Necessary and Amnesty Illicitness


In Ischia a family was buried by a house that was built without plannning permission and waiting for an amnesty. The house was adjacent to the zone “R4” (definition of a high risk zone for the population). The local mayor in response to contestation of illicitness called it “necessary unlawfulness”. From on high, Ischia looks like an urban suburb. But who has brought it to this point? And who allows this state of affairs in the whole of Italy? The mayors who close their eyes? The amnesties that humiliate honest citizens? Maybe a reply is to be found in this letter to me from a citizen of Campania.

“Dear Signor Grillo,

Perhaps what I’m writing about isn’t of common interest. But I’m doing it to get this off my chest and to bear witness to the rules of our country.
Well, in 1997, I was pushed and encouraged by a builder “friend” to build on the land owned by my grandpa in the vicinity of Vesuvius. I built a home for myself and my brother-in-law (2 apartments, two floors with a garage and a terrace). I used the savings that my wife and I had accumulated in 10 years of a happy marriage that is still lasting. We knew that we were committing an offence, but we also knew what we were told by our legal adviser and we knew the information that went about in the area like: “anyway they can’t knock it down if there are children and people living there. It’s never happened..” and again “see how many other houses there are in the area and they are all illicit.” Or “at the maximum you’ll get away with some legal proceedings and you’ll have to pay a fine..”. The final one was: “anyway in a bit there’ll be an amnesty…” (an amnesty that Berlusconi wanted in September, what luck!).

We moved into the building in January 1998 before it was finished. It was a simple modest house of 75 square metres, not a villa. My second child was born there.

We spent 5 years of our lives there. This was interrupted on 3 April 2003 (our wedding anniversary) by a Magistrate knocking on the door. He told us that we had to evacuate the building by the following morning as they had to knock it down. Having contacted our lawyer we had no positive response. He advised us to show no resistance otherwise we would have been denounced. I had to empty the apartment in a rush, helped by my friends and family to save whatever was possible.

That was the first time I told lies to my children. I didn’t want them to know what was happening. But even today they ask me why we left our house and I don’t know what to say. Perhaps I will continue to lie until they are big enough to understand. I saw the demolition of what I had constructed with my sacrifices, without offering opposition. I know I’m in the wrong, that I had broken the rules of this society and it’s right that I pay, but…Is not the law equal for all…????? It’s a question that I ask myself every time I see houses being constructed in my area, suddenly shooting up, since the amnesty there are 3 times as many. If it’s an area with restrictions, why don’t they come down like mine did? I don’t wish anyone ill. In fact I wouldn’t wish anyone to have to go through what I had to go through, not even my worst enemy. But if there are rules, they should be respected by everyone. This is a society for those who are strong. The weak are squashed, and I feel weak. I hope that my children will have a better future. Now I try to look ahead and leave all this behind me. I need to raise my two children and it’s best to be serene so as to start to live again.
I apologise for having chosen yourself and having made you lose time to read my letter to get it out in the open. I believe that you are a sincere person and able to say what you think and what all those who follow this Blog are thinking. I hope that some politicians will wake up and will do some good things for this country so that our children can have a better future.

Greetings, P. "

Posted by Beppe Grillo at 02:28 PM in | Comments (19)
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In Como, they put "intelligent" cross lights: When is red they are taking a picture of all the cars that they are passing. In one week they did 900 photos!
I wonder how napolitans are going to react when it will be there:-)

Posted by: blisco jaio | May 9, 2006 07:56 PM

I was not trying to generalise about the Irish, Patrick. I am sorry if I gave that impression. There are, of course, those who take pride in their surroundings and who value the natural beauty of the place in which they live, just as there are those in Italy who do the same. I guess what I am trying to say is that the number of those who do not share this viewpoint has increased dramatically as the economic success of the country has grown.

Granted, there are significant differences between the South and North, and one seems to be that planning laws are not flouted to the same extent north of the border as they seem to be in the south. Another is that the level investment in public infrastructure and facilities appears to be far higher in the north. As an example, I visited Armagh recently and was amazed at the scale and quality of the new arts centre there, given the size of the city.

The extent of abusive building in the south is currently not as endemic as it is in Italy, but I can see the telltale signs of a slide in that direction.

I have lived in Italy before, but I don't there at present (I'm back in the ould sod). I still spend quite a lot of the year in Rome though.

Posted by: Noel Cosgrave | May 5, 2006 09:13 PM

You have made some good points there Noel. I have to agree with you that there are many people in Ireland with less respect than they should have for nature and public areas. However saying that the Irish in general don’t have respect for nature and public areas is nothing short of ridiculous.

I do agree that unfortunately there are the dickheads who dump stuff about the place, not on the same scale as over here. On an institutional level as well in Northern Ireland they are quicker to get rid of that kind of rubbish. Here in Milan and in Puglia where I spend a lot of time too it stays there for ages, years even.

The abusive building. I can only talk about Northern Ireland I don’t know too much of what happens in the South but i’m sure they deal with it in their own way too. I have seen many houses, great big mansions, which the building of which was halted then removed.

