Saturday, August 29, 2009

Guide to living in Italy - Part 1

Pilgrim Infestation - A survival guide
(for more Pilgrim based rants balanced opinion  click here)

Admittedly not the most likely hardship your average expat is likely to experience, but it is just a bit of a spanner in the works and as I have discovered to my cost, it is not among the issues where Google can give you much advice should you be among the chosen few to have your locality infected.


Crying/Bleeding/Sneezing/suddenly looking grumpy statues.

Strange marks or mould appearing on buildings. Where if you squint hard you can make out the face of the elephant man (in the style of Picasso), who apparently is now the spitting image of God, Jesus, The Madonna or other important religious figure.

Polluted water sources going all “healing” on a hysterical bunch who couldn't avoid having a placebo effect if they were immunized against it with a cricket bat.

Visions of important religious figures seen by the person who amazingly enough ….predicted just such a vision last week, when he took some time out from guessing winning lottery numbers for those who prefer their wallets not to weigh them down.

How to predict

Buy a crystal ball.
Include instructions in your property survey to include scanning nearby locals for guru-hood tendencies.

How to discern if you have been infested with pilgrims.

Open your door or window. Do you get the impression that behind your back and out of the blue somebody took your house and plonked it in the biggest football stadium your country has and the match of the year is in progress ? Is the atmosphere even less stable than when arch rivals are playing against each other ?

If you answered yes to the above then either the government has fallen, there has been an alien invasion or you are one of the unfortunate few who join an exclusive club.

“The Newly Emotionally Unstable due to Being Inundated By Thousands of Extremely Overexcited and Impressionable People who Regard You and your Home as the Phenomenon's Nearest 24/7 Information Point, Car Park and Outdoor Public Loo”

How to approach the Authorities.

Don't bother. Even if the pilgrims are consuming (by the bucket-load) pesticide-polluted water your local authority will have Euro signs in their eyes thinking about the indirect commercial gain for the nearest towns.

They will overlook the fact that your house is now valued in Eurocents and the cost of providing infrastructure would bankrupt the local coffers. Instead they lose themselves, and their duty to the public, in dreams of being the next Lourdes. All without wasting one nano second on objective calculations of cost, both human and financial.

Do expect them to react to the question of out of control crowds stuffed in a tiny area by sending all the local police on holiday. Then watch as they swan off on holiday too.

Try not to hope that their yacht hits a freak iceberg in the med. But fail.

How to approach the charlatan with the box for “donations”.

Anyway you like, but don't give into the urge to take a hammer with you. Be prepared for him to incite his followers to hang you from the nearest tree the second you remonstrate that perhaps this wasn't the most neighbourly move the planet has ever seen.

Spend your energy on dreaming up complicated plots to close him down and make him pay. It is entirely reasonable to believe that the appropriate punishment for his infractions of public order, health and safety, pollution etc... is his head on a stick.

How to Approach the Pilgrims.

Remonstrate when they wake you up by honking, shouting, screaming “Maria !!!!” “Where is the miracle water !!!!!” under your window at 2am/3am/4am/5am.

Point out you are not Maria.

If feeling really evil say “English, not speak Italian” (insert different 2nd language as context dictates). This will at least allow you to extract a little exhausted, pre-dawn, revenge based fun by making them struggle to remember what little English they absorbed at school.

If you get one that does speak good English you can really get your own back, utterly crushing their ego in the process, by pretending you have no idea what they are trying to say.

If they are showing off their language skills to the crowd, start talking at warp speed nine and watch them wet themselves as they try to pretend they know what you are saying.

It's not as good as sleep but better than wandering around the house knackered and puffing on millions of ciggies despite having given up smoking years ago.

Try not to kill them when by week 7 of 24/7 infestation your patience has worn so thin that you are looking on American guns laws with envy. (in retrospect maybe I shouldn't have written that)

Do not approach them when they park all over your property or block you into it by parking right in front of the gate. It is not worth the utter dejection and fury when they reply “what residents ? “what house?” “what owner ?” despite you standing right in front of them with your home as the backdrop.

Just accept it now. You are invisible and irrelevant, it is all about them. You have no life, you have no problems and you have no human need to eat, sleep or go shopping. Think of yourself as scenic decoration for the few that notice your existence.


