Friday, 22 February 2013

The pope resigns, the election's next week, but I'm English, so first, the weather!

February is Italy's coldest month.  Up north, there's snow and putting chains on car tyres is obligatory but not in Puglia.  It does occasionally get snow but not in my new hometown where they haven't had snow settle in over 25 years.  I am so loving that!  Can't imagine I'll miss it at all!

Here it's typically 5-10 degrees, but still it feels a little like Puglia is in hibernation: bars shut early, pools wear covers and people submerge in huge coats or stay home feeling ill.  (Italians take their temperature a lot - doctors are obliged to make a house-visit if you tell them you have a fever!)

Nature isn't hibernating however.  The mild weather and bright colours feel like spring to me.

Mandarins are in season

Flowers are blossoming

Puglia is the greenest I've ever seen it
In fairness, although today is bright and sunny it did rain a bit yesterday evening and was unusually foggy which everyone describes as come Londra (like London).  Well it's nice to be known for something!

And the other stuff?  There are a million places online better than this blog for informed discussion of politics and religion in Italy, but in short, it seems to me they don't respect the pope's decision to resign as being pope is not just a job and they despair at the upcoming election as the politicians are all as bad as each other (sound familiar?!).  Well, almost all: the mere mention of Berlusconi's name amongst my friends guarantees an outcry about the latest ridiculous story - his ex-wife gets €100,000 per day, his girlfriend is 49 years younger than him, the endless plastic surgery, hair transplants and make up (the guy's 76 years old!).  Certainly, to my friends, Berlusconi is a major embarrassment for Italy.

So how does this man, awaiting 4 years in jail for tax evasion, charged with paying underage girls for sex at his bunga bunga parties, more gaffe-prone than our own Prince Philip, how does he have any chance of being forgiven his misdemeanours and getting back into power?  There are some interesting intellectual theories.  For example, psychiatrist, professor and author Massimo Fagioli says it's a Catholic thing to tolerate such scandalous behaviour: "Sin at night and confess in the morning".  To me it seems to come down to 2 things.  Firstly he owns some of Italy's biggest TV stations so he has strict control over content and pumps out his message to the masses.  Secondly he is a charmer!  While other candidates studiously answer an interviewer's questions, Berlusconi turns and tells a joke to the camera!

The intense frustration of some over the inability of others to see Berlusconi for who and what he really is, is best summed up by a story I was told by a doctor.  He was with a patient in hospital following her surgery and she said she liked Berlusconi.  When he countered with all the scandal and corruption, she replied, "But doctor, he's so funny!"  The doctor finished his story: "I should have let her die"!!

P.S. Is anything more lovely than a hand-picked posy from a child?

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