Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Enjoy this beautiful weather: Villa Torlonia

This is without a doubt the best period to be in Rome. The weather is warm and sunny, yet not overwhelmingly hot (like in August), so enjoy it! As I posted earlier this year, Rome has a lot of parks where you can get away from the smog, traffic, and confusion of the city and enjoy the weather.

Villa Torlonia is not such a well-known park, yet it is very beautiful. Located near the Policlinico Metro B stop, it's not difficult to get to (search "Villa Torlonia" on the Google map on our main page). I would recommend it, as Villa Borghese usually fills up quickly when the sun comes out, despite the fact that it is relatively not as big as other parks. Of course, this is one of many, but I just thought I'd give you a heads up!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Regional Elections in Italy

For any of you wondering why there are all these signs everywhere saying "Vota" this person or "Vota" that person, it's because there are regional elections happening right now. Here a summary of the important facts, for those of you interested:

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Italian Judiciary Responds

Unsurprisingly, the ANM, the association of Italian judges and magistrates, agrees with my take on Berlusconi's persistent attempts to destroy any institution that tries to check his power.

Forza Roma!

What a win against Inter last night! This, combined with AC Milan's tie with Lazio tonight, means that Roma is in second place, just one point shy of an Inter Milan that has dominated the standings since the season started. The possibility of winning is within reach, and the excitement is tangible.

Making things even better, both Inter and AC Milan have difficult schedules for the remainder of the season, while Roma's is relatively easy. Not to get ahead of ourselves here, but the prospects are certainly exciting. Roma will travel to Bari, who really is not a team to look past, however not one of the Serie A heavyweights.

This week there will also be the next round of Champions League games, which are always fun to watch. Rai will play the Inter vs CSKA Moscow game on Wednesday, which should be a win for Inter.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Disco events this weekend

Here is your weekly roundup of events (sorry it's a day late, I've been busy lately):

Saturday, March 27th

Disclaimer: I'm just bringing these events to your attention, not promoting anything (even if they should pay me!!) or guaranteeing anything. Make sure, in one way or another, to read what they have written in the description, because there is often important information about prices, what to wear, what you have to do to get on the list, etc.

"Italy prepares for 'match of the year'"

Don't miss the so-called "match of the year" tonight between Roma and Inter. Game's at 6 o' clock at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, but tickets are long since sold out. Get your seat at a pub and let's hope for the best!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Why I love SouthParkStudios.com

Much better than Hulu and its stupid no-Europe policy.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Roma faces Bologna tonight

Well Serie A is really heating up right now, as the race for the championship gets closer and closer. Roma has real hopes of winning their first championship since 2001, which would turn the entire city into a giant party/mess/frenzy/riot/celebration for about a month.

Tonight, Roma travels to Bologna for a must-win game, before hosting Inter this Saturday for what is being anticipated as the biggest game of the year for the giallorossi.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Why I hate Hulu


Airline strikes across Europe

A wave of airline strikes has swept across Europe as national airlines compete with low-cost companies like Ryan Air and Easy Jet, including several Alitalia flights. Double-check before heading out on a weekend trip to make sure that there are no strikes where you are going (or where you are coming from!)

How to Make a Monarchy 101

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is so upset with the Italian courts' latest rulings that he is planning a major overhaul of the whole system.

I think this is what comes right before emergency decrees and political assassinations in How to Make a Monarchy 101. The Italian courts are the only thing preserving some sense of justice and order in the Italian (ehm, democratic) government, and any good aspiring dictator would take them out first.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A word on the recent pro-Berlusconi rally

Some of you around Rome on Saturday might have seen the pro-Berlusconi demonstration that paraded through the city. The rally was held to support the Premier after multiple anti-government protests, culminating in a speech by the Prime Minister himself at San Giovanni that served to label anyone that is not with him a communist (so, basically like every other speech he gives).

At this point, politicians and pundits are left arguing over the number of people that were there, Berlusconi claiming there were a million, and the police in Rome that there were only 150,000 (ehm, welcome to Italy.) The left is saying that people were paid as much as 130 euros by unemployment firms to attend the rally, in addition to the free buses that were provided from around the country.

