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Articles by: Maria rita Latto

  • Life & People

    Halloween Italian Style

    Just a few decades ago Halloween in Italy was merely the name of an American holiday, a sort of Carnevale. Little by little Halloween’s popularity has grown, probably due to the influence of American movies and the arrival of American fast food chains like McDonald’s, and it has become a real celebrated holiday, even though it doesn’t have a real connection to Italy, apart from the fact that All Saints Day (November 1st) is celebrated here – a holiday when people typically have the day off.  

    The 2nd of November is the day dedicated to the remembrance of the dead, a holy day duringwhich people visit cemeteries bringing flowers and candles to dead relatives and friends – a day dedicated to special celebrations by the Church as well. In some parts of Italy children find presents brought during the night by the dead.

    This day of remembrance can be found in other parts of the world: for example, in Japan in August there is the “Obon Festival”, one of the most important traditions for Japanese people who pray for the peace of the souls of their ancestors during this time.  The Japanese believe that their ancestors’ spirits come back to their homes to be reunited with their family during Obon. 

    In all the Italian regions in the days between October 31st and the day of Saint Martin (November 11th) there has been – from time immemorial – the folkloristic custom to celebrate the juxtaposition of life and death with traditions expressing the strong link between those still alive and those who are no longer on this earth. All these customs have the expression of the strong link with life and with families in common, and the fact that these traditions often involve children, is a clear way of marking the idea of continuity, of regeneration, of hope.

    Until the first half of the 20th Century, this period of the year was the only occasion for children to receive presents, toys, sweets, that were usually brought by “the dead”. Over time new traditions arrived, such as Christmas and the Epiphany, which became more widespread and more popular among the younger generations. Even though I’m in my forties, I still remember when, as a child in Sicily, my parents told me to behave well, so the good souls of the dead would bring me many presents. On the night between the 1st and the 2nd of November I went to bed hoping that the dead relatives would remember me, while my parents and other members of my traditional Sicilian family were hiding toys and sweets in secret places around the house.

    There was a sort of rigmarole sang by Sicilian children in dialect: “Armi santi, armi santi, jo sugnu unu e vuautri siti tanti. Mentri sugnu ‘nta stu munnu di guai, cosi di morti mittitimminni assai.” (Holy souls, holy souls, I am one, and you are many).

    While I am in this world of troubles, bring me lots of presents from dead people). And the morning after, once I had found the presents, the whole family prepared to visit the cemetery: it was not a sad day, after all there was the joy of the “contact” never lost, going beyond death, the consciousness that there was a strong connection between the worlds of the dead and the living, two world united by the power of love.

    Apart from my own memories, in every Italian region there are celebrations to remember the dead. The tradition of the pumpkin is not only typically Anglo-Saxon: in fact it can also be found in the Italian tradition. In Veneto, for example, pumpkins are emptied, painted and a candle symbolizing resurrection is pit inside them. In Friuli, especially in the area near Pordenone, the pumpkins prepared in this way are put along the roads to light the path for the dead. In Puglia every family adorns their own pumpkin and puts it on display in the windows of their house. In Lombardia pumpkins are filled with wine, so that the dead can drink it during the night between the 31st October and the 1st of November, before returning to the kingdom of afterlife.

    The traditions also include typical dishes prepared during this time and handed down from generation to generation. In Romagna, a region well known for its cooking, the “piada dei morti”, a very tasty round flatbread filled with nuts, almonds, raisins and the red wine of Romagna, the Sangiovese, is prepared. Another sweet prepared during this time in Romagna is the “fava dei morti”, a little biscuit made of almonds.

    In Sicily the typical dishes for this time of year is the “pupi ‘i zuccuru”, a sweet bread shaped like little dolls, and the “dead bones”, biscuits having the shape of bones that are particularly hard to bite. Very peculiar is the “frutta marturana”, which is marzipan shaped into real fruits with an inviting scent.    

    The rituals all over Italy are almost the same: in Puglia the families prepare the “cavazette di murte” (socks of the dead) and, during the night the dead, relatives fill them with special sweets. In Sicily, near Siracusa, children prepare the table for the dead and leave a shoe to be filled with presents and sweets. The “trick or treat” question seems another tradition in common between Italy and the USA. In fact, in Abruzzo there was the habit of going from house to house asking for offers for the souls of the dead and generally sweets and dried fruits were handed out. In general these are all traditions that give an almost friendly idea of death: the dead bring presents, walk for a night in the roads of villages or cities, enter into the house to have a dinner during this special night, and are felt closer than ever.  

