It May Not be Lunedi But…

… It’s Lunacy!

As difficult as it is to believe it’s been over five years since we left Italy and there are times when I still miss that wonderful country.  Chiefly I miss my beloved friends there, but also the cuisine, the culture, the climate, the chaos, and the confusion.  Yes I honestly sometimes miss those last two defining characteristics of that mad beautiful country. What I do not miss is the sheer lunacy of bureaucratic moves such as this:

Some one painted this little scene on a wall just off Borgo Pio near the Vatican.  I don’t know about you but I find it charming and also telling – Peace has won the day in the game of Xs and Os played by the Bishop of Rome.  And frankly I can almost see this happening – spying Swiss Guard and all.

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However someone at the Vatican or  Roma Capitale (or both) thought otherwise and within a matter of a day or two sent out a crew to remove the “offending” art.

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Would that they were so quick in rid the glorious buildings and monuments of the mindless graffiti that covers so many structures in the city.

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As one Roman friend said when they saw this:  Perhaps they should send these guys to do something useful like pick up the garbage that litters the streets – or maybe fill in a few potholes – or even clean the gutters so that street won’t flood during winter rains.

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Many thanks to my friend Robert, a long time resident of the Eternal (and eternally surprising and maddening) City for posting this originally on Facebook.

On this day in 1813: The Battle of Leipzig concludes, giving Napoleon Bonaparte one of his worst defeats.

Sciopero! Sciopero!*

I was brought up in the Ontario of the late 40s as what they called a “red diaper baby,” my father was a firm believer in the unions (though he was a manager and his shop wasn’t unionized?) and a founding member of the CCF (a left-wing party that became the NDP and got Canada its National Health Plan amongst other things.) He was not a radical in any way and certainly didn’t believe in the sort of strike action that involved sending a burning car into a loading dock as happened at a factory near us. He firmly believed in the rights of workers to a safe workplace and honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work.

Some of his desire for social democracy must have rubbed off on me and I became active in the Union when I joined Air Canada. Like him, I was never a radical but worked on Health and Safety issues and played my part in the strikes that were called during those 33 years. I remember walking the picket line the first morning of a lengthy strike: it was 0600, Bloor St in downtown Toronto and a blinding snow storm. As the three of us – we had been working midnight shift – marched up and down waving our placards, waiting for colleagues to join us, TV cameras recorded our frozen faces and valiant chants. My friend Susan was trying desperately to hide behind me because she didn’t want her father, then President of Sterling Drugs, to see her on the picket line. I would love to think that anything I did bettered conditions where I worked but as I’ve grown older I question how effective it really was. I know in the case of one strike the only people who won where our Union Executive who got cushy jobs with another union out of it.

So why this Union and strike talk? Well a massive general strike is planned here in Italy tomorrow (November 30):

  • Airlines from 1100- 1500
  • Trains from 0900 – 1700
  • Public Transit from 0900-1700
  • Ships/Traghetti delayed 24 hours from schedule departure
  • Highway Emergency Assistance from 0700-1500
  • Car Rentals from 0900-1700
  • Four hour strike of Highway/Autostrade workers – e.g. Toll Booth collectors

Already in Rome we have had two days of work-to-rule and traffic-snarling demonstrations by cab drivers – apparently because 500 more taxi licenses were issued at the beginning of the week. Performances at some of the opera houses and theatres were cancelled – opening night of Moise at the Rome Opera, Forza del Destino in Florence and three performances at La Scala. But apparently negotiators reached an agreement with opera house staff late Tuesday night so winter seasons will begin (pax Rome and Florence) as intended.

Once again as I guest I am not in a position to comment but let’s just use as an example Alitalia. Italy’s airline loses an approximate EUR 1 million a day – that’s a day; wouldn’t this suggest that striking for higher wages and job security would come under the category of “blood from a stone?”

So tomorrow it looks like I’ll not be flying, training, busing, sailing, breaking-down or car renting. It may just be the day to finally clean up what we laughingly call the office.

*Strike! Strike!

29 novembre – San Saturino

Finita la comedia

Definately not Opera ChicThe Sybil of Opera in Italy has been slapped with a cease and desist order from the temple where, if there was anyone sensible in charge, she should be, if not high-priestess at least in charge of publicity.

Earlier this week legal council for La Scala instructed Opera Chic to remove her logo (a fun spin on their rather dull coat of arms) from her blog. She was also directed to remove all photos taken inside the theatre. Though within their legal rights its rather pathetic that no one at Italy’s premier opera house recognizes the great – free – publicity she gives them. She writes with wit, charm, knowledge and a deep love of the place and music; and she makes going to La Scala sound like the major event it should be. Her piece on the upcoming season was certainly more exciting than what was posted on the official site – where by the way some of the money spent on legal council could have been directed to hiring an English proof reader.

Fortunately no group of dark-suited Milanese lawyers can keep a feisty New York babe down. OC (Opera Chic not Orange County) will continue to give us her pronouncements on things musical and operatical under a new – and frankly imho hotter – logo.

By the way that is not OC in front of La Scala in that picture – she is younger, hotter and far more stylish. Also note I did not include a link to La Scala – just to punish the bastards!