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Volcanic fireworks

Catania, IT (View on map)   Living next to a volcano sounds like a rather risky project. Inhabitants of Catania know all about it. They live on the lower slopes of Mount Etna, the largest active volcano in Europe. Etna is in constant state of eruption, but the last time its lava streams touched the… » read more

Posted by Bruno

Patron Saints

Every self-respecting village and city in Italy has its own Patron Saint Celebration. With at least one daily celebration taking place somewhere in Italy, it couldn`t possibly take long before I walked into one. Here I am, in Catania, Sicily. The 5th of February is dedicated to the local patron saint, known as Santa Agatha.

Posted by Bruno

Talking hands

Over the last few days, I have made some comparisons between the Finns and the Italians and I think there will be more of those over the days to come. Today, I am writing about the Italian way of communicating, which makes a nice contrast with the monotonous and seemingly indifferent way of talking that the Finns are used to. Seeing Italian people converse in the streets is like going to an open-air theatre, and Sicilians seem to be top of the bill when it comes to body language.

Posted by Bruno

Political stability is not one of Italy`s strong points. Left-wing governments succeed right-wing governments and vice versa. Since World War II, the average lifetime of Italian governments has barely exceeded one year. Ordinary Italians put very little trust in their political leaders and they are forced to mistrust their national media as well. Politics and media are accepted to be run by the same people. Former and possibly future president Silvio Berlusconi, owner of three TV stations, is a good example of the close links between media and politics. How do Italians deal with an entire press system that does not even pretend to be independent?

Posted by Bruno

Thanks to the night ferry from Naples to Palermo, I arrived in Sicily this morning. I will spend four days on this island before making a short excursion to Malta, country number 16. Sicily in general, and Palermo in particular, are historically known as the birthplace of Mafia. This criminal organisation, originally a `family enterprise` is omnipresent in Sicilian society. Hence today`s question: who in Sicily is affected by the mafia and how do they deal with it?

Posted by Bruno

Napoli profile

My next city in line does not have the best reputation ever. I arrived in Naples last night and walked straight to the youth hostel before seeing anything. After a good night`s sleep, I left the hostel this morning to find some locals to tell me about the city. Hoping to find out whether it`s really as bad as people in Rome and everywhere else wanted to make me believe.

Posted by Bruno

It`s the first of February today, which means that I am exactly halfway the `Us Europeans` projects. It`s quite a strange moment, in a way even scary, and I will try to explain why.

Posted by Bruno