    All these Italian traditions are unfortunately disappearing, substituted by Halloween, a holiday far from Italy, even while sharing characteristics in common with these traditions. Why not bring back our important past customs, instead of adopting those of other countries, just to follow foreign fashions that lack our soul?   

  • Facts & Stories

    European Elections? Surprise! Take a Look at the List of Italian Parties


     April 20 was the deadline for political parties participating in the European elections on June 6 and 7 to submit their parties’ logos to the Ministry of the Interior. There are 93 parties on the temporary list, and after a review by the electoral commission this number will be drastically reduced. This is in part because they must adhere to legal requirements, such as obtaining 500,000 signatures of ordinary citizens supporting the parties. Paradoxically, 93 parties appear on a “short” list, compared to the 181 on the list presented for the 2008 political elections. In many cases, the parties’ symbols are registered even if they will be eliminated by the commission. The reason for this useless procedure is not clear, but perhaps it is in response to the parties’ wish for a few minutes of fame. In fact in every Italian election, and they occur more often than one would think, whether it is a local, national, or European election, the press dedicates an inordinate amount of coverage to minor parties simply because of their odd names or the logos and symbols they have chosen. On the Ministry of the Interior’s website, there is an up-to-date list, demonstrating yet again that Italian creativity is unmistakable and cannot help but influence even a “boring” field such as politics.

     
    Symbols of traditional parties like the PD (Democratic Party) or the PDL (People of Freedom) are included, but we can also see a sort of jumble of very extravagant logos. Various parties have hammers and sickles as symbols, a clear sign that the Communist Party in Italy is not completely dead, but rather has fragmented into many smaller parties that follow slightly different ideologies which require them to split into even smaller parties in order to distinguish themselves from other kinds of Communism, each one believing that it professes the “authentic” (or in Italy, “DOC”) ideology.
     
    There are also lots of groups on the temporary list that aspire to the Christian Democracy of the past, the traditional Catholic center party that collapsed after the famous “clean hands” (mani politi) investigations that completely changed the country’s political landscape. The politically center position is always attractive to the majority of Italians, and that might be why so many parties have the “magic” words Christian and Democratic in their names and use the symbol of the crossed shield. This all goes without mentioning the many parties that aspire to the popularity of Lega Nord (the Northern League), the political party that advocates for the secession of the northern part of Italy from the rest of the country. So, along with the original Lega Nord, we find Lega Alleanza Lombarda, Indipendenza Veneta, Lega per l’Autonomia Lombarda, and even Grilli Parlanti–Lega Nord–No Euro.
     
    Then there are the peculiar parties headed by Giuseppe Cirillo, a sexologist and author of several books on seduction. Attempting to develop his political capabilities, Dr. Cirillo has entered five parties on the list, parties whose names are among the best examples of Italian creative genius: Italy of Illness (Italia dei Malori), Unsatisfied and Misunderstood Women (Donne insoddisfatte e incomprese), Free Condoms (Preservativi gratis), and the Existentially Impotent Party (Partito impotenti esistenziali). The 45-year old Dr. Cirillo from Salerno has already presented the Free Condom party four times. After entering the Existentially Impotent Party in 2008, a movie was made in which Dr. Cirillo had the exclusive opportunity to work with the famous erotic director Tinto Brass as an actor in the film.
     
    More than a political race, it seems to be in a competition in originality. Who could ever have imagined that there would be a party called the Young Poets of Action Movement (Movimento dei Giovani Poeti d’Azione)? Or that another party could name itself with such a lapidary statement such as I Love Italy and I Won’t Vote for the Province (Amo l’Italia non Voto la Provincia), which uses “It’s No Use, I Won’t Vote” (“Non Serve, Non Voto) as its slogan?
    In the surprising list of Italian parties, modern phenomenon are also included, such as the www.youtube.it–Z EITGEIST–Non Basta Votare (It’s not enough to vote) party presented by a loosely-identified movement named the Spirit of the Times (Lo spirito del tempo).
    There are a few parties on the list that have been inspired, evidently, by the French Revolution: Illegal Reparations (Recupero Maltolto); Liberty, Equality, Fraternity (Liberté egalité fratenité); Close the Province (Chiudiamo le province); Water Held in Common (Acqua bene commune); and No Amnesty (No amnistie). Another entry inspired by history is the Holy Roman Empire Liberal Catholic party (Sacro Romano Impero Liberale Cattolico) whose founder, Mirella Cece, has united smaller movements under the same name, like the Jurists of the Holy Roman Empire (Giuristi del Sacro Romano Impero), the European Liberal Christian Movement (Movimento europeo liberal cristiano), Justice and Liberty in all Areas in Space and Time (Giustizia e libertà a tutto campo, nel tempo e nello spazio).
     
