Sex advice? Ask the nuns online

If those who can’t, teach — the Benedictine nuns who give advice on sex and marriage have an advantage over other counselors. The nuns in Angri, province of Salerno, have set up an Internet site with illustrations of the reproductive cycle, abortion and contraceptives including the day-after pill and female condoms.

“Sexuality is one of the most potent and enriching energies people have,” declares the home page. The nuns also organize premarital courses and sexual Ed for adolescents as well as information on the Billings Ovulation Method for family planning.

While the information given is clearly in line with the Catholic Church, the site made news for the explicit nature of the explanations as well as an otherwise modern outlook on eros — "because sexuality is a fundamental component of (one’s) personality and a way of experiencing human love." ?1999-2004

Zoomata is the brainchild of a bilingualjournalist based in Italy who thinks out of the box. This brain is for hire.

Related resources:
From 19-21 April — Italy’s largest sex fair…At press time the nuns didn’t have a booth

Silvio Berlusconi Makes Music

Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi is warming up the vocal chords for a benefit record.
Once a cruise-ship crooner, the billionaire Berlusconi will be teaming up with Tony Renis (of “Quando, Quando Quando” fame) for a UNICEF record. Berlusconi will pen lyrics and sing on a yet unspecified number of tracks.

The appeal? Italians have long been fascinated with the chirpier aspects of the politician’s personality: last year he was the subject of a musical satire “Berlusconi Sings,” and countless times has promised to let out a few notes on TV only to pull out at the last minute. Renis and Berlusconi have been friends for over 30 years, when the two played in rival piano bars on the island of Elba.

A taste? Click on “audio” for two satirical songs ‘sung’ by Berlusconi

Gypsy Culture Course at Italian University

"Learn and free your mind," was the introductory note from Santino Spinelli, the first Rom professor to teach gypsy culture in Europe.
The new course at the University of Trieste will give a closer look at a misunderstood segment of the Italian population.
Spinelli, born in Pietrasanta di Lucca (Abruzzo), grew up asking for alms then studied at Language and Letters at the University of Bologna.

"There are 120,000 Italian Roms," said Spinelli, a poet and accordion player who also heads up the band Alexian Group. "Previously they had two options — either be assimilated or emarginated. My choice is a third option: to remain profoundly Rom, without losing the cultural characteristics, but take an active role in society."
The course, part of the intercultural studies department, is divided into two sections: the history of gypsies and the history of the serenade in Abruzzi Rom. The Rom group in Abruzzo, in Italy since the 1300s, is the oldest in the country.
Music sample "Echi d’oriente" & poetry by Spinelli.

Italy by Numbers: Staying at Home

+371, 000 new jobs (2001)
70% of 29-year-old Italian men live with parents
+7% increase in 30-34 year olds living at home
1 unfortunate court ruling for parents

Italian parents must support their children until they find jobs which are ‘adequate’ to the ambitions and education of offsprings, an Italian court ruled. An exasperated father, still passing a monthly check for about $750 to a 29-year-old son with a law degree, was ordered to keep up the payments until the lad found a ‘suitable’ job.
Although ISTAT data shows a hearty increase in new jobs and the lowest unemployment levels since 1993 (9.1%), parents hoping to shove kids out of the nest will likely be disheartened at the "adequate job" part of the court ruling.
"A university degree isn’t magic ticket that absolves them from duty," said author and philosopher Luciano De Crescenzo."Who says, in any case, that being an actor is more dignified than being a clerk? The court has made a mistake — the criteria to judge a person are very different."

Living, Working & Studying in Italy
No parents to help out? Try this guide…

Web wise April 9-16

Undercover spring fashions from La Perla • Official Pompeii site Gets English Version • Italian practice: Travel with Simona • Notre Dame de Paris: Cocciante’s Musical comes ‘home’

Undercover spring fashions from La Perla
The latest in what’s on underneath it all from the popular lingerie co..

