Italian April Fool's Day Hoaxes
Thai Menam Bey.
Over a thousand cards were sent to notables throughout Rome, including dowagers, diplomats, and society folks, inviting them to the Excelsior hotel (shown) to listen to the Turkish savant "Thai Menam Bey" who would explain how he had arrived at the impressive age of 205.
Traffic became so heavy around the hotel that extra policemen were needed to keep order.
Looking for Charlie Chaplin.
A large crowd and squads of police gathered in Genoa, Italy to greet the arrival of the Riviera train, having been lured there by a report published in numerous newspapers that Charlie Chaplin had recently left Nice and would be arriving that day in Genoa.
A movie manager admitted to having planted the false story, in the hope of attracting attention to one of Chaplin's films.
Dog Owners Hoaxed.
Over 200 dog owners gathered with their pets near the Porta San Lorenzo in Rome after reading in the Ricostruzione newspaper that the municipal veterinary authority had demanded that all dogs be brought in for "vaccination against a sudden outbreak of typhus" that was easily communicable to humans.
"While Allied medical officers expressed astonishment, those who took the notice in good faith learned that even the address given in the story was nonexistent."
The Ricostruzione paper was itself a victim of the hoax, having fallen for a fake April Fool announcement. [New York Times - Apr 2, 1945]
An Egyptian Delegation.
The mayors of the Italian towns of Siena and San Gimignano received telegrams informing them that on the following day (April 1) a student delegation from the Superior Institute of Agriculture of Cairo, Egypt would visit their town. The next day the delegation arrived, visiting San Gimignano first where they were greeted by the mayor and town officials.
The delegation next visited Siena, where they were again greeted by town officials: "The secretary general invited the guests to the buffet set up in the next room to toast the future of the Egyptian republic. This was too much for the thirsty youngsters, who had spotted the inviting vermouth bottles. And suddenly dropping their masquerade
Tail Lights for Horses.
Milan's La Notte newspaper reported that city authorities had passed a law making it mandatory for horses to be outfitted with signaling and brake lights while being ridden through the streets or neighboring countryside. Many people subsequently brought their horses into car mechanics to have them outfitted with the necessary lights.
Stolen Pieta Driven Through Florence.
Thousands of people in Florence, Italy came out to see Michelangelo's Pieta statue driven through the city in the back of a truck. A poster on the truck declared that the statue, which normally resided in the Vatican City, had been "taken from Rome by Florentine artists so it won't be shipped anywhere."
The artists were angry at the Pope's decision to allow the Pieta to be temporarily moved to New York to be displayed at the 1964 World's Fair.
The people lining the streets applauded the truck and the brazen theft of the statue, but when the truck stopped before the cathedral in the city, it could be seen that the statue was actually only a plaster cast of the Pieta.
The real Pieta was
Mole Antonelliana Shortened.
"Piu corta per qualche giorno," declared the front page of Turin's Gazzetta del Popolo newspaper — "Shorter version for a few days." An accompanying article explained that the pinnacle of the Mole Antonelliana, one of Turin's major landmarks, was going to be temporarily removed for restoration. A photograph showed a helicopter carrying it away.
The Multicolor Gondolas of Venice.
According to legend, after the Black Plague struck Venice in the sixteenth century, it was decreed that all gondolas used on the city's canals should be painted black, as a tribute to the victims. But on 1 April 1995, the newspaper Il Gazzettino Venezia revealed that the city council had decided that henceforward all the gondolas would be colored red, yellow, blue or green. The hulls of the boats would also be decorated with swirls and geometric shapes.The city council made this decision after conducting "thorough market research on the tastes of tourists and Venetians." Apparently people were tired of seeing "dismal" boats plying the canals of Venice, so the council had decided it was time
Over the years numerous statues of the Virgin Mary have been known to miraculously start weeping, but on 1 April 1995, an Italian statue of Lenin in the town of Cavriago joined the club. A huge crowd gathered to witness the milky white tears rolling down the statue's metal cheeks. The crowd remained for hours until the tears were eventually revealed to be a prank.
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.