For the love of all things good do not lie down in the road or chain yourself to trees to try to block the traffic as a protest. Make no mistake about it, these buggers WILL run you over.

Instead search Google Maps until you find an alternative route for the pilgrims to use that minimises their impact on you. Chose the one that will cause the maximum possible disruption for the neighbour who keeps coming over saying “what are you making such a fuss about ? S'just a few thousand people, hahahahah”

Publish alternative route all over the net and spam pro-pilgrim forums with the link thereby extracting compensation in the form of neighbour going puce and spluttering mightily whilst running around in circles like a headless chicken.

It will really cheer you up. In a cynical and jaded sort of way.

Long Term

Go to the doctor. Take prescribed sedatives. Try not to explode. Try not to cry so much that your eyeballs float out of your head.

Remember that unless you are truly cursed this will not be the next Lourdes but just a very long, torturous bout of summer madness.

Pray for rain. Work hard on not hoping that lighting strikes metal taps and create a “God is punishing us !!!” immediate withdrawal frenzy as both the charlatan and his pet Madonna seeing “sensitive” get 1000000 voltes through them.

Come talk to me.

You will have my unending sympathy. For I know what it means to be trampled under the feet and wheels of thousands upon thousands of pilgrims who just can't wait another minute to throw all their money at a charlatan while making up their preemie's milk with unboiled, pesticide tainted, dirty well water or shoving a sippy cup full of the same in the mouth of their small child who is undergoing chemotherapy. And then going home with gallons of the stuff to make sure that no other liquid apart from the fake miracle variety gets into the kid for a month or two.

Being an involuntary witness to such horrors takes it toll and I will understand if you need to weep, shout and make rather rude gestures whilst turning the air blue.

Keep your sense of humour. It might be dark and it might be bitter but you can't beat it as an alternative to going completely bonkers.

Blog. In the hope that one day you can look back and laugh.

Preferably not hysterically from inside a padded and soundproof room.
(for more Pilgrim based rants balanced opinion click here)

Monday, August 24, 2009

International Protest

Per il versione in Italiano click qua

So. One man and his pet "sensitive", who claims to have not only seen a vision of the Madonna but also been given communion by her.

Pushing well water that is polluted with pesticide and unfit for human consumption (for profit) on thousands upon thousands of sick pilgrims and their immune depressed children and babies.

One priest close to nervous breakdown thanks to misinformation spread by the charlatan that means all the pilgrims think he has blessed the water and believes it to be miraculous. Which is patently untrue.

One blessed Madonna statue being exploited in the worst kind of way (guess where the box for "donations" is). The locals, all catholics except me and the charlatan, compare it to the way a pimp treats a woman on a street corner. That is the level of disrespect that is being shown and felt.

Church extremely unhappy at above exploitation too.

Local authorities rubbing their hand in glee thinking "ohhhh indirect commercial gain"

You can help, you really really can.

Could you send an email to your nearest Italian embassy enclosing this link (it is to a national good quality broadcaster's news report on the issue highlighting how the church is being exploited and thousands exposed to potentially cancer causing pesticides in the water)

and express something negative.

We are a small community, we can't do this alone and neither can the local priest be expected to turn back a national tide with just a local platform to speak upon.

please help us.

Italy looking bad to the international community is a far bigger motivator than any other. The embassies have direct communication with top levels of government whereas we are constrained to dialogue at a local and regional levels.

Thank you for taking the time to read. We appreciate it.

If you would like more information there are several posts below about the story.

(The full text has been emailed to every Catholic Diocese in the UK as well as all of the same in NY and Washington DC. All Catholic associations in the USA and the UK inc those groups on facebook and yahoo groups. All Italian American /Anglo Italian associations inclding those that only exsist on-line. All online atheist/skeptic groups in the UK, the USA, Australia and NZ. All quality British newspapers - sent directly to the Italian based reporter. All American, Australian or UK bloggers, who blog regularly about Italy, that have a significant following)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Crash course in protest needed.

I am damn near breaking point right now. Pilgrims coming out of my ears and infesting my dreams in the few hours they let me sleep before they wake me up again.