Official Pompeii site Gets English Version
The government’s guide to one of the country’s most famous tourist attractions finally has an English version.. Get past the ‘earthquake’ intro for a fascinating story of restoration of a fresco, the inside story of the erotic baths, visit the applied research lab and have your kids shown around by Caius in the funky flash tour…

Italian practice: Travel with Simona
Follow this 27-year-old MTV producer as she travels around the world. Forum, photos, stories.

Notre Dame de Paris: the Musical by Cocciante comes ‘home’
After touring the world, Riccardo Cocciante’s musical hit comes to Italy. Click on "disco" to compare tracks from the English, French & Italian versions.

Couple Weds After 62-Year Engagement

After over 60 years together, two Italian retirees finally tied the knot breaking a record in a country known for long engagements.
Annibale Labò had proposed to Bianca Castellana in 1940, but the two never quite got around to calling the preacher, despite having lived together since 1941.

Bianca, 79, determined to walk down the aisle, asked Annibale to marry her last week. The octogenarian immediately accepted.
Italian couples are prone to long engagements (averaging almost five years) and the trend seems to be lengthening. 2001 figures were a year longer than in 1987, (3.9 years) and living together is still a rarity, with only 4% of couples shacking up before the rice is thrown.
"I’m very happy," said new bride Bianca. "I hope not to die from joy!"

Abbondanza: Planning an Italian Wedding
Because it’s never too late…

Italy by Numbers: Snapshot of the Country

Italy by Numbers: Snapshot of the Country

27 million: Italians in 1870
56 million: Italians 2001
45.5% live in North
24.2% South
18.9% Central Italy
11.4% Islands
for every 1,000 Italians = 17.5 resident foreigners

Initial results for Italy’s 14th census are almost two months late — and arrived amid claims that entire towns either never received or never returned the 11-page poll. The results show a steady, if shrinking population at about 56.8 million people. Families also decreased to 2.6 members — down slightly from 2.8 in the 1991 census — but almost half the size of postwar families composed of 4.2 members.
The number of families is increasing (from around 19 million to 21 million since 1991) as more one-person families or single-parent families are created. As a result there are also considerably more houses, more telephones and television sets.
While the immigrant population is growing (tripled since the last census), Italy still has one of the lowest ratio of nationals to foreigners: 1.7% compared to Germany’s 9%. National statistics agency ISTAT plans to release final figures in 2003.
Wade through the preliminary results.

Web-wise April 2-9

Reference site for Italian towns & cities? Italian practice: Great Writers on Italy ?Fiorucci’s funky web games ? Alexia: pop star finally sings in Italian

Reference site for Italian towns & cities
Trying to figure out if granddad’s home town has a website? Wondering if you can make a request on line for records or just tourist info? This site has excellent listings for Italian cities or towns — if no web site is available, addresses & phone numbers are often available..

Italian practice: Great Writers on Italy
Scroll down for short excerpts from Goethe, Stendhal and Hemingway on their travels in the Bel Paese.

Alexia: pop star finally sings in Italian
This 30-something with a string of seamless hits in English, now moves to conquer the Italian market with “Dimmi Come” her entry in the San Remo songfest. She didn’t win, but it has become the most played song on national radio…

Fiorucci’s funky web games
Milanese fashion guru Elio Fiorucci has finally got a website up to par with his retail stores, try the games page…Get past the slow flash intro for some fun like “hot lovers,” “kiss or miss,” a puzzle and groovy e-cards..

Sending a telegram: how & what

Weddings, births, graduations, deaths: for important occasions, Italians send telegrams. Fortunately, the much-maligned national postal service has finally got its act together with a new Internet service that makes sending a telegram to the Italians in your life that much easier. You can send up to eight at a time, 24 hours a day, write in just about any language you like (Arabic and Mandarin characters are included) or choose from a set of ready-made Italian greetings for the occasion.
Just sign up for free at , click on "telegramma" and then "registrarsi." Choose "residente in Italia" (resident of Italy) or "residente all’estero" (resident outside Italy). The first page is a mile-long privacy/disclaimer, click on "conferma" to go to the registration page.

