The Italianist

Things That Happen in Italy

Sic Transit Gloria Italiae

with 4 comments

New scandals have hit Italy.

I have to admit, it took me a while to choose which one to pick. Eventually, I went for the somewhat obvious, although even the following story carries with it something which is peculiarly ‘weird-italian’.

Italian politicians cannot do without sexual promiscuity, it seems. A couple of years ago, Sircana, the aid of Romano Prodi, the earlier Italian PM, was found hanging around prostitutes. Before him, Cosimo Mele, a member of the Catholic Party (God bless them), was charged with “drug-pushing” with a prostitute. Protected by God’s will, Mele rejected charges of being less than a good catholic. Needless to say, the actual Italian PM has lived up to these standards and, of course, pushed them further. He also defended his moral status against the charges of ‘imperfect morality’.

The last man on the list is Piero Marrazzo, the President of Lazio, one of Italy’s regions. He’s been hanging around prostitutes as well. Before getting into the details, let’s highlight one main difference between his case and the previous three: after the scandal became public, Marrazzo has resigned.

Italians know Piero Marrazzo for being the conductor of a famous Tv programme called “Mi manda Rai 3”. There he was the charming and aggressive defender of people’s rights against the greed of institutions which his program sought to bring to light. Here’s the man:

marrazzo3

Then he entered politics with the Left, and became the President of  Lazio. As an effect of this, his skin turned slightly more orange:

marrazzo_5W

On last July, Marrazo was caught in a ‘mercenary intercourse’ by four members of Carabinieri , a branch of Italy armed forces. That is to say, guys who are there to protect civilians. However, these Carabinieri were less interested in protecting civilians and more in extorting money from them.

The guys’ names are Luciano Simeone, Carlo Tagliente, Antonio Tamburrino e Nicola Testini.

They broke into the apartment of Brenda, a transsexual prostitute, where Marrazzo was carrying out the mercenary ordeal: they filmed what was going on, and started threatening Marrazzo with the dire consequences waiting for him, unless he paid. And pay he did: three 20000Euro checks have been signed by the Lazio President to silence the Fab 4, and protect his career.

Unfortunately, greed is a green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on, said Shakespeare. Hence the scandal became public nevertheless. In the last days, Marrazzo had to account for his behaviour on tv, and finally confessed that ‘his weaknesses’ had come out. He eventually resigned today, thus leaving Italy’s Left, where possible, in an increased state of confusion. It has also emerged that Marrazzo is to retire in a monastery to recover from the stress.

Investigators say Marrazzo has been the victim of blackmail, hence he is the plaintiff in the charge against the Fab 4 Carabinieri. This seems fair. He will not be charged for going to meet his prostitutes using the “blue car”, the official car politicians use for their work. The reason is that the blue car is for the politician to go wherever s/he wants. Even “a puttane”, as they say in Italy. Here’s a ‘blu car’:  482f20d34e96e_normal

(And, for completeness, here’s a puttana:)

486504bfd550e_zoom

One thing seems to have gone unnoticed in this over-noticed story. The Fab 4, in their relentless effort to raise money to support justice in Italy and abroad, had tried to sell the videotape of Marrazzo and Brenda to Italian magazines. Now, when it comes to Italian Press, and to those who own and control it, this man is very likely to appear:

berlusconi2

It has turned out that Berlusconi, who vicariously owns the Mondadori publishing house (the official owner is his daughter), had been informed by the staff of the magazine  Chi that they were being offered the video. Silvio allegedly warned Marrazzo of the situation, and reassured him that the video would have not appeared on Chi.