My two cents:

1. The problem with Berlusconi is not that he is conservative. The problem is that he is letting Italy rot while he reaps huge benefits, he is centralizing power and limiting freedoms, and is just overall corrupt. The biggest rally against the Prime Minister was called "No-Berlusconi Day," because it was not motivated by any political ideology, but just contempt for this individual person.

So, when he responds that all his critics are "communists," not only is it a false accusation, but irrelevant. Conservative Italians have just as much reason not to like him as liberal ones (or actual communists). The fact is that it is not a politically-motivated debate, it is personal.

2. The opposition to Berlusconi plays right into his hands. I can't understand why Italians think that to oppose a right-wing candidate, you must oppose it with far-left ideas. To show that people did not support the rally, they flew red flags on the streets where the parade marched. In anti-government rallies, all you see are communist flags. How stupid! Talk about making it easy for him to label the opposition communist.

Come on people, haven't you learned anything in history class? Communism would never work in Italy (take away a work holiday and then we'll see a real revolution). All this does is make a reasonable solution impossible, because, as usual, everybody is left bickering like 8-year-olds in a schoolyard. Why not criticize a problem for what it is and propose rational solutions instead of trying to fight fire with fire, leaving everyone burned.

3. People often make the comparison between Berlusconi and Bush, which I don't think fits. Being American, it is admittedly difficult to criticize after having a president ruin so much, however the situations don't correspond well. While Bush was ruining the world, he was doing what he thought was right, whether or not it actually was.

He was acting in what he and his administration perceived as America's best interest, while Berlusconi is not doing anything of the sort. Sure, I won't deny that private interests benefited from Bush's policies, but they weren't the motivating factor like they are for Berlusconi.

Whew! I feel better. Feel free to comment and let me know what you think.

Great weekend for Roma

Well this weekend has been a dream for Roma. After plowing through Udinese on Friday and watching Inter stumble with Palermo, our hopes that Milan would not win on Saturday were answered by Napoli.

This leaves Inter on top of the table with 60 points, followed by Milan with 59, while Roma sits comfortably in third with 56, not out of striking range. After a round of Wednesday games this week, in which Roma will travel to Bologna, they will host Inter at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday the 27th, for what will likely be the biggest game of the season for both the giallorossi and the nerazzurri.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Pete Tong in Rome and other disco events this weekend

Here's your weekly round-up of discoteca events:

Friday, March 19

Saturday, March 20

Disclaimer: I'm just bringing these events to your attention, not promoting anything (even if they
should pay me!!) or guaranteeing anything. Make sure, in one way or another, to read what they have written in the description, because there is often important information about prices, what to wear, what you have to do to get on the list, etc.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Does universal healthcare work in Italy?

With the firestorm surrounding the healthcare debate in the United States right now, it might be interesting to take a look at a country where universal healthcare already exists, to let you make up your own mind about whether Obama's initiative is legitimate.

In Italy, healthcare is free. Anyone in need (not only Italian citizens) can go to a hospital and receive free care. This, of course, means that the lines at hospitals are unbearably long, and that the system, like many of its kind in Italy, is far from efficient. It also means that Italians must pay higher taxes to support the system. However, there is a basic, undeniable right to healthcare, a fact in which most Italians take a lot of pride.

Private insurance companies and healthcare also exist, and once in a blue moon an employer will offer private insurance. Many agree that the private doctors and clinics give higher quality care than the public hospitals and clinics, however this is not given. Since this is a very expensive route to take, as you would have to pay insurance fees on top of national healthcare taxes, it is not very common.

The fact is that, Italy being Italy, most people have a preferred doctor, who may be a friend of the family (or who becomes one after an appointment!), that usually does not charge much. A free pack of medicine here, a quick check-up there, it is taken for granted that care and treatment come first, money later. It's a cultural hierarchy of importance that does not value money over all else.

Italy's healthcare is perfect. The frustrating inefficiency in hospitals is on par with the inefficiency in other aspects of Italy (e.g. the Poste Italiane, a.k.a. eighth circle of hell), but the notion that healthcare is a right, not a privilege, is something that I think many Americans should think long and hard about. Maybe it's for this that the Italian healthcare system was rated 2nd in the world by the World Health Organization, while the United States' was 37th.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Well here's a good excuse to go to Scholars, The Abbey, or any other of Rome's pubs and grab a Guinness!

