Umbro (Italian region) of birth and citizen of the world for a series of circumstances, I have had the opportunity to travel the world, as a traveler or as a businessman. When I was young in Europe and Africa, after in Asia, in Central and South America with some passage in the U.S.
Recently, for sports and recreational activities, I have often sailed in southern waters with sailors of different nationalities, generally European and American.
All these experiences and sharing, cultivated over the years, have allowed me to know more about people of different nationalities. I could see that there is always a background of truth in stereotypes. Obviously, it also applies to Italians. Regarding stereotypes about us Italians, I accept to play the game and often joke on the 'Italians = pizza, mafia and mandolin' and also reply the interlocutor with as many stereotypes of his country of origin.
But let's me talk about Italy and Italians.
However, no with tones like "My detergent washes more white than yours!".
Of course: I can not generalize but ...
Let's say it frankly: Italians are not free from questionable habits , but in our favor there is often a good sense of knowing and criticizing the evils and defects of our society, with self-critique and generally we have no mania of greatness: synonymous of intelligence.
In general, the Italians are not nationalists, though without forgetting the values of their own culture of origin and the word 'patria' (from the Latin: the land of the fathers).
Let's start with an affirmation. It's not quantity but quality what matters!
Watch in a globe Italy: by extension is the 72nd country in the world (301,340 km²). Absolutely not comparable with the territorial extensions of Russia, USA, Canada, China, Brazil, Argentina, India, etc.
Let's we analyze the history of "Italics" peoples.
They are considered inhabitants of the Italian peninsula since the 2nd millennium BC, or people lived there before the foundation of Rome.
As "Italics" people, culturally we are descendants of Ancient Rome and of the great historical culture that the Italic peninsula was for the humanity.
Rome became a republic in 509 BC
As soon as it extended its dominion, Latin became the dominant language and still today is the official language of the Vatican. From the 'vulgar Latin' or Neo-Latin was born the Romance languages (Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian, Romanian). Ultimately, as I often say to my South American friends, the Spanish language is a Latin bad speak. And to my British friends I remember that Londinium (present London) was founded by the Romans. Like Lutetia (current area of the Latin neighborhood in Paris) and Vindobona (current Vienna).
The Roman Empire ruled without any technological advantage over others, simply because it adopted smarter strategies and was better organized. They improved the quality of life of the Provinces of the Empire, inventing and spreading sewers, aqueducts, public baths, spas, building huge road networks, spreading justice through the Roman Law which is the law upon which will be of the based Democracies of the world. The Provinces were acquired for personal merit, not for inheritance.
In essence, since ancient times the "italics" people can boast of history, intelligence, culture and sensibility.
The Renaissance, a fundamental artistic and cultural period of European history, developed in Florence between the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the modern age. Literature, painting, sculpture, music, trades were the fruit of Italic society from 1400-1500. The first university in the world was the one of Bologna, the most prestigious until 1700. The first bank in the world was born in Florence.
The invention of the musical notes and the soles was by Guido D'Arezzo. The father of modern science was Galileo Galilei. Poetry with Petrarch, Boccaccio and Dante. Political sciences with Machiavelli. Follows painting, architecture, etc. etc.
Let's go on with some other illustrious names and facts: Archimedes (siceliota), Marco Polo, Cristoforo Colombo, Amerigo Vespucci (not by chance the continent is called America), Giovanni da Verazzano, Caboto, Filippo Mazzei (one of the fathers of the Declaration of Independence American), Brunelleschi, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Bernini, Leopardi, Ungaretti, Verdi and Puccini and opera, Caruso, Beniamino Gigli, Pavarotti, Collodi with his Pinocchio, Ferrari, referendum as a tool for exercise of popular sovereignty (Exemple: referendum on abortion in 1981).
