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The reason why Italians always tend to run late is because we try to do things together. Conciliating (?) all sorts of different needs and situations require time.
Lots of time.
And the delay accumulates. Like debt.
National debt, national delay.

The shipwreck of the Costa Concordia at the Giglio island, and especially the behavior of the captain (phone call recording with English subs), was an ice-cold shower for many Italians. Used to political and economical problems, what has happened in the last months and the last weeks, the fall of the government, the nominated setting up of a so-called technical one, the darkest market clouds we have ever seen gathering up and starting probably the worst financial and economical storm of our lifetime, had still left us kind of numb; Italians are told all their life not to expect too much, to believe that public life and markets are corrupted, that history is implacable and life is short, so better take advantage of whatever one can until one’s able to: in a few words, we are culturally ready for pretty much anything, and this coolness, that at times becomes coldness, often shocks the rest of the world.

This time, though, it’s all of us being shocked. All we have gone through in the last years, months, weeks is finally coming up. People are finally sick. It took Schettino for us to get indignados. Sicily started already, even though mainstream medias don’t talk about yet. Things might not seem connected, but they are. The reaction is starting. The analogy made by Beppe Grillo in his last post is unbelievably accurate.

The Concordia shrinking and sitting by the coast of the Giglio island symbolized our reaching the bottom. From now on, we can only rise.

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.

I was almost going to bed, turn the lights off.
Then it hit me.
Let’s jump for a second in a hypothetical future: let’s admit that Berlusconi (Yes, it is an obsession. Wanted Italy beyond stereotype? THIS is what goes on in our lives, when we take a look at a paper, when we turn the news on. Unless, of course, you watch Studio Aperto…) stands trial and is condemned. End of the Berlusconi era. Then, what?
Those who voted for him are still here, with us. And we are not talking about a plethora of idiots who actually believed he was innocent all along. These people, in most cases, knew and understood what the deal was. The game was about getting a slice of the cake until you had a chance, until someone like you, Berlusconi, who only wanted some cake himself, gave you the chance to do so. Grab whatever you can, until you can. These people are still here, with us. Italians, like us. What are we going to do?
This is a civil war.
Is this time like the end of WWII? Definitely we have to rebuild. But how? What country do we want? It is unconceivable to think of exclude part of the nation from the process. They might not even want to rebuild, they probably think there is nothing to rebuild, and their president rightfully elected was denied the right to govern. How can we do this? What are we going to do?
Italy this year celebrates 150 years as a unified country. A famous sentence from Massimo D’Azeglio, from those days, reads somethings like: “We made Italy, now we have to make the Italians”. Could it be finally time for it? We’ll have to face it, sooner or later.
Is it late enough, yet?

I went to the post office a few weeks ago, and while I was looking for a parking spot I noticed two cars kind of parked between the parking lines, kind of close to each other, but with just enough space in between them to fit mine. I slowly pulled in, careful not to touch them, and I stopped the engine. At this point I had to delicately open the car door in order not to dent the car next to mine and crawl out. While I went through all of these time-taking, attention-requiring procedures, I couldn’t stop thinking of how all of this is simply part of Italian daily life, and how much it is one of those things that most strikes outsiders’ point of view (Yes, these are the kind of things I think about. And I post them here. End of the warning).
The Japanese have a word that they often use to describe Italians: tekitou (As soon as I figure out how to reset my japanese input system I’ll provide the kana and possibly the kanji I promise): imprecise, lightheaded, and also appropriately in this case, outside the lines.
Both Italians and non-Italians have positive and negative opinions about it. Some see in it an endemic and childish irresponsibleness, and believe Italy should “grow up” and finally join the international community as a rightful and full member, finally blossoming in all it’s potential that is now being hold down by this silly attitude that causes disorganization and chaos. Some others think all the others claim is true but is being seeing from a flawed point of view, as it is in the core of the “Italianity” what we are talking about, where it’s true genius comes from, what is perceived as its creativity and uniqueness, and that the everyday problems caused by it is nothing but the small price to pay in order to maintain this.
As for me, like most of my co-nationals, when I have to take a position about it as an Italian person, I choose to stand wherever the right place is in that moment for my own personal interest. Maybe a little cynic, but unfortunately probably true. As if it wasn’t enough to be only human, I am also Italian.
So in this case I thought that truly it is real-life experience what teaches you the most about culture.
No matter what position of the above you choose to side with, only living here you understand how when you get to a crowded parking lot in morning full of errands to run, and the only spot available is between the lines, because most of the people previously there parked like that, even if you wouldn’t normally like to park like that, in that case you have to. If you could, if there was even only one spot, you WOULD park inside the lines. But not that morning.
And you have to park oustide the lines.

To finish, a video I took from my friend’s Rosa’s bathroom window, in Rome. Thanks Rosa!

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