Postcard from... Italy


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The Independent Online

Italy is the land of the automobile and whether it's parking on pavements or adopting the national driving philosophy of “Why brake when you can swerve?”, locals give most of their best performances on four wheels. It has emerged that a particularly contentious manoeuvre or “inchino” (little bow) took place during the Targa Florio car rally in Sicily last month, when participants were allowed to drive by – and into – one of Italy's most celebrated archaeological sites, the Greek theatre in Syracuse.

The monument, with its origins in the 5th century BC, has been an important venue for the works of great writers such as Sophocles. But on 12 October, the only sound was the roar of car exhausts.

Incredibly, local authorities allowed dozens of oafs in Ferraris to drive in to the ancient site. "It's outrageous offence against an exceptional monument. The stone stage of the Greek theatre of Syracuse has become a route for cars," local archaeology professor Flavia Zisa, told Il Giornale dell' Arte.

Some local citizens have been offended as Professor Zisa and others have set up an online petition calling for the resignation of the officials who allowed the "vulgar spectacle" at a "monument of enormous civil importance".

Unfortunately, most Italians are as good at resigning as they are at driving prudently.