Sunday, May 15, 2011


I've already written about this over on my Italian blog, but partly because I thought I'd do a better job in English, and partly because this blog's been a bit neglected recently I've decided to write about in in English too. Oh, and partly because of my love for Eurovision. And I adore Eurovision. I have ever since I can remember. At home I'd always be the last person staying awake right until the end to watch all the votes come in. Even at a young age it fascinated me, it was like a window on all these different countries and cultures. I'd listen to songs sung in unknown languages, following the subtitles giving the translation in English.

But unfortunately since moving to Italy I haven't been able to follow it as much as I would have liked. Until this year that is. When I read a few months ago that Italy was going to be rejoining the competition after a 14 year absence I couldn't believe it. For one thing, with all the political voting of the last few years, I couldn't understand what had made the powers that be change their minds! And when I found out who Italy would be sending to Duesseldorf the decision was made, I'd be supporting Italy - Raphael Gualazzi, as well as being very talented, was from Urbino!

So last night for the first time since 1997, Italy was back in Eurovision and Eurovision was back on Italian TV. Rai 2 to be precise. The second semi-final had been shown on digital channel Rai 5, whereas the first one hadn't been shown on Italian TV at all. And it was a strange experience. After a lifetime of watching it on the BBC this was Eurovision Italian style. The legendary Raffaela CarrĂ  was commentating, along with Bob Sinclair (Ok, I get that they collaborated together, but, really?) and lots of other people, none of which I recognised. And obviously, with this being Italy (they weren't even in Duesseldorf!) there was a lot of talking. Too much. It got in the way of the show. Even when the votes were being announced there was too much chatter. I understand that there needed to be translation done into Italian, but last night was excessive. The only time we got a decent amount of silence was when Italy started creeping up the scoreboard...

I couldn't believe it. I had been so worried that Italy, after having sent such a good song, would only be disappointed with the result and would start sulking again. After a slow start and being stuck on 'nil points' for a while, before I knew it, Italy was 5th! But to my amazement the crew of commentators weren't happy. Until Italy got to third, and then the mood in the studio in Rome completely changed. With all the neighbourly and political voting of Eurovision I couldn't believe it, I never expected such a good result.

Italy finished second with 189 points. I'm so proud of Raphael and the team from Italy who were in Duesseldorf last night! But even after having come second, unfortunately not much has been said about it anywhere today. Italy still doesn't quite understand Eurovision yet, after 14 years a whole generation had never experienced it before last night. I'm hoping last night's result will be able to raise its profile for next year's competition, and that the programming on Rai will be better too - less chatter next time, yes?

So, Italy, what was all that sulking about then? Looks like Eurovision's not so bad after all!

For those of you who didn't see it, here's Raphael's fantastic performance from last night:

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Everybody's Talking About....

Everyone knows what the big international news stories of the week have been, but what about the news from Italy this week?

Friday's strikes

There's a joke in Milan that on a Friday every single month there's a transport strike. As much as people like to joke about it, it's actually pretty close to the truth. But Friday's strikes were bigger than the usual transport strikes that hit the city. Many of the workers unions in Italy joined the strike, which also affected schools and airports.

The rubbish crisis in Rome and Naples

This week the news has been reporting that the rubbish crisis in Naples is as bad as it was in 2008. The government has promised over and over again that the problem will be resolved, but it keeps coming back. The military was meant to arrive in the area on Monday, but on Friday they had already started working on removing what's quoted as being over 1000 tons of rubbish that have been collecting on the streets. It was promised that the situation in Rome would be resolved by tonight, with people working overtime to clear the streets of the rubbish that had accumulated over the last few days.

Lo scudetto

Milan's 0-0 draw against Rome last night was enough to award them what's called 'lo scudetto' - they are the Serie A champions for this season. It's the 18th scudetto in their history, and the rossonero half of the city was out in force last night celebrating, with thousands of fans in Piazza Duomo. Even in the suburbs cars, scooters and bikes were driving around and around into the early hours beeping their horns in celebration! At the other end of the table; today, Brescia - who were only promoted to Serie A at the end of the last season - were relegated to Serie B.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Song of The Week

This, in my opinion, is genius. It's the video for Caparezza's new song, which debuted on La Repubblica's site today. Chi se ne frega della musica translates as 'Who cares about music'! Only in Italy!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

My Milanese Pet Hates - Part 8

More from the The Dangerous Life of a Pedestrian in Milan.

Cyclists who go down one way streets the wrong way.

Around where I live there are a lot of one way streets (including the street I live on), and too many times now a cyclist has nearly gone straight into me when I've been walking to or from work. I've always got my earphones in, which means I don't hear them. Yes, I know I should pay more attention, but seriously, what are you doing going down the street the wrong way?? It's not going to end well, especially not with the way Italians drive...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Everyone's Talking About...

After a short break away from Italy, here's my round-up of the biggest talking points in Italy this week:

The war in Libya
Unfortunately one of the biggest news stories in Italy from this week is the country's involvement in Libya. Italy's decision to join the war has split the government. The far-right Lega Nord is against it, because, to put their point of view simply, bombing Libya would mean more people would want to escape the country and come to Italy. Even so, Berlusconi has agreed to join the NATO bombing campaign. Gheddafi has responded by threatening to 'bring the war to Italy'.

May 1st
Today is Workers' Day in Italy, and the decision of many shops to stay open today has created a lot of discussion in Italy. In Rome there's also the annual 1st of May concert, featuring many Italian artists such as Subsonica, Caparezza and Edoardo Bennato.

In the Vatican City around a million people witnessed the beatification of Pope John Paul II. Beatificaion is the first step towards becoming a saint, and people from all over the world came to witness the event.

We're getting ever closer to the scudetto being decided. Milan is still at the top of the table, but after Inter's win away at Cesena last night, the scudetto won't be decided for at least another week, even if Milan win against Bologna. Places in the Champions League spot are also to be decided, however Bari's fate has already been decided, having already been demoted to Serie B.