0 Comments

“Huge thank you to the region of Trentino, Italy for having me as a guest in your epic wonderland!” So says Matty Brown, the creator of this awesome clip. “This is incredible,”commented Ryan Dury. “Tons of creative footage. Beautiful region. I once had a day in Bolzano. Great editing!” Matty Brown’s video brings back happy memories of our wanderings across these parts of Playground, Italy, especially around Renon/Ritten.

Joey’s jug will be refilled

Sunday, 19 May, 2013 0 Comments

Diners at Baffetto on Via del governo vecchio near Piazza Navona in central Rome, where the guests know that they’re playing a role in an enterprise that’s designed to line the pockets of the proprietor, his family and the employees. But most enjoy the brazenness of the experience. There’s something so authentically unabashed about it […]

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The undead returns to Europe

Wednesday, 27 February, 2013 0 Comments

The undead Just as F. Scott Fitzgerald toyed with Trimalchio as a possible title for The Great Gatsby, Bram Stoker considered using the title The Un-Dead for his novel Dracula. In both cases, we should be eternally grateful for what finally appeared on the cover as Gatsby and Dracula have become metaphors for hosts of phenomena, ranging from plutocracy to lack of proper dental care.

Roger Corman and lots of other makers of Hollywood B movies are in the debt of Bram Stoker as well because his use of “undead” is responsible for the modern horror sense of the word. Neologism note: The word undead does not appear in English before Stoker. Definition: “The term undead describes beings in mythology, legend or fiction that are deceased yet behave as if alive. A common example is a corpse re-animated by supernatural forces by the application of the deceased’s own life force or that of another being.”

Following the inconclusive Italian election at the weekend, the undead euro has returned to haunt its crazed creators. Today, Italy will attempt to sell between €3 billion and €4 billion of a new 10-year bond and between €1.75 billion and €2.5 billion of five-year paper. Observer should keep a close eye on two-year Italian yields for signs that the market is worried the political paralysis has voided the protection offered by the European Central Bank’s bond-buying pledge.

“Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make.” Dracula

Zen and the art of being Italian

Friday, 22 February, 2013 0 Comments

We round out our week of all things Italian here with a recommendation: Zen. No, not the school of Mahayana Buddhism that originated in China during the 6th century and which became famous in the 1970s when it was briefly associated with motorcycle maintenance. Rather, our Zen is Aurelio Zen, a fictional Italian detective created by the late, lamented crime writer Michael Dibdin.

Although your blogger has been a long-time admirer of Italy and has visited the country many times, it was only through reading of Dibdin’s murder mysteries that the true nature of contemporary Italian society became clear. The books are filled with vice, la dolce vita, politics, passion, omerta, commerce, history, humanity, food, wine and love of place. Zen teaches the reader that Italy is not a modern nation-state, but a set of city-states living in constant familial rivalry with each other. But despite the fragmentation, the sum of the parts is still a force to be reckoned with. Reuters headline this morning: “Global shares, euro tumble on economic concerns, Italy vote.”

BBC Scotland and Left Bank Pictures produced three dramas based on the Dibdin books. Shot in Rome, they starred English actor Rufus Sewell as Aurelio Zen, and Italian actress Caterina Murino is Tania Moretti, his colleague. Eccellente!

Dan Brown aids ailing Italy

Thursday, 21 February, 2013 0 Comments

“Bestselling-author Dan Brown sat down to a simple Tuscan meal of tomato stew followed by steak in a family-run trattoria.” Back in November 2004, Geoffrey Pullum revealed to readers of Language Log that when Dan Brown constructs his formulaic opening sentence “an occupational term is used with no determiner as a bare role NP premodifier […]

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Girlfriend in a Coma

Wednesday, 20 February, 2013 0 Comments

“Our aims are to build awareness in Italy and around the world of the true nature and severity of the decline of this once-great western democracy, to warn other countries that a similar destiny could await them, and to serve as a call to action, at all levels of society.” So say Italian journalist Annalisa Piras and Bill Emmott, former editor of The Economist. Between them, they have made of Girlfriend in a Coma, a declaration of love and apprehension about the object of their passion: Repubblica italiana.

[iframe src=”http://player.vimeo.com/video/51765618″ width=”100%” height=”380″]

Bill Emmott kindly took some time from his busy schedule to take part in a Q&A with Rainy Day. Here goes:

Eamonn Fitzgerald: Girlfriend in a Coma, Italy and its Discontents by Paul Ginsborg, The Dark Heart of Italy by Tobias Jones… There’s no shortage of concern for the state of Italy by British intellectuals. But why Italy, and not, say, Germany or Spain? How do you explain this British anxiety about Italy?

