Posted on Aug 26, 2012 |

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Hey everybody! We’re Alice and Dianora from Italy! What do you think when we Italian Flagsay “Italy”? Let us guess… pizza, parmesan, tuscany, pasta, art and history! Are we right? Well this isn’t wrong but Italy is much more than a boot! I spent my whole life living in Italy and now that I have to leave her when I really begin to appreciate her. Did you noticed I wrote “her” instead of “it”? Well, I wrote so because I think my country is a lady. A middle aged lady with a big heritage after her and the best years in front. Like all women she doesn’t have the rights she deserves but she is also strong and brave even if sometimes tired.

History

HistoryFor understanding the actual profile of my country we have to do a step back in the past. The first thing I occur when I think about Italian history is the Roman kingdom; from his birth as a monarchy with Romulus and Remus till the fall in 476 AD it was probably the greatest reign ever existed in the West. Nowadays in high schools we still study ancient Latin. After that Italy was divided in many reigns often fighting between each other and was used as a pawn from more powerful countries like Spain, France and the German kingdom. In my opinion the lack of union and of collaboration between the populations who lived in the peninsula was the main reason of our insignificance on the European politic scenery, but fortunately in the 19th century that became clear also for the people. These people was organized in secret societies but when the stress became unsustainable it turned in a revolution. As a matter of fact the passage to the unification of the country wasn’t peaceful, it was reached through three wars of independence; after the second, in 1861, the kingdom of Italy was proclaimed with Turin as capital city and Vittorio Emanuele II as king, and after the third war, in 1871, also Lazio and Rome were released. The union became total just after the World Wars but for a country which was divided for the most of its history this was a fundamental step. In the 20th century Italy took part in either the WW. After the 1st WW Italy was a poor and scared land and for this reason she supported the fascist Party ruled by Mussolini which soon became a dictatorship. This was the darkest period for my country: freedom became a dream and life a nightmare. The opponents were killed, arrested or tortured, the Party controlled the media (and almost everything) and nobody was allowed to think with is own mind. To be as the greatest countries of Europe Italy tried to make a colonial kingdom, but this was really Historya shame for my country, because they tried to reach their goal with such a violence against some nations of Africa (like Ethiopia and Libya) that embarrass myself even to mention them. The catastrophe was completed when the government joined the Nazis party of Hitler. Italy became a Italydangerous land even for Jews and most of them were deported in concentration camps. Obviously when the 2nd WW broke out we stood by Hitler, and also we lose the war with him. After that it was clear to the people how necessary was a change, so when in 1946 through a referendum (by the way, the first universal suffrage in Italy) people was asked if they preferred the monarchy or the republic they said the second was the best for their country. June 2nd 1946: the Republic of Italy was born. The years following were characterized by a spirit of peace and order also because of the Constitution valid from 1948 to today. Well, this is how my country was born, there are a lot of other things to say about contemporary history but we are going to talk about it then.

 

Geography & People

Map

Now, close your eyes and figure a picture of my country in your mind… What do you see? Green hills, great monuments and so on? You’re right I live in a really beautiful place and the best thing is that there are so many different thing to say that I don’t even know how to start. First of all it doesn’t make sense telling you about the regions Italy is divided in, they are 20, very little and the differences between them are little too. We usually divide our country in three main regions: north, middle and south. In the north side we can find very beautiful mountains (the Alps), beautiful cities (such as Venice, Turin and Milan) a lot of industries and a cuisine based on meat. In the middle the climate is hotter than in north, people are very nice, cities are full of history and art (Rome and Florence) and there is a moving cuisine. The south, which includes also the isles of Sicily and Sardinia, is the hottest part of Italy, people are really hospitable, it is where you can find ashes of the Greek culture and the cuisine is mainly made of fish. I think is important saying some words about people in my country. Unfortunately there are some prejudices even between inhabitants of the same country; they are not based on religion, almost everyone is catholic and however we are very tolerates, but on the origin. In north there is the strong conviction that they are better than the ones who live in the south part of the country, they say they have the best schools, best industries and that they are more honest, in short, they are better in every field. Somebody even thinks it would be a great idea to divide the country in two parts! The scandalous fact is that these ideas are incurred even by some parties, the same parties which believe that immigrants are a problem to zap. This is also connected to the stereotype that we are all members of the mafia. I’m sure that we I told you to think about Italy you thought also of that. Well, let me explain. Mafia was born in Italy, that’sGeography why the world thinks we are all criminals, and precisely in southern Italy, that’s why northern Italians think to be better than southern ones. Now mafia is everywhere, maybe you call it with others name, but unfortunately in each country there is a criminal organization which wants to become rich and powerful through violence and fear. We can be the firsts but we are not the only ones. Almost everybody in Italy doesn’t join mafia, and we have and had some characters who try to combat it every day; they can do it through law (such as the magistrates Falcone and Borsellino), or through writing (such as the writer Saviano). Persons like them are considered heroes in my country and they are models to follow for many young people.