Many people lauded Berlusconi’s behaviour as gentlemanly. Or, at least, so the news described it. Yet almost no one, in Italy,  seems to have focused on a bizarre element. The only exception seems to be an article on the Italian newspaper La Stampa (thanks to my sister who has pointed that to me). The article tries to reconstruct the Marrazzo’affaire by highlighting some of its central features. First, the fact that a political member of the Left was found with a prostitute. Second,that the film was then offered to the media. Third, that the media are owned by the Prime Minister, leader of the Right, who can decide whether to publish those images (and, by the way, profit from that). Fourth, that Berlusconi didn’t use that film (the official reply from the Mondadori has been that, after watching the video, they did not find it interesting). But he could have, if it had been about something more convenient for him. In this particular case, he ended up using Marrazzo’s misadventure to underline the terrible situation in which Italian politicians have to work, under the constant risk of being bribed by some anti-democratic photographers. Still, he is in the place to decide what goes and what does not go in the press.

No one finds that strange, in Italy. Anymore.

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Written by TheItalianist

27/10/2009 at 20:01

4 Responses

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  1. Ciao Piero!
    This’s also interesting: Mr B reassured Marrazzo that the video would not appreared on “Chi”. This made me think that my prime minister has the power to influence/decide what goes on his family’s newspapers and magazines and what doesn’t.
    Wird, didn’t he said that he could do nothing for Boffo?
    ‘sti cazzi.

    Robi

    28/10/2009 at 08:34

  2. Well said Robi. The Boffo story was missing from my list of recent italian sex-scandals. I should have emphasized it as well, given that (1) we are talking of the editor of the Vatican newspaper and (2) he tried to criticise Berlusconi and, just after that, the harassment-story in which he was involved suddenly became public.. I can’t keep track of all the sex scandals!!

    Piero

    28/10/2009 at 10:50

  3. hi there! I was reading your point of view, but I found some mestakes. Well, Mr Marrazzo was not hanging around with prostitutes but trans… the job is the same, but the person is not, so… the second mistake: as soon as newspapers wrote about the scandal, Mr Marrazzo said that he was innoncent, he did nothing and it was a fake video, and he said he wanted to go on becouse he was innocent. You can read his words in any italian newspaper. Then someone, probably his lawyer, called him and tell him that the video was absolutely real… so he changed his mind, said he was sorry, and left his job. Now, his wife spoke for him because he went to a convent. We don’t know till when…
    It’s a nice thing you want to talk about italian scandals and more, and I’m sure you have a better idea about our problems but I suggest to read a bit more, and all newspapers, they’re all online and free, and not only one, otherwise your opinion is oneway…

    micky

    28/10/2009 at 19:19

  4. Hi Micky, I am glad you read my post and agree that it is good to keep the lights on italian scandals. You can see that at some point I use the word “transsexual”. However, that was not relevant to the story because, in my view at least,it doesn’t make any difference whether he went with a male, female or transsexual. Yet, I find interesting that you point that out, as in Italy the media are emphasizing a lot the fact that Marrazzo went with a transsexual, rather than with what we would call a “normal” prostitute. There is a comment today in the italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, by Marina Terragni, which seems to suggest (somewhat critically..) that women’s emancipation has got to the point of leading men to go out and look for transsexuals rather than ‘normal’ women. http://www.corriere.it/editoriali/09_ottobre_28/marina_terragni_gli_uomini_i_trans_e_quel_mondo_dove_non_ce_posto_per_le_donne_e60e560c-c391-11de-a7c3-00144f02aabc.shtml
    This sounds weird to me, especially because it implies that there are better and worse ways of going with prostitutes. I think that the core of this story is that Marrazzo is a politician, who went with a prostitute using the blue car, period. The blackmailing would have been as bad if he had been with a woman, or a man.

    I don’t understand if you say that I’m lying about him being guilty, and I should rather say that he is innocent. Of course he denied, at first, that the video was true. Yet “finally”, he admitted “his weaknesses” (http://www.corriere.it/politica/09_ottobre_25/marrazzo_pianto_figlia_2913ce06-c134-11de-b4fa-00144f02aabc.shtml). I have written that too. But thanks for reading my post so carefully, I look forward to having more comments from you in the future!

    Piero

    28/10/2009 at 22:27


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