04 April 2008

Tutti fanno così. Perché non io?

Because I sometimes visit a house in Tuscany to which my children's memorabilia of their dad were secretively whisked, and which I long to hear have, à la Stephen King scribbles, emitted a suppurating evil karma throughout the thieving abode, leaving harm and misery in the after-fumes ... because of this tenuous connection, I often give articles on that country a second glance.

As a result, I caught witty Melissa Morozzo della Rocca's amusing assertion that, "Sometimes living in Italy you're forced to break the law."

It took her eight months and five grovelling visits to sprawling offices to get a sticker smaller than a postage stamp declaring that her driving licence is recognised by the Italian state.

"It's not so much about checking your right to have an Italian licence but testing your will to survive against the unscalable granite rock face that is an Italian public office."

An Italian friend pointed out that she could have paid a little extra and gone to the Ufficio Sbriga Pratiche, which loosely translated means the "Office for Hurrying Along Applications for Documents". This is Italy's answer to the unemployment problem. Why simplify the existing channels when you can open another office that charges extra to do exactly the same thing but quicker?

Cunning - furbizia - is valued more highly than anything else, including the Pope, espresso and La Mamma.

Melissa mentions Italians knack for finding creative solutions and cites the Neapolitan who designed a T-shirt with a seat belt drawn across it, to avoid belting up.

Oy! Back in 1997, when I was living on Bainbridge Island, WA, I got so fed up with a certain law enforcer pulling me over for beltless probable cause, then sniffing my breath or espying on the passenger seat what he insisted on calling "drug paraphernalia", that I laboriously sewed a swathe of cloth across one of my umpteen Amazon.com t-shirts just to keep PC Plod off my back. Not much furbizia about that.

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