    Some logos have been created as a preventative measure, out of fear that older voters could be confused and vote for parties that have changed their names and logos. So, it’s not strange to see the Margherita (Daisy), the Quercia (Oak Tree), the Ulivo (Olive Tree), the Partito Democratico (Democratic Party), and Forza Italia (Forward Italy) to reappear on the list. 
    Now, it’s up to the Ministry of the Interior to decide which parties will be allowed to participate in the next European election. It appears certain, though, at least from reading this list of parties, that Italians are not only a people of saints, poets, and explorers, as the popular expression goes. We should update the description and include the impotent, as well as unsatisfied and misunderstood women…
     
    (Edited by Giulia Prestia)
     

     

  • Recensione. "Caos Calmo": molto più di una scena erotica d'effetto


    Elaborare un lutto non è semplice, richiede del tempo, porta, attraverso un doloroso percorso, a rivedere tutta la propria vita, a scavare dentro di sé. Ognuno affronta questa sofferenza a modo proprio. C’è sceglie di confrontarsi con qualcuno, riesce a parlarne, e così facendo, condividendo lo strazio che sente, cerca di guarire. Ma c’è anche chi chiude il dolore in fondo al cuore, fino a quando arriva il momento giusto per tirarlo fuori e poter trovare la via verso la guarigione, verso l’accettazione di ciò che è accaduto. È il tema analizzato da Sandro Veronesi nel suo best seller Caos Calmo, Premio Strega 2006, da cui è stato tratto l’omonimo film diretto da Antonello Grimaldi.

     

    È la storia di Pietro Paladini, un dirigente della televisione, interpretato da Nanni Moretti, qui in veste di attore. La sua vita viene sconvolta dalla perdita della moglie Lara, che muore da sola in casa, mentre Pietro si trova al mare con il fratello Carlo (Alessandro Gassman) e, casualmente, salva una sconosciuta (Isabella Ferrari) che sta per annegare. Da quel momento, da quella tragedia, la vita di Pietro si ferma: non va più in ufficio, trascorre le sue giornate nel giardinetto di fronte alla scuola frequentata dalla figlia Claudia (Blu Yoshimi), una bambina di appena dieci anni. Il primo giorno di scuola dopo la tragedia, Pietro ha promesso alla figlia di aspettarla là, ogni giorno, fino alla fine delle lezioni e la promessa viene puntualmente mantenuta. Nel frattempo lavora su una panchina, in attesa di Claudia, ma forse anche in attesa del dolore che tarda ad arrivare ed a rimettere ordine in una situazione di stand-by, di “caos calmo”, appunto, che non si risolve in alcun modo. Pietro non è bloccato a causa della sofferenza, ma proprio perché non prova, apparentemente, alcuna sofferenza. Per questo si ferma ad attendere che questa arrivi, per poter ricominciare daccapo a vivere, sbloccarsi. È una vita strana, anomala, vissuta da un nuovo punto di vista, da una panchina. Eppure la vita scorre attorno a lui, che è là, seduto, apparentemente immobile. I suoi amici, i colleghi, i parenti, i suoi capi, tutti gli sono vicini, interagiscono con lui. E poi ci sono nuove persone che Pietro non conosceva prima della tragedia e che adesso entrano lentamente nella sua nuova realtà. Tutti cercano di consolarlo, anche se poi, paradossalmente finiranno per essere consolati da lui. Figure del passato e del suo nuovo presente che rappresentano per certi versi la società di oggi, con mille problemi ed angosce che finiscono per ricadere su Pietro, il quale, da consolato diventa colui che consola, ascolta, conforta.

     

    Finchè non accade l’evento che lo scuote, l’incontro con la donna che ha salvato quel maledetto giorno in cui la moglie è morta. E con quella donna sconosciuta, ritrovata durante una gita al mare con la figlia, c’è del sesso, anzi, del sesso estremo, un atto di sodomia. È solo sesso, senza amore. Tutto questo sblocca Pietro riportandolo nuovamente alla vita.

