The Italian Almanac

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Why the Socks?

The mayor of a small town in eastern Sicily stripped down to his underpants, shoes and socks in the town's central square to protest against the region's waste disposal policies. Pippo Failla, a member of the centre-right People of Freedom (PDL) party, draped himself in the tricolour Italian flag during his protest.

The semi-naked mayor explained he was demonstrating against a decision by Sicily President Raffaele Lombardo, also PDL, for towns to shoulder the costs of using a regional dump after some waste collection companies stopped paying altogether. ''Towns here will be brought to financial ruin in the next few months, with the risk of a rubbish crisis worse than the one in Campania,'' warned Failla, in his sixth year as Paterno' mayor.

Lombardo said last week that there was no risk of a trash crisis in Sicily, adding that he hoped towns would understand that paying for essential waste services was a civic duty.