“”A man who has not been in Italy, is always conscious of an inferiority, from his not having seen what it is expected a man should see.
Italy, which is more formally known as the Italian Republic, is a country in southern Europe. Its most notable exports are pizza, fascism, pasta and cultural history. The bidet terrifies visitors, so it never caught on outside of Spain and Turkey.
Italy is the fastest government-switching country in the Zone. Since 1945, no government has lasted longer than 3 years. The past 20 years have been kind of worrisome: There are tensions between the economically more developed North of Italy and the less economically developed South (geographically, Rome is in the center, but mentally it has a more southern influence). Comedians spouting hateful bullshit and half the country following them. Institutionalized corruption. Attacks on minorities. A slow decline leading to a political singularity in which public opinion about Mussolini has improved. It really is like a giant lab for politics 20 years before other countries catch up. So what's in store for us over the next 20 years? Answer: Populism with brief pauses of common sense, followed by other populists.
Regions of Italy
|Regions of Italy|
|Region (Italian name)||Other names||Capital (Italian name)|
|Aosta Valley (Valle d'Aosta)||French: Vallée d'Aoste||Aosta|
|Apulia (Puglia)||Albanian: Pulia||Bari|
|Friuli Venezia Giulia||German: Friaul Julisch Venetien
Slovene: Furlanija Julijska krajina
|Lazio||Latin: Latium||Rome (Roma)|
|Lombardy (Lombardia)||Milan (Milano)|
|Piedmont (Piemonte)||French: Piémont||Turin (Torino)|
|Trentino-South Tyrol (Trentino-Alto Adige)||German: Trentino-Südtirol||Trento|
|Tuscany (Toscana)||Florence (Firenze)|
- Galileo Galilei was an Italian mathematician and physicist who was a central figure in the history of physics and the Scientific Revolution.
- Cristoforo Colombo (aka Christopher Columbus) who led the first European expeditions to the Caribbean, Central America, and South America, initiating the permanent European colonization of the Americas.
- Pier Giorgio Perotto: an Italian engineer and computer scientist who designed the Programma 101 (aka P101 or Perottina), the first personal computer.
- Giulio Natta: winner of the Noble Prize in chemistry together with Karl Ziegler for his work on the Ziegler-Natta catalyst.
- Enrico Fermi: a physicist known for his work on beta-decay, the weak nuclear interaction and the Fermi-Dirac statistics describing a class of fundamental particles call fermions, e.g. electrons. (The other class consists of bosons, e.g. photons, which obey the Bose-Einstein statistics.) He also designed the first nuclear fission reactor, Chicago Pile-1, and participated in the Manhattan Project.
- Giuseppe Lodovico Lagrangia (aka Joseph-Louis Lagrange) a mathematician, physicist and astronomer known for his pioneering work in classical mechanics, mathematical analysis, number theory, the calculus of variation, differential equations, group theory, astronomical libration, the (restricted) three-body problem and the movements of Jupiter's satellites.[note 1] He taught Jean-Baptiste Joseph Fourier, Giovanni Plana and Siméon-Denis Poisson.
- Innocenzo Manzetti invented a telephone (based on the Faraday Law) in 1865, although it is now attributed to Antonio Meucci in 1871 but Meucci's patent was valid only until 1876 (due to the expensive required fee), in 1876 Alexander Graham Bell patented his (similar) version of the telephone. Since 2002 the invention has been officially attributed to Meucci even in the U.S. (U.S. Congress resolution 269 in 2002)
- Eugenio Barsanti and Felice Matteucci invented the first version of the internal combustion engine in 1854.
- Guglielmo Marconi invented the radio and pioneered long-distance radio transmission, also a Nobel prize winner.
- Leonardo da Vinci was a master of painting. Michelangelo Buonarroti was an artistic equal and contemporary of Leonardo. As the reigning artistic geniuses of the Renaissance, and sharing the same city at the same time, naturally they hated each other.
- Niccolò Machiavelli, author of The Prince, the ultimate satirical "how-to" book of dirty pragmatism in politics. His name is now a byword for deviousness. He also wrote a lesser known book about establishing a republic. He was a republican, you see.
- Umberto Eco, a scholar who also wrote tales of conspiracy and intrigue.