Italy's battle with free press, Part III: Che schifo

First, the Berlusconi government banned political talk shows, a serious infringement on the freedom of press in Italy. Then, the courts lifted the ban because it was illegal. Now, the board of directors of Rai, Italy's public television network, has voted to keep the ban in effect, despite what the judges ruled.

What a joke.

This is merely showing that Berlusconi, one of the richest men in Italy (and the world), has complete control over the Italian television, if not the media in general. He owns Mediaset, the most powerful private television network in Italy, and, being Prime Minister, evidently has the ability to control Rai, which is funded by Italian tax dollars (ehm, euros). It's no mistake that Rai's board of directors is full of like-minded Berlusconi-lovers.

So, what does a leader with control over the media do? Silence the opposition, obviously. Good thing fascism is in the past.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Roma (sigh) misses another opportunity

Roma had an opportunity to close in on first place this weekend, but failed to capitalize, tying Livorno 3-3 on Sunday. Instead, they paved the way for Milan, who, after beating Chievo 1-0, is within one point of Inter. Can I get a che palle?!

In other soccer news, Inter will face Chelsea tonight for the second game in the Champions League round of 16. This is doubly important for Italian soccer because if Inter loses, Italy will only be granted three spots for Champions League next year, instead of their usual four (the top teams in each European league earn a spot in the Champions League, and the best leagues get more spots).

So, from Roma's perspective, this would be bad, because it means that making a mistake that bumps them to fourth place would destroy Champions League hopes for next season.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Current art exhibits in Rome

There is never a shortage of beautiful art in Rome. Here is a list of the current exhibits, as shown on lifeinitaly.com:
Capitoline Museum: The Age of Conquest: The Lure of Greek Art in Rome; masterpieces looted from Greece between the third and first centuries BC; until September 5.
Scuderie del Quirinale: Caravaggio; 24 masterpieces from Italy and abroad including Musicians from the Met, Lute Player from the Hermitage, and many others; until June 13.
Fondazione Roma Museo: Edward Hopper, 170 works mostly from New York's Whitney Museum including The Sheridan Theatre, New York Interior; until June 13.
Vittoriano: From Corot to Manet, The Symphony of Nature; 170 impressionist works including Corbet, Boudin, Pissaro, Sisley; until June 29.
Chiostro del Diamante: Boldini, De Nittis, Zandomenighi, other Italian painters in Paris; until March 14.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Can you Digg it?

I've spent the past couple days integrating the sites with Digg.com, which is pretty cool. It's a bit like Facebook, except instead of "liking" something, you "digg" it, and the most "dugg" articles appear on the website, grouped together with similar articles.

So, if you like an article either on the blog or the Students in Rome main site, let me know, digg it!

Inter loses Saturday, there's hope for Roma!

Wow. So Inter blew it last night. After their loss to Catania (3-0 nonetheless!), the title race for Serie A is up for grabs. Assuming that Milan and Roma win tomorrow, they will be 1 and 4 points, respectively, behind Inter, which is not such an unsurmountable task, considering that Inter has dominated the table the entire season.

Roma takes on struggling Livorno tomorrow, which is a must-win (or, better, a must-not-screw-up) for the giallorossi, who will have Luca Toni available. Game's at 3 in the afternoon in Livorno.

"English words invading Italian vocabulary"

Having trouble learning Italian? Don't worry, from the looks of it, in a couple years it will be the same!

There are many English words used in Italian, and evidently the number is rising. A few examples: il weekend, fare shopping, fare lo spelling, l'internet, fare jogging etc etc...

Friday, March 12, 2010

Bravo, Italy!

For those as worried as I was about two most recent reasons to be so, I am happy to eat my words today.

Firstly, the regional court of Lazio (TAR) "overturned... a controversial ban on political talk shows... for commercial TV Friday." I don't want to celebrate this as great, as much as be temporarily content that there are, in fact, branches of the government working to do what is right. The ban would have been a blatant restriction on the freedoms of speech and press, and is going where it belongs -- the trash can.

Secondly, the TAR (my respect for Italian judges has gone through the roof) did not allow the Berlusconi government to essentially change the law so that their party could run in an election it shouldn't have. Berlusconi's PdL issued decree as a means of letting the candidate for governor of Lombardy to run, despite the fact that he did not meet the requirements to be a candidate (not in Lazio, however, where a similar mistake was made, and made me worried in the last post).

