Sunday, February 28, 2010

Roma screws the pooch... again

Just as everyone was starting to celebrate a great victory, Roma gave up 2 goals to Napoli, settling for a 2-2 tie this afternoon.

All is not lost, but next Saturday's game against AC Milan will make or break their season. If they win, they are tied for second place and within striking distance of Inter. If they lose, they will drop to third (at least) and be a good 5 points down on AC Milan, a gap that would be difficilissimo to overcome this late in the season.

Correction: In yesterday's post I wrote that if Roma wins they will be in second place, but they will only be tied for second with AC Milan.

Supposed 50,000 fill Piazza del Popolo for demonstration

Well, the rally yesterday went as usual, full of people, flags and speeches. Let's hope something actually comes from it.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Links section of Students in Rome updated

So I discovered that craigslist has a section for Rome, in English! (Yes, I get excited about these little conveniences). This inspired me to update the links section on Students in Rome. Check it out if you get a chance, it's got some pretty useful links for people studying here.

Anti-Berlusconi rally today in Piazza del Popolo

There will be a demonstration today (una manifestazione) against several attempts by Berlusconi that try to make him immune to Italian law. It will be held in Piazza del Popolo, which will likely be packed, if it's anything like the other anti-Berlusconi demonstrations have been.

Basically, the Prime Minister is in a bunch of trouble with the law for corrupt business practices of his and now he is trying to change Italian law so that he cannot be punished while he is Prime Minister. This rally will be a united rejection of this.

I personally recommend that, even if you are not so interested or informed in Italian politics, to come out today. These rallies are usually really interesting, if not entertaining. I guarantee that if you go you will not forget it. Hope to see you there!

"La legge è uguale per tutti" -- The law is the same for everyone

Friday, February 26, 2010

Chinotto... Coke meets coffee?

My current addiction to chinotto (pronounced kin-oh-toe) has inspired me to share this treasure with all of you. That is, those who haven't already discovered its bitter greatness.

Chinotto, sometimes written chin8 (think about it), is like the mutant offspring of two great things: Coke and coffee. A little bitter, a little sweet, a lot awesome. Try it if you haven't already.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Roma eliminated from UEFA Cup

Wow, that was unexpected...

That, combined with Milan's win against Fiorentina on Wednesday that knocked Roma down to third place, have made this a straight-up disastrous week for the giallorossi. Let's hope for the best as they travel to Naples this weekend...

Springtime in Rome

Ok, I'll take a break from depressing posts about Italian politics. And for good reason, too: the weather is fantastic! Spring is arriving (knock on wood, or better, tocco ferro) and it's about time to take advantage of this great weather and check out Rome's many parks.

Although Villa Borghese is probably the most central and popular, if you go a little more north you will find Villa Ada (pictured above), which is much bigger. Take a short metro A ride out to Colli Albani and there is the Appia Antica park, which is beautiful and huge.

Hmmm, I feel a Students in Rome article coming...

"Premier seeks 'Army of good against evil'"

Hmmm, this recent statement sounds strangely familiar...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Italy vs. The Free Internet

It is clear that Italy is currently undergoing an identity crisis as its traditionally conservative culture meets modernity. Italians are torn between conflicting cultural traditions and new conveniences.

A predictable result of this is a strong conservative backlash that shuns modern technology like TV and internet, branding these as trash, inappropriate, and even harmful to Italian culture. Instead of embracing the internet and television as a future means of communication, many Italian politicians and pundits are turning their back on it, which is creating a big problem on where to draw the line between freedom of speech and offensive content.

Considering that the internet, with all the anonymity and vastness entailed, has just about everything posted for anyone to see, there are always people that will cross the line. Recently, hateful and tasteless groups on Facebook have been banned by the Italian government, as well as a horribly offensive youtube video posted by an Italian that currently has resulted in Google being sued.

