Technology is a Sacrifice
Here follows all items in this section, in chronological order.

The Downward Spiral

By admin (when...  19/06/2009 @ 09:52:54, Where Italy, linked 1115 times)

Grafitti on a berlusconi propaganda poster. "Local police and carabinieri (military police) are now in every city."
"..but they still haven't found you!"

silvio's empire is starting to smell worse than ever, with magistrates in Bari investigating new claims that his frequent parties involved prostitutes. His lawyer (who bears more than a passing resemblance to Lurch)
Ghedini (he's the one on the right)
defended his client (or patient, depending on your point of view) by stating that silvio can all the girls he wants without having to pay, so why would he pay? Very classy defence for a respectable leader of a so-called civilised country. Not to mention that people do strange things, just ask Hugh Grant...
silvio's personal news channels focused their attention on how a poitical opponent knew about the investigation before everyone else, thereby giving tacit approval to silvio's alleged penchance for prostitutes, just 4 weeks after everyone was talking about his alleged penchance for minors. Now of course his strill bleating about it all being a conspiracy is echoed all the more frantically by silvio's entourage, though with the press and media being in his pocket (or wallet), and we all know how easily silvio finds magistrates on his payroll (in this Economist article the details behind fund transfers from silvio's swiss bank accounts via 3rd parties to a judge) the only possible enemy appears to be the public, and the political opposition parties. Far from being a conspiracy, this is what is known as a democracy.

In a very short while silvio will be leading the European government, so you too will be able to enjoy the experience.

The photographs he doesn't want you to see...

By admin (when...  05/06/2009 @ 22:54:45, Where Italy, linked 1751 times)

Don't know if it's silvio, but my doesn't he have a tiny penis...

berlusconi is so terrified of what might be on these photographs that he had his police confiscate them, and charge the photographer with invasion of privacy. The several hundred photographs show not only very young females partying weekends and holidays away at berlusconi's villa but also how many of them and other guests were flown in on Italian air force planes, at the tax-payers' expense.

Even if berlusconi can cover up his alleged flings with minors in the country he owns, a court injunction has prevented Italian newspapers printing the damning photographs (even though he own two of the papers), but he can't reach out to other countries yet, so Spain's El PAis printed a few.

Alas it won't make any difference, age of consent here is 16, and even if berslusconi is the leader of the country,and has two failed marriages behind him, and frequently sides with the vatican when it is in his interests to do so, I suspect most Italians will say that if he uses his power to have sex with minors, well, that's his own business.

Keep on moving, nothing to see here.


By admin (when...  31/05/2009 @ 09:31:13, Where Italy, linked 940 times)
Ah, Silvio. What a tangled web of deceit we have woven...

The story with the underage girls is getting more complicated. We live in a country where the president has his lawyers get the police to seize a photographer's pictures under the pretense of "invasion of privacy". Sure, the pictures show the 30 or so young girls spending long weekends, and a couple of weeks over the New Year's holidays with him at his luxurious villa in Sardinia (which is incidentally built on a nature reserve, it's nice to be the pres...). The pictures apparently also show his "guests" arriving on military jets, that means the Italian tax paying public funded that (incidentally, this year silvio payed 90% less taxes than the year before, according to several newspaper articles it was down to "creative accountancy" and not a drop in earnings...). According to the photographer, many of the pictures show girls semi-naked. silvio's lawyers claim none of them were underage, so that's alright then. silvio's wife wasn't present at these "parties", possibly why she recently asked for divorce. She shouldn't complain about honour and decency too loudly though, she is after all silvio's second wife, and allegedly there was a bit of an overlap between the two wives as well, if you get my drift.

Info in Italian.

How we do it over here...