Other examples of genius:
Do you use the radio? Guglielmo Marconi! Do you use the phone? Antonio Meucci! Do you drive Vespa? Enrico Piaggio! Do you have plastic items? Giulio Natta! Nuclear generators? Enrico Fermi! The helicopter? Corradino D'ascanio! Do you use the computer (PC)? Thanks to Olivetti and Federico Faggin (Intel microprocessor). Penicillin? Vincenzo Tiberio (30 years before Fleming). And so on ... like anesthesia, barometer, clock, glasses, thermometer, violin, binoculars, bicycle, opera, lyric ... etc. etc.
This is the DNA of the Italians, these are our roots. But without any nationalism, a word that makes me a sense of unease and not to be confused with love for the 'patria'.
Without any propaganda slogan, like: "We are the best!"
Simply: we have been predominantly precursors, discoverers and divulgers.
Then there is another story of the Italian people: that of emigration. The history of emigration is complex, made of contrasts, of lights and shadows; looking for a better future and a better life. We have given the world great men, but we also bear on our shoulders the burden of many mistakes and sorrows; We have not only exported muscle and brains, honor, enterprising character, intelligence and artistic genius, but also crime, mafia and anarchy. Italian emigration was also this.
However, speaking of the mafia (feudal heritage): if it has grow in America it is because it has found fertile ground, that is, political power has accept the pact, and where it survives in the world always it is thank to a covenant with the political power.
To date, the oriundi or descendants of Italians in the world, according to the Scalabrinian Fathers are estimated at about 80 million. The first place is Argentina with about 25 million and a Pope (Jorge Mario Bergoglio, son of Piedmontese emigrants), then Brazil, the US with over 20 million, Canada, Uruguay and Australia. But also in Europe (Switzerland, France, Germany, Belgium).
In Argentina, which is the second home of the Italians from decades, among the Italo-Argentine are the present President of the Republic - 2016 - Mauricio Macri son of Italians, as well as Vice President Gabriela Michetti, Minister of Culture Pablo Avelluto, Minister Interior Minister Frigerio, Minister of Labor Triaca, President of the Supreme Court Lorenzetti, Rector of the Universidad de Buenos Aires Alberto Edgardo Barbieri, President of the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange Adelmo Gabbi and the two richest men in Argentina : Alejandro Bulgheroni and Eduardo Costantini.
And historically: Manuel Belgrano (the creator of the Argentine flag) and Juan Domingo Peron (the great-grandfather emigrated to Argentina in 1831).
Italianity in Argentina is so rooted that recently in the splendid salon of the Italian Embassy was presented the FIRA - Federation of Italians in Argentina.
The presentation was attended by Ambassador Teresa Castaldo.
About Italian-Americans: In 2011, Mario Cuomo's son Andrew Cuomo was elected governor of New York State and in November 2013 Bill de Blasio became the fourth Italian-American mayor of New York City.
The most famous names in the world of the show include: Martin Scorsese, Vincente Minnelli, Francis Ford Coppola, Quentin Tarantino, Al Pacino, Nicolas Cage, Robert De Niro, Silvester Stallone, John Travolta, John Turturro, Leonardo DiCaprio, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin , Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, Madonna.
In USA the foundation that most represents the Italian-American is the NIAF - National Italian American Foundation, with legal headquarters in Washington, link
A movie that I consider a poem, which should be seen as a part of Italian emigration, is 'New World'. The movie made with the contribution of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, produced in 2006 and directed by Emanuele Crialese, is the story of a Sicilian family embarking to reach the promised land:
With regard to the new emigration, I believe that the new challenge for the Italian Consulates will be, in addition to a profound work of refinement and improvements in the provision of services to the users, the innovation.
To accommodate the demands of the other kind of community, the most recent immigrant Italians. A good recent example is the 'Meet the New Italians' by the Consulate of New York, where young Italians meet with useful meeting and comparison initiatives. Is the new Italian diaspora made by students and graduates and they need also a professional orientation in the new place of residence.
We are a people who are always alert to savings and this seems to characterize us, based on the peasant peoples' saving ability (now based in a multitude of small and medium entrepreneurs). 77.4% of Italian families own the house they live in, with a decent private wealth because Italians have always been good savers. This virtue has allowed us to withstand international financial speculation and remains anchored to the real economy and manufacturing activities.
