A little bit of geography – part I


I have been following closely the political news on my birth country these past days and wondering if and how and when I should write about it. Since the ifs, hows and whens rarely get a really smart answer, I’ll just do it. Talk about it, I mean, without thinking further. Having been gone for a decade now (and having spent the earlier one travelling as much as I could) I am considered a sort of stranger by most of my fellow countrymen and women. And a stranger I am somehow: I don’t follow tv shows anymore (too many bare bellies and bikinis and people just losing their temper in eurovisione), I limit my reading to a couple of newspapers and I certainly don’t know who’s the best candidate to win next year’s Festival di Sanremo edition. I don’t care.

What I care about is understanding why a country notorious for its love of beauty and harmony and design and semi-naked ballerinas on tv decides that a 37 year old guy is not suitable to run for the next political elections opposing Berlusconi, who might be his grandfather. I have well educated, smart friends who just said he’s too young and confused for the job, “He wouldn’t look good, you know – a girlfriend said – negotiating with Mrs. Merkel at a summit, or meeting President Obama. Too young!”. As if Mr. Berlusconi looked good last year when he was negotiating with Mrs. Merkel.

It has been said, especially these past weeks, that Italy is a country for old men. Well, I should add “and for infants as well”. It is not a country for responsible adults. Behind politics there is always society and few things are as misunderstood as Italian society. Forget about the myth of the mamma cooking pasta and ragù day and night while nursing her seven children.

Truth is, Italians don’t even like children. They blame the lack of social infrastructure as the main reason for the low natality rate but then they frown upon breastfeeding as did Victorian society. A couple of years ago, a breastfeeding mother was shown the exit in a restaurant in the north of the country because other clients found her repulsive and inappropriate.

Children are raised by grandmothers, while mothers (raised, in turn, by their grandmothers as well) indulge in the sweet, light taste of lack of responsibilities. It has been going on for generation and it is unlikely to stop. Children and grandmothers, that explains Italian society in a few syllabes.  No adult is to be seen, they are way too busy maturing and getting old to get a chance at doing something for themselves (and sometimes society as well).

With children deprived of the right to vote, it is clear that the decision making process belongs to the dinosaurs. It is apparently inappropriate to judge anyone by his age. Why should one retire just because he’s a certain age, Italians argue? Age means more experience, more knowledge, less impatience and more diplomacy. Age is an invaluable asset for any modern society. And young people believe it as well.

How do you change a country like this?


  1. as an italian expat mom, i really relate to your blog and your story…. I have actually reached the point i cannot read the Corriere or watch the evening news (raiuno) without shame….

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