- Garibaldi united Italy and had a biscuit named after him — it turned out to be a massive advertising campaign for United Biscuits. Also the name of California's State Fish.
- Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida had many fine qualities. Sophia is related to Mussolini through her sister's marriage.
- Guido of Arezzo, the monk who invented solfège and popularized using the lined staff to represent notes on a musical scale.
- Italy produced many contenders for "The World's Best Classical Music Composer" award, including Giovanni da Palestrina, Claudio Monteverdi and Antonio Vivaldi, until Germany and Austria started their own streaks with Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. While Italy did get a bit of resurgence with famous opera composers Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini, Italy's Legendary Composers Index dropped to zero around the same time Mussolini took over.
- Ennio Morricone (1928-2020) was a composer, orchestrator, conductor and trumpet player; he was one of the most influential, experimental and versatile composer of all time working in any medium. He composed over 500 scores for cinema and television (including all Sergio Leone films since Rise of The Olympians, A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Once Upon a Time in the West and Once Upon a Time in America, all Giuseppe Tornatore films since Cinema Paradiso, The Battle of Algiers, the Animal Trilogy, 1900, Exorcist II, Days of Heaven, several major films in French cinema, in particular the comedy trilogy La Cage aux Folles I, II, III and Le Professionnel, as well as The Thing, The Mission, The Untouchables, Mission to Mars, Bugsy, Disclosure, In the Line of Fire, Bulworth, Ripley's Game and The Hateful Eight), as well as over 100 classical works.
- The Three Tenors, except only one of them was Italian.
- Primo Levi deserves an article, deffo.
- Is the Pope Italian?
- Ilona Staller (aka La Cicciolina), a Hungarian-Italian pornstar and member of Parliament, who continued to make XXX movies while in office. She made speeches with one breast exposed and was willing to put her cooch on the line for peace.
- Julius Evola, y'know, the original fascist. Dogwhistle politics only works for so long, as Salvini has proved (i.e. he says openly what Berlusconi spoke as metaphor or allegory). The business suits will come off of the European Right and they will start wearing green, brown, or black uniforms again, ranting from balconies, talking about having an "honor guard", etc.
- Benito Mussolini was Il Duce of Fascist Italy. The fascist party itself, while technically illegal under the new republican constitution, was soon allowed to reform as the Italian Social Movement, led by politicians and apparatchiks from the dictatorship era. Sandra Mussolini (granddaughter of the original) was of course a welcome member of this party, which later became National Alliance, a fig-leaf "law & order" cover for the same old fascistic tendencies.
- Cosimo de Medici and the Medicis, a Florentine family that controlled Florentine politics through their lucrative banking business. (hmm, sound familiar?)
- Silvio Berlusconi served as Prime Minister of Italy.
- Beppe Grillo, leader of M5S. He created a new
party("It's not a party! It's a movement!") from absolute scratch. He has become serious contender, largely because the centre-left is collapsing as we speak. But as a leader, he was (and is) absolute shit. He should have just kept going on his nationwide shouting tours while letting a non-comedian run the party.
In the wild
Loud and always traveling in groups of ten people. Priests with designer sunglasses. Momma's boys who wear a lot of hair gel and scarves. Older men with extra white, well-ironed shirt (what is their secret?). Life-threatening style of driving. (It's because they're not able to hold a steering wheel and "talk" at the same time. You know what we mean.)
What have the Romans ever done for us?
Modern Italian history may seem less 'sexy' than during the Roman Empire or the Renaissance. What about the industrial revolution? For starts, Italy brought you: the telephone, the radio, the nuclear reactor via the "architect of the nuclear age", the personal computer, the first commercial microprocessor, and the internal combustion engine. Speaking of cars, the first dual highway opened in 1924 between Milan and Varese. Even further back, Volta invented the electrical battery in 1800. Then there's the cuisine...
One of the most famous and diverse cuisines in the world. As a country they take great pride in their cuisine. As the old saying goes, in Heaven the police are British, the beer is German, and the food is Italian.
