Exactly twenty-two years ago, from a small town on the Ligurian Riviera, also known as “Fool Bay”, I found myself catapulted to the United States, to make my smashing entrance into the world of work.
Power of recommendations. The good ones.
They were years of ferment. The first Republic had just been overwhelmed by the Tangentopoli scandal and, like Sergeant Lorusso fifty years earlier, the Italians dreamed of making “a great and beautiful country to live in”.
The Internet was taking its first steps while the Euro would make us all more global. Allowing millions of our fellow countrymen to leave even virtually the shores that so many had physically abandoned in search of fortune.
On the first “online” editions of the “Corriere della Sera”, a visionary Beppe Severgnini was able to ride the change immediately, giving life to the lucky column “Italians”.
The voice of Italians abroad who, from a privileged vantage point and with a different yardstick, could freely confront the international perception of the stature of the alleged “new” who was coming forward at home, fascinated me incredibly.
The cultural distance that separates all the other countries from our own is such that, together with the border, you immediately understand that you have also crossed those “doors of perception” that “allow you to see things as they really are: infinite”.
If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.William Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell…
At a stroke, the Belpaese appears as the oppressive and provincial Recanati from which Leopardi wrote to his father: “I want to be unhappy rather than small, to suffer rather than to be bored”.
At the same time, the many kicks in the mouth taken in distant countries, which are not our own, where there are no political uncles to recommend us, there are no friends or money that are enough to make us become nothing more than a number, make us develop such a sense of national identity that no propaganda could ever even approach.
A bit like certain adolescents in conflict with their mother who feel entitled to criticize her, mock her, even insult her, but the first stranger who touches her dies.
After the initial period of falling in love, however, I realized that in the end Severgnini did nothing but referee competitions to those who pissed the farthest (and strictly off the potty).
And like the dealer at the Casino, he always won in the end.
“You know, I’m a dog sitter in Iceland: so coool. Besides the fact that I get paid a bang for it and I’m toooooo happy, just think that dogs here collect their own poop with a scooper. I mean, you don’t have to slalom between dog craps like when I was in Italy, you know?”
And he goes like: “Look, you won’t believe this, but just yesterday at the Italian Ambassador’s party on the beach in San Barth there were his seven Afghan greyhounds patiently queuing up, all alone, in front of the toilet.”
(funny thing, I used to work for that company that used parties at the Ambassador’s house to advertise one of his flagship products…)
I promised myself then that, no matter how far I lived away from Italy, I would never use the advantage of having acquired a “hyper-developed” sensory ability to spit on my country.
If anything, to make a greater and more beautiful one.
Twenty-two years later, so many indeed, Severgnini’s column continues to flourish, I am still abroad and there is unfortunately no trace of the “great and beautiful country to live in”.
On the contrary, if the virus of “Italians” used to take root only outbound, now it has infected everyone also inbound and has become a real pandemic.
The mutation, particularly virulent, manifests itself with blood in the eyes, delirium of omnipotence and calls to the superiority of the race.
Do the French take the piss out of us for pizza? They don’t have a bidet (gnè, gnè, gnè) and they still have to give us back the Mona Lisa!
Shall we talk about the Americans then? Apart from the fact that they invented the covid19 in the laboratory to buy us the Trevi Fountain, do you know that they don’t swab because it costs $3000?! They can’t talk about public health. In fact, they can’t talk about anything, because of the President they have. Let them come to Italy and learn how to live!
Are the British treating us like suckers? “We’ll turn your little fishing island into a sea colony for the Sons of the Wolf! We’ll bivouac in Piccadilly !!” (Totò – The two colonels)
In times of quarantine, in fact, as if it were not enough to show off on TV and social networks, now we do it on the balconies in the evening.
I believe that at this point the European Football Championship 2020 could be postponed to give space to the national championship of populism.
Round of sixteen should oppose:
- Michelangelo’s Italy vs. Bidet’s Italy;
- biodiversity according to Farinetti vs. 2000 years of history;
- health system vs. immigration;
- Vespa versus Spritz.
But just long enough to pass the emergency.
For the play-offs we will already be back to the regional competitions (with Lombardy being the favourite), and finally to the knockouts between municipalities (with Milan, the title holder for 159 consecutive years).
On the other hand, in a country like ours, which lives on memories, the self-referentialism is declined neighborhood by neighborhood, building by building, floor by floor…
And so, all of a sudden, the Chinese eat mice, the Vicentine eat cats, the French don’t wash their asses, but neither do the people from the south (aka terroni)…
It is true that since the epic of the Istituto Luce, in the propaganda of the cosmic void we are second to none.
Instead of the eight million bayonets with which to break the kidneys of Greece, today we celebrate the Milan “that doesn’t stop”.
On the contrary, let’s follow its example of excellence because it will certainly allow Italy to finally become an efficient and civilized country!
“But then back here in Milan they all look American. They live side by side lives, blind to their problems.”Eugenio Finardi – “Dolce Italia”
Remember Renato Pozzetto in “Nobody is perfect” ? Who, while writhing in pain because of barbiturates taken by mistake, called for help for Ornella Muti in splendid form in the next room, convinced that she was the one who was sick.
Today we read and listen to tricolor analysts bragging about the worrying state of the American economy, health care in France, politics in England, ecology in Germany …
But nothing about our country: how we went from Michelangelo and Raffaello, Farinetti’s biodiversity, the Vespa and the Spritz… to this ?
And it is certainly not by invoking the glories of the past that we will return to live them.
What this country has lacked for too many years is opportunities.
Those that the Italians of the south once sought in the north and that, by dint of not having to take lessons from anyone, instead of multiplying, have become extinct.
If, as I have heard, a former Minister of Economic Development as well as a former Minister of Labour say that “we must fight the multinationals”, it means that Italy also needs intensive care.
Without multinationals, without entrepreneurship, who gives Italians opportunities? Is he going to do that ?
No more demagogy, no more populism: the war is over! Get out of the jungle, for Christ sake!
Roll up your sleeves, put yourselves back into question (those who criticize us cannot all be stupid envious fucks and only we can be clever), turn this crisis into opportunities and let me finally find “a great and beautiful country to live in”.
Although I already know how it will end.
“We didn’t live so well in Italy, they didn’t let us change anything… and so I told them… you won, but at least you won’t be able to consider me your accomplice… so I told them, and I came back here…”Lorusso, Aegean island that doesn’t count for shit, 1991.