     

    Caos Calmo è un bel film che propone una riflessione sulla vita e sulla morte. Sfortunatamente, addirittura da settimane prima della sua uscita nelle sale cinematografiche italiane, che è avvenuta lo scorso febbraio, il film è stato anticipato da polemiche e rumors sulla scena di sesso tra Isabella Ferrari e Nanni Moretti. Polemiche che hanno visto scendere in campo contro la ormai famigerata scena di cui tutti i media parlavano persino la Conferenza Episcopale Italiana e politici vari, ognuno a dare la propria opinione pro o contro senza, naturalmente, aver visto neanche un fotogramma. Peccato, perché, grazie alla regia di Antonello Grimaldi, il film riesce a raccontare il dolore riuscendo anche a tratti ad essere ironico e divertente, mai retorico. Rispetto al libro di Veronesi, anzi, ci sono dei cambiamenti che rendono la storia per certi versi più “leggera”. Basti pensare alla scelta della panchina, invece dell’automobile presente nel romanzo, un tocco più “arioso” e meno cupo. Pietro, il protagonista, ha i tratti morettiani, tanto cari ai suoi fans: si ritrova in lui qualcosa dell’ormai leggendario Michele Apicella, ad esempio nella scena dove il protagonista fuma oppio, o ancora quando parla al telefonino regalato alla figlia. Ma c’è anche qualcosa del personaggio del padre interpretato da Nanni Moretti ne La Stanza del Figlio. Anche qui c’era il tema del lutto, della sofferenza, dello strazio affrontati ancora una volta da Moretti con una leggerezza che non è, tuttavia, superficialità. Alla sua terza prova da solo attore dopo Il Portaborse (1991) di Daniele Luchetti e La Seconda Volta (1995) di Mimmo Calopresti, Nanni Moretti è anche co-sceneggiatore di Caos Calmo e la sua impronta si vede soprattutto in Pietro che, come tutti personaggi da lui interpretati, rappresenta una parte di sé, dello stato psicologico di quel determinato momento storico.

     

    Il finale non risolto del film suscita nello spettatore la domanda se poi, in effetti, Pietro ribalterà la situazione della panchina, gettandosi nel caos della vita normale con la calma interiore ritrovata, rovesciando in qualche modo l’ossimoro che ha rappresentato l’elaborazione del lutto per la perdita della moglie.

     

     

  • Facts & Stories

    Foreign Press & Electoral Victory of Silvio Berlusconi


    The Spanish conservative El Mundo is one of the few European papers giving a positive opinion on the result of the Italian vote. The French Le Monde, the English Times and the German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and many others published articles summarizing what happened in Italy and the problems the new government is going to face, expressing not a negative opinion about the new Italian Premier.

     

    The American press, too, is particularly harsh and the common characteristic of all the comments on the Italian elections is the description of the country in decay and the odd behavior of our politicians, mainly of the new head of the government, Silvio Berlusconi.

     

    In the Los Angeles Times Tracy Wilkinson portays the Belpaese in an article with a rather direct title: “In Italy, crime pays and may get you elected.” The journalist presents a country at the point of no return and in deep crisis. Silvio Berlusconi is seen as a leader heading “a slate that includes his physiotherapist and an unrepentant Fascist, as well as several center-right women who Berlusconi said last week were ‘surely prettier’ than leftist women. Among them is one of the voluptuous dancers normally featured in skimpy clothing on his television networks.”

     

     

    Ian Fisher, the correspondent from Italy for the New York Times notices that it is not clear if the Italians “voted for Mr. Berlusconi out of affection or, as many experts said, as the least bad choice after the nation weathered two years of inaction from the fractured center-left.” With Berlusconi, defined by Fisher as an “idiosyncratic billionaire” at the head of the government, “Italy returns to a singular sort of personal politics with Mr. Berlusconi as the unquestioned protagonist.” Ian Fisher states that “the election — called just two years after Mr. Berlusconi lost to Mr. Prodi — was considered one of the least exciting in memory, with many Italians doubting that either candidate could accomplish any meaningful change.” Though, there is a little hope: “In some basic ways, the election signaled a decisive shift in a nation whose politics have been unstable because of the narrow interests of its many small parties. Mr. Veltroni, heading the new Democratic Party, the result of a merger of the two largest center-left parties, had refused to run with far-left parties, as Mr. Prodi had done.”

