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Italian Days


As the days get shorter, the chestnuts more abundant and a couple of religious holidays leave long weekends leading up to the two-week extravaganza that is Italian Christmas, the media turns its attention to 2008 calendars.

Most calendars sold here would make a truck driver blush: the starlets and those who airbrush them really bust a gut to get attention. Exotic locales, teeny-weeny bikinis, plumped-up pouts, it’s all there — and some of that’s in the calendar of Italian women in parliament, too.
Most of these pin-ups aren’t for clandestine perusals in teen bedrooms, either, but warrant space on walls just about everywhere, from insurance to finance companies, supermarkets to travel agents.
Though all of them would be considered “NSFW” on one’s own computer outside Italy, I have frequently found myself squinting in disbelief at Miss March in all her sea-foam splattered, sandy glory over the shoulder of some colleague who was trying to communicate something I can only hope wasn’t important.
But what has always intrigued me about the Italian calendar market is that if every year, the starlets bare more and companies like Lavazza, Campari and Pirelli go for baroque besting each other with star photographers, they still can’t beat a defunct priest.
Frate Indovino (“brother fortuneteller”) passed to the other side in 2002, but sales of his folksy calendar still outstrip the rest.
The popularity of the calendar, first published in 1946, is homespun wisdom rooted in daily weather forecasts -– the calendar first gained popularity with farmers in Father Mariangelo’s native Perugia in Umbria for the accuracy of predictions. The secret sauce was said to be a 15th-century manuscript from the monastery archives.
The calendar, which sells between six and eight million copies yearly in Italy and abroad, dispenses pearls of wisdom like: “Since onions produce tears, chop them in moments of political or emotional turmoil” as well as recipes, folklore and proverbs. Sales of the calendar, which retail for about $5 each, fund the order’s missionary works.
It won’t keep enterprising calendar makers from trying to surpass it, though.
Should one need further reminder of what the inevitable passing of days means, the coffin calendar — where B-grade babes sprawl across the merchandise of Roman casket crafters — should suit.

Share  Posted by Nicole Martinelli at 9:55 AM | Permalink

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