Posts Tagged ‘Italy’

How Italy’s changing.

No Comments » Written on April 17th, 2012 by
Categories: Italy
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The mayor of Milan has made the city register of births, marriages and deaths open to the public.
For the first time, the surname Brambilla (one of the most common surnames in Milan for centuries) has been topped by a foreign surname, the chinese name Hu. Brambilla is now only the ninth most common name, while Hu is ranked second.

Paola from Turin, Italy

Mamma has called time on la dolce vita

Never has the gender gap seemed so wide in Italy, but things could be about to change, says Cristina Odone

‘Basta!” (Enough!) cried a million women, as they poured out into the streets of every major Italian city last Sunday. They were calling time on the premiership of Silvio Berlusconi.

It was a very feminine protest: housewives, actresses, business women (Miuccia Prada, of the luxury leather goods firm, was there). In their Gucci shades and Prada handbags, most were angry but civilised, and opted for sarcasm (“We like sex, not bunga bunga!”) rather than Molotov cocktails.

“Women want to stop Berlusconi and his trashing of our values,” said Raffaella Neri, editor of La Comuna, a small independent newspaper, who organised the march in Florence. She welcomed the ruling by an all-female jury that he should be tried on charges of sex with a minor and abuse of power, and she is already preparing for another nationwide women’s protest on March 8, to mark Women’s Day.

Next month’s protest, like last weekend’s, will expose not only Berlusconi’s fading credibility and popularity; but also the gender gap in Italian society. Although men did turn out last Sunday, (30 per cent of the crowd in Florence, according to Neri) the marchers were overwhelmingly female. There had been nothing like it since the 1970s, when women campaigned for the right to divorce and abortion.

Italian men have been very forgiving of Berlusconi. They see him as the little man who made it big, the former ship’s crooner who now sits at top table with the President of the United States. He’s the 72-year-old who can still pull the girls, the fun-lover who knows how to savour every moment of la dolce vita… most Italian men don’t just like their head of state – they want to be like him.

But the women of my native land have had a rough time under “il Cavaliere” (the gentleman). For generations, women have had to observe a careful balancing act: they are the matriarchs who guard the sacred concept of the family and rule the roost, but also the partners of chippy machos who must be allowed to think that they’re in charge. La mamma is all-powerful, but she must not let papa lose face. This philosophy has meant that Italian women accommodate far more in their marriages than their British counterparts would countenance. I know of Italian wives who shrug off their husband’s very public flirtations as if they were naughty boys indulging their sweet tooth; the result is infantilised men, but a quiet life – and impregnable status for the women.

Berlusconi, however, with his sexual excesses (the latest, allegedly, a 17-year-old prostitute) and constant undermining of women (he divorced his wife and turned porn stars into politicians) has taken a hammer to the pillar that was a woman’s place in society.

His obsession with sex permeates his broadcasting empire: popular quiz shows star semi-naked presenters and Strictly Come Dancing-style competitions focus on sexually suggestive acts, such as a provocatively dressed girl eating a banana. Berlusconi’s selection of weather girls and former models to hold political posts – Mara Carfagna, his equal opportunities minister, was a topless model – has demeaned women in Parliament as well as on prime time.

The Berlusconizazzione of Italy has contributed to some sobering statistics: last year, the World Economic Forum placed the country 74th in the world for its treatment of women; sexual violence, in particular domestic violence, is on the rise. Berlusconi’s regime has compromised more than personal safety, though. Italy’s net deficit is more than 100 per cent of GDP, and its productivity lags behind Britain’s and Germany’s.

Even the most macho Italian must resent the way the premier who should be leading the nation out of its economic woes fritters away his time with belly-dancers. So far, the anti-Berlusconi demonstrators have not turned out on an Egyptian scale. Next month, though, they may change their tune. When they do, the one-time crooner may have sung his last.

By Cristina Odone, The Telegraph

Man for hire

No Comments » Written on October 4th, 2010 by
Categories: Italy
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One of the side effects of the economic crisis in Italy is a more creative approach to the job market. People are inventing new jobs and trying to use all their skills to make some money.

You often see notes around town, stuck up outside supermarkets, in post offices or even on rubbish bins. They say things like: “uomo in affitto” (literally: man for hire). There’s nothing sexual in this of course(!), it’s all very genuine and pretty clever, too.

The men are basically handy to have around. They can do odd jobs around the house, fix pipes, put up shelves, build your IKEA furniture, paint walls, mow lawns, clean the cellar, and much more besides.

They are targeting those single women out there that may need some help with those “manly jobs” around the house, or of course, “office” types who doesn’t know a nail from a hammer when it comes to DIY. Of course, all of them offer competitive prices too.

Paola from Torino,  Italy

Bartering is back

No Comments » Written on September 21st, 2010 by
Categories: Italy
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Less money in people’s pockets and greater awareness about the environmental impact of throwing away unwanted items are two key reasons for the recent boom in bartering market places in Italy. It’s part of a new clever and creative downsizing movement.

In big cities, bartering associations organize Sunday markets where you can bring items you no longer need (clothes, books, music, etc.) and swap them for things you do need or fancy without any money changing hands!

It’s fun, it’s ethical and everybody wins. And if you miss the Sunday market, you can go online – there’s plenty of websites out there that allow you to get rid of unwanted belongings and swap them for something new.