The law in Northern Ireland is harder to break. Full stop. You will get caught quicker and it will be sorted quicker. It isn’t perfect I didn’t say it was perfect, see original post.

Parks. The park in my hometown in Northern Ireland is immaculate. Flowers, grass well cut and maintained, ducks and birds to chuck bits of bread to, grassy green areas (free from dog shit), swings and stuff.
Ok, in the evenings you get groups of lads hanging about getting pished (again far from perfect) but they generally don’t smash the place up, they do that to each other.

Dog shit on the streets? No way on the same level as over here! Having said that I have started to see Italians pick up their own dogs dirt when they’re out walking them. Brilliant. If only more of them did it.

I agree that there are Italians who are very passionate about nature and their parks and what not. The difference is (in my opinion) is that it isn’t reflected in the administrative decision making that form their cities and towns. I was chatting to a woman in work this morning about some trees which had been removed from near where I work. They were there one day gone the next. No one seemed to give a toss, she did. The local people weren’t consulted about their removal. They just chopped them down. No fuss.
More parking spaces.

When I said that Northern Ireland was far from perfect I was referring more to the political situation and the “yobishness” which is starting to get more noticeable than maybe it was before.

Do you live in Italy yourself?

Posted by: patrick kerr | May 5, 2006 09:24 AM

Patrick, I disagree that the Irish in general have respect for nature and public areas. There may be those who do have that respect, but there are such people in Italy too.

Although the situation in Ireland, North or South, may not be as bad as it is in Italy, take a trip through many of the so-called beauty spots in wild , remote areas and you will see household rubbish and domestic appliances dumped by the selfish morons who are an increasingly large minority in this country. You'll see commercial rubbish dumped by 'celtic-tiger' cheapskate businesses. Back in the towns you'll also see the dog shit and litter on streets, just as you do in Milan.

On the abusive building front, we also have many cases of build first, seek planning permission later. And of course the planning permission is more often than not forthcoming, provided you know the right people.

So don't paint to rosy a picture of Ireland. We are rapidly heading in the same direction as Italy and we are only marginally less corrupt as a country.

Posted by: Noel Cosgrave | May 4, 2006 09:04 PM

Prince: your analysis is flawless!
Every country hat its own story, culture, traditions and rules.
But as I always said, stupid people are everywhere, and stupid people need stupid laws ;-)
Personally, I couldn't choose between the two possibilities: I'm neither stupid nor sly, that means there is not a country in the world with right laws for me...
As you see, I come really from another space! ;-);-);-)

Posted by: Raffaella Biferale | May 4, 2006 07:11 PM

If you talk about rules, I have to point out a difference between Italy and USA:

In Italy there are too many rules that often are an obstacle to the normal living, like to obtain a permit for whatever business, driving, firearms and so on. In few words, we have too much bureaucracy and that's where I understand the misadventure of this guy.

In USA instead, there are a lot of stupid rules because there are a lot of stupid people that could put a cat in the microwave or drink until they collapse and to prevent this, (and on and on with a lot of other stuff) there are a lot of those rules that for an european are an insult to intelligence but here in the states are essential to protect people and businesses against death or lawsuits.

Bottom line is: if I have to choose between being stupid or sly (furbo), I would prefer the second because I still have a certain amount of intelligence that can feel insulted if I would have chosen the first one.

Posted by: Giovanni Principe | May 4, 2006 06:42 PM

Blisco: the difference you said between neapolitans and milanesi is very fitting!!!!
Both of them break the law, but the Milanesi do it under the counter!!! (heheheeheheh);-)

Posted by: Raffaella Biferale | May 4, 2006 12:49 PM

Beppe often wrote about the "essere furbo" italian attitude, which was already condemmned by him a lot of times. I think that the hang of this post was mostly the question if all are equal before the law or not.
This story said that they aren't.
The protagonist of this story broke the law, that is reprehensible and must be punished.
But what about the mafia speculators who are building everywhere whitout permission, or even the little crooks, who enjoy local boss's protection?
This is a story of double standards.
It teach us that unfortunetly the strong ones are always privileged.
For this reason the prisons are full of little drug pushers and Mr. B & Co are free.

Posted by: Raffaella Biferale | May 4, 2006 12:40 PM

An english eurocrate some years ago, inspired by the europeans working around him in Brussels, wrote a book about europeans and he was invited to talk about in a local radio. Like usually, speakers are in hurry and the conductor ask to the wrighter: If you would have to show in some words the differences between europeans how could you sommarize?
The writer answer: Lets imagine that a captain has to ask to jump out of the boat to his equipage.
If the captain would be a german he just can say:
- I will count till three and at three every body has to jump in the sea, OK? - Ein, zwei, drei...And all the people jump.
If the captain would be an english he could say:
-Fellows, it's not fair play to stay, let's jump together. And they jump.
If the captain would be a french:
-As the fashion is to jump, we have to jump...And they jump.
And what about Belgians?
Belgians are like swiss people, if they saw that anybody around them did it, they think that there is certainly a good reason for that and they jump too:-)
And what about italians?
For italians, the captain has to write an advertissements everywhere in the boat where is written: It is strictely forbidden to jump out of the boat. And of course,they jump!