Today, Italy excels and has no rivals as far as the artistic, historical and cultural heritage of humanity is concerned. In the Italian peninsula, culture has been cultivated for about 3,000 years, uninterruptedly. We have many testimonies of the pre-Roman era, countless of Roman times, many of the medieval times, not to mention the Renaissance onwards. Those who know Italian reality know very well that every country, small or large, has more or less substantial heritage, including buildings, artifacts, artefacts, documents, and more. Quantitatively, the city of Rome offer more than the American continent.
The tourism industry in Italy: despite the country being the leader of the UNESCO World Heritage List with 51 sites; despite 2017 will be the record year for our tourism (according to Confesercenti will exceed the 400 million tourist); despite direct, indirect and induced contributions, tourism is worth more than 11% of our GDP and employs 3 million people, it is not an economic development option taken seriously into account by politic governement.
What about the italian cinema? In 2009 I was sailing to Antarctica and I landed at the Ukrainian base Vernadsky. The first Ukrainian I met, just to know that I was Italian, welcomed me with a "Italiaaa! Fellini! Michele Placido! ".
We can add: Visconti, De Sica, Monicelli, Risi, Petri, Antonioni, Ferreri, Tornatore, De Sica, Scola, Comencini, Marcello Mastroianni, Anna Magnani, Claudia Cardinale, Sophia Loren, Gian Maria Volontè, Ornella Muti, Giancarlo Giannini, Massimo Troisi with his fantastic interpretation in 'Il Postino', Maria Grazia Cucinotta, Roberto Benigni in 'La vita è bella', Raul Bova, Asia Argento, Catarina Murino, Stefano Accorsi, etc.
Let's go on.
Gastronomy (Bel Mangiare), fashion, cars and motorbikes are all things that make Made in Italy an impressive brand, synonymous with good taste, design and creativity in the Bel Country.
Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Armani, Prada, Versace, Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana, Fendi, Ferragamo, Tod's, Benetton, Brunello wines, Barbaresco and Barolo, Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano, Parma ham, pasta Barilla and De Cecco, the legendary Nutella of Ferrero, Illy Caffé, Fernet Branca, Bialetti, Luxottica and Marcolin glasses, Murano glass, Damiani jewelery, Cassina furniture, Frau chairs, Zanussi, Jacuzzi. They are brands at the forefront of the best-known companies in the world.
The so-called Made in Italy for 80% is sold in Europe, America, the United Arab Emirates, Russia and China.
In 2016 Italy was the first wine producer in the world.
According to Luca Gardini (world champion sommelier in 2010) among the top 100 wines in the world 37 are Italians.
But we also export high-tech and mechanical products: helicopters, planes, engines and gearboxes, turbines and lifts, the finest cruise ships (Fincantieri), superyachts: all jewels built in Italy and sold in the world.
Besides: The Fiat Group FCA (Fiat, Jeep, Alfa Romeo etc.), Iveco (commercial and defense vehicles), the legendary Vespa, Bianchi Cinelli and Colnago bicycles, Ray Ban glasses, Stella taps, boilers, Tiles, etc. etc.
Italy is one of the world's leading providers of infrastructures (over 1000 construction sites in 90 countries). In the aerospace industry, it is among the most advanced countries, seventh on a worldwide scale: it was the third country in the world to launch a satellite in 1964 after the USSR and the US.
In the telephone industry, Telecom Italia Sparkle S.p.A. is generating the fiber optic backbone in Europe, America and Asia, which will reach 375,000 km in length.
The pharmaceutical sector has managed to overcome the last years of economic and financial crisis. In 2015, export share was 73% (second in Europe, as a business volume, right after Germany).
In the energy sectors (oil, gas, petrochemicals and electricity), the most active Italian companies are Eni at the 17th place (sixth worldwide oil business group), present in 90 countries. At 36th there is Enel, followed by Snam, Saipen.
Enel was the first company in the world to replace traditional electrical counters with smart. Group companies in the world are numerous: in Spain, Portugal, Russia, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, South Africa, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Brazil and Argentina (Enersis, Endesa, Camuzzi etc.).