     

    In the Wall Street Journal, Matthew Kaminski sees the results of the vote in Italy as a “convincing victory” of Berlusconi’s party. Though, there is something different in the attitude of the winner, defined as a “flamboyant businessman-turned-politician who was his old self at his final campaign rally – embracing former Playboy model and neofascist pol Alessandra Mussolini (Benito’s granddaughter) with cheers of “Andiamo! Andiamo” (Let's go!). In Kaminski’s opinion this time “Berlusconi didn’t look to have his heart in this race. His platform was far less ambitious than in the past.” This attitude, this “lack of enthusiasm or outrage – by Italian standards – about a third Berlusconi turn in the prime minister’s residence at Palazzo Chigi speaks not to political maturity but fatalism. The country’s problems are seemingly too grave, and the available leaders too weak to tackle them seriously. Fourteen years ago, in springing onto the political scene, the man who gave Italy commercial television – to this day his greatest legacy – promised big changes. Italians believed him. They were disillusioned.” For the WSJ “Italian political observers assume that Mr. Berlusconi mainly wants to use this latest spin in office to win the country’s ceremonial and headache-free presidency, and claim keys to the rare house in Italy he can't buy for himself, Rome’s Palazzo del Quirinale. "What a pleasant surprise,” concludes the WSJ, “one ventures even for his detractors, were Mr. Berlusconi suddenly to have grander ambitions for himself and his country.”

     

     

    Sarah Delaney, too, in the Washington Post, defines Berlusconi a “flamboyant billionaire politician,” and describes Italy as a country having to face an uncertain future because of the hard economic crisis. Telling the history of Berlusconi’s past as Premier, the journalist refers in particular to “Berlusconi’s last term, which ended in May 2006, and was marked by repeated gaffes and unsuccessful criminal prosecutions of the prime minister in connection with his business dealings. ‘The rest of Europe will just roll its eyes, sigh and say, 'Here we go again,' but there’s nothing they can do about it,” said John Harper, a professor of political science at the Bologna branch of Johns Hopkins University. It is frustrating to read here, too, the ironic comments on the future Italian Premier’s behavior: “characteristically outspoken, he once accused a German parliamentarian of being a kapo, or Nazi prison guard. He gave a vulgar hand signal over the head of the Spanish foreign minister in a group photo of European ministers. He recently remarked that women on the right of the Italian political spectrum are much better looking than those on the left, and exhorted his female supporters to bake pies and bring them to polling stations.”

     

    There is a deep sense of discouragement reading such opinions about Italy and the future leader, who, it is so clear, will have to work hard to rebuild a better reputation for himself and, most importantly, for Italy, especially if the next stage of his political itinerary will be the Palazzo del Quirinale.

  • Elezioni in TV: “ha da passà ‘a nuttata”…. Bossi: Ubi maior…



    Dalle 14.40 del 14 aprile circa è iniziata sulle reti tv italiane la maratona elettorale, una vera e propria indigestione di dati, commenti, exit poll e proiezioni che, come di consuetudine, si protrae fino al mattino successivo. Arrivano i primi dati, degli exit poll, qualche minuto prima delle 15.00, su RaiDue, nello Speciale Elezioni. L’Italia ha scelto, apparentemente. I primi dati vedono sostanzialmente un testa a testa tra il PdL di Berlusconi ed il PD di Veltroni. Questi exit poll, elaborati dalla “Consortium” per la Rai sono rimasti per circa un’ora e mezza gli unici dati disponibili, visto che Mediaset, con i dati Ipsos, è entrata in gioco alle 16.30, direttamente con le prime proiezioni. Nell’ora e mezzo di incertezza spicca l’intervento su RaiUno del direttore del Tg1 Gianni Riotta, che arrivato all’improvviso negli studi dello speciale “L’Italia al Voto”, ha preso in mano la conduzione del programma fin lì nelle mani di David Sassoli. Cercando di smuovere il clima di comprensibile prudenza dopo i primi exit polls, Riotta ha lanciato la sfida: “Al prossimo ospite che dice che è troppo presto per commentare i dati togliamo il microfono. Se non vogliono parlare che vengono a fare“. Il riferimento è chiaramente rivolto ai primi politici interpellati dagli inviati nelle sedi dei partiti in piena fibrillazione. Inizialmente c’è un cauto ottimismo, soprattutto per quel che riguarda il PD, che per qualche minuto è stato il primo partito italiano e, come coalizione con Di Pietro, appena di poco al di sotto del PdL. Interpellato dalle varie televisioni in collegamento col loft del Partito Democratico, Ermete Realacci si sbilancia: “Sono exit polls, ma confermano l’impressione che noi avevamo avuto. C’era qualcuno che parlava di distacco incolmabile di 8 - 10 punti e questo qualcuno ora è servito. La rimonta è stata straordinaria, non sappiamo dove si sia fermata questa rimonta, lo sapremo questa notte, forse domani mattina, ma da parte nostra c’è già una grande soddisfazione per il lavoro fatto”. Caro Riotta, hai capito adesso perché è bene non sbilanciarsi troppo?

