Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Italian Cowboy

MITICOMythical in name only, the Italian Cowboy lives in Toscana, not far from Lucca. Ever since he was a little boy, Piero (his real name), has been passionate about horses and the free-ranging lifestyle of the American cowboy, about whom he learned by reading everything he could get his hands on about the American West. And, growing up, his persistent dreams were of exploring unknown open spaces on horseback, discovering hidden paths through the Tuscan hillsides, and wandering free and unfettered under the broad Tuscan sky.

Italy – Baseball Powerhouse?

Italy vs. Canada

Italy vs. Canada


 
Watch out, Canada, we’re thinking of taking up hockey!
 
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Beppe Grillo revisited
by Mario Fusco

Over the last few years, as an unavoidable consequence of online reporting and blogging, there has been a general degradation in the language of public discourse. For instance, the unmistakable reliance on automatic spell checkers is evident in many stories, and there has been a general relaxation of the rules of grammar, sometimes at the expense of intelligibility.

So, why does the observation above have a place on an Italian blog? Because of the following excerpt (“Crazy days in Rome with papal and political void”, Associated Press, under the byline Victor L. Simpson):

Yet perhaps the biggest gatecrasher of all is Beppe Grillo, who has upset the established order by riding a self-styled “tsunami” of disgust with the powers-that-be and grabbing a quarter of the parliamentary vote.

Italian Elections 2013
by Mario Fusco

Italian Politics 2013

Beppe Grillo

Beppe Grillo

On February 24 Italians went to the polls to elect a new government. The results were widely decried as inconclusive, resulting in a gridlocked Parliament that would be unable to govern effectively and lead Italy out of the economic morass in which it has languished for several years. Press and blogs were awash with opinions about the “two clowns” who had prevailed over the Social Democrats, Beppe Grillo and Silvio Berlusconi. Particularly offensive was the cover of the Economist, which prominently featured the “two clowns” and luridly highlighted their supposed shortcomings, in an echo of Peer Steinbrueck’s remarks.

It’s hard to defend Berlusconi’s record, so it’s advantage Economist here. It is equally hard, however, to accept the dismissive attitude toward Grillo, and not to see in it a continuation of the policy of ostracism by established interests towards the comedian-turned-politician. A policy that began in the early 90’s and that has manifestly failed to muzzle Grillo. One would hope that Grillo’s past life as a comedian should not weigh on anyone’s judgments of his achievement and of his importance to Italy, not any more, in any case, than Ronald Reagan’s career as a B-movie actor should weigh on any judgment of his achievements as Governor of California and President of the United States. Besides, weeping clowns are a staple of the Western cultural panorama, and we should pay attention to them.

New Italian Consul arrives in San Francisco!
by Mario Fusco

Mauro Battocchi

Mauro Battocchi

As of September 4, Italy has a new Consul General in San Francisco. Mauro Battocchi, 45, began his mandate at 2590 Webster Street after four years at a multinational power company, Enel, as head of governmental affairs.

“Italy is a world leader in renewable energies and smart-grid technologies,” he said in Rome before departing for San Francisco. “I am committed to showing Italy’s advancement in sustainability and technology to our San Franciscan and North-Western friends,” he added. Previously, he supported the international expansion of Italian firms at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was also the head of the economic section of the Italian Embassy in Tel-Aviv (1999-2002) and served at the financial section of the Italian Embassy in Bonn (1995-1999), taking part in the negotiations for the beginning of the European Monetary Union. Mr. Battocchi graduated in economics at Bocconi University, Milan, and received a Master’s degree in public policy at Princeton University. Born in the Alpine region of Trentino, he would welcome suggestions for the best hiking and skiing spots in the San Francisco area.

The Zoppe family Circus is coming to Redwood city!
by Mario Fusco


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The Evolution of the Italian Language, alas!
by Mario Fusco

Italian Language Revisionism

It is no news that, for several years, separatist tendencies have become apparent in Italian political and social life. The “rich” North sees itself as a bastion of probity, industriousness, and fiscal responsibility, and profess that they are tired of picking up the tab for the shiftless, corrupt, crime-ridden South. The South sneer at the Northerners’ sanctimoniousness, and point out that the backward state of the South is in large part a consequence of the policy of despoliation and neglect that followed the annexation of the Southern Kingdom by the Kingdom of Sardinia in 1861. And, they rightly add, corruption is not an exclusive of the South, witness the scandals rooted in the very inner sanctum of the Northern League involving Bossi, Il Trota, and other personages of the Lega. More extreme Northern groups avow that they would like to see a divided peninsula, a northern Padania and a southern who-knows-what, from which presumably they could draw cheap labor, sort of like Mexicans in the US or Turks in Germany, but without the language problem.

