The Italian Almanac

Sophia Loren on Pirelli calendar

Italian News - December 28

The New Year is on its way and Italy's news stands and book stores are bristling with the usual steamy array of calendars of naked and semi-naked women models. The pin-ups, however, are facing increasingly stiff competition here from a range of more politically correct alternatives.

Pope Benedict XVI is leading the way. The 79-year-old head of the Catholic Church is starring in a calendar of shots taken at his lakeside residence of Castel Gandolfo, outside Rome. Proceeds from sales will be donated to the 'Citta dei Ragazzi Nazareth', a school and orphanage run by the Catholic Church in Rwanda.

A number of Italian charities and non-governmental organizations have produced calendars that enable the public to keep track of the date and support a good cause at the same time. The Italian Down Persons' Association (AIPD), for example, has managed to recruit some of Italy's top celebrities for its calendar, which is being distributed with celebrity gossip magazine Chi. The VIPs assembled include Italy and AS Roma footballer Francesco Totti, Oscar-winning film-director Roberto Benigni and fashion designer Giorgio Armani, who all posed with people with Down syndrome.

The 2007 Armed Forces calendar highlights the role Italy's military play in peace-keeping operations in hotspots like Afghanistan and Lebanon. The calendar also features 2004 Athens Olympic marathon gold medallist Stefano Baldini, one of a number of top Italian sport stars who serve in the forces.

The Carabinieri police are giving the glamour models a run for their money too, with the popular traditional calendar of painted images of officers in action. This year it focuses on the Carabinieri's efforts to track down art thieves and protect cultural heritage.

There are also new developments in Italy's glossy calendar world. Italian movie queen Sophia Loren appears in bed in the 2007 edition of the famous Pirelli calendar. The shots are not the most revealing in Pirelli history though, something which enables Loren to maintain her stately air.