Tucci explores the creative way Italians outsmarted tax collectors during a tax audit.
A few weeks ago, when I was working in Milan for a cultural festival, my boss walked me through the maze of alleyways and side streets in the city, where there was always a pile of trash underfoot. He took me to a small park near the city hall and walked me through the trash, past piles of old tires, empty bottles, cardboard boxes, and newspapers. He said, “There are many things that we can recycle here, but there are also other things that we cannot. And there are rules. We cannot recycle newspapers. We cannot recycle tires. And even if we can, they are not recyclable in the city of Milan.
When we were doing the event, we did not want our visitors to be bothered by the waste we had to clean up. But then we came across a street corner where a man was doing just that.
At first we thought he was just a beggar, but when we got closer we found out he was a poor Italian man who did it all by himself. He lived by himself in a miserable apartment, with a huge dog named Dolo, who was not going to let him live a life of luxury. In order to keep his identity secret, he shaved his head and beard, and he only allowed his brother to know he was living like this because he had been threatened that he would be thrown out of the country.
He was collecting money because his wife had left him. He was collecting the money in newspapers and he had put aside a little bit of this money for his wife, who was not coming back.
As soon as he saw us he said: “What are you doing? You are not doing what I’m doing, because I haven’t got any papers.”
When I thought about it, I realized that this was exactly what Italian tax collectors were doing. They were not just collecting the money from people who were not paying their taxes. They were also collecting the money they had not paid for their businesses or their