     

    Nell’incertezza del momento appare fantastica l’affermazione di Francesco Pionati: “l’UDC indica nella grande coalizione la strada per uscire dall'ingovernabilità. Quelli del PdL mi sembrano preoccupati “. Che sia un’offerta di voto in cambio di qualche poltrona in caso di pareggio? La sua candidatura di Casini come premier lascia francamente interdetti. A questo punto non si può non notare che forse il vecchio detto che la prudenza non è mai troppa sia più che mai attuale, considerato il fatto che, specialmente negli ultimi anni, gli exit polls sono stati regolarmente sconfessati dalle proiezioni e dai dati finali. D’altronde, è pur vero che in Italia non si può fare a meno di discutere dei risultati a caldo per tutta la serata e parte della notte del lunedì elettorale,ormai fa parte dei riti nazionali, anche se i risultati sono molto parziali e, come già successe nel 2006, vengano poi contraddetti da quelli finali. Ed infatti, verso le 16.30, come da tradizione, gli exit polls sono sbugiardati: le prime proiezioni degli Istituti di rilevazione messi in campo da Rai e Mediaset offrono un quadro diverso da quello prospettato durante la prima ora e mezza. Su Mediaset, addirittura, il vantaggio del PdL sul PD lievita fino ad arrivare al +9%, col PdL al 47,2%, il PD al 38,1%, demolendo in un attimo tutte le congetture e le analisi fatte in Rai, dove nel frattempo iniziano ad arrivare le prime proiezioni, un pò meno forti rispetto a quelle di Mediaset. Col passare delle ore, tuttavia, anche in Rai il dislivello a favore del PdL cresce. Fabrizio Cicchitto, vicecoordinatore di Forza Italia, commenta così le prime proiezioni, non risparmiando una frecciata al centrosinistra: “Non capisco -dice- questi gridolini di giubilo di qualche mezz’ora fa”. Nel frattempo su RaiUno arriva Bruno Vespa, denominato ormai “il Presidente della Terza Camera del Parlamento Italiano”, ovvero il suo programma “Porta a Porta”, il quale annuncia alcuni degli ospiti che interverranno allo “Speciale Porta a Porta” che andrà in onda in prima serata. Ci saranno Fausto Bertinotti, Piero Fassino, Claudio Scajola, Umberto Bossi, Roberto Maroni, Lorenzo Cesa, forse Antonio Di Pietro. Notevole anche il parterre composto da illustri politologi ed opinionisti del calibro di Giovanni Sartori e Mauro Pirani, dai direttori dei principali quotidiani nazionali in collegamento dalle proprie sedi. E non mancheranno i collegamenti con le sedi dei partiti e con altri leader politici, oltre che con il Vicinale per avere in tempo reale i dati dello spoglio. Insomma, una vera e propria corazzata elettorale!

     

    Non sono da meno le altre reti e col passare delle ore si fa strada un clima vagamente surreale. Su Canale 5 Matteo Mastromauro in collegamento da Arcore, fuori dalla villa di Berlusconi, informa i telespettatori che Berlusconi non è lì. Su La7 Luca Barbareschi, attore candidato nello schieramento di centrodestra fa un annuncio a dir poco agghiacciante: proporrà una legge per la cultura italiana insieme a Gabriella Carlucci. L’irriducibile Rosy Bindi dice che “ci sono alcune incongruenze nei dati che non mi convincono”. Apprendiamo dalle dirette televisive che Walter Veltroni ha telefonato a Silvio Berlusconi, dando atto all’avversario della vittoria a scrutinio ancora in corso. Un’innovazione nel rissoso clima italiano che rispetta la prassi delle democrazie occidentali e che lascia presagire una stagione di dialogo sulle riforme. Per certi versi Veltroni cerca di superare il muro contro muro degli ultimi anni e lascia intendere che la strategia introdotta con la decisione di correre da solo non si esaurisce con queste elezioni ma avrà riflessi nell’immediato futuro. Non a caso Veltroni ha rinnovato al Cavaliere la disponibilità a discutere subito di riforme.

    Quindi alle 20.15 appare in diretta su tutte le reti un Veltroni, poco allegro in mezzo ai suoi, che augura buon lavoro a Berlusconi e ringrazia i suoi elettori. Nonostante tutto è contento dell’affluenza alle urne, e dice di notare “un riequilibrio nella destra a favore della Lega contro al Popolo delle Libertà”. Si augura il rispetto dei valori costituzionali e sottolinea come buono il risultato del PD “la più grande forza riformista che il paese abbia mai avuto”. Da notare, tuttavia, che mentre Veltroni parlava il Tg1 lo ha sfumato per mandare in onda l’intervista a Bossi. Ubi maior…

     

    Intanto ricevo telefonate da amici sparsi per l’Italia, tra cui spicca quella di Maria Carmela dalla Sicilia, la quale fa il commento sulle elezioni che a parer mio è il più sensato dopo ore di fior di opinionisti: Veltroni ha combattuto su due fronti. A destra ha perso. A sinistra ha fatto piazza pulita. Meglio di così non poteva fare, well done Uolter!

