The sluggish economy hasn't affected Sicily's Christmas season too much as far as we can see. It's true that a number of shops have closed, especially in Catania and Palermo (Sicily's largest cities), but the shopping season is upon us and people seem to be buying. Yet certain national trends can be discerned. Italian newspapers report that parents of young children are becoming more frugal than in the past in view of less money circulating. A series of budget cuts to be announced by the prime minister next week will certainly have an effect - with some taxes reduced while others are increased. Sales (value-added) tax was recently increased to 21% and in 2012 will probably be hiked up again, to 23%, placing it on a par with Denmark's.
It seems that somebody at the infamously mediocre University of Palermo, surely one of the worst institutions of higher learning in Europe, decided to give students an early Christmas "present" in the form of stolen exams, but not for free. Yesterday the Palermo edition of La Repubblica reported that around thirty professors and staff are under investigation for selling exams. Maybe they needed the extra money?