The inhabitants of Panzanaio share the nice peculiarity to see themselves in a big way, to slightly overrate the facts that happen and, when they tell a fact, to exaggerate its circumstances. Therefore a visit in the town can be a funny diversion, provided that everything related should not be taken too much seriously.
What to see
The little church of Saint Sborone (known as "the Cathedral") boasts an 11 meters (36 ft) bell tower, defined by the natives as "the highest bell tower in the world"; in the interior of the church the most venerated tombs of Jesus Christ and of the Virgin Mary can be found, besides many holy relics, like 21 nails of the holy cross, four femurs of Saint Peter, the skull of Saint Andrew as a child, two mangers (for summer and winter) and the tricycle of Baby Jesus, the Holy Sepulchre linoleum and the handgrips of Saint John the Baptist's Moto Guzzi byke.
From the cathedral, walking down
the narrow main road corso D'Artagnan,
70 metres (77 yds) long, but called "Panzanaio's Champs-Élysées",
the central Münchhausen square can be reached, where lies
the native house of Immensio Fanfaroni,
which is considered by his fellow townsmen the real inventor of
the telephone, of the radio, of the airplane, of the lukewarm
water, of the sound waves and of the springtime. In his honour
every year a young inventors' contest takes place, which in its
last edition saw the victory of the thirteen years old boy Einstein Spacconazzi, for his invention
of the "S" ray, which turns
stracchino cheese into gold.
On Miles Gloriosus Square the eighteenth-century Matamoros palace lies, where the Panzanarese people tell that Dante Alighieri painted "The Betrothed". In the courtyard of the palace the "bottomless pit" lies, which according to the locals goes through the whole earth and takes water in a New Zealand water table.
On the outskirts of the town lies a landing ground for starships, which are told to frequently visit Panzanaio, deemed as a preferential stopover for the outer space traffic. According to some townies the aliens would frequently come in Panzanaio even to snatch the secrets of the local genius of mechanics, Aprilio Benelli, the owner of the motorcycle machine shop "Flat Out".
The patron saint of Panzanaio is Saint Sborone, the only saint who worked the miracle of raising himself from the dead, besides having miraculously prevented a destructive earthquake and having put a pack of 300 wild lions to flight slapping them on their faces. The patronal festival has its climax in a square fete during which a footage collecting some of the best Silvio Berlusconi's promises is projected.
In every store of Panzanaio it's possible to purchase the paintings of Onorio Pennellessa, who once was a decorator, but now is called "the Panzanaio's Picasso", and which now churns out in average eleven or twelve paintings a day. According to the artist his works are exhibited in all the most important museums in the world, and the Louvre of Paris would downright have moved Leonardo's Gioconda in order to exhibit one of his most important works, "white" which consist in a canvas completely painted white, while the National Gallery of London would have devoted a whole wing of the museum to his work.
Among the typical specialities of Panzanaio we remind the phoenix salmi, the rabbit eggs omelette, the giant hummingbird breast (which taste and appearance are very similar to turkey breast), the unicorn steak and the delicious ostrich milk cheese.
The Panzanarese agriculture boasts several records, as dairy cows yielding more than 100 litres (22 gallons) of milk a day, tomatoes with an average weight of 1 kilo (0,22 lb) which grow and ripen in 10 days, wheat yielding ears four times a year and maize which, as become ripe, cooks by itself in order to produce directly popcorn. Moreover Panzanaio boasts the record of being the only place in the world where a rare edible tuber is grown: the potato.
The Panzanaio hotels are the Wonderful Hotel, which bears seven stars and many awards of international guides, for the most part unknown, and the Hotel de Ville, which declares to bear six stars and alleges to be a part of a hotel chain widespread diffused in France. Both hotels have small rooms without bathroom, doubtful cleanliness and poorly tended service, but very high prices and an extraordinarily haughty staff.
The most widespread entertainment in Panzanaio is angling, which goes on beyond the mere fish catching, but also includes collective sessions in which the anglers relate their own deeds; according to these stories we can probably say that the size of the trouts of Panzanaio rivers goes from a minimum of three metres (10 ft) up to reach the size of a young sperm whale. The typical occupational disease of the Panzanarese anglers is the shoulders dislocation, which occurs when they try to show with their arms how big was the fish they catched.
The Panzanarese also follow football, with the local team, Real Panzanaio United, managed by the trainer Maurizio "Mourinho" Splendori, having as a cutting edge the young midfielder Diego Armando "Pelé" Platini, considered by his supporters the best player in the world: the story goes that he scored a goal after having dribbled past twice any player of the rival team, and even some spectators. The team plays in the amateurs' Third Division and floats halfway through the table but, according to a local sport statistical data website, panzanaiosport.it, it would be placed first in the world as to sport performances.
According to the inhabitants of the town in the small lake called "Panzanaio Ocean" the real Loch Ness monster would swim, besides a considerable abyssal fishes fauna, while the adjacent swamp would gives shelter to a fauna typical of the Amazon forest, like jaguars, piranha, cayman and the most dangerous Itaparaibarapucairapà spider, that in the tupi language means "the spider that when it bites you then you turn into Capezzone". Moreover in the neighbourhood of the town, according to the locals, have been sighted aurochsen, mammoth, sabre-tooth tigers and tyrannosaurs, while the sightings of black panthers are so frequent that they don't even capture the headlines.
The greatest cultural authority of the town is the newsagent Pierino Sgalbazzoli, which alleges he was awarded four times the Nobel prize for literature, besides many literary prizes around the world, even if as far as we know he never wrote even one book. Sgalbazzoli, as a support of what he maintains, produces Nobel prize awarding certificates signed by the President of the Swedish Republic and a photo of himself with Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who however is not recognizable since he was portrayed from behind.
The mayor Cesare Ottaviano Augusto Spaccamondi, got his office with a vote percentage of 320%, thanks to the promise to build on the municipal territory a gold and diamond mine: for the moment the work is at a standstill (they just made the plan), but the municipality is confident to complete it within the year. The town council also includes the councillor in charge of the attractiveness Adone Del Bello, who calls himself "the most beautiful man in the world", the councillor in charge of the transparency Ernesto Onesti, defined as "the incorruptible", but who at the moment is held in custody in the local prison with a bribery charge, the councillor in charge of the economy Giuliano Tremanti, whose budgets are matter of research in the universities of the whole world for his peculiar technique consisting in cutting some zeroes off the debit side to transfer them on the credit side and the councillor in charge of the welcome Adolfo Razzazzi, usually engaged in patrols against the immigrants.
How to get there
It must say straightaway that, arriving by car, it's not advisable to ask information to the natives, which are used to mention six-lane motorways (which are non-existent) or to quantify the distance from the town in hundreds of kilometres (when you already are at the gates) or in few metres (when there are still many kilometres to go to reach the town).
The town is reached once a day by a run of a local railway, with a slow train composed by just one coach, dating back to the forties which the natives use to call "the bullet".