In U.S.A. the Enel Green Power is beginning to build renewable energy parks.
Nonetheless, since Italy is an area not rich in raw materials, it is technically dependent on 81% of imports of energy products processed abroad.
The Italian military industry - war, security and space - is the fifth in the world (between national product and foreign joint ventures). Cannons, missiles, tanks, mines, rifles, guns, hunters and bombers, helicopters. In 2008 and 2009, when all the manufacturing sectors of Made in Italy recorded negative growth rates, armaments exports grew considerably. The Leonardo S.p.A. (Ex Finmeccanica) controls 194 Companies in other countries (USA, Great Britain, Germany, Holland, and others in the world). Other marks are: Beretta, Elsag, Otobreda. While Italian companies that holding 50% of shares are: Alenia Marconi (Italian-British), Electronics S.p.A. (Italian-French), Augusta Westland (Italian-British), European Aircraft (Italian-French-English) and 75% of Aermacchi.
According to Confidustria in 2016, Italy is the seventh world power in manufacturing, the second in Europe (after Germany and just before France and Great Britain), within the top ten in the world for export value.
Does all this mean that everything is okay? No!
And we must not confuse the above-mentioned rankings with the full reality that the Italy is experiencing.
So much for getting started: in the Italian system, the salaries, pensions and prebends of our parliamentarians are over 60% higher than the EU average.
They deserve it?
It is no longer a matter of belonging to the right or left politics, but to the common sense and realities of the politician in turn on economic and social issues.
However, as Italian I think it is absurd to make victimization by giving the blame only and always to the political class.
As a people we are responsible for what we do, but also for what we do not and let others do for us.
Then, personally I think is inadequate hear same of my compatriots complain with phrases like: "Ah, if we were like the Germans! They know how to do things well! "
Germans have made the biggest scam in car history. And speaking of corruption, the virtuous Germany with theSiemens ended up in the biggest scandal of European bribes.
Finally, with respect to corruption, scandals etc., we are not so different from other countries considered virtuous, only that their vices are numerically much inferior and less visible.
We may have to go back to ask why about policy decadence in Europe (and also U.S.A.). In the recent G7 Trump summit, in addition to confirming the US withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, said to Merkel: "We have something in common. Both of us were spied on by Obama". No comment!
In other words, if Rome cries, Paris, Berlin and Washington do not laugh. Not even London or Madrid.
About Paris: In France recently such a 39-year-old, who until five years ago was a unknow, became President of the country. How? Mr. Emmanuel Macron in the election campaign was able to fill the political void and was rewarded by the French electorate. In French politics, the tiredness of the two dominant parties who had been casting power for a long time was becoming increasingly apparent, without their alternating commands improving the French unemployment rate or re-establishing growth. Do you remember something?
Returning to the Italians, it is clear that we are creative, artists, poets, singers, actors, painters, writers, saints and navigators etc. etc., but it would seem we are not able to express an ethical leadership class - except for a few rare cases - able to lift us from the political and economic crisis.
Continuing: as far as health is concerned, the Italian health care system is one of the 12 best in the world, with respect to 32 illnesses in 195 countries. But it is equally true that we have a split Italy in two, with a healthcare system in the North that is positioned at the top of European but whit the South quality which is at the limits (if not even below) to sufficiency.
According to QS World University, four Italian universities are among the top 200 in the world (analyzed altogether 4,388 universities). But that certainly is not enough!
The picture emerging from Italian education, from the OCSE indicator analysis, is quite alarming and highlights some pressing challenges for political decision-makers. In particular, it is emphasized the need to reverse the negative trend in the financing of education and to formulate, motivate and renew the teaching body (see case Finland).
Investment in universities and research should be fostered to curb the worrying emigration of young and brilliant minds, who claim that the difference in other country respect Italy is the application of meritocracy.
