Roma and Firenze, Italy--After several snafus involving American tourists at AutoGrill toilettes, in supermercados, and on the streets of Rome, the Italian government has declared the popular rock song "American Idiot" by Greenday to be the most fitting national anthem for Italy. And, in a fit of fashion pique, the government has also banned belt packs and sneakers from Santa Croce Square and other historic locations in Florence.
In the first instance of American idiocy, an American couple tried to dislodge a shopping cart from a locked row of carts without paying 2 euro, setting off an alarm.
"Well, shopping carts are free in America," the husband explained. "I just thought they were stuck." The carabinieri who rushed to the scene politely explained to the couple that both carts and bags cost a modest fee in Italy and divested the husband of the 25 plastic bags he had already taken.
In the second instance, a mother and teenage daughter who lacked the appropriate exact change to use a toilette in Siena tried to explain the desparate nature of their situation to a group of interested but uncomprehending, and non-English-speaking, Italian soccer players.
"When you gotta go, you gotta go," said the two women. "Once the guys finally understood that we were about to pee in our pants, and were not propositioning them, they gave us the coins we needed--and not a second too soon!"
Finally, a group of Americans in Rome were unable to cross the street for several hours, since all cars refused to stop for pedestrians and there were nor traffic lights for 2 miles in either direction. Several elderly Italian women took pity on the tourists and stopped traffic by raising their canes and screaming curses at the drivers, who then grudingly screeched to a halt.
After choosing the new national anthem, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, in another move to turn attention further away from his Parmalat scandals, barred the wearing of belt packs and sneakers in Florence.
"It is too much to bear--to see Michaelangelo's David out of one eye and people wearing belt packs and sneakers out of the other. It is--how do you say this?--neurologically distressing," lamented the Prime MInister.
"It is incumbent upon Americans to try to dress a little more nicely while they are in Florence. Mio dio, this is the city of beautiful shoes and jewelry and scarves!"
Finally, travel agents in America, England, France, Germany, and Japan have issued the following travel advisory effective January through April 2005. Waterproof boots are necessary in Roman and Florentine hotel bathrooms because the showers tend not to drain. The streets of the major cities, however, are dry.