If you click the link it will take you to a post from my non-homeschooling blog.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Ivo gets his bum kicked

My husband on the news

Ivo gets his arse kicked re the pilgrims and his fake miracles, they get him to talk about the "donations". The story board was from our angle. I love these journalists. Love them. Will never scream at them through their car window again.

Mario is in the green shirt looking pissed off that his wife lost her boobs thanks to not being able to eat and stress and stuff, and waking him up going
"are you awake too"
"oh good, I couldn't sleep either, chuh...that bastard Ivo, can I GO AND THROW EGGS AT HIS HOUSE"
"Mario, are you awake too ?"

ad infinitum

Just leaves you feeling a little less helpless when the biggest news programme in the country does a hatchet job based on the back story you gave them

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

How not to do it.

When confronting the 1000 pilgrim of the day who ignored the residents' cars only sign make sure first they are not from TG1 (news broadcasters), definitely do that before you ask them if they are looking for a miracle cure for blindness since they obviously didn't see that it said RESIDENTS ONLY, absolutly make sure you don't go purple in the face when you shout the bit in caps and make them all shrink back in their seats.

Additonally do not burst into tears and start begging them not to send anymore people when you find out who they are. You will embarrass yourself. They will shrink further back in their seats to the point where flesh and seat risks melding.

Well at least my husband got to give our side of the matter to a journalist. Not that I think it will make the cut,, five seconds after he finished some nuns in full regalia walked past and got the news team all excited. I reckon that the residents will get taped over. Well we are used to being trampled so why not overwritten as insignificant data.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ivo the Guru

He has lost his mind. No doubt about it, his head has swelled so much from the attention that permanent brain damage has occurred.

He is throwing all the "residents only" barriers into the fields and declaring "I, who heals the people, not bound by the rules of the ordinary mortals".

Not what I ever anticipated hearing in my next door neighbours courtyard when I bought the place.

He says it is him who is healing the people, not the Madonna, not the water. No, aside from cancer causing pesticide, the magic ingredient is Ivo himself.

The local priest used his sermon to tell people not to go down to the water or drink the water. Which infuriated Ivo so much that I got an idea.

Here's a link to my new poster, so far he hasn't pulled this one down. If anything is going to raise his blood pressure and take him to apoplexy and increasingly strange public outbursts it is the idea that the he'll lose the religous pull. I need increasing numbers of people to hear him speak and take a step back thinking "whoa, this is a right nutter we have here". The word will get around if he carries on being this messianic.

Still tired, still stressed, still mourning for my lost peace and tranquility but not quite ready to give up yet. I blame my Viking genes, they seem to think the fight isn't over till I drop dead or win.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

8.30 this morning

Well before Studio Aperto showed their ugly mugs AGAIN ! Have they not done enough to stir this up into astronomical proportions. Ivo declaring woman came down with crutches and walked back from the water unaided. If I find that joker she'll need crutches. Bloody stunt pulling cow.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Hey I'm never home to school anyway M

always running away from pilgrim infestation as I am. So let's update on my mono-obsession....the pilgrims.

Headlines today.

Miracle water can cause cancer. Curing magic water ...carcinogenic, Holy water contains high levels of pesiticide.

Well that put a bit of a spoke in the wheels. FAR less pilgrims. Being made to walk down here not drive, they had to park in a field well up the road from us.

I almost dare hope. this will be over before the swallows leave.

The biggest surprise was the presence of the Protezione Civile, we had a six man presence, all volunteers, policing events.

Silver linings - I have lost five kilos from stress and not eating. I have realised that I have put down roots so will really let myself go and commit to the house and do it how I want it instead of the best way to make it saleable. Did I mention I have lost five kilos ?

I have started smoking again, after 2 years of not. But I got some 4mg niccorette today so will knock that on the head fast.

In fact the worst thing that happened today was being woken up by pilgrims yelling their inconsiderate heads off at 5.45 this morning. However that has to be put in the context that I did actually sleep, so improvement I say.

My owl called to me. She is back. I cried. I am pathetic. But I love that owl, she makes delinquent teenage baby owls who are dirty stop outs and can be spotted sitting on signposts at lunchtime looking bleary but defiant.