While there is certainly no doubt that these groups and other hateful content are absolutely disgusting and completely inexcusable, cases like these should not be used to show that the internet as a whole is a bad thing. However, in Italy, they are being used as excuses to clamp down on the freedoms of Italian internet users.

Freedom of speech is, by definition, open: there will be good ideas, bad ideas, noble ideas and offensive ideas. However, many Italian politicians are hinting that the problem is the freedom of speech itself that exists with the internet. They are led by the Prime Minister himself, Silvio Berlusconi, whose opinion is that "the internet must be regulated," and consistently tries to tighten his government's grip on the internet.

This is not right. It sounds more like fascism than democracy, and it needs to stop.

It is completely justified that victims pursue guilty offenders for hateful content, but not to question the freedoms of the system itself. If someone's house gets robbed, they are angry at the criminal, not the fact that they don't live in a police state where citizens can't walk freely from one house to another.

It is very likely that this is just a phase, a result of Italy's current identity crisis. It is likely that Italy will be forced to adapt to the freedom of information that comes with the internet and other modern technology, just as they are grudgingly adapting to increased immigration and fast food.

Considering the alternative, speriamo bene.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Roma beats Catania 1-0

Nothing pretty, but a win is a win. Now Roma is only 5 points behind Inter, which is something that seemed impossible at the beginning of the season.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

"Mafia has don't ask, don't tell policy"

Wow, I guess now that the USA is changing, it's one less policy we have in common with the mafia...

Friday, February 19, 2010

Rain, rain, go away

Is all this rain bothering you? Well it's doing a little more in Sicily, where mudslides are destroying countless houses and leaving many dead in and around Messina. Just this week, 1,500 people were evacuated from their homes as a result.


Beh, no Totti, no Mexes, no Julio Sergio... 3-2 loss in Greece. The good thing is that away goals are worth more than home goals, so if Roma wins on the return trip in the Stadio Olimpico 1-0 or 2-1, they are on to the next round of the UEFA Cup.

Next up, Catania this Sunday in Rome...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Nostalgia for Mussolini?

I am constantly amazed by the way that Mussolini is treated by Italians. The rest of the world is pretty united in the view that he was not only an evil dictator, but a second-rate evil dictator at that. Yet here amongst the people that knew him and his policies, there is not much consensus.

While on the surface, almost everybody must reflexively condemn him, not far beneath there is a hint of nostalgia for someone who was strong enough to get Italians to clean up their act. His racism is often played down, while his successes (which there were actually quite a few domestically) are missed.

By the strong fascist right-wing in Italy, Mussolini is someone who had the right idea but just didn't do it right. I think this is scary.

I am sure that the fascist regime had domestic successes. For example, they were one of the few governments to stand up to the mafia. However, the notion that the only way this can be achieved is with a strong (read "ruthless") dictator is an idea that should have died with the French Empire.

Yet we continue to see hints of this nostalgia scattered throughout Italian culture, which is the tip of a very dangerous iceberg.

Roma vs Panathanaikos tonight in Europa League

Here's a good excuse to go to a pub tonight.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Best cafè in Roma

I can't help but share this little gem with all of you. If you don't already know it, Sant' Eustachio bar in Rome is famous for making the best coffee in the city. (83 Piazza di Sant'Eustachio, Rome, Lazio, Italia, Google map it) Order the Gran Cafè Speciale, you won't regret it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Remember Abruzzo?

Remember that earthquake? No, before Haiti. Right, it was only one year ago, yet many families in Abruzzo who have lost their houses have not even seen construction begin on their homes, let alone have fully adjusted to after the catastrophe.

The Berlusconi government promised residents of Abruzzo full reimbursement for lost or damaged property, as well as 80% reimbursement for non-residents who lost property in the earthquake (as well as cruise holidays). However, for many of these people, work has not even begun yet, despite relative silence in the media.

Snow in Rome!

Che bella la neve! Mark it down, snow in Rome on February 12th, quite a rare occurrence. Too bad it melted about 5 minutes later...