Caramulo is a small town in the mountains about two thirds of the way between Lisbon and Port but inland a little. The town of about 1000 inhabitants is at about 800 metres and the Serra do Caramulo rises to 1,076 metres. It is not only the starting point of the historic Caramulo Hill Climb (Rampa in Portuguese) but has an important motor museum (http://www.museu-caramulo.net/) and a very large hotel. After reading of our friend Mario’s efforts in the hill climb at Caramulo we used the “excuse” of going to watch him at the Caramulo Motorfestival and make our fourth visit to Portugal. After a little prompting from Mario I decided to enter in the regularity event with Mario’s son Duarte as my navigator. Continue reading
Last year our French friends Rafael and Odile organised a Morgan tour of their region of Provence. We had such a great time that we decided to organise a similar tour of Lombardy. By and large we visited places that Alis and I had already visited but we went to a few places that were new to us. In all there were 6 Morgans. The French registered cars were: Laure and Jacques, and Christiane and Pier in 4/4s, Odile and Raphy in a Morgan 3 Wheeler, and Sylvie and Serge with an Aero 8 The Italian registered cars were: Letizia and Efrem in another 4/4, and us, Alis and Peter in our Plus 4. Needless to say we attracted a lot of attention everywhere we went.
Our tour, the Ballade Morganisti, was mainly on normal roads and we entirely avoided toll roads and the Autostrada (except for one short stretch to avoid city traffic on the way home). We were very lucky with the weather and only saw a couple of spots of rain on the entire 6 day period. Our journey was punctuated by a series of gastronomic delights and I am sure we all arrived home with a kilo or two more than when we left. Continue reading
Had a good run in the Morgan yesterday with Francesca in the passenger seat. We went up to San Moritz, on to Zernez, took the Munt la Schera tunnel to Livigno where we had lunch, the Foscagno Pass to Bormeo where we met Alis, who was there for the weekend, and then on home. A total of over 350 km after a couple of side excursions. http://goo.gl/maps/POisg Continue reading
Addio Luigi Forni
Custodian of Guzzi’s History
Many visitors to the Moto Guzzi Museum would undoubtedly remember the guide and “custodian” who, after their all too brief visit, advised them that the museum was closing and urged them towards the exit. Italian speakers would know him better as an informative guide. That man was Luigi Forni.
Trying to explain Italian politics is not easy.
First you need to know something of the Italian electoral system.
To vote you have to be 18 years old for all elections except the Senate and for that you have to be 25. Berlusconi’s party, under pressure from a minor coalition member, invented a new proportional voting system known as the “Porcellum”, or in other words a pig of a law. This means that Italians do not vote directly for their local or regional representatives as in other countries but vote for a list prepared by each political party. The number of persons elected from each list depends on the list achieving a minimum quota of votes which are then distributed proportionally to each list.
The effect of the “Porcellum” is to guarantee that the leaders of each list are elected, or at least if the list reaches the minimum quota. For this reason Italy has a proliferation of parties that has the undesirable effect of creating unstable government due to shifting coalitions. It has also led to a cult of leadership in Italian politics in part because of the huge power it invests in political leaders. An unscrupulous leader is able to control the list in such a way as to give prized political positions in exchange for favours of a political, financial or sexual nature. He also has the power to remove from the list anyone with whom he disagrees. This leads to an autocratic government with a bunch of yes men and women filling most of the seats. A good example of this is how Berlusconi led the country to the brink of ruin whilst passing a multitude of laws to benefit his enterprises and protect him from prosecution for various accusations of wrong doing. A high place on the list of a political party is quite lucrative in terms of salary and benefits accruing to Italian politicians. After only two and a half years of “service” they are able to claim a life-time pension with reversibility to their wives after their death. The national and regional politicians don’t even campaign very much locally as campaigns are conducted on a national or regional basis by the leaders.
Italian politicians are the best money can buy. Continue reading