The political situation has returned to normal in Italy, with the country again mired in crisis. The left-wing government of Romano Prodi was dissolved last week after losing a confidence vote in parliament, spelling the end of the country's 61st (!) government since the end of World War II. According to one politician involved in the negotiations, the formation of an interim government is all but "impossible," considering the splintered political landscape full of nutty little fascist and communist factions.
But even more troubling to veteran Italy watchers is the looming strike amongst the nation's nude models (the classy, art school ones, not the Cicciolina ones). The Guardian reports that the disaffected models are organized and tired of being treated like "teaching tools," which, I always assumed, is exactly what they are:
Currently, only 50 of about 300 artists' models at Italian art schools have fixed annual contracts. The remainder are hired part-time and usually earn roughly €25 (£19) an hour.
Rossella Lamina, a spokeswoman for the trades union backing the protest, said that more than 60 art teachers in Rome, Florence, Venice, Carrara, Turin and Reggio Calabria had signed the models' appeal.
Antonella Migliorini, 42, told Italy's La Stampa newspaper: "Our work is not recognised. We pose for eight hours a day and still the colleges treat us like teaching tools.
As further proof that Italy is a strange little country with depressingly retrograde politics, I submit the following three photos, taken during a visit to Rome in 2006. It is, of course, not surprising that one can purchase Benito Mussolini gewgaws from street vendors, like this snazzy Il Duce apron:
One can also still cast a ballot in support of the Mussolini legacy, natch:
And don't forget PCI, one of the country's many communist parties (a terrific archive of PCI posters here):