By admin (when...  28/04/2009 @ 22:33:03, Where Italy, linked 1093 times)
Nobody said it would be easy... After living here for 20 years I know that the "Italian way" can be fraught, difficult, ridiculous, tiring, testing and at times, tragic. Italian bureaucracy leads the world since the age of the ancient Roman empire, and so they've had time to get everything nailed down to exactly how they like it: complicated. An Italian student of mine explained that if it wasn't as complicated as it is, the hundreds of thousands of people who earn a living making the gears in the machine go round would be out of work. True enough I guess...
So, Italy has a wonderful contradiction that I have spoken about in the past when it comes to bureaucracy. If you need to get anything done, and you want to live a content life without too many ulcers and stress-related injuries then you have to abide the golden rule: Take it easy, relax, and accept your destiny... Doing anything from registering your residency to posting a parcel overseas can be as complicated or as simple as the pencil-pusher behind the counter decides. On a bad day you might have to get forms in triplicate, each with a €30 stamp which has to be bought in a particular kind of bar, and each probably signed by an official, located in another office, on a different floor, in a separate building, which is now closed...
So you find yourself running from office to office, person to person, in something that resembles a story by Kafka set in a world drawn by Escher. On the other hand you might just encounter someone in a good mood, who, with a wink and a smile waves their arms to part the red tape like Moses parting the waves. Before you can blink it's all over and you can go and enjoy the wonderful weather and food without a care in the world. If you have friends in high places you'll be given express treatment, and if you don't then you'll just have to rely on a mixture of luck, charm, and being attractive to whoever is standing in your way. Toss the coin and see whether it'll take 23 minutes or 3 months, or forever.
If you like things efficient and precise then you could try Japan, or Germany, I hear they might have what you're after. Here we do take things easy, so relax.
I had decided that it was time to transfer
my residency from Rome to Morlupo, to allow me to sign on with a local doctor's registry. I was warned at the Morlupo council office that once they had sent the transfer request to Rome it could take as long as 3 months to get the papers back, but there was a little problem with my stay permit. Seeing as I'm British, and part of the EU my stay permit had been pretty much a simple affair when I applied for a renewal back in 2001, so much so that it was without an expiry date. Unbeknown
to me, however, the rules had changed in 2007, and the stay permit had been replaced with a stay card. Funnily enough, this "advance" no longer had a photograph of the bearer on it, but that's besides the point. The council office would send off my request for the new stay card to replace my stay permit. So, three months it was to be, I laid my mind to rest.
Then I got the scooter, and the problems started. The government is always looking for ways to make a €, and here in Italy they have something called the "property passage": a tax you have to pay when you buy a second hand vehicle. If A sells car to B, B has to pay the Italian state a wad of cash. If A gives car to B, B has to pay the Italian state a wad of cash, neat huh? Fair enough, I don't like it but I go to pay the wad of cash (going to a private company who do all the bureaucratic twists and turns in return for another wad of cash of their own). I have all the documents I can find, photocopied in triplicate, and with the obligatory €30 stamp for good measure, only to discover that they won't take my wads of cash without an Italian identity card. How do I get an Italian ID? I go to the council where I am resident and they print me one (if I have my stay permit to hand). That's in three months, remember? Sigh.
Then I discovered another nice rule they have: to get a stay card you have to prove you earn more money in a year than the limit set below which Italians can apply for benefits. It makes sure the foreigners don't come here and leech the virtually non-existent benefits to be had, because once they do their stay card would be revoked, followed by an expulsion order I presume.
Oh yes, I can see the next month or two bringing lots of fun trips to government offices, and then some. I think I'll write a book about all this, just as a memento.


By admin (when...  19/08/2008 @ 16:50:45, Where Italy, linked 902 times)
There's been a lot of press recently about right winger berlusconi deciding to use soldiers to patrol the streets of many Italian cities. The berlusconi-controlled media empire (he owns 3 out of the top 6 TV channels, the other 3 are state controlled, which means he has control of those too) are bombarding viewers with interviews with members of the public who all seem delighted by the appearance of camo uniforms and big guns. However, as always, not everything is as it seems.
Soldiers on the streets is bad for public relations, no matter what the pro-interviews might want us to believe. Even Rome's fascist Mayor, gianni alemanno, has decided that whereas he is taking advantage of the soldiers patrolling the streets, he doesn't want them in the historical centre of the city where they might very well disturb or frighten the tourists.
The soldiers themselves have limits as to what they can in theory do, for example they cannot arrest anyone unless they actually see them committing a crime (which of course will be rather easy to lie about) and they are always accompanied by a police officer, or by a military police (caribinieri) officer. One of the police forces highest ranking officers in Rome called the whole exercise a publicity stunt.
One thing that has been mentioned very little whilst this worrying precedent takes place is the fact that berlusconi's government waited only a couple of weeks after announcing that soldiers would be helping "bring safety to the streets of Italy" before they passed legislation cutting police funding.

Getting round the Censorship

By admin (when...  12/08/2008 @ 16:12:24, Where Italy, linked 956 times)
Found this, seems to work:

Come tornare a vedere The Pirate Bay

Potete fare una di queste cose:

  • Sostituite i vostri DNS con (o 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 finale) - consigliato
go into your Network Settings page, select to override or ignore the default DNS, and put in the one above (or two of them).

All working.

Thanks to This site here

Document to send to Telecom to break contract

By admin (when...  12/08/2008 @ 14:45:22, Where Italy, linked 714 times)
Recently Italy's main provider blocked certain sites, one of which is Piratebay
They justify their censorship (an act that the press, 50% of which is controlled
 by berlusconi, the leader of the right wing government with Fascist alliances, often criticises when it is at the hands of Communist-lead countries like China) they have cited the availability of pedophilic material via this site. An admirable cause, weakened only by the fact such material is also readily searchable via sites like google, yahoo, altavista, virgilio and telecom's own search engine. Clearly the matter at the heart of this censorship is pirating, the victims of which include of course berlusconi's many media companies. It is state funded censorship for it's own financial gains that is at the heart of this matter.
I recently wondered out load if it was, therefore, possible to use this change in my service (for which I was obliged to sign a 2-year contract) to breakfree of any agreements I have with telecom. It looks like I wasn't the only one, as here is a document all ready to be sent off doing just this:

Lets see what the next step will be.

One of my new, favourite blogs...