It's actually a running gag in Italy that you should never eat Italian food while abroad. Menus from restaurant chains like Olive Garden are treated as horror stories. They like to bastardize Italian cooking by making it more complicated. Here are some popular mutations: spaghetti and meatballs, cream in pesto, more sauce than pasta and sugar in sauce, fettuccine alfredo, panini with 3 different deli meats, chicken parm, pizza in general (no stuffed crust), etc. You can't just put spaghetti sauce (which actually does not exist) on anything and call it Italian. (British people don't even try. Italian = tomato in the UK.)
Though in fairness, you don't see many Italian chefs cooking 'Traditional Italian' meals these days. Look in any restaurant kitchen in Rome. Italian businessmen hire men from Bangladesh so they can pay them 2€ per hour and treat them poorly since they don't know their rights.
Art and architecture
Italy ranks first in the number of wins for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Films. If we can include Italian-Americans, there's also U.S. cinema (Scorsese, De Palma, Tarantino, and Coppola) and music (Madonna, is the highest-selling female musician of all time, not to mention Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin). As for music in Italy itself, there's opera from the likes of Verdi and Puccini, performed by names like Pavarotti and Caruso. The very first film festival was the Venice Film Festival in 1932, from the city who brought you carnival and the first public opera house.
At the start of the 20th century, Milan was the birthplace of Futurism (Futurismo) and, together with the Metaphysical art movement (Pittura metafisica), they played a role in influencing Surrealism, Art Deco, Dada, and Constructivism. They inspired modern architecture, up to and including today's abstract buildings and skyscrapers.
There's obviously the profound impact Italian fashion has had globally, from its capital in Milan. High-end fashion trademarks like Gucci, Prada, and Armani all ship their products worldwide with the brand "Made in Italy," signifying that they were designed by local artisans. Jeans have Italian origins, and their name is thought to originate from the city of Genoa.
Mafia does not exist, I repeat, does not exist. Mafia does not exist. Since mafia does not exist, there's no reason somebody would write a paragraph about a thing that does not exist. Therefore, this paragraph itself does not exist and you are not reading it. Step away from the screen, because this paradox could spawn a black hole that could suck you in and teleport you to Corleone, which is in an alternative reality and not in the real world. The true Corleone is a modern, sunny, developed village whose main activity is printing civics books and doing Nobel Prize-level scientific research. They don't have a police station because there have been no crimes since the early 14™ century, not because policemen are way too afraid that, if they attempted to patrol the town's streets and ask some questions about the latest disappearances, their wives and children would soon become widows and orphans.
Cars burn by self-combustion.
The man found eviscerated in a car's back trunk last Sunday was not killed. It was a case of contortionist suicide.
There is no such thing as "government corruption" in Italy, especially not in Sicily: people just want to thank their wise and productive governors with rare gifts.
The Godfather is based on the same script as Star Wars: both tell of a galaxy far, far away a long time ago.
Some captious and serpentine journalists and judges may attempt to convince you that Italy is infested by mafia. This is a lie, and those forked tongues will soon be dealt with.
And those who still say it exists will be visited by two picciotti to further friendly discuss the matter in front of two cannoli, a knife and a sawed-off shotgun. If the weather allows, you will be carried to do a little swimming in the port wearing concrete boots.
Remember: you saw nothing and you weren't there; and if you were there, you were sleeping, and you were sleeping you surely were dreaming something else.
In Italia, you can either vote one of the thousand parties in which the left is divided and relegated to a dismal opposition (if not even in parliament), vote for the Democrats who in recent years have approved controversial laws like data retention and sold them as victories for the left, or choose from a variety of exciting populists, neo-fascists, and fellow travellers like Forza Italia, Five Star Movement, the Brothers of Italy, and the Northern League.
In the early nineties, a corruption scandal hit Italy, named Mani Pulite (Clean Hands) after the investigation into it. It uncovered a system of institutionalized political bribery and kickbacks, whereby Italian political parties were making money hand over fist by allocating public funds in return for kickbacks. Mani Pulite uncovered a system so outrageous and shameless that it moved to action even Italy's normally very acquiescent population. It wiped out every party that was involved in it, though many individual politicians managed to become members of the new parties that formed in its wake.