Bill Emmott: Our extra interest in Italy goes back centuries: we see Italy as the font of western civilisation, a sort of lesson in how to be cultured. But also now there is a kind of horrified fascination: at the danger Italy might bring down the euro, at the way Berlusconi has become the anti-culture symbol, but also at fear that some Italian trends might might precursors of what might befall us too, if we are not careful.

Eamonn Fitzgerald: Italy has lurched from crisis to crisis over the past six decades, but life goes on and the Italians seem to have developed the ability to cope. Why do you think that the current crisis is more serious than the preceding ones?

Bill Emmott: This crisis is genuinely worse. Incomes are falling, private savings have halved, and the young are living off the pensions of their grandparents. It cannot go on like this. As Sergio Marchionne of FIAT says in our film, Italy is on “l’ultima spiaggia“, the last beach.

Eamonn Fitzgerald: In his 2004 thriller, Medusa, the late Michael Dibdin has his protagonist, Aurelio Zen, describe the everyday reality of corruption, intrigue and distrust as “Italia Lite”. It is, says Zen, “the new culture of empty slogans, insincere smiles and hollow promises overlaying the authentic adversarial asperity of public life.” Did Dibdin, the novelist, get it right?

Bill Emmott: A principle of journalism, espoused even by a predecessor of mine as editor of The Economist, is that we “simplify, then exaggerate”. So did Dibdin. But his books contained a lot of truth.

Eamonn Fitzgerald: This question is related to the previous one in that it deals with matters cultural. How come Italian artists, filmmakers especially, have created nothing extraordinary about the current state of Italy? What’s happened to that famed creativity? Where’s the Pasolini, were’s the Sciascia in this time of need?

Bill Emmott: Domination of the media, of film distribution by a few hands, combined with the politicisation of so much of the cultural industry, have combined to stultify creativity. Not entirely, of course, but substantially.

Eamonn Fitzgerald: The international press depicts Berlusconi as a gangster, a buffoon or a Casanova, but in-depth analysis of his popularity is rare or non-existent. Is this because the international media is unwilling to confront the fact that many Italians have very different values to the Tuscany set, as I call liberal/leftist international commentariat?

Bill Emmott: No, I think the Italian media makes the same mistake too. They love his showmanship, so they amplify it and connive in his use of it to cover up his real aims.

Eamonn Fitzgerald: How will Beppe Grillo and his Five Star Movement fare in the coming election?

Bill Emmott: Quite well. They are the only really new force, and feed off anger and despair. They will be a big force in the next parliament.

Eamonn Fitzgerald: Final question: Is Italy doomed, or do you see light at the end of the tunnel?

Bill Emmott: There will be light when Italians really face up to the reality of their situation.

Thank you, Bill. And now, over to The Smiths: “Girlfriend in a coma, I know. I know — it’s serious.”

Giovanni Trapattoni kicks off our Italian week

Monday, 18 February, 2013 0 Comments

Italy is very much in the news these days. For instance, there’s a critical general election next weekend and that will be followed by the papal conclave in Rome as a result of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. True to form, these major events have been preceded by the arrest of the former head of the country’s third largest bank for alleged fraud and bribery, and the arrest of the chairman of the air defense group Finmeccanica over his alleged involvement in a corruption scandal.

Life goes on, however, and that symbol of a kinder, gentler Italy, Giovanni Trapattoni, will today preside over the opening a new shopping mall in Munich. Trap, as fans call him, managed local team Bayern Munich for two seasons and he remains very popular in the Bavarian capital because of his style, charm and cryptic use of German. The expression “Ich habe fertig!” (“I’m done!”) is a legendary Trapattonism that owes its linguistic fame to his usage of the verb habe (have) instead of bin (am) during an emotional press conference and has since become part of spoken German.


Beneath the jolly exterior, beats a canny heart and Trapattoni struck a one of the century’s best deals in 2008 when he convinced the Football Association of Ireland to appoint him as manager of the national squad on a munificent salary of €2 million a year, plus €750,000 a year for his backroom team. It was this kind of profligacy that saw Ireland seek an EU bailout in 2010 and in a selfless gesture of burden-sharing a year later, Trapattoni agreed to have his pay cut to €1 million per annum. Odd jobs like opening a shopping mall in prosperous Munich helps Trap to cope with that sharp drop in income.

Whilst in Munich, the devout Catholic Giovanni Trapattoni will, no doubt, find time to pray for the Bavarian Pope, Benedetto, who is the subject of tomorrow’s post here.

Google bails out France

Wednesday, 6 February, 2013 0 Comments

There they were, François Hollande, the president of France, and Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google, doing what the leaders of middle-ranking powers do so well: holding a joint press conference, shaking hands while posing for the camera signing important-looking documents. And what was it all about? In short, a €60 million bailout. Cheap […]

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