By admin (when...  11/08/2008 @ 15:40:07, Where Italy, linked 665 times)
I've not had time to actually read what this guy wants to talk about, but seeing his frank and open arguments about Italian crackdowns on bloggers (read CENSORSHIP) then it might become a favourite hunting ground of mine:

Telecom censors Piratebay

By admin (when...  09/08/2008 @ 16:38:01, Where Italy, linked 1099 times)
IF you have a Telecom internet account. you might discover that they have censored so I'd suggest you try one of the following for your torrents (these lamers have no idea that it's too late to try and stop them...).

There are hundreds more. Now I'm going to try and see how to get round the telecom block, if it really exists, and then how to get out of my telecom contract, as I counted on using to distribute my own music.
It seems that because gives links to material that is not acceptable for the Italian legal system, they have decided to block it. I presume that this means they'll be blocking google soon too, as you can find many nice, free, and quick downloads by heading over to here:
Based on google, type in a band name or change the parameters and go for anything you like.
As always, my music can be downloaded for free from

Summer Madness

By admin (when...  06/08/2008 @ 21:47:09, Where Italy, linked 885 times)
Weirdness abounds in Italy in the summer. Traditionally mums and children flee the cities for all of August, leaving husbands working till they get time off, and then they join the family in some coastal house / flat for several weeks.
That leaves the city half empty, and things often get strange.

So, during the summer magazine publishers start their new magazine collections for the bored beach-dwellers. You know the sort of thing. Dragons, puppies, cooking, dolls, you name it, there's a collection to start. One recently caught my eye. World War II bombers. Oh how tasteful. Then I caught the name of the first plane model included in the set: a Boeing B17. My curiosity was piqued. A quick look on Wiki and yes, it was the very plane that bombed the crap out of Rome in 1943, killing many civilians.

Oh how apt, and how devastatingly stupid.


By admin (when...  20/07/2008 @ 18:26:59, Where Italy, linked 1049 times)
First in a series of articles about life in Italy, by an Englishman...

Now, directly comparing Italians to the English gives you, at first, an easy list of differences. Italians take care over how they dress, the English don't; Italians care greatly about personal hygiene, the English, well, don't; in Italy, style is everything, you cannot claim to be Italian unless you have a Rolex, and the latest cell-phone, but if you are are over 23 years of age and still living with your parents in the UK you clearly need counseling, but in Italy it's normal to have your mother clean your underwear till you're just under 40, at which point you'd better hope to have found a wife/mother substitute who'll do that for you.

Other things become apparent with time. The English can be a bit stand-offish, cold and distant to the point of seeming rude (which most of the time we aren't, we just don't like to cross that little shield we carry around all the time), whilst the Italians are open, friendly and (on more than one level) hot. Until you walk in a shop. In England (not London, that's a whole different kettle of fish indeed) from the moment you open the door (or perhaps another customer will hold it open for you, don't expect that in Italy, courtesy does not exist in the Italian language) most shops will be staffed by relatively polite, and occasionally helpful assistants. The overall sensation is that they actually want to sell you something. The politeness is, however, as far as you'll get. Here in Italy many shops are staffed be beings who seem to be serving time, looking in your general direction only if they can do so in a condescending manner. If you the make the horrifying faux pas of asking for something, like the price of an object, or if something is in fact in stock, well, then you will see hate and exasperation. Now this is made all the more strange by the fact that many, if not most, Italian shops are family-run businesses. So it is actually the person in front of you who really is selling you the product or service in order to "make a buck"...

Once I was faced with a cabinet filled with presumably rather expensive cigars whilst out on an errand as a runner for MTV. I say presumably as there were no prices, and even if the bar was empty, the assistant refused to tell me any prices. I had to chose one, and then she would take it out of the cabinet and at the till she could tell me the price, she informed me, but only if I intended to buy it... So I left. I went to bar where I used to live for 3 months solid, 4 or 5 times a week, for a nice cappuccino and a litre of milk. The staff were sullen, rarely looked me in the eye, never made small talk, and threw my change down on the counter as though they were repulsed to touch money that I was going to take away. That all changed one day, however, when they discovered I was English. Suddenly I had entered an "inner circle", and was greeted with smiles, shouted greetings, and endless improvised English lessons with hilarious attempts at pronouncing the names of cigarette brands. I was normally greeted as Paul McCartney, and suddenly the attention was almost too much, and there is the crux of an important part of the Italian way. They can be diffident and seem, no, I'll correct that, and be very rude. They can make your life hell just because they can, and they don't even seem to enjoy doing it, they just do it. But if you break through that barrier, and become "one of them" then you will find they'll be almost painfully helpful, doing literally anything to make your life easy. Bureaucracy in Italy can be devastating, endless queues with countless documents each with their own stamps and appendices, each exclusively obtained from their own offices and departments, but if you have a friend, none of that matters. You can spend days getting a document, running circles round the city, or you might get lucky, and in half an hour your "friend" has cut the red tape, given a nudge, and away you go.

And then we get onto Italy's favourite sport... No, not football. Corruption.
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