     

    Col calare della sera l’atmosfera si fa sempre più frenetica, arrivano le notizie dalla Borsa: Impregilo, cioè l’impresa che dovrebbe attuare il ponte sullo Stretto, è in salita, insieme a Mediaset, per ora al sicuro dall’incubo della riforma del sistema radiotelevisivo. Intanto, alle 20.58 apprendiamo da Arcore che Silvio Berlusconi non partirà per Roma, ma consumerà una cena nella sua villa in compagnia di amici di vecchia data, come Bondi, Dell’Utri, Galliani e il parlamentare ed avvocato personale Niccolò Ghedini. Franco Giordano di Rifondazione Comunista affluita nella Sinista L’Arcobaleno, commentando la disfatta delle forze di sinistra, usa in senso dispregiativo un aggettivo: “Prendendo atto che la sconfitta sia inequivocabile, il sistema americano rischia di prendere campo in questo paese, con due forze politiche che hanno fatto il pieno e polarizzano il parlamento e una sinistra in Italia che, per almeno per i prossimi 5 anni scompare; e alla fine il modello americano premia la destra”.

     

    E finalmente alle nove di sera si materializza, in voce soltanto, però, il Vincitore. Dal suo regno per eccellenza, la televisione, un Berlusconi “commosso per il risultato elettorale che si profila” entra nelle case degli italiani, frastornati ormai, data l’ora, dalla lunga maratona elettorale. A Porta a Porta, prima, ed a Matrix poi, passando per le altre reti televisive, si materializza in voce, dando fondo a tutte le sue potenzialità di “entità” pronto ad emettere il responso atteso dalla chiusura dei seggi in poi: “E’ accaduto ciò che io avevo annunciato”, esordisce rammentando le sue capacità profetiche, tirando amichevolmente le orecchie a tutti quelli che avevano ancora una volta messo in dubbio le sue capacità di “Signore dei sondaggi”. Non lo dice esplicitamente, ma lo lascia capire benevolmente. “E’ quello che ho continuato a dire durante tutta la campagna elettorale, convinto di avere dei sondaggi credibili che fotografavano con esattezza la realtà della situazione”. Come a dire: “Tiè, beccatevi questa!”. Ed a Matrix, il programma di Enrico Mentana, si toglie un altro sassolino dalla scarpa, ricordando che anche nel 2006 aveva vinto lui: “Le elezioni del 2006 non sono state regolari: lo prova anche il risultato che abbiamo ottenuto oggi”. Magnanimo, dopo la dirompente vittoria, il Cavaliere si sbilancia e fa un’ulteriore promessa: di “non andare a letto una sera senza aver realizzato qualcosa di positivo per gli italiani”.

     

    La notte post elettorale inizia con i vaticini berlusconiani e con la certezza di un’Italia nuova, bipolare, con un’unica forza trasversale: quella vaticana. C’è ancora tanto da capire nel marasma generale. Coraggio “ha da passà ‘a nuttata”….

     

  • Facts & Stories

    "Deus Est Caritas”. A Surprising Catholic Encycical



    Nearly two years after the first Encyclical on Love by Pope Benedict XVI, “Deus Est Caritas” (God is Charity), on November 30th the second one was issued. All the main Vaticanists were expecting an Encyclical having social issues as the main subject. Instead, the Pope surprised everyone by choosing the second of the three theological virtues, Hope. The title is “Spe Salvi” (Saved by Hope) and it is a meditation on the topic of Christian Hope. The Pope was inspired by the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans, 8, 24: “Since in the Hope we have been saved”. The document, which runs 76 pages in English, was written largely during the summer vacations, a period usually dedicated by the Pope to intense writing and study. Benedict XVI is also working on a third Encyclical, probably concerning social issues, and on the second volume of his biography of Christ. The third Encyclical is expected to be released early next year. As it happens traditionally, the text will be published in Latin, Italian and, at least initially, in English, French, Spanish and German.

