Category Archives: Italian culture

Italian Train Graffiti

I like graffiti art (when it’s good – not that stupid tagging crap) and photograph it whenever I can. These are examples I’ve collected over years of travelling and commuting by train in Italy. All about getting around on Italian Trains You might also like: Trainwriting La Buona Educazione: Good Manners in Italy Commuting – Daily Read More…

I like graffiti art (when it’s good – not that stupid tagging crap) and photograph it whenever I can. These are examples I’ve collected over years of travelling and commuting by train in Italy.

Everyday Italian: Newspaper Headlines, Dec 2008

headlines from Dec, 2008 Left: The race for gifts paralyzes Lecco Lecco [the soccer team] defeated during the last minutes Center: Nurse at Manzoni [hospital], native of Lecco, dies on the Medale [local cliff face] Roads and trains in chaos [from holiday traffic, presumably] Right: Eluana: the decision [belongs to] the Udine clinic [this is Read More…

headlines from Dec, 2008

Left:

  • The race for gifts paralyzes Lecco
  • Lecco [the soccer team] defeated during the last minutes

Center:

  • Nurse at Manzoni [hospital], native of Lecco, dies on the Medale [local cliff face]
  • Roads and trains in chaos [from holiday traffic, presumably]

Right:

  • Eluana: the decision [belongs to] the Udine clinic [this is a Terry Schiavo-like case, much debated this year in Italy]
  • Goodbye to Notaio Messina [a notaio is something between a notary public and a lawyer]
  • Crash: 17-year-old in critical condition

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Left:

  • Incredible: the [local boating club] goes to the America’s Cup, and the city government asks them for 264 thousand euros
  • Trains and roads are disgusting: Lecchesi protest
  • Soccer: Lecco loses and closes the last round of andata [? soccer term I don’t know]

Right:

  • Hospital: they weighed one kilo between the two: Sofia and Vittoria win the challenge of life
  • Airoldi & Muzzi increases fees by 200 euros per month

Apologia del Fascismo, in Flagrante

At this time of year, Italy’s newsstands offer a variety of calendars to suit every taste, from fast cars to naked women. But this one startled me, not least because it would seem to be in violation of Italy’s law against apologia del fascismo (“apology for Fascism”), which prescribes penalties against whoever “pubblicamente esalta esponenti, Read More…

At this time of year, Italy’s newsstands offer a variety of calendars to suit every taste, from fast cars to naked women. But this one startled me, not least because it would seem to be in violation of Italy’s law against apologia del fascismo (“apology for Fascism”), which prescribes penalties against whoever “pubblicamente esalta esponenti, principi, fatti o metodi del fascismo, oppure le sue finalita’  antidemocratiche” – “publicly exalts exponents, principles, facts, or methods of Fascism, or its anti-democratic goals.”

According to Wikipedia, this law was watered down by subsequent court challenges to the point that defending Italian Fascism could only be considered a crime when such “exaltation” might lead to a refoundation of the original Fascist political party. Not likely to happen over a mere calendar, but the fact such a thing is openly offered for sale is enough to make me (and many Italians with longer memories) uncomfortable.

It seems obvious that the calendar (and other increasingly popular Fascist memorabilia) is designed to appeal to those Italians (e.g., young skinheads) who nostalgize about the Fascist period as a time of law and order and Italian martial glory – or, at least, a time when “the trains ran on time.” When the apologia law was instituted in 1952, Italians knew from direct and bitter experience that the Fascist period had been one of oppression and war which saw, among other horrors, the deportation of Italian Jews to German concentration camps.