Paola from Milan, Italy

A different kind of emigration

1 Comment » Written on July 9th, 2010 by
Categories: Italy
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There’s a long history of emigration in Italy. However, while in the past, it was the poor, uneducated, and disparate who fled to richer countries, today this has changed. Following the heavy spending cuts in education and research, the corruption, the nepotism, the lack of opportunity for any talented young people, a considerable and worrying number of individuals have started to leave the country again. But this time, it’s nothing to do with being poor. The sons and daughters of rich and middle to upper-class families, educated and intellectual youngsters, the most talented brains of our time are choosing to go abroad to study and build their career. Italy is no longer a country for clever people.

Paola from Italy.

Politics is beautiful

Forget seeing spectacled, bearded and intellectual faces at Italy’s regional elections at the end of March. This year, there seems to be several candidates who have been picked for their looks rather than their political experience. Beautiful women adorn the election campaign posters: Nicole Minetti running for Lombardia is an actress and just so happened to be Berlusconi’s dental hygienist (she treated the Italian Prime Minister for two broken teeth after he was smashed in the face during a political rally); Graziana Capone, who has been compared to Angelina Jolie, is running for Puglia (according to reports, she was recently hired to help Mr Berlusconi’s image on television). Daniela Martani, running for Lazio, is a former airline hostess and Big Brother star, while Chiara Sgarbossa, running for Veneto, is a former TV weather presenter. Why should we vote for these girls? Some people might argue they don’t have any political skills. Well, it could be argued that getting your Prime Minister into bed demonstrates some kind of expertise?!

Paula from Torino, Italy

Trans is the new trend

No Comments » Written on March 11th, 2010 by
Categories: Italy
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Italy, a country typically known as the land of Latin lovers and macho men, is surprisingly becoming a place where an increasing number of guys are experimenting with transsexual love.

Only recently, the President of Regione Lazio, Piero Marrazzo, who is married with kids, had to stand down from politics after being caught enjoying an intimate moment with a famous Brazilian transsexual prostitute. Of course he was stupid enough (or certain enough that he was going to get away with it?) to drive to his house in his official car. And to let this guy, Brenda, film their encounters on his mobile.

This scandal caused a real stir in Italy as people started to realize that more and more Italian men are dabbling in transsexual sex. We have transsexuals on talk shows, in the news and in magazines – and we have been told how this mix of forbidden sex and cocaine attracts all sorts of men, especially the more famous, footballers and politicians.

For anyone who’s interested, a book has just been published written by the most famous and beautiful transsexual ever, Efe. It’s called Quello che i mariti non dicono (“The things your husband will never tell”).

Paula from Torino, Italy

Swine flu and religion

1 Comment » Written on December 1st, 2009 by
Categories: Italy
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In Italy, many people shake hands with their neighbours at church as a sign of peace. However, the outburst of swine flu in Italy has prompted many churches to abolish this peaceful gesture in order to avoid hand-to-hand contact. It’s interesting to see how creative we get in these kinds of situations. A guy in Northern Italy, for example, has invented a very successful “safe holy water dispenser” – the machine lets a few drops of water fall into your hands so you don’t have to dip your fingers into the holy water bowl, which can be a breeding ground for germs.

Paola from Torino, Italy

Transcreating slogans from English into local English

No Comments » Written on November 12th, 2009 by
Categories: Italy
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Many copywriters in Italian ad agencies nowadays find it fashionable to write taglines (and even headlines) in English – and not just for international campaigns, but for campaigns that run on a national level, too.

We are not talking here about multinational brands leaving their tagline in English locally because they have decided to run them in English in every market (this is a whole other issue altogether).

We strive to think as mother tongue copywriters and not as translators. So, when we’re asked to transcreate an English line that can’t run as is in the local market (for linguistic or cultural reasons), why shouldn’t we consider (as well as options in the local language), the option of creating another line in “easy English” that sounds good to the local ear, is understandable and basically something a local copywriter could have come up with?

Cooperating with agencies on a deeper and also higher level (out of the box and into the brief, shall we say) would open up a whole new opportunity for the sector, as it’s not a matter of Itanglian or Spanglish of Chinglese really, it’s rather the fact that by becoming local, not too paradoxically the English language becomes less local itself. And, unless for local British or American products or brands, a “local English” language isn’t usually the ideal choice for an international campaign.

Marco from Milan, Italy

What a louse-y thing to say!

No Comments » Written on October 20th, 2009 by
Categories: Italy
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As Berlusconi eagerly attacks what’s left of the Italian free press, lots of people are reacting by signing a petition for freedom of information in Italy (many famous people from all over the world have already agreed to back the cause, including artists, sports stars, film directors and intellectuals).

Repubblica newspapaer, the symbol of press resistance, has raised lots of embarassing questions and insistently asked Berlusconi to reply and defend himself as the press in any other democartic country would do.

In response, Berlusconi has sued them and insulted the journalists calling them “farabutti” (louses). As a result, thousands of people have sent a picture of themselves to the paper with the word “farabutti” written across it in sympathy with Repubblica. http://www.repubblica.it/speciale/2009/foto-lettori-farabutti/index.html

“Farabutti” is a word that probably nobody has muttered in the past 50 years. And I bet it’s now one of the most used in the Italian web.

Paola from Torino, Italy