The Italian Almanac

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Italian News - November 4

Italy's best-selling weekly, the Catholic-oriented Famiglia Cristiana (Christian Family), is being looked at in a new light this week after it published its first ever picture of a naked female bottom. The magazine's unprecedented move did not go unnoticed in Italy, partly thanks to national newspapers, most of which carried an article on it on Thursday. One daily even put the news on its front page.

The picture, part of an advertisement for bathroom ventilators, showed the steamed up glass of a shower cubicle through which the central part of a woman's body could be seen from behind. Underneath the image, the advertiser invited readers to install one of their ventilators, saying: "If you want to see clearly, call your electrician."

Sister Paola, a popular nun who often appears on Italian television, said the publication of the advert went against the magazine's longstanding tradition of wholesome sobriety. "I wouldn't like it to be the start of something that goes further, of a movement towards a loss of values," she added. Cardinal Ersilio Tonini, the emeritus archbishop of Ravenna, told the press that he had not seen the picture but he understood the "perplexity" it might cause.

Famiglia Cristiana's director, Don Antonio Sciortino, appeared extremely impatient with all the attention that his magazine was receiving just because of an advert. "People are making a big thing out of this when really it doesn't merit it. We haven't breached a taboo or reversed our policy. I don't think a female figure behind dirty, steamed up glass can cause particular agitation," he said. He admitted that the advert was on the borderline of what his magazine would publish and said a few subscribers might be slightly bothered by it. "If so we'll start a debate among readers."