     

     

    The “Spe Salvi” was released in a meaningful date. In fact, November 30th is the day before the beginning of the Advent, Saturday December 1st, a period considered in the Christian tradition as the time of Hope and Expectation. Moreover, November 30th is the feast of Saint Andrew, the older brother of Peter, who became, according to the tradition, the first bishop of Byzantium, later called Constantinople. He is also the patron of Russia, the Ukraine and Romania. So, it appears to be a date that is an explicit homage to the ancient Eastern Christianity and to the Orthodox world, a clear affirmation of ecumenism, an ideal at the center of the pontificate of Benedict XVI.

     

     

    There is another coincidence connected to the release of the Encyclical: it came out in the week the city of Rome instituted a commission to decide whether or not to create a register of civil unions, which was required through the collection of signatures by citizens. Needless to say that in the last years the Vatican has fought with all its power against this idea, succeeding in the Italian Parliament, thanks to a transversal block created by Catholic deputies both in the right and in the left coalitions.

     

    However, such a worry has not ruined the joy for the release of the second Encyclical intended by the Pope as the “answer to the deeper expectations of our contemporaries”. Benedict XVI urges Christians to put their hope for the future in God and not in technology, wealth or political ideologies, which can often be deluding.

     

    In the early days of Christianity, many people lived in slavery and servitude of various kinds. But Jesus was not a political liberator like Spartacus or Barabbas, “Spe Salvi” points out. Christ offered hope of a different sort of freedom, a hope that transformed the way his followers looked at life.

     

    Christians also experienced a new sort of hope with the realization that their salvation lays in a loving personal God, and that through all the difficulties of life they remained children of this loving Father. The faithful no longer saw themselves as helpless in the face of inexorable physical forces or unseen cosmic powers. The Pope writes, “it is not the laws of matter and of evolution that have the final say, but reason, will, love, a Person.”

     

    In modern times, however, men have come to place their trust on different powers, the Pope says. Relying more and more heavily on scientific reason, men have pursued a cult of progress, in the belief that reason can ultimately bring about a “kingdom of man,” a “new and perfect human community.” This attitude, the Pope says, “led to the greatest forms of cruelty and violations of justice. A world which has to create its own justice is a world without hope.”

     

    According to the Christian faith, redemption, salvation, is not simply a given, but the promise of salvation provides “trustworthy hope, by virtue of which we can face our present.”

    Christians have confidence in their eternal fate, the Pope said. “The dark door of time, of the future, has been thrown open. The one who has hope lives differently; the one who hopes has been granted the gift of a new life.”

     

    This sort of hope is not possible, the Pope states, “without God in the world.” But for the believer, hope is enough to changes one’s approach to life, one’s essential attitude. Thus, the Pope says, the virtue is “not just ‘informative’ but ‘performative.’” Benedict XVI says that “the present-day crisis of faith is essentially a crisis of Christian hope.” First in the French Revolution and again in Marxist ideology, political thinkers sought to establish a system of society based on reason, thinking that it would ensure the ultimate in human freedom. In fact, the Pope observes, the result was a “trail of appalling destruction.” The problem with these ideological systems, the Pope argues, is their failure to address the innate spiritual dimension of human nature. Refusing to place their trust in God, ideologues ended up leaving men with no hope at all. “Let us put it very simply: man needs God, otherwise he remains without hope.”

     

    Christian hope points toward the future, the afterlife, and the Final Judgment, Pope Benedict reminds us. “There is justice. There is an ‘undoing’ of past suffering, a reparation that sets things aright.” So the thought of a final reckoning is another “setting” for hope.

    Pope Benedict concludes his Encyclical with a chapter entitled “Mary, Star of Hope.” The Blessed Virgin, he writes, is an inspiration and a guide for the faithful in learning the virtue of hope. He ends “Spe Salvi” with a prayer for her intercession, as the ultimate remedy for the current “crisis of Christian hope.”

     

    Inevitably, the Encyclical has already aroused reactions, especially the sections dealing with science and the failure of the ideologies, topics already at the center of controversies between the Church and the lay world. One for all, was the reply to the Pope by Raffaele Carcano, secretary of the Union of the atheists and the agnostic rationalists. Mr. Carcano asks the Pope attacking atheism, who was responsible for provoking the greatest cruelties and violations of the justice, if “he forgot to read a history handbook”. Mr. Carcano reminds to Benedict XVI “Nazism, a period in which the Vatican seemed to agree with the regime, few weeks after Hitler took the power. Or the Crusades. And the Holy Inquisition. Not to mention the idea that science is insignificant to the progress of humanity, because of its separation from religion.” These are just few of the faults that atheists see in the Church’s history.