March 17, 2011

Happy Birthday Italy!!

In over 9 years of living in Italy, I think I have seen Italians pull out and wave the “Tri-colore” only twice. The first was in 2006 when Italy beat France in the World Cup, and, the second, in these last couple of days to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Italy’s unification. You must first understand, Italians are not a particularly nationalistic people. Due to a long history of city-state control on the peninsula, they are generally more loyal to their local town than the nation as a whole (a concept know here as Campanilismo or loyalty only to one’s own bell tower or small town). So flag waving doesn't run in Italians’ veins like the Stars and Stripes might in America or the Union Jack in England.

A positive effect of Campanilismo is all of the wonderful faces of Italian diversity we see in culture, architecture, cuisine, linguistics and the phenotype of the people as one travels north to south or east to west within Italy. A negative effect of Campanilismo is a sense of me-ne-freghismo (or the “I don’t give a damn” attitude), which too often infiltrates the Italians’ dealings with one another. Some of Italy’s current problems including the Mafia, tax evasion, nepotism, lack of trust, and vandalism can stem, at least in part, from the too often inability to think of the greater good. A small dose of nationalism might be just what the ideological doctor ordered. A small dose people! We all know what happens when Europe gets too nationalistic.

Last night, Florentines celebrated the anniversary throughout its Piazzas in the historic center. Museums were kept open much later, and various activities and festivities took place throughout the city. It was great to see and experience. Even joining in the national spirit, Piaggio, the makers of Vespa created a special “Tricolore” edition of the classic scooter, with matching helmet. I have to admit, although this small bit of nationalism is rare, it’s nice to see, and I for one hope this trend continues!!

1 comment:

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