Today was probably one of the happiest days in my life so far as an Italian.

This past weekend we were called to vote for a referendum made of 4 issues: two of them regarding privatization of water resources, one about the return of Italy to nuclear energy (after we already voted against it in 1987), and a last one about immunity for top political officials (made by the government lead by and benefiting guess who, right now facing four different trials …?). The whole world was looking at us.

Setting up a popular referendum is a complicated issue. Especially if most of the major political parties are against it because of huge economical interests involved in nuclear power and utility management. Political control over public television even managed to suggest through weather forecast, last Saturday, a “nice trip to the seaside”, regardless of the fact that satellite images were showing cloudy weather everywhere. You don’t believe it? Check out the video. Now you know what we mean when we say we have a public opinion controlled by the media.

The problem is that, in order to be valid, 50% plus one of the voting population had to vote. By silencing the referendum issue, by inviting people to go to the beach instead of going to vote,all of those who did not want these issues to be touched were having their game. Not that hard in a country like Italy where mistrust in institution is extremely high and people don’t believe in anything anymore, to the point to vote someone like Berlusconi as prime minister because ‘at least he doesn’t hide his nature as all the rest of the politicians’ and ‘he simply does whatever anyone else in his position would do’ (very common explanation given by Berlusconi supporters and voters)

Regardless of all this, as for magic, the referendum passed.

I have never felt this proud to be Italian like today.

Before today being Italian meant to have a great cultural and historical background, but when it came to society the description is the one I gave a few lines above. Nothing seemed to be possible to save this country. Doomed to cynicism and eternal internal division. This is what I have seen happening all my life, this is what Italy has always been so far. Until this weekend. Until today.

Today we Italians finally raised our heads, we gathered, we united our forces and we did something together as a nation. The famous sentence by Massimo d’Azeglio, “We have made Italy, now we must make Italians”, so often quoted as a memory of our dividing differences, finally seems like belonging to a past which is now a little farther away.

After work today, instead of going home, I wanted to go to the city center; not simply to get some fresh air, as usual. I wanted to see the people gathered to celebrate, I wanted to join my fellow citizens, my people. It felt strange, but good. I felt united to everyone else I met on my way. You probably voted, like me, I thought. It might sound silly, but I can assure you that it is not, not for an Italian. Today I felt like we had what we always envied to other countries: something in common, an identity.That feeling, that belonging, is what is really important. When I got to the city center not many people were actually there, mostly the usual politicized students and some people with flags of supposed-to-be left-wing political parties that never supported the referendum but now pretends they always did.

It didn’t matter. Those flags represented lobbies of interests that already belong to the past. Parties are over, today people won. People were at still at work, or maybe home preparing dinner. Busy, as Italians are. No time for silly celebrations, but we all found the time to go vote, and that is what matters. I did not found what I had thought, but what I consider important was the feeling that led me there.

Starting from today, nobody will be able to say anymore that ‘nothing can be done’, ‘things will never change’, ‘people in this country just don’t care’. No more ‘us and them’, ‘those who don’t care’. We care. And we are A LOT. The majority, apparently. And now we know it.

Today we were the most beautiful country in the world. We made our dream come true, together, as a nation is supposed to do. Thank you, Italy.

The Italian revolution started today. Stay tuned.

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