And speaking of language, Italian, the language of Dante and Petrarca, is being corrupted and bastardized by the controversy. The letter “k”, missing from the modern Italian alphabet, is increasingly being reintroduced to produce the sound we all know, heretofore produced by the letter “c” or the combination “ch”. In extreme manifestations even the letter “q” gets replaced by “k”, resulting in a written language that is, at first glance, unrecognizable by Italian speakers. The tendency to do this appears to be localized in the extreme North of the country, so that it seems another mechanism for diversity and separation. Amateur psychologists and linguists could go far speculating on this predilection for the letter “k”. Here we’ll just note that experts in these matters tell us that the letter “k” occurs in German 1.3% of the time, in English 0.7% of the time, in French 0.1%, in Spanish and in Italian 0%. The widespread use of “k” to replace the present instances of “c”, “ch” and “q” in Italian would result in a frequency of occurrence of the letter ”k” of approximately 2.2%, satisfyingly outdoing, at least linguistically, those lucky Germans, who are so much more “northern” than us Italians! (But not outdoing the Ku Klux Klan, who are at 30% in their name!)

Below is an example such k-pregnant prose, reproduced unedited from a website best left unidentified.

Your virtual gateway to Italy
by Mario Fusco

Benvenuti! Here you will find information about Italy and all things Italian, from language instruction to Italian restaurant reviews, from Italian events in the Bay Area to travel tips, from Italian food recipes to glimpses of Italian life.

Browse our posts: they run the gamut from general culture to the history of Italian immigration, from interesting tidbits about Italian products and Italian lifestyle to fascinating historical details about places that you have never heard of. We go from big cities such as Rome and Naples to achingly beautiful mountaintop hamlets such as Dozza and Bertinoro. Brush up your Italian skills with our weekly Grammar Tidbit, or access our free online Italian Grammar, complete with pronunciation guide and most used phrases and words.

And let us hear from you. If you have an interesting story to contribute, if you have a question, if you have a compliment or (alas!) a complaint, let us know, and we will respond.

ARRIVEDERCI!

Italy map

Italy in Europe

Everything Italian on one site!

Looking for Italian language instruction? Organizing a trip to Italy? What about finding the greatest Italian restaurant in the Bay Area or that ultimate recipe just like your grandma used to make? Or perhaps you spent too much time watching the game (alas!) with your buddies, and need a little Italian bauble to soothe your lovely wife’s ruffled feathers. All of these things you will find on our website. We have consolidated the contents of a couple of earlier sites to provide you with a seamless Italian experience.

Along with the new commercial elements there remains, on this site, the original focus on art, culture, and history. And we intend to grow: the ultimate aim is to provide all Italophiles of the Bay Area, and beyond, a one-stop electronic storefront that will provide intellectual stimulation alongside material possessions for gracious living. Our sister site, finestItalian.com, continues unchanged, though it, too, is slated for some enhancements.

So please come visit often, drop us a line, let us know how you feel. Buy some Italian art once in a while, or an Italian pendant for your sweetheart, or a gorgeous ceramics bowl for your holiday table. But even if you don’t, we hope to hear from you.

Mantova

Palazzo Te

Palazzo Te

Another historical and cultural gem is the Lombard city of Mantova, former home of the Dukes of Gonzaga. This amazing family ruled Mantova for nearly 400 years, and contributed at least one Saint, a couple of Holy Roman Empresses, several French Dukes, and a Polish Queen Consort. During the Renaissance the Gonzaga were among the most important patrons of the arts in Italy, including opera and music in general.

The legacy of the Dukes of Mantova is most apparent today in the Palazzo Ducale, an architectural complex comprising several buildings connected by various corridors and galleries, and including internal gardens and courtyards. In the Palazzo Ducale one finds the famous Camera degli Sposi (Chamber of the Newlyweds), with frescoes by Andrea Mantegna, dedicated to Ludovico Gonzaga and to his wife Barbara of Brandenburg. Another must-see in Mantova is Palazzo Te, designed by Giulio Romano in 1525 at the behest of Federico II Gonzaga. This palace, home to Federico’s “official” lover Isabella Boschetti, was built on a small wooded island in the midst of a lake since vanished. It contains the famous Sala dei Giganti, the Sala di Amore and Psyche, and the Sala dei Cavalli (the Gonzaga horse stables were famous all over Europe at that time.) Of course the city contains many more buildings of note, both secular and religious (more about Mantova) The immense Piazza Sordello, bounded on one side by the Palazzo Ducale, is the center of the old city, reached immediately by crossing one of the bridges spanning the Mincio. Palazzo Te is at the other end of the city, presumably to keep wife and official lover as far apart as possible.