Apparently Ivo spent all his "donations" and then some on huge tubing so he could fill in the irrigation ditches and make even more money from "parking fees " in a couple of fields near the "magic water" but the Park police that I called put a stop to it and now all he has to show for his efforts at guruhood are some non refundable, enormous pipes, an award for being the "neighbour from hell" 2009 and a few incensed former pilgrims who fed their loved ones cancer causing water talking legal action.

Tomorrow is threatening huge storms so maybe we won't even get the much worried about influx from the sanctuary after mass. (ETA - far fewer from the local church came, the priest is getting through to most of them in his sermons, but loads and loads from other parts of Italy came)

So here endeth the post before I grab a small glass or wine and smoke a million fags to guarantee the required sore throat to aid "giving up again, you twit for having fallen back into the habit, now you'll be sorry". I end with a prayer.

Dear God that I don't believe in unless on a plane gripping the seat arm with very white knuckles waiting for the turbulence to stop, I think the lesson you wanted me to learn from the plague of pilgrims is that my written Italian for the purpose of protest is quite shocking, on this point I might concede that you have a point. So, if I promise to work on my auxiliary verbs and double constanants and refrain from turning single men into gaggles of females in the space of three sentences will you please lay off on at least the pilgrims coming down to dip their lottery ticket into the pool under the tap ? Thank you for your kind attention in this matter.

PS - thank you for the eye candy in the form of the red headed Carabinieri from Gropello , although i felt it was a bit unfair to send him when I was in the middle of replumbing, drenched and dirty whilst very whiffy from pilgrim induced stress sweat.

Next time can he come when I am Lilly Lolo-ed to the hilt and in the green dress from Next and the grey high heels, preferable on a day when it is not to hot for those tummy sucking in knickers I got from Marks and Spencers.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Update on the pilgrim problem M


ASL has said due to high levels of iron and magnesium the water is not drinkable and should not be given to people to drink. In theory signs have been planted on and around the source to warn people. ASL is still analysing the pesticide found in the water to try and see what chemicals exactly are present.

Headlines include "the healing water could harm" etc etc.

Ivo declares to the press "The water is good, nothing can penetrate the clay I stuck a pipe in I have been drinking it for 70 years" (and you can tell.....)

My "stop using zone as toilet" and "does nobody give a bugger about the residents" signs have had the required effect. The pilgrims who don't pee and pooh everywhere (ie the majority) are revolted by the idea that they are mixing with people who would and might even walk in it by accident. The press picked up on the signs and the first backlash articles are coming out criticism the chaos that endured last weekend and how the residents are not involved, were not consulted and are under siege. Some have noted that if it were a rave or basically anything without a religious connection the attitude of the comune would have been different and the law would have applied and the emergency power of shutting a road for public safety would have been executed and enforced.

The Parco Ticino police turned up to talk to me after my call and email, they along with the caribinieri are fuming that the mayor is sitting on his hands. the park [police did go and warn the parents of the actual owner of the land that he would be held legally responsible for any injuries or deaths resulting from the overcrowding. The owner is still at sea and will be back Saturday.

One neighbour has decided to rent two fields for parking, without checking that now he is liable for not only misuse of agricultural land but also any damage to property or person that takes place on said land given that he has given permission for it to be used for a purpose for which it was not intended and unlicensed. that;'s his lookout if he doesn't want to listen.

The road that turns left off mine that leads to the water is dramatically sagging over the irrigation stream, there is a big pipe under the dirt and it looks like thirty years of traffic in just a week is going to collapse it. Hopefully not while anybody is on it.

I have given up. I have worn myself out Canute like. Nothing else i can do. However I do get to choose if I stay in the madness or not. I choose not. Fri/Sat/Sun I won't be here from early morning to late evening. We have lined up a programme and all the dogs and as many cats as I can catch will be locked in the house with food, water and ventilation to keep them safe.

for the first time i feel OK. I am typical eldest child. I fix things, I sort things out. Some times though there is nothing you can do and since I can put my hand my heart and say I have done everything in my power to protect my neighbourhood and the the people coming in to it I don't feel I have any responsibility for what occurs from this point on. so now I let go and the chips will fall where they will.

