I had the day off work today. You'd think that that would be enough to cheer them up, but like some people in England who are grumbling about the royal wedding causing them to take time off work, or just resenting the whole situation on constitutional grounds, most Italians remain decidely subdued.
I have taken it upon myself recently to try and show my grumpy friends their luck whenever they start to complain again about the current political, cultural or economic situation and sigh over how I will never understand it because I'm British. Yes the UK has a lot going for it when it comes to politics (in comparison with Italy anyway) and education but that doesn't mean that Italy has nothing to offer.
I usually start along the lines of "Just think about the food and the weather!" but apparently these are so obvious they don't count any more, so I've had to think a bit harder. Here's my list of things to celebrate about Italy. I've got ten items, but there must be more, so you if you think of any more add your own at the bottom.
|I present to you the Gnocco Fritto...|
1) The food. Yes it is pretty good.
2) The weather. It's better.
3) Partying culture involves more eating and less drinking which is definitely a good thing if you are a light weight like me.
4) People eat more but somehow do not get so fat.
5) Society dotes on it young. People are much more tolerant of children, and young men aren't feared like they are in the UK. Teenage girls are less pregnant.
|Look - families even hang out together!|
6) Yes they will probably call everyday but your family can be counted on if you are in need to do pretty much anything: from ironing your shirts to giving you the entire contents of their fridge to letting you stay in their holiday house.
7) People are more open. People are allowed to touch each other. Some men are comfortable enough with their sexuality to even kiss each other hello! People can get angry, argue, get over it and then move on (if they want). They can also tell people they love that they love them.
8) Going to university doesn't require taking out a huge loan.
9) No obstacle is an obstacle. Why else would the Italians have the largest organised crime network in the world? Even at work, I think my boss will surely have to say no to a client but my timetable is endlessly played with until they get their lesson. (Maybe straight forward things are so challenging precisely because they aren't challenging enough?)
10) Italy still has some of the most interesting architecture, history, art, and music in the world.
|There's probably a reason you haven't seen this photo of the Duomo before...|
During the recital of this list I can guarantee that any Italian who is reading will nod their heads thoughtfully to all of them except the last. "Oh, that doesn't count," they say, "that has nothing to do with modern Italians." Why the hell not?
Most of the Brits alive today didn't fight in WWII but that doesn't stop them from thinking they're better than the rest of Europe.