Berlusconi predictably resorted to insults and name-calling, but the point was made: the law is the same for everyone.


Disco events this weekend

Here's a few excuses to get out and go dancing this weekend:

Friday, March 12th

Saturday, March 13th

Disclaimer: I'm just bringing these events to your attention, not promoting anything (even if they should pay me!!) or guaranteeing anything. Make sure, in one way or another, to read what they have written in the description, because there is often important information about prices, what to wear, what you have to do to get on the list, etc.

Fantastic article about Italy in NYT

In today's New York Times, Richard Cohen wrote a spot-on article about Italian culture, and the differences between the United States. I would give this one a read if you are, or will be, spending any time in Italy.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Public Transportation Strike Tomorrow, March 12

There will be a public transportation strike (sciopero) tomorrow, March 12, for buses and metro throughout the morning.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Roma ties Milan 0-0

Well we can look at Roma's 0-0 tie last night against Milan in one of two ways: 1. it could have been worse 2. a missed opportunity. It leaves Roma comfortably in second place, six points in front of Palermo. However, they remain three behind Milan and nine, assuming Inter wins tonight, from first place.

In my last post about it I said that this game would make or break the season, and, basically, this did neither decisively. While it didn't hurt Roma significantly, it made winning the scudetto (a long shot as it is) virtually unreachable, without a miracle. Take a look at the updated table here to figure out the different possibilities.

Next Sunday they travel to Livorno to get back their winning ways.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Two more reasons to be worried about Italy

There is not much to be optimistic about in the current state of Italian affairs. Beneath the surface of Italy's beauty and historical wonders lies a divided society led by an increasingly fascist-leaning government. Two recent actions have only further shown this and, frankly, scare me.

1. Berlusconi's government has created rules that don't allow political talk shows to be shown on Rai during prime time slots. Mediaset, the other giant television network, is free to do what it would like. So, let's put two and two together here: Berlusconi owns Mediaset, and Rai is supposedly public (Italians pay a tax that funds Rai).

This is a very serious restriction on the freedom of press. These new rules will be affecting political talk shows that are often critical of Berlusconi, who, if you don't know by now, has a lot to be critical of, while talk shows on Mediaset are free to blow his horn.

Imagine if the British government said that the BBC couldn't talk politics, but Sky could. Imagine if the American government said NBC had to remove it's political shows, but Fox could do what it wants (although NBC is not public). It would be war. Why is it not war in Italy?

2. The government is either bypassing or changing a law so that the right-wing (PDL) candidate for the governor of Lazio can run, despite the fact that he missed the deadline for declaring his candidacy. Ok, bear with me here: to be a candidate for governor of Lazio, one must submit a petition by a certain date to be considered. I think this is pretty standard for elections around the world, if not in the details, in theory. However, the PDL (Popolo della LibertĂ ) did not submit their petition on time. Now, the government is searching for a way to change the law, or "interpret" the law more vaguely to let it slide.

Granted, this is a somewhat strange event, which would leave many voters without a candidate, and basically give the election to the left-wing Partito Democratico (PD), but maybe the PDL should have thought about that before waiting until the last minute. They had over a month to submit the petition. If I didn't submit a research paper to my university professor, they gave me an F, they didn't change the rules just for me. Why should the rules be changed in this case?

Can you imagine if it would have been the PD who made the mistake? How hard would the government have tried to allow them to run?

These two events are just the latest that seem to be taking Italy back to the 1930s. Italians will know that they waited too long when the political assassinations begin...

Huge game between Roma and Milan tonight

Tonight will make or break the season for Roma. They take on AC Milan at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome to see who will claim second place in the standings and have a shot at challenging Inter for first place. Take a look at the table to do the math.

Roma will have striker Luca Toni, midfielder David Pizzaro, and goalie Julio Sergio back from injury, while Milan will be without star striker Pato, as well as Mancini.

The game will begin at 8:45 pm, following the equally-exciting match between Juventus and Fiorentina, which begins at 6 pm. If you ask me, it's a great excuse to camp out in a good pub with a few beers and watch some great soccer.

