Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Flipping The Bird in Italy

                          7 Memorable Facts About Italy

Have some fun with facts about Italy.  Amaze your friends.  Break a few prejudices and preconceptions, while keeping an eye on the real world.

                                          Flipping the Bird

That finger is right around
the corner from the
Duomo in Firenze
Galileo (1562-1642) is number one on the list for arguing that the earth revolved around the sun the result of which caused the Pope to imprison him in Rome.  Nearly starving him in a darkened cell of  Castel Sant'Angelo for a long period of time,  he was later released, but his request to live near his daughter was denied.  Galileo got even through a response of showing his middle finger which is on display in a museum in Florence.  The Pope issued a formal apology to Galileo in 1992, which was a bit late for the old boy.  In the Papal apology there was no mention of the finger.

                


                    

                      
                        Fork U

Window in Bologna
Take Home Pasta
Number two:  Did you know that the  fork came to Italy before any other European country because of pasta?  I have read where it is said that Italians do not use a spoon to help wrap their spaghetti onto their forks, but I have seen it done both ways.  Before the fork they would grab the pasta and hold it above their mouths and drop it in.  It must have been quite  a mess and encouraged the invention of the napkin around the neck.   Italians do not add a pile of spices and additives to their pasta, less is more.  The average man or woman in Italy is said to consume 25 kilograms of pasta per year.  A kilo is 2.2 pounds, do the math.  Tomato sauce was not the original sauce used in Italy,  because tomatoes came originally from America, and even at first they were thought to be poisonous.  Honey was used previously, with other spices.  Think about that taste.  Uummmm.  NOT.

Only Tourists Buy This
Italians are serious about their pasta.  It is interesting  that when the first McDonalds opened in Rome there was a protest.  When the Mickey D opened its doors in 1986 customers were blocked from entering by food purists who handed out pasta to remind customers to remain focused on their heritage.  Music was provided by Luciano Pavarotti, who knew a little about eating.  I wish I could have seen that!  

All Those Lessons!
On an aside, when the Moscow McDonalds opened, lines were three hours long and people saved the cardboard wrappings and proudly put them on display in their homes.  It was a sign of the new democracy.  Music in the Moscow McDonalds  was provided by retired accordionists from the Soviet Army Band.  Just kidding, Albert.

   

                     Party On!

Number three is Charlie Sheen’s favorite!   The Vatican is the smallest country in the world yet they consume more wine per person than any other country.  Italy produces the most wine in the world, and is the largest exporter world-wide, however, the Vatican’s consumption rate is the biggest in the world, 74 liters per person.  This is an equivalent of about 105 bottles per year.  It seems like that there is a lot of partying going on, all those priests in their black frocks toasting each other.  To be fair, part of the reason for the 74 liters per person is that the Vatican supermarket does not charge a tax on booze, and a  lot of the Roman citizens know to shop there.  Italians say, “Cin Cin” (cheen cheen) when they toast each other.  I am not sure what the priests say.  Halleluja?

                               Cheesy imposter

Number four.  Italy is the 5th most  populous country in Europe with a population of 61 million.  A great percentage of them love mozzarella, which is made from buffalo milk.   (Not the buffalo as in America)  This is not the mozzarella found in the United States, that hard yellowish cheese with almost no flavor, but a coveted soft, near creamy, wonderful super white cheese.   When those thin crust pizzas are made in Italy, the mozzarella is added only at the end of baking.    All those pizzas don’t seem to hurt the life expectancy of their citizens.  The average for men is 79.8 years for men and for women it is 84.6.  This statistic is amusing because we have 12 months in a year.   Anthony Bourdain knows that the closer you get to Naples, the tastier the cheese.  It has something to do with it being fresh.


While we are on the subject of pizza, you need to know that the word pepperoni is a word in Italy that refers to peppers, not meat.  There is no such word found in Italy for that hot meat found on a pizza in the states.  In Italy if you ask for a pizza with pepperoni, they won’t have a clue.  We have ours home delivered for about 8 euros each.  A euro is worth 1.10 dollars, so they come cheap!


                                      Mooching Off The Parents

Number 5.  This fact was my biggest surprise when I moved to Italy.   When I first sat down to dine with 5 fellows from my wife’s factory I was shocked to learn that way more than one-third of all males between the ages of 30 and 35 live with their parents.  With poker faces, they all admitted that they live at home. YES!  It is normal here!   Yes, those poor mothers still wash their clothes, clean and cook dinners.  Remember mama is important in Italy.  No one is looked down upon to be living with their parents.  The percentage is higher for women, and because of this, these folks are able to save a bigger percentage of their salary.  I actually believe that there are more people living at home than officially stated because most of the people I meet under 35, are not married and living in their parents home.  They are not in a hurry to move out and be on their own.   The parents are not in a hurry to push them out and have some peace.   Hotels seem to do a good business on weekends.  The low birthrate of Italians is very low and a great concern to Renzi and his government.  He has had to push the retirement date to age 70.   The bad news is that there is no Wall Mart for the old folks to have employment. 

                                               Deadbeat Dads

Number 6.  There is great angst about getting a divorce in Italy and in fact the divorce rate in Italy is one of the lowest in all Europe.  There is a big reason there are fewer divorces.  While pondering hair loss and loss of memory at the age of 50, divorced fathers must also provide child support for the so-called child is not working, until the age of 30.   Given the economy here now, this is very probable.   If you consider that a huge percentage of these so-called adult children still live with their parents, you can see why the divorce rate is low.   Another reason for fewer divorces is that the process costs a fortune, and you must wait three years after separating, then you can finally apply.  If both people agree it would take a minimum of four years. 
    
                                      Dash For The Cash

Number 7.   You have seen those romantic movies where tourists turn their back on the Trevi Fountain and throw hard earned money into the pond.   Late in the day there’s a pile of coins glinting in the sunlight.  In fact, more than 3,000 Euros are chucked into the Trevi fountain each day.  This money is now collected once a day and given to charity.  Secretly there was a fellow who shamelessly in 1968 made off like a bandit.  He would get up before sunrise and scamper over to the fountain and go wading in the fountain to collect coins.  People said that he quite resembled a short greasy haired Richard Nixon.  (You remember the photo of Nixon on the beach with his metal detector, right?)  The story goes that in 15 minutes of quick work the Italian bandido  could gather up 1000 dollars in coins.  It must have been a heavy bag.  This scoundrel pulled off this caper until 2002 when the polizia stopped this shakedown and hauled him off to the local hoosegow.   [Another do the math, 1000 dollars times the number of weeks in a year times number of years]…….. He had enough to retire in a home with Romanian maids scantily dressed in a villa next to Berlusconi.  And there I was at the same time directing 6 bands and living on a teacher’s salary!  ……..(Do you know that the Mona Lisa was stolen by a janitor and hidden under a bed in Italy—another story, another blog)
I have been inspired to make plans to build a large fountain with a statue of my favorite Italian composer, Resphigi,  in my village of Due Carrare.  It should be finished next year.  I have my bag ready.  (There are no police in my village until 9:00 am.)



That raps it up for this post.  Please leave a comment below.  Find the words, no comments, and click on that.  Stitchers, especially want to hear from you.


Ciao!

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