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Friday, 17 July 2015


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Try reading the detective novels by Donna Leon and Michael Dibben. If their portrayal of Italy is anywhere near the truth, then the country is hopelessly corrupt.

I'll keep my eyes open for them - thanks.

I see from the Telegraph piece that the roads into Rome are populated with prostitutes from Eastern Europe and Africa.

Driving round the Beziers ring road in France last year we also saw lots of (literally - red dress is the uniform) scarlet women at the roadside. According to our host, on the side of the Barcelona road they lay on beach loungers !

Is Europe becoming one gigantic brothel ? Stow on the Wold still seems clear - for the present.

I sincerely hope you're wrong about this, D, because as Verdi said "you may have the universe if I may have Italy".

The place has always thrived on chaos, and prospered despite its governments. Long may it continue to do so, and in truth I believe it will; I doubt that even the EU can really do it any harm.

And BofanE, you might care to add Leonardo Scascia to the reading list - a perusal of his Sicilian novels will bring much enlightenment, and moreover he writes like an angel.

As Adam Smith once said, "There's an awful lot of ruin in a nation." A fact I'm banking on since I'm off on me hols to Italy next month.

Mind you, you could argue that things have been going down hill in Italy for a couple of thousand years.

But then again, the Risorgimento has only been complete, (sort of), for a hundred and fifty years or so, as Verdi will attest but then there's all that WWI and WWII stuff to take into account.

Still, the wine's good and the weather's not bad and the countryside is awesome and I'll be watching some open air Puccini so if I take a few hundred quid along with my euros, I might get away with it this year.

Laban, good to hear from you again. Yes, and Milborne Port the (real) capital of 'South Zummerzet' seems fairly clean although one of the elderly ladies collecting her pension in the Post Office the other day gave me a bit of a look!

Andrew, "I doubt that even the EU can really do it any harm." You jest, of course. Look what they've just done to Greece!

Kevin, it's an ill wind that fails to blow up the skirt of a pretty girl and cheer us old chaps up, so your holiday timing could not be better - Sterling set to hit e143 or higher!

I'm still reeling with shock by what I read about Italy in Norman Lewis' Naples '44. Half of what he was describing was medieval.

Andrew Duffin. OK on Leonardo Scascia, altho' the kindle books are quite expensive - I usually read .99p rubbish. I am a fan of Montalbano as well. The whole society seems corrupt but it is a very old society. I have been to Venice 4 times since 1966 plus holidays in Florence and Rome. The buildings of Italy seem to typify Italian society - crumbling on the outside, but rather luxurious inside!

I forgot Norman Lewis - he is another marvelous writer. Try "The Honoured Society" as well, for another view of Sicily, including remarks on how the total naivete of the Americans put the Mafia in charge of the place - well there's a surprise.

And Lewis was an Essex man too, so he must be a good egg.

Forza Italia!

Well gentlemen, as I am sure you have been waiting on my contribution (after all I actually live here) I'll put you out of your misery.

Italy is undoubtedly struggling with the euro. It is a truism that there are two Italy's, most people outside the country as well as a few inside think it is between north and south, but in reality the real divide is between public and private sector.

The private sector in Italy is very high quality, highly productive and innovative companies (like mine !!) who can compete on equal terms against anybody in the world.

The public sector is a drain, a cess pit of corruption, incompetence, "menefregismo" (look it up) and waste, and probably compares badly to anywhere on the planet. Certainly no better than Tunisia was in 1989 in my experience. Probably a deeply unfair comparison for the Tunisians.

My view is absolutely that Italy will survive the euro and will not go the way of Greece. It is an altogether different proposition.

I think the weak link will turn out to be Germany, who at some point will no longer be able to square the circle between the insane and unrelenting demands of France the latins (who need a weak euro and large subsidies to survive in a currency union with the Northern euros) and the economic stress this places on an economy founded on keeping productivity up by keeping wage costs down; and is for all its size, not particularly sophisticated.

And then it will be, as the Italians say, Cazzi Amari, literally "bitter penises" but more usefully "a fucking nightmare".

By the way yes the corruption is shocking here to us Brits but it is a full order of magnitude less severe than in Greece.

And public works are falling to bits all over the world. I was in Frankfurt in June and I was shocked by the decline compared to previous visits. In many respects it was thoroughly tinpot.

Kudos to A Duffin for his comments re the Americans and the Mafia. An important point not made often enough. PLus the catholic church hardly helps.

Both Italy and Greece felt the end of the cold war as the fawcett of US money dried up, but at least Italy managed to construct a first world economy in the mean while. Greece has barely managed a third world welfare state and that is the difference.

We'd do better to kick out Greece and welcome Turkey!

By the way, there is an excellent post on EU Referendum today about corruption in Greece. Richard North can be a pain to read often, I know, but that is outstanding pirece of journalism and is truly, truly shocking also about the extent to which the EU bigwigs are in it up to their necks.

In 2009, my parents organised a family reunion (sans enfants)and we rented a villa just outside Florence. What a glorious two weeks and everyone I met was meraviglioso. Our housekeeper took me dancing, with her friends, on the banks of the Arno and despite knowing very little Italian and they knew no English, it was a magical time. I saw no evidence of the political corruptions but then none of us had reason to.
And dear Duffers, yes the ill wind did not fail to blow up my skirt one day on the back streets of Florence. Much to the amusement of the signora anziana piccola, and the rather handsome man who witnessed the event.

Tim, that book sounds fascinating - but not an easy read, I'd guess.

Thanks, 'Cuffers', for the view from inside looking out. Even so, if matters are only half as bad as they appear, it cannot last.

Miss Red, your comment crossed mine. Have a care, Ma'am, with these tales of your flirtatious youth and flaring skirts, they can easily over-excite an elderly gentleman of retiring nature such as myself!

I was having lunch with my late ex-wife in Sienna one day. An Italian gentleman on the next table asked if he could practice his English. Of course. Was it true that Mrs Thatcher was a lady because she wore a "het". Actually, I said, did he know she was actually a man. He was surprised, but behind us an eaves dropping Italian expired in his soup.

It will be the French who destroy the EU.

Well, I just wish the Frogs would get on with it!

Article is on a par with current standards of Barclay Brothers Beano "journalism".

Rome is one of the great cities of the world but only because of its history. Objectively it has been a dump for centuries. Shame but not the end of the world and most emphatically not the end of Italy.

The Italians have been getting by despite an utterly crap and corrupt political class since before we discovered woad, so don't worry about them.

Actually we've a lot to learn.

I half bow to your superior local knowledge, Cuffers, but I suspect that you are repeating what various Greek-based ex-pats were saying right up until the Acropolis crumbled - so to speak!

David the Greeks have been a bit quiet about their (our) Marbles lately. We could sell them to their new Russkie Oligarchs friends and help bail them out.

I very much doubt it duffers old chap, but we'll see! Time alone will tell.

Quite so, Cuffers, but look out - incoming Shakespeare:

"The end crowns all, And that old common arbitrator, Time, Will one day end it.”

Ah, the invocation of Will's law!

Inother words it's what I said but somehow he puts it better!!

Cuffley, in regard to the North/South divide I will just remark that in another life when I worked near Turin I had colleagues (plural) who used to say "South of Rome it is Africa".

They would happily have cut the country in half just south of Florence and let the Southern half drift away into the Med.

And this was long before the rise of the lega nord.

So I do think the divide exists; but you're completely correct about statali, independenti, and whatever the third category is which just now I forget...

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