Posted by: blisco jaio | May 4, 2006 12:35 PM

I think that in Italy it will be never like in the other countries. Rules and laws are the double than in the other countries and maybe that's the reason why very few people respect them.
In Napoli they are specialists. When the new law obliged to wear an helmet for motorbikers, urban police was accused by a minister to close their eyes and not to see anything. As an answer, police did a strike:-)
I saw my self recently people coming out from a one way street just in front of a policeman who didn't say anything. In Milano, said to me the owner of an hotel, they only do that when people now that the policeman in not there:-)

Posted by: blisco jaio | May 4, 2006 11:51 AM

I do feel sorry for the author of the letter above but at the end of the day what he did was wrong. Illegal.

When will Italians learn that the law is there to protect everyone? The "everyone is doing it so why cant I" attitude is why this country is in the state it’s in!!

The "essere furbo" attitude is messing up this beautiful country. You don’t have to just look at illegal buildings to see this.
I live in Milan but am originally from Northern Ireland. I know my own country is far from perfect but at least we have a respect for nature and public areas.

I really love Milan and to see it abused makes my blood boil. What happens? A few examples of the lack of respect for the city and its rules...Cars Park on the footpaths, scooters quite happily drive on the pavement, dog shit everywhere, people throw their rubbish out on the footpaths, public transport is abused, graffiti everywhere, parks benches trashed and plants stolen from the parks. I could go on but id rather not depress myself.

When will the Public=belongs to no one so I can trash or abuse it mentality change here?

I really do hope Prodi changes things and makes Italy greener, more respectful of its beauty and the rights of its people.
Thank you for reading my rant!

Posted by: patrick kerr | May 4, 2006 09:52 AM

Having lived for almost an yean and half in an anglosaxon world (namely Australia), I always find myself speechless when I recall the abnormalities of the "Lax Italian rule of law". The short-term oriented mindset of bending/breaking the law to achieve personal benefits, ignoring the shortcomings of such attitude, seems to have spread throughout the country from an indefinite deal of time. Complaining about the inefficiencies or discrepancies in the application and enforcement of the law does reveal the childish view that rules have in Italy. Law does not mean Justice. But compliance with the legal requirementes of a country is a must-do which every society should be based upon.
When I read about these ongoing "abnormalities" in Italy, such as complaining with the enforcement of the law, I wonder when our country, that is the population living in it, will be mature enough to understand that adhering and observing the law is the basic requirement to achieve growth and development. As long as this is not concretely installed inside people's mind, very few improvements are likely to happen in our old, economically-stalled and bureaucratically-choked "bel paese".

Cheers from Sydney

Posted by: Luigi B | May 4, 2006 05:45 AM

let's support the fine sicilian people in their fight against lawlessness and illegality

Posted by: Turi Arancio | May 4, 2006 12:35 AM

let's support honest sicilians in their fight against illegality and lawlessness

Posted by: Turi Arancio | May 4, 2006 12:34 AM

Some the worst "abusivi" housing I have ever seen is in Agrigento, within sight of the fantastic Greek ruins. A dangerous chaotic mess thrown up on the hillsides, for poor people. The government cares more about the preservation of these "beni culturali" than it does about the living conditions of actual living Italians.

Posted by: George De Stefano | May 3, 2006 10:12 PM

Dear Beppe,

All my sympathies for the guy from Naples for the ordeal that he went through, but unfortunately the law is only equal for those who respect it, for the rest of the people the law is there to be interpreted according to their DESIRES. There can only be prosperity in a country where the people can work together if only for the sake of their children’s future but obviously a good 50% of the Italian population follow the ethos of the exiting Leader which is not to give a F**K. I am afraid this is not just an Italian problem, I can think of a few countries that do exactly the same. I think that it is time that those countries actually implement the true meaning of the much abused word " DEMOCRACY", otherwise we are all doomed. (I might be a nostalgic of the 70s but I never thought that egoism/greed could be elevated to an art form).


Posted by: Francesco Cossa | May 3, 2006 07:36 PM

as I wrote in the italian blog, the "mafia mentality" is often worse than the Mafia itself . According to those mentality, the winner is the one who is able to make "favors", the others are losers. So, if two persons are building without planning permission, one of them will convicted, the other one get away with it.
That's Italy.

Posted by: Raffaella Biferale | May 3, 2006 07:11 PM

Does anybody in Italy remembers about BERLUSCONI's promises of giving rights to ABUSIVISM?
Sorry, but ive got to go as i am sitting in an INTERNET cafe' and UNEMPLOYED
Sure you know where i stand and come from
SLAN to all

Posted by: Maria Consuelo Spera | May 3, 2006 05:48 PM

Quando tutti penseremo PRIMA alla legalità e butteremo nel "cesssstino" l'idea che, in un modo o nell'altro, si riesce sempre a farla franca andremo molto meglio.

Posted by: Gian Marco Tedaldi | May 3, 2006 04:58 PM

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