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Buddy’s Blog 04/24/14

The famed author D.H. Lawrence said in 1921, “Sardinia…belonging to nowhere, never having belonged to anywhere.” The people on this jewel of an island want the politicos in Rome to sell their land to Switzerland. The vast majority of Sardinians allowed their feelings to be known through demonstrations, picketing and polling. Like many Italians, they feel the European Union has been a great disappointment. They are angered by a system which many believe has minimized economic potential, forgotten the average citizen, and is filled with inefficient spending.

The leadership in Rome should not laugh at this movement for it is taking place in other regions of Italy. Almost 90% of the famed lagoon city of Venice have voted to break away from Italy in protest of high taxes which have been levied on wealthy Venetians to support Italy’s poor, lazy and crime ridden south.

Today, Venice pays more than 21 billion euro than it receives in grants and services from Rome yearly.

This Venetian movement has inspired independence activists in Sicily to likewise take to the streets as a major march recently took place in Palermo demanding a referendum to leave the republic of Italy. Their argument includes that Sicily is being fleeced by Rome and the European Union. There are too many in elected positions of leadership in Italy who have forgotten why they were elected, and have not assumed the responsibility of their positions. That is why Italy is in the economic spiral in which they find themselves. This story has a familiar “ring” to it doesn’t it?

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I read an article recently which said that Manhattan’s Little Italy is on the verge of extinction. That, I am sure, is not a revelation to anyone who has visited this once thriving neighborhood and found what at one time stretched to 50 square blocks, now barely covers a scant three blocks of Mulberry Street.

My friend Robert Ianniello Jr., who owns Umberto’s Clam House and heads up the Little Italy Merchants Association, has been fighting to preserve this cultural oasis for years. “You can’t rebuild Little Italy,” he adamantly says. “If we leave, it will never be here again. It is a joke to think building an Olive Garden is Little Italy.”

Rising rents are causing restaurants to close as eight have done so in the last year. Landlords are charging double what they were getting in recent years, and there is an exodus taking place with empty storefronts dotting Mulberry Street.

The answer to this problem lies in the halls of political power where historical or cultural designations can be introduced and passed. Where are the legislations of Italian heritage?

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Every so often, we will get calls at the Tribune asking, “is it sauce or is it gravy?” This is a topic which can rival the feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys, for I have seen “discussions” evolve into criticisms of family members.

The way we try to respond to these inquiries is by saying it is called gravy when meat is added to the tomato mixture and every other tomato based offering for pasta would be called a sauce. That is a short and simple explanation with basic criteria.



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