I have found an alternative house we could buy in the area should this continue, although I think Ivo will drop dead of exhaustion very soon which should draw an abrupt halt to proceedings. The Parco police have seen this before an d they said it almost always happens in summer (they say people are more prone to getting daft ideas and being suggestible in the silly season) and it nearly always blows over in a few months. They reckon when it is cold it will stop and by the time it gets warm again people will have forgotten.

The whole thing is completely surreal. I hope nobody gets hurt or gets taken ill and can't get to medical help. But if they do I will not fall over in shock.

Note to self,next time buy a house check neighbours for egos the size of an elephant who have guru tendencies before putting down deposit.

The time nine years ago I was yelling my head of in pain. By six in the morning I will have been a mother for nine whole years. If I focuss really hard I can still get a memory whiff of his smell when they plonked him next to my paralysed arms. That is what I am going to make my priority for the next few days. Time passes so fast, he'll be gone before I know it. I am not wasting anymore of what we have left on the planet on things I can do nothing about.

Monday, August 3, 2009

It's not working

The comune (council) have blocked just his little dirt track that turns of ours. With a sign to tell everybody to come back on 7th august.

My son's 9th birthday.

So that is the party cancelled.

I have a suspcion that the comune smells indirect commercial possibilites. (ETA - very much confirmed by meeting with Mayor where he talked about very little except potential commericalisation)

Backstory for the confused

It's working !!!

I put the same poster up all along the road as well as on the net. He has been inundated with calls and visitors to his business in Vigevano.

Instead of being at home relaxing and getting over the folly of yesterday he has had to come here, without the aid of the nuns, and start distributing to all the pilgrims who have been arriving since just after 8.30.

We are still dealing with traffic well beyond the reasonable for the zone, not like yesterday or Saturday but up from form the previous three weeks, and having to direct people who are temporarily illiterate and can't see the signs saying "magic water not here, do not disturb"

But at he who wanted the bicycle is having to pedal instead of leaving the heavy lifting to the people who have no involvement, nor desire for involvement. Anzi.

I feel a little less powerless.


I need your help.

I live in a tiny hamlet, look for Cascina Ca'Bassa (use number 3, 5, 7) on google maps. It is a dirt track. Two cars can barely pass. With help from the local church and the national media one of our neighbours has been gripped with Celebrity Fever and is pushing his well water (exactly the same as mine) as Holy Healing Water. ( ETA - as it turns out the "help" from the church was misinformation spread by the guru and his helpers, the church is firmly against this, they want the Madonna statue returned and the miracle water closed down)

Today 15,000 people came from various bits of Italy and converged on us. It was the perfect finale to three weeks of hell, we don't live any more, we exist, because Monday-Friday fanatics and the desperate are coming here in drove looking for the water while he is at home nice and relaxed and we are left to deal with this flux of people wanting information and water. Water we have no access to.

Today we had people gridlocked in all direction, the sick, the old, the tiny babies trapped in their cars under a boiling sun. People were getting agitated with each other between the fervour and the heat and the not being able to move. The police came, the mayor came but he won't stop.
Please cut and past the information below and add to your blog or site. If many sites give this info then that is what the majority of the people looking for the water on-line will see. This information was obtained from the Italian phone book. No claims are made about the water, the words used are those of the gentleman in question on national TV and in print media.
He lives in a decent sized city which has a police force and local traffic police who can manage the situation better.

And I really want him to live with the results of his egomania instead of leaving it to us.
I'm English, I live with my Italian husband and son on this dirt track. There are about 8 families down here and we just can't cope. When my husband complained to him tonight he screamed he was healing people and said that any of the pilgrims currently at the water shack would “hang him from a tree” for complaining and saying that he was a twit for not realising what a ruckus he caused. The pilgrims got menacing (we are making formal complaints to the police in the am) and my husband had to leave.

I am completely genuine, my email address is, that is my real name. If you can't stand people using faith to manipulate and exploit while letting single atheist skeptic and some very nice normal Catholics to carry his can please just copy and paste as in onto your blog/site.

Contact me if you have any doubts, or questions regarding the wording.

cut and paste the below anywhere in your site or blog or forum if you are willing to help (or if you are not comfortable with that please link to

Per tutti le informazioni
sulla "santa Acqua miracolosa guarigione"
Ivo Pignatti
Corso Giacomo Brodolini, 24
0381 83286


Related Posts with Thumbnails