Once you’ve filled in your information, you’ll be sent a user name and password.
Our staff trial, sent in English, was a birth congrats of 5 lines which set us back about $5. Payment is by credit card over a secure server. Below are some prepackaged greetings, which are good to have on hand for cards, too. Auguri!

Marriage Translation E finalmente si sposarono e vissero insieme per sempre felici e contenti. Tanti auguri. And finally they married and lived happily ever after. Best wishes.

Finalmente dopo tanti anni vi siete decisi"era ora".adesso vi aspettano gli anni migliori. Baci e felicitazioni agli sposi!

After such a long time, you finally decided " it was about time." The best is yet to come. Kisses and best wishes to the happy couple!

In un giorno tanto felice ci uniamo al coro di chi vi augura un felice e sereno avvenire.

We add our voices to the chorus wishing you a happy and serene future.



Complimenti. Se il tasso di natalità ora è in rialzo è tutto merito vostro

Congratulations. If the national birth rate is up, it’s thanks to you.

Congratulazioni, finalmente potrete anche voi dormire poco di notte e imparare tutti i segreti del cambio del pannolino".Bacioni a tutti.


Congratulations, finally you, too can face sleepless nights and learn all the secrets of diaper changing. Kisses to all. E’ con enorme gioia che apprendiamo la bellissima notizia: i nostri più sentiti auguri affinché la stella della fortuna brilli sempre su di lei/lui. It is with enormous joy that we heard the fantastic news: our most heartfelt congratulations with the hope that fortune always shines on him/her. Graduation Translation E’ vero che gli esami non finiscono mai, però questa volta puoi prenderti una pausa. Complimenti While it’s true exams never finish, this time however you can take a break. Congratulations. Ora il mondo ha un laureato in più. E visto che il bello viene adesso, goditela ancora per un po’ e poi fammi sapere. Complimenti. The world has one more gradutate — and since the good part comes now, enjoy it for awhile and then let me know…Congratulations. Death Translation Di fronte a un dolore così grande non ci sono parole adeguate. Il suo ricordo vivrà con noi per sempre. There are no words to describe such profound pain. His memory will live on forever. Ti siamo vicini in un momento così difficile. Condoglianze. We’re close to you in this difficult moment. Condolences. Vi porgiamo le nostre più sentite condoglianze in un momento così tragico per la vostra famiglia e per tutti noi. We would like to give your our most heartfelt condolences in this tragic moment for your family and all of us.

Saftey Concerns, Visiting Italy Now

“Is it safe to visit Italy now?” “I’ve already planned my trip–how can I keep from looking like an American tourist?” “What about the official warnings?”
Our editor answers with personal views & the government line….
Many readers have asked us about safety concerns for visiting Italy, the current safety warning issued by the US Government for Americans is valid until February 2006. For Americans living in Italy the message is also pretty severe — first advising a ‘prepare to flee’ list of things to do and then closing with a ‘but don’t worry too much’ caveat.

My personal take:
Unfortunately, the reason they’re called terrorist attacks is because they are unpredictable. It is impossible to say what is the real level of danger. Just the same, unless you really must, avoid spending lots of time hanging around what would be considered ‘sensitive targets’–e.g. the consulate, McDonalds, American schools or for that matter anywhere with large groups of tourists…
If you’re concerned, don’t bring anything with the American flag on it (in moments like these some people put Canadian flag stickers on their luggage or backpacks) or in general T-shirts, hats, bags with English writing. This last precaution is pretty arbitrary — since many fashionable Italians will be sporting something with English writing on it, but it may help to make you feel less conspicuous…

State Department International Warning
We’ve included the announcement for completeness, it’s pretty gloom & doom…

TThe U.S. Embassy in Rome would like to inform citizens of the following Department of State Public Announcement which updates information on the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against Americans and interests overseas. This supersedes the Worldwide Caution dated March 8, 2005 and expires on February 2, 2006.
The Department of State remains concerned about the continued threat of terrorist attacks, demonstrations and other violent actions against U.S. citizens and interests overseas. Americans are reminded that demonstrations andrioting can occur with little or no warning. Ongoing events in Iraq have resulted in demonstrations and associated violence in several countries; such events are likely to continue for the foreseeable future. Nation-wide elections in Afghanistan scheduled for mid-Septembermay also trigger violent anti-American actions.