English-language cinemas in Rome

Finding an cinema that shows films in English is much easier than one might think. Find out how in the new article on Students in Rome.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Discoteca events this weekend

Well seeing as how everyone is really only interested in the nightlife while studying in Rome, I figure that I'll try make use of my stunning intellect, practically-but-not-quite-fluent-but-still-pretty-good Italian skills, and super-fast googling capabilities to bring you some of the best events every weekend, starting this weekend. Enjoy.

Tonight (March 5th):

Tomorrow (March 6th):

Disclaimer: I'm just bringing these events to your attention, not promoting anything (even if they should pay me!!) or guaranteeing anything. Make sure, in one way or another, to read what they have written in the description, because there is often important information about prices, what to wear, what you have to do to get on the list, etc.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Instant replay should be used in European soccer

Italian Soccer Federation President Giancarlo Abete is making a "renewed appeal to FIFA to authorize trials of video refs in the light of recent high-profile mistakes such as Thierry Henry's handball goal against Ireland."

I completely agree.

Refereeing is a tough job. There are a million things happening on the field at the same time and it's impossible to see them all. Diving, or "simulation," as it's officially known, is by now so common that it is part of the game, and players have gotten extremely clever about getting away with cheap fouls.

This is not necessarily the referee's fault. Sure, there are some refs who are just terrible, but the most part have very good judgement and do their best to make the right call. However, this is not an easy thing to do.

For this, I think it is time that instant replay was brought to European soccer. It has worked amazingly well in the United States' NFL and NHL, as well as international tennis.

Although they would have to develop a unique system, it would likely go along the lines of the current setup in the US. Coaches would get a certain number of opportunities to challenge a given call, at which point the referee would see several replays of the event and be able to re-evaluate his decision. If the challenge turned out to be negatives (that is, the referee chose to uphold his decision), the team would be penalized (although in soccer, this is tricky because timeouts, which are taken away in other sports, are not as common). However, I'm sure they could figure something reasonable out.

Now I don't mean to argue that European soccer should be "Americanized" or changed for the worse; there is definitely a certain character and culture to it, which includes this sort of showmanship and simulation at times. However, this is OK until the course of games and seasons are being changed by cheaters, because Henry's handball, Eduardo's dive, and all others that do this sort of thing regularly, are nothing more than cheaters.

Italy Cameroon 0-0

Nothing much to say about Italy's 0-0 tie last night with Cameroon. Coach Marcello Lippi claimed it was useful to try out some new players and styles. Although these matches are important to see how the teams are shaping up, they are meaningless in terms of standings.

Around the world, the United States lost to the Netherlands 2-1, England beat Egypt 3-1, Spain beat France 2-0, and Argentina beat Germany 1-0.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

How to Get Delivery Pizza in Rome

Find out in the new article on Students in Rome. It's actually really easy!

Italy vs Cameroon Tonight

The defending World Cup champions are tuning up for this summer in South Africa with a 'friendly' game tonight against Cameroon (who features Inter Milan striker Samuel Eto'o). Although the game itself is not very important, it's a glimpse of what we'll be seeing this summer.
Many say that gli azzuri are too old to bring home the World Cup again, favoring teams like Spain, England or Brazil, but then again, non si sa mai!

The game will be on Rai 1 (channel 1 on your TV), so you don't necessarily have to go to a pub to see it, and starts at 8:45 pm.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tax evasion? Italy? No... couldn't be...

Is it a surprise that tax evasion is a giant problem in Italy? Well, it shouldn't be, when the Prime Minister is the biggest culprit of tax evasion.

I guess he follows the old adage 'do as I say, not as I do.' Good thing too! If we were all like him we would cheat on our wives with prostitutes and 18 year old girls, have orgies in Sardegna (that were photographed, no less), and call all our opponents poor communists, in addition to cheat on our taxes.

Dennis Ferrer at Goa Disco this Friday

For those who like house music, Rome discos, dancing, a great time, or all of the above, the American DJ Dennis Ferrer will be at Goa this Friday. Should be pretty cool, he's ripping it up in the house music scene right now.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Caravaggio Exhibit at the Qurinale

Make sure that you get out to see the Caravaggio exhibit at the Scuderie del Qurinale this semester. It will be there until June, so you have time, but make sure to check it out, it's full of incredible art that is usually not on display in Rome.

Here is a list of other exhibits both in Rome and throughout Italy (scroll down to where the exhibits for Rome are listed).