Today's newspaper announced that an Anti-trust commission handed down a fine of some 12.5 million Euro to Italy's major pasta producers (such as Barilla, De Cecco, et al.). The companies involved represent some 90% of the pasta market, and had conspired collectively to price-gouge. Since 2006, average pasta prices have risen over 30% and it has been the consumers that have borne the brunt.
We're dealing with a culinary sacred cow here.
Italians put up with a lot of crap: a top-heavy government that barely functions, an essentially zero-growth economy, ridiculously high prices on toiletries--but they will not, I repeat, will not stand for over-priced pasta.
Indeed, it is rare to see such heavy-handed punishment in Italy. This is a country where you can drive the wrong way down a one-way street with impunity, where you can park in a handicap spot and proceed to skip from your car past the two vigili who are invariably chatting on cellphones, or where you can be elected to a high-ranking government position and have a criminal record and/or criminal cases pending against you.
Clearly, Italians know their priorities.