Friday, September 18, 2009

When in Rome, Do as the Romans. When in Ghana, PLEASE Don't Poop on the Beach

Imagine you are sunbathing on this beautiful beach when a couple of guys stroll by, stop, squat, and "drop some friends off" on the sand next to you. Don't laugh, this could happen to you!

Most Africans are understandably not concerned with working on their tans. Despite the fact that the ocean is beautiful and the sand soft, the beach is there for taking the occasional swim, sometimes sleeping, and yes, public crapper.

Since they put up these signs (don't you love the visual?) the situation may have improved mildly, but there is still a ways to go. Must remember to think of this next time I start complaining about the public bathrooms in Italy.

Sorry for the segue from our usual When In Rome subject matter. I couldn't resist.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Italy: History, Food, Culture, and Toxic Waste?

The news from Italy today is by no means good. The associated press has reported that a shipwreck has been discovered off the coast of Calabria containing 180 barrels of toxic waste. The waste is believed to be tied to the Calabria Mafia , known as the 'Ndrangheta. According to the AP article, former mobster Francesco Fonti has told authorities that the 'ndrangheta has made millions of euro by sinking ships of radioactive waste on behalf of Northern Italian companies since the laws surrounding waste disposal became increasingly stringent and costly to comply with.

While this toxic discovery is truly bad news, it suggests that there is probably even worse news. Where there is one, there are probably many. Who knows how many ships full of radioactive material have been sunk in Italy without ever being detected? Since searching for them is extremely costly and difficult, we may never know. In the mean time, the radioactive waste will seep out into the water, make its way into the food supply of the ocean life and subsequently our own. Cancer, birth defects, and a whole slew of known and unknown dangers could result. In other words, our children (and most likely we too) are screwed.

image © Copyright Chris Allen and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Gucci of Balsamic Vinegars...

Bertani balsamic vinegar that has aged for 40 years.

Amazing. The kind of stuff that makes me think why on earth did this sit in my cupboard for 3.5 years before I finally opened it and drizzled in on some fresh strawberries... Next will be over vanilla ice cream.

This is the kind of thing I would really miss if one day I didn't live in Italy.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

If Thoughts Could Kill?

I am experiencing a horrific sense of guilt today. Last night as I was winding down after a long day, I turned on the TV and started watching an Italian variety show. After about 30 seconds the old man who was hosting the show failed to keep my interest and I said to my husband, "this guy really needs to retire, he looks mezzo morto (one foot in the grave)". Today, I turn on the news and WHAM, Mike Bongiorno died of a heart attack this morning.

What the _ _ _ _ ?!

He may have been old, and he may have seen better days, but Mike Bongiorno earned his reputation as the "Quiz King" of Italian TV and will be missed greatly. I on the other hand must be careful what I think about...

Friday, September 4, 2009

Swine Flu Claims First Italian Life

The Focus news agency reported today that a 51 year old man from Naples is the first Italian victim to die of Swine Flu (H1N1 virus). Although the man's identity is being kept private, the Cotugno hospital did report that the man had pre-exisiting pancreatic diabetes and cardiac myopathy which aggravated the swine flu symptoms and eventually led to pneumonia and a staph infection which he did not recover from.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, the 51 year old man had lived with his mother and had not traveled abroad.

Despite talk of possible school closings, schools in Italy are scheduled to open as planned around the fifteenth of September.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Shoe Man of San Giovanni Market

At the Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano intersection, right alongside the start of the Via Sannio street market, there is a truck. Inside that truck miracles happen.

Though I pass this truck just about every day, sometimes multiple times per day, it wasn't until today that I started to think maybe it is actually very creepy. You see, there is a nice old man who owns the truck and repairs shoes inside of it. Whether it is a strappy sandal emergency, a stiletto heel busted on the Roman cobblestone streets, or just some good old fashioned sole searching, this is your man. He'll fix any shoe quickly and cheaply. This is part of the beauty of Italy, we don't just throw things out because they are broken. There is a fix for everything.

If only I could get past the part about the dozens of little dolls and barbies attached to the grill of his truck...must ask him about the meaning behind the doll collection on of these days. Boh!
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