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Real Housewives of New Jersey Recap: Viva Italia!

Remember that awesome Sopranos episode when Tony and Christopher and Paulie Walnuts went to Italy on business and Paulie, who was so looking forward to savoring the authenticity, ended up hating it because it wasn’t anything like Jersey? That was a great episode. We’re pretty sure Andy Cohen liked it, too, although we’re still waiting for the part where someone sends back their fettuccine with squid-ink sauce and requests macaroni with gravy instead. Maybe next week? We dream of savoring the authenticity, too, but like a late-career Evel Knievel, RHONJ now seems to specialize in stupid and dangerous stunts. This week, the Giudices, Manzos, and Lauritas gather their young kids, elderly parents, and whichever credit cards haven’t been cut up and give us — ta-da! Venice! (Where's Danielle, you ask? Back home, quietly enjoying a big glassful of antioxidants and a savaging of Joe Giudice with her good buddy Danny. They're so cute.)

Oh — we almost forgot! Before Joe agrees to take his profligate wife and four little raspy-voiced troll dolls on the vacation of a lifetime, we find out he’s smashed his truck into a pole and four trees. TMZ has a photo of the damage, and it looks awesome and terrible. Joe has supposedly been arrested for a DUI and yet (a) he claims to have downed four shots of whiskey in between smashing up the truck and the cops arriving; and yet (b) he’s free to go scampering off to Italy, no consequences! What will life in the witness-protection program be like for Teresa, we wonder? Will they have luxury stores where she is?

Anyway, Venice is “a town that’s … made on water?” (Teresa) where “you know, their cars are boats over here” (Joe), and although “the gondolas are cool … our gondola guys, didn’t even sing to us,” (Jacqueline) 'cuz, you know, “they sing to us at the Venetian Hotel! Yes they do!”

All right, forget Venice. It’s just for a day before getting on the cruise ship, anyway, which reminds us of a floating version of — hey, lookadat! It’s Vegas! Next week, our heroines will arrive in Naples and quite possibly encounter some Mafiosi (Grandpa Gums predicts it) who might or might not turn out to be related, but for now the biggest threat is posed by Teresa to the family’s finances, or whatever sad little tattered rag can be found in their place.

Once on firm ground, Teresa begins frantically trotting through the streets of the fabled city, screaming, “Chanel? Chanel?” at a passersby. As Caroline points out, they already know where the damn store is — 57th street in Manhattan — so get a grip. You can pick up your stupid key chain back at New York. But Teresa is on the warpath. Someone must have alerted the authorities, however, because the store is closed. Teresa's damage is limited for today to a bright green Murano glass ring that Joe says “looks like a growth.” Maybe what he’s glimpsing is a flash of her malignant soul. We’re pretty sure it glows in the dark, too.

Is it us, or is Teresa suddenly spending money with a vengeance since the news came out about the bankrupcy? Not to be indelicate, but — is she hate-spending? Because she seems determined to reach the poorhouse before any of her friends do (we’re not sure if anyone has told her that’s not a restaurant in Las Vegas).

“It’ll be cheaper if we leave mommy here,” Joe tells leopard-wrapped offspring. None of them react.

Some things we learned from watching Teresa this week:

After a long day of inflicting grievous financial harm, Teresa enjoys into a little light masochistic play. Which, fine. But had we known we'd be subjected to her screaming "Joe, spaaaank meeee!" on the speedboat on the way to the boat, we might have made one of those little cardboard Eclipse-watching thingies. For our ears.

When it’s time for Teresa to shop, nobody else can eat. But when it’s time for Teresa to do it with Joe, everyone else can go fuck themselves.

When planning a birthday party for a 4-year-old, it's important to (a) book a table at a nice restaurant, (b) make it a late table, (c) after a long day, (d) ignore it when the kid whines that she didn’t want an “eat party,” and (d) shake her awake when the cake arrives. Success!

It’s really adorable when talentless, whiny-voiced, wasted ladies somehow rid the lounge of its act and commandeer the piano for “Chopsticks.” The crowd loves it! Well, that one guy does. Who is probably sober. And not being sarcastic.

Teresa's presence in the country alone threatens to make Italy look like one big Olive Garden.

And yet, not all of her instincts are off. For instance, when she goes out on deck, spreads her arms and says, “I feel like the Titanic,” she's on to something.

Photo: Bravo