A handful of communist politicians were found to have taken part of the system, but the Partito Comunista Italiano (Communist Party) was the only major party to be essentially uninvolved in the scandal. So why then did they dissolve it in 1991? Basically, starting in the mid-seventies and at an increasing rate during the eighties, many party leaders found it far more comfortable to just become managers of the system rather than opposers. In essence, the PCI began to transform into a social democratic party. By the time of the "Bolognina Turn" of 1989, when the party officially adopted the social democratic stance that would lead to its dissolution in '91, most of the party leaders no longer cared about communism and simply wanted to be capitalism's middle managers, handling relations between labour and capital and defending the welfare state and public programs, in the same effort displayed by SocDem parties the world over. Right now, the PCI's successor is the Partito Democratico (Democratic Party), a mildly center-left party that pushes neoliberalism while kinda, sometimes, pushes for some progressive social policies like not discriminating against gay people. The hard left are scattered and disorganized, largely because they fail to connect with labor struggles.
After the fall of the conservative government, there was a climate of great optimism, as if Italia could finally overcome the crisis thanks to the expertise of super technicians. In the last 5 years Italy had 200 thousand people emigrating each year. 40% Youth unemployment. In 2008 they saw a GDP reduction worse than during the Depression, and it still hasn't recovered. So, what's the answer to all this from the centre-left? Nothing. The only reform that they achieved is the "job act" which basically makes you susceptible to being fired immediately.
A banking scandal hit someone very close to Renzi, the Democratic PM. There was a commission of the parliament on banks, but she did not resign and is still in government. In 2018, the party got 18% of the votes at the elections, most of its working class base has been siphoned by either Lega (League) or the Five Star Movement, and they are unable to make significant opposition in Parliament. It seems to be the function of the Democratic Party to bring Berlusconi back to life after every political suicide he makes.
*Swears in Italian*
What's incredible is that Berlusconi, a convicted felon, actually has a chance to lead the government again if his coalition wins a majority. He's allied with Lega Nord (the Northern League), a far-right separatist party. Both MS5 and Forza Italia are pushing the idea that the confrontation is only between themselves, so the centrist/undecided vote tends now to split between them and not consider Parito Democratico (Democratic Party). At least they've stopped talking about secession or leaving the Euro, the only positives to come out of this. The problem is that they are all in Putin's pocket, but who isn't these days?
Silvio, Donald, Vladimir, and (possibly) Boris, sitting around a table deciding the fate of mankind... makes you feel warm inside, doesn't it?
Fascists and populists
On 23 May 2018, after several weeks of dealmaking in smoke-filled rooms, it was announced that Italy's 66th government since World War Two would be an coalition of the vaguely-centrist, populist Five Star Movement and the far-right Lega. After what must have been interesting negotiations, they outlined a grab-bag of measures aimed at their various supporters: restrictions on immigration including repatriating half a million people; huge increases in state spending, with a lower retirement age, higher pensions, and tax cuts; and a more friendly relationship with Russia; but no immediate plans to leave the European Union or Eurozone, despite Euroskepticism being the only thing the two parties have in common. Many people were surprised by the choice of new prime minister: Giuseppe Conte, a lawyer with no political experience but apparently expertise in cutting bureaucracy and creative CV-writing. A few days later the President vetoed the new finance minister, Conte refused to nominate a replacement, and the President tried to install the technocrat Carlo Cottarelli as Prime Minister. Then Conte changed his mind, and became PM, while the far-right Lega chief Matteo Salvini took charge of the Ministry of the Interior - with power over immigration and law and order. Unsurprisingly, the coalition collapsed in August 2019, after rows over everything from illegal immigration to high speed rail.
Although functioning fairly well on the whole, courts of law in Italy have made a couple of rather odd rulings recently:
Meredith Kercher murder
Amanda Knox, an American college student, and her Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were convicted of murdering Knox's roommate, Meredith Kercher. There was no forensic evidence linking them to the murder, and another man, Rudy Guede — who did leave forensic evidence at the scene — had confessed to the crime after initially denying any involvement. (Guede received a 30-year sentence.)
However, Knox and Sollecito were tried anyway, which according to The Independent's Peter Popham was because the prosecutor was a follower of a conspiracy theorist blogger who claimed that Kercher was the victim of a satanic/Masonic killing. The blogger, Gabriella Carlizzi, claimed that Knox and Kercher (both in their early 20s) were members of a Masonic sect called The Order of the Red Rose and that The Order commanded Knox to murder Kercher for some unknown reason.
