Archive for June, 2010

Anyone knows that 8.6 million euro (about $10.5 million) is a helluva budget for any website. That’s how much Italy’s tourism portal has cost Italian taxpayers so far, according to public documents looked up by Il Fatto Quotidiano.

But considering how important tourism is for Italy’s economy, maybe we could cut Tourism Minister Michela Vittoria Brambilla some slack and say: “Hey, at least they’re investing the taxpayers’ money to attract more visitors to Italy.”

Wrong.

All that money has been wasted, thrown out the window (or more likely shoved down some people’s pockets).

The website I am talking about is www.italia.it: An embarrassing display of the current government’s ineptitude when it comes to innovation. You’d think they would have learned from their past mistakes.

Most sections within the site are just a few paragraphs long, with one small picture and very few links. Videos are all in Italian without subtitles, no matter what language you choose.

Oh, and the layout is pathetic.

Here are a few differences I’ve noticed after just quickly going through the tourism portals of Spain and Germany:
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A phenomenal explanation of Italy’s horrible performances during important soccer tournaments has been given by the people at czeta.it.

Basically, every time Berlusconi is in office Italy ends up losing. In 2006, when Romano Prodi was prime minister, Italy won the World Cup.

OK, it is a little biased because the authors left out Euro ’96 (eliminated in first round), the 1998 World Cup (lost to France in the quarter-finals) and Euro 2000 (lost to France in the final).

Still, it’s pretty hilarious.

Suffering is somewhat attractive… at least it’s what 64 people were looking for before clicking on my post about Italy’s embarrassing ousting from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

After Italy was eliminated from the World Cup by losing 3-2 to Slovakia, I went on Google Translate and looked up the word “embarrassing” in Slovak.

It’s “trápny.”

Here is what the major Italian news websites looked like right after the defeat.

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As far as I know, the Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano is a first of its kind in the journalism world.

It is the only newspaper that started thanks to a few popular blogs, that has been increasing its sales since its first edition went sold out in a few hours on September 23, 2009, and is now opening a website thanks to the newspaper’s success.

Somehow, this web-to-paper-to-web model is working. The paper-to-web model isn’t, or at least it isn’t raking in as much money as publishers would like.

So the paper based in Rome, Italy, launched their website during the wee hours of the Italian morning of June 23, and after two and a half hours had already crashed due to over 450,000 visits.

The site’s editor-in-chief, Peter Gomez, wrote in a morning post that they had predicted to reach such heights… by the next day!

The site was down for a few hours and then went live again in the early afternoon. To compensate the loss, a .pdf version of the June 23 paper edition was given away through a free download.

At first, I was surprised by the layout: It is basically the blueprint-copy of the Huffington Post, with a three-column homepage that has a main one column picture and headline at the top.

Their approach (very critical of the current Italian political scene, especially towards Prime Minister Berlusconi) is the same, and you can easily tell by the titles on their navigation bar: “Politics & The Palace;” “Justice & Impunity;” “Media & Regime.”
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On June 19 a new minister, Aldo Brancher, was nominated to take over the government’s efforts to pursue what is known in Italy as “federalism,” a plan long sought after by the separatist party Lega Nord.

Brancher is a highly controversial figure in recent Italian history.

As journalist Marco Travaglio pointed out on Il Fatto Quotidiano, Brancher was arrested on June 18, 1993, right in the middle of the Tangentopoli scandal that rocked Italian politics in the early ’90s.

Brancher, who at the time was working for Berlusconi’s Fininvest, was accused of bribery by Giovanni Marone, former secretary to Health Minister Francesco De Lorenzo. Marone had this to say about Brancher:

“Brancher came to me on behalf of Fininvest to ask for a larger slice of advertising in the anti-Aids campaign [on the Fininvest TV channels]. And when this privilege was realized, he was thankful and paid me with 300 million lire (approximately $150,000) in two payments.”

After three months in jail Brancher was released and then charged 2 years and 8 months of jail-time for illegal financing and false accounting.

The third and final degree of justice got him off the hook thanks to Berlusconi, who in the meantime had become head of the government, starting to pass all sorts of laws favorable to his many legal troubles.
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If you thought former President George W. Bush’s illegal wiretapping spree of a few years ago was bad, think again. Italy and Italians have it much worse.

“Everyone is being spied on,” said Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi today.

Speaking in front of the assembly of Confcommercio, the Italian General Confederation of Enterprises, Berlusconi calmly (for once) explained why the Italian Senate has recently approved a law that would prohibit journalists from publishing court documents containing recorded phone conversations and would make prosecutors’ jobs much harder by limiting the use of wiretapping possible suspects.

He said that 150,000 phones are currently being wiretapped in Italy. Making a rough estimate of the people involved in the phone conversations, Berlusconi said that 7 million people are being listened to every day.

That’s an awful high number of people to listen to. I’m wondering how many people are employed to do this? With just over 100.000 police officers in Italy, you’d think someone else is doing the job.
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