Current information suggests that al-Qa’ida and affiliated organizations continue to plan terrorist attacks against U.S. interests in multiple regions, including Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics to include assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings and bombings. Extremists may elect to use conventional or non-conventional weapons, and target both official and private interests. The latter may include facilities where U.S. citizens and other foreigners congregate or visit, including residential areas, business offices, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, hotels and public areas.
In the wake of the July 2005 London bombings and the March 2004 train attacks in Madrid, Americans are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems. In addition, extremists may also select aviation and maritime services as possible targets. U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to maintain a high level of vigilance, be aware of local events, and take the appropriate steps to bolster their personal security. For additional information, please refer to “A Safe Trip Abroad” found at U.S. Government facilities worldwide remain at a heightened state of alert. These facilities may temporarily close or periodically suspend public services to assess their security posture. In those instances, U.S. embassies and consulates will make every effort to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens. Americans abroad are urged to monitor the local news and maintain contact with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
As the Department continues to develop information on any potential security threats to U.S. citizens overseas, it shares credible threat information through its consular information program documents, available on the Internet at In addition to information on the Internet, travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. or outside the U.S. and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.

These facilities may temporarily close or suspend public services from time to time to assess their security posture. In those instances, U.S embassies and consulates will make every effort to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens. Americans abroad are urged to monitor the local news and maintain contact with the nearest American embassy or consulate.
As the Department continues to develop information on any potential security threatsto Americans overseas, it shares credible threat information through its ConsularInformation Program documents, available on the Internet at addition to information on the Internet, U.S. travelers can hear recorded informationby calling the Department of State in Washington, D.C. at 202-647-5225 from theirtouch-tone telephone, or receive information by automated telefax by dialing 202-647-3000from their fax machine.
The U.S. Embassy in Rome is located at Via Veneto 119a.
The U.S. Consulates are located in the following Italian cities:
Florence, at Lungarno Amerigo Vespucci 38.
Milan, at Via Principe Amedeo 2/10.
Office of the Spokesman
General Advice For Americans Resident Overseas
Among the highest priorities of the Department of State and our missions abroad is the safety and security of locally-resident Americans overseas. In the past year, the Department has intervened to assist in the evacuation of Americans from half a dozen countries throughout the world as a result of serious political or economic unrest, natural disasters, and terrorist attacks. Hundreds of expatriate Americans each year are forced by personalemergencies (e.g. death or illness in the family) to return to the U.S. on short notice. Evacuations, especially under crisis conditions, are inevitably very disruptive and distressing for those involved.
The State Department routinely provides standard advice to its employees on prudent steps to take to ensure they would be prepared in the event of such an evacuation. This and other advice on crisis preparedness is available on the Department’s Web site at, and we are summarizing the principal points below. The Department commends these elementary steps to you for your careful consideration.
— Assemble all vital documents such as passports, birth and marriage records, vaccination, insurance and bankrecords in one readily accessible location;
— Check to be sure your passport and any necessary visas are valid and that you are registered at the Embassy/Consulate with your current address and phone number. If you need to obtain a new passport or to update your registration, please do so at the Embassy as soon as possible (fill in the times and days). Visa processing can take several weeks. Immediate family members should keep their U.S. visas current and apply for visas with as much time in advance of planned travel as possible.
— Make or update as necessary a complete inventory of your household effects, in duplicate.
— Maintain an adequate supply of food, water, and necessary medications in your home. Make sure your car is in good working order. Keep the gas tank full and check oil, coolant, tires, and battery.

We do not want American citizens to become unduly alarmed. These are precautionary measures only. Given the potential for acts of violence, terrorism, or anti-American demonstrations, we believe it is important for all citizens to maintain readiness for all possibilities in case of an emergency. We will promptly inform you of any significant developments and advise you accordingly.
The Department of State encourages all American citizens residing abroad to register their presence and obtainup-to-date information on security conditions at the nearest American Embassy or Consulate.