Perhaps the Italian education system needs to spend a little less time on the glories of ancient Rome (Ross studied those in her first years of both middle school and high school), and more on the abominations committed by those who claimed to be following in Rome’s glorious footsteps. “Those who do not remember the past…”

Learn Italian in Song: Certi Momenti

Certain Moments Pierangelo Bertoli, 1980 A song in favor of a woman’s right to choose, from a time when either choice to be made for an unwanted pregnancy resulted in social stigma. Unfortunately, the song is relevant still today. For the moment (2008), abortion is legal in Italy, but the political right wing and the Read More…

Certain Moments

Pierangelo Bertoli, 1980

A song in favor of a woman’s right to choose, from a time when either choice to be made for an unwanted pregnancy resulted in social stigma. Unfortunately, the song is relevant still today. For the moment (2008), abortion is legal in Italy, but the political right wing and the Catholic church are doing what they can to make obtaining an abortion – or even birth control – more difficult. Teenage pregnancy has not been a big phenomenon in Italy to date, but at this rate…

A year or two ago we went out to dinner at Taverna ai Poggi, a restaurant near our home in Lecco. The only table left was in the basement, alongside a large (pre-arranged) banquet of some sort. We were a merry little bunch, and the restaurant staff kept apologetically asking us to quiet down so we wouldn’t disturb the other group. Perforce, we listened to them, and were astonished to hear a long recital of vitriolic anti-abortion poetry. Had I had my wits about me, I should have replied with this song.

Anna che hai scavalcato le montagnee hai preso a pugni le tue
tradizioni

lo so che non é facile il tuo giorno

ma il tuo pensiero é fatto di ragioni

i padri han biasimato la tua azione

la chiesa ti ha bollato d’eresia

i cambiamento impone la reazione

e adesso sei il nemico e cosi’ sia

ritornello:

Credo che in certi momenti il cervello non sa piu’ pensare

e corre in rifugi da pazzi e

non vuole tornare

poi cado coi piedi per terra e

scoppiano folgore e tuono

non credo alla vita pacifica non credo al perdono

Adesso quando i medici di turno rifiuteranno di esserti d’aiuto

perchÉ venne un polacco ad insegnargli

che é piu’ cristiano imporsi col rifiuto

pretenderanno che tu torni indietro

e ti costringeranno a partorire

per poi chiamarlo figlio della colpa

e tu una Maddalena da pentire.

(ritornello)

Volevo dedicarti quattro righe,

per quanto puo’ valere una canzone

credo che tu abbia fatto qualche cosa

anche se questa é solo un’opinione

che lascerai il tuo segno nella vita e i poveri bigotti reazionari

dovranno fare senza peccatrici

saranno senza scopi umanitari

(ritornello x2)

Anna, [you] who have climbed the mountainsand have beaten up your traditions

I know your day isn’t easy

but your thought is made up of [correct] reasons

The fathers have censured your action

the church has declared you a heretic

change requires reaction

and now you’re the enemy, and so be it.

refrain:

I believe that in certain moments the brain doesn’t know how to think anymore

and runs into crazy refuges and doesn’t want to return

then I fall with my feet on the ground

and lightning and thunder explode

I don’t believe in the peaceful life,

I don’t believe in pardon.

Now that the doctors on duty

will refuse to help you

because a Polack* came to teach them

that it is more Christian to impose oneself by refusal

They will expect that you turn back

and they will force you to give birth

to then call him “child of shame” and you a Magdalene to repent.

(refrain)

I wanted to dedicate four lines to you, for whatever a song may be worth

I believe you have done something,

although this is only an opinion,

that will leave your sign in life

and the poor reactionary bigots

will have to do without [female] sinners

they will be without humanitarian aims.

* Polacco in Italian is not a pejorative term. It merely connotes a male citizen of Poland, in this specific case, Karol Wojtyla, aka the late Pope John Paul II. However, I think the context justifies using the pejorative English term rather than the neutral (and potentially confusing, in spite of capitalization) “Pole”.

if you find this useful and want more, let me know!

Everyday Italian: Newspaper Headlines 16

They cheat us [fregare] on the gas bills. You might also like: Everyday Italian: Newspaper Headlines, Dec 2008 Everyday Italian: Newspaper Headlines 14 Everyday Italian: Newspaper Headlines 6 Everyday Italian: Learn from Newspaper Headlines 2

They cheat us [fregare] on the gas bills.