It is pretty recurring that wage-earning, insecurity and few opportunities to accomplish, the desire to change life, to explore new realities, can play an absolutely important role in emigrating to other countries. Of course, it does not help the average unemployment rate that according to Istat in March 2016 in Italy was 11.7% (that of the Eurozone at 9.5%). Not to mention unemployment among young people under the age of 24, simply shameful! Young graduates between the ages of 25 and 34 do not easily find work. They are the same who emigrate, bringing with them a prerogative of young Italians: commitment, determination. Others emigrate temporarily to work in Italian companies rooted abroad (Made by Italians), increasingly in China and Asia in general.
At the same time, over the last three years almost half a million migrants are landed on Italian coasts. This year, arrivals already record record figures. For our mission and humanitarian commitment, the prestigious International Meritorious Service Award was awarded to the Italian Coast Guard. But that of migrants in Italy is a long and controversial speech. Not to mention the Italian citizenship that today is based on the principle of ius sanguinis and could change into a controversial ius solo or mixed moderate ius culturae.
In Italy it is necessary to favor the private initiative by lowering the tax burden, with supportive economic policies, for example through forms of corporate tax relief and recruitment incentives. We also need greater social equity, general morality, stability, leadership competence and innovation. Unemployment, too much tax and bureaucracy are causing not only the escape of a generation but also of companies. It is no coincidence that many Italian startupers open their own companies abroad, in countries where it is not necessary to pay a notary, with no bureaucracy and where the whole process of creating a business can often be done online. In Italy there are too many laws and the market is too closed to open negotiations with international companies that want to have their seat in Italy. Count how many multinationals have offices in Italy and compare values with those based in Germany, France or England.
Then we also have to face another reality that does not make us life easier, that of Community money and European Union policy, often not in favor of the southern European countries, including ours.
States with different economies and characteristics have a short life if common rules apply to their needs. In addition, we discounted the worst result that in the world crisis broke out in 2007, in our country overwhelmed a particular crisis that dates back to 1992 (read bad privatization of part of the public heritage in various sectors).
In summary, in the European Union there are those who emerged from the crisis and those who, like us, still sail in turbulent waters.
Europe and the euro in itself are not 'the problem'. The problem is the measure in which little democratic bureaucracies are devised. Deep EU reform could be a major opportunity to support what we are hoping for in the near future, where a new multipolar equilibrium emerges.
Meanwhile, Italy has to decide whether to be a prey to Europe or to assert its rights and needs.
Lately we have sold Made in Italy companies. However, for honesty it is also fair to light up certain facts. Also is true that we have also bought more than 30 companies, in the European and no Euro area (USA, Canada, Sweden, Russia, Spain, Great Britain, Brazil , Norway, France and Germany). Recently, Fincantieri S.p.A. and another Italian group is buying 55% of the shares of Shipyards STX France, which is not a bad thing!
Finally. The quality of a nation is not measured and is not only guaranteed on the wealth of its territory. Just look at the economies of some countries that are considered world-wide for have a wealth of raw materials (eg, you may starve in a country that has oil reserves more that Saudi Arabia: read Venezuela). In our case, we must not forget that Italy has very few raw materials, and our economy often relies on the transformation. It is true, as recently stated by Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano, that our gold is our talent and our oil is our creativity ("I have read between the lines, thank you for your intellectual honesty") but it is nothing again. We have been for millennia with this talent but now it is not enough.
Our political class, whatever it is, must absolutely create new foundations for the country's growth, with positive and active energy.
There is no doubt that a public debt (2016) of 132.6 percent of GDP is a problem of our future; that austerity has failed and devastated the social fabric of the countries in which it has been applied; that the road is all uphill and so on etc.
All this and more are other reasons to find the solution and get out of the vicious circle where our 'patria' is located.
Patria. Do you remember? The land of the fathers!
Manhattan's Little Italy ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mulberry Street )
Manhattan's Little Italy ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Italy,_Manhattan )
Post Scriptum: A little known news.
According to Adnkronos, Italian is the fourth language studied in the world. Students are now less and less descendants of Italian emigrants, but more and more Chinese, Arabs and Russians, young and old, with the passion for our culture.
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