Italia: Initial Reactions

Originally posted from Italy on December 29th, 2006.

After only two days in country, my initial reactions to Italy, are that it’s a country living in and devoted to the past. There seems to be little industry besides tourism in many places. Though this is definitely colored by my being a tourist, duh. But consider Venice, where two-thirds of the population consists of seasonal foreigners (regular tourists) during the summer months, and in the winter the population bundles up and hunkers down to last out the cold and slow trickle of tourists.

There is much beauty, truly, and Italy definitely has something to share with the world concerning history, art, etc, and with that there is to be no arguing. But consider also that the birthrate is 1.2 per woman (not per couple, per woman), and that children are staying single and staying home until their very late twenties (24-29 yrs old avg max age of children at home). Also, in watching the TV channels, there are several stations of voice-over movies all made in Hollywood California. And several other stations playing “spaghetti westerns” (and yes, that’s what they call them, and they’re all voice-over in Italian). One station of German language sports news and German (mostly) original movies (though a few voice-overs here as well). Two English stations, BBC World and CNN. There is little original Italian art (movies, music, etc) on the telly, which is sad considering the history of Italy leading the art world.

Instead, Italy seems to be constantly living in it’s past. This is not a totally bad thing. If this history existed in America, with thousands of years of awe-inspiring historical structures, we’d have torn them all down for the hazards they posed to Americans with Disabilities and various dummies and tourists of all IQ levels. We’d have sued them all out of existence. We’d have gates and fences keeping people hundred of feet and more from all structures with any non-standard-meeting designs and architecture. Also, America has little enough respect for it’s own history, choosing instead to chase frenetically after the future. This is America’s strength. And its weakness. Italy’s strength is it’s reverence of its history, and this is its weakness.

Italy has no future, and America has forgot its past.

3 thoughts on “Italia: Initial Reactions”

  1. Italia to me is a big design symbol. You can’t say it is a country devoted to the past judging by the location, especially in winter, when everything is sleepy. Just check this Italian design or this Design. For many people Italia is symbol of good desing. For me it is a country where I’d definitely want to live.

  2. I don’t deny the fact that Italia is and has almost always been a standard bearer in design and aesthetic innovation: Milan is the capital of the fashion world, boats built there are considered some of the most beautiful in the world, they’ve led in music and the arts for centuries.

    But as any seasoned boatman will tell you, their boats beauty and innovation truly is only skin deep. Mechanically, they are nightmares.

    And what is fashion but the defining and enhancing of the external beauty.

    And I would submit that had it been summer, the skin-deep beauty would have been even more apparent. Crowds and crowds milling about visiting historic places with no room to see the “real Italy”.

    Instead, as I visited towards the end of the Christmas rush, through the New Year celebration in Roma, and then for over 2 more weeks into January, I believe I saw a more authentic Italia than most visitors.

    I did not dig deep, by any means, into the culture. But I left the tourist walk ways and meandered the streets, observing the young and old as they went about their business.

    They seem locked into a glass box, no real great aspirations. Entertainment is plentiful, but small minded, not inspiring.

    They excel at the minutiae and forget the vastness of the horizon.

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