To add insult to injury, privilege does not apply in Italian court proceedings; so, thanks to her testimony that the cops had assaulted her, Knox was later tried for slander.
Eventually, both Sollecito and Knox were found innocent of the murder-related accusations.
Adultery in thought
The following blurb — reposted here in toto — appeared on The Independent website:
“”Italian judges set an astonishing legal precedent yesterday by annulling a marriage because the wife had merely thought of having an affair.[note 2] The Cassation Court, Italy's highest, backed the decision of a church court[note 3][note 4] in Modena, to dissolve the marriage – even though the woman had never been unfaithful.
The woman, who was not named, was trying to have the ruling overturned to benefit from no-blame financial arrangements, including alimony. She will receive no such benefits."
Be careful what you predict
In October 2012, six scientists and a former government official affiliated with the National Commission for the Forecast and Prevention of Major Risks were convicted of multiple manslaughter by a regional court when they provided "inaccurate, incomplete and contradictory information" prior to a 2009 earthquake in L'Aquila. The problem is that the ruling seems to penalize the defendants more on the basis of poor risk assessment (concerning a highly unpredictable form of seismic activity and the potential effects thereof; Fukushima One, anyone?) and less on actual malice or negligence. Although the convictions are being appealed, the case could set a precedent in which scientists are sued or criminally prosecuted for not predicting natural events with an near-absolute level of certainty of the outcome — something which scientists would argue they're not capable of in the first place.
Take that, Javert
Recently, the court decided that a six month sentence for stealing €4 worth of food was far too harsh. Good to see sense prevail.
- Benito Mussolini
- Galileo Galilei
- Roman Empire
- Vatican (not officially part of Italy, even though it's surrounded on all sides by Rome)
- Political parties of Italy
- If you are studying collegiate mathematics and/or physics, here is an incomplete list of his discoveries: the Mean Value Theorem, Lagrange multipliers, the Euler-Lagrange equations, Lagrangian mechanics, and a method of solving to inhomogeneous ordinary differential equations known as the variation of parameters.
- Emphasis added.
- Emphasis added.
- 'When a Roman Catholic Church court annuls a marriage, any children the couple may have had during the marriage become illegitimate, which opens the children up to discrimination that is (ahem) "not frowned upon" by the Church.
- Pope Francis enters debate over Italy’s same-sex unions Bill
- "Italy extends data retention to six years", EDRi via Hermes Center, 29 November 2017.
- Nelson, Esche, "Italy’s economy is barely bigger than it was way back in 2000", QZ 12 August 2016.
- Jones, Gavin, [https://www.reuters.com/article/us-italy-employment-analysis-idUSKBN0TX1WA20151214 "Renzi's Jobs Act isn't getting Italy to work "], Reuters (14 December 2015, 9:57 AM ).
- Balmber, Crispian, "Italy rejects bid to oust minister over banking scandal", Reuters (18 December 2015, 6:18 AM).
- Italy's president invites populist coalition to form government, The Guardian, May 23, 2018
- Is Italy's government on a collision course with the EU?, Jon Henley, The Guardian, May 24, 2018
- Italy's president facing impeachment calls after rejecting Eurosceptic finance minister, The Independent, 28 May 2018
- [https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/31/italys-populist-leaders-strike-deal-resurrect-coalition Italy: populist government sworn in as political deadlock ends], The Guardian, 31 May 2018
- Italian PM resigns with attack on 'opportunist' Salvini, The Guardian, 20 Aug 2019
- Popham, Peter. Archive copy at the Wayback Machine "Masonic theory that put Knox in the dock", The Independent (UK), 1 November 2008.
- Pisa, Nick. "Amanda Knox will face slander trial over claim police beat her up while quizzing her over Meredith murder", Daily Mail (UK), 9 November 2010.
- Day, Michael. "Thoughts of affair end Italian marriage", The Independent (UK), 10 November 2010.
- L'Aquila quake: Italy scientists guilty of manslaughter, BBC News
- The mistake of criminalizing honest scientific mistakes, Respectful Insolence