Places to Visit

In my country there are a lot of wonderful places to visit, in fact the tourism is one of the main economical resources, they are beautiful both for natural side and for the artistic one.

Venice

Venice

Well, how can I speak of Italy without mentioning Venice? This city built on the water is something unique, when you walk through its alleys and you skirt its channels you feel like being on another planet. It’s practically impossible seeing ugly buildings in Venice, every house joins the other in a ensemble of harmony and peace, brick buildings, white churches and wrought iron bridges. The only defect in Venice is the mess, since when you get off the train till you reach San Marco square you are surrounded by chaotic tourists and their capricious sons, all of them shouting where is this street or this other square, but if you want to see the true city you have to enter a less crowded alley as soon as possible. There is nothing in the world as peaceful as walking in the evening sun through the less crowded streets of Venice, discovering this romantic restaurant or that lovely little corner of the wonderful city.

Valle d’Aosta

Valle

This is a very little region in the very north side of my country, is mainly mountainous and dotted of many romantic villages, but the best feature of it is its amount of wonderful castles. They are both isolated on the top of a mountain or surrounded by medieval hamlets. Their majesty is great and they always remind me the fairy world of fables.

Verona

verona

Thanks to William Shakespeare, Verona became the city of love. The two famous lovers, Romeo and Juliet( Giulietta in Italian), are the symbol of the tragic love and of the whole humanity. Verona is a medieval city but it has also roman origins: these are showed by the wonderful Arena built in the centre of the city. Here take place several types of shows and concerts (speaking about the Arena we usually hear of “sold out”) because the Arena can host more than 11 thousand people. What’s more Verona and the Arena are often the scenery of Italian and international films and festivals.

Valley of temples (Agrigento)

Agrigento

 

This is the biggest archaeological site of the world and UNESCO declared it world heritage. It is located on the ashes of the city of Akragas and includes remains of 10 ancient Doric temples and other parts of the ancient city, like the agora, a lot of necropolis and other public buildings. The site is developed along a street which crosses all the area and skirts all the most important attractions. Near the site there is also a museum which collects the littler finds emerged from the excavations made in the Valley.

Rome and Vatican City

rome

Italy would not be Italy without his capital, so Italy would not be Italy without Rome. This chaotic city is located in the middle of the country and is the venue of the most important legislative bodies and also of the parliament. As one of the most attractive cities of the world is full of art and history, from the ancient times, till modern ones. In every single corner of the city you can find a proof of the passage of someone before us: history is liquid and respirable in Rome. Walking through the forum you will be invested by the awareness of our role on Heart and sometimes people even cries in front of the sight of the works and deeds made by men both important and famous or not. The word Rome suggests also the word Pope, as a matter of fact The Vatican City is located in the middle of the capital. Despite the very small dimensions, this city is one of the places most full of art in the world. Beginning from the building of the St. Peter’s Basilica to Bernini’s Baldacchino and Michelangelo’s Pietà, the Vatican celebrates the Lord in every single centimeter of its splendour.

The national park of Abruzzo

The national park of Abruzzo

Abruzzo, south of Italy, wonderful nature. These 3 words describe perfectly the national park of Abruzzo. This natural park it’s really useful and fundamental to preserve and save nature from the actions of humans that can damage it. There are a lot of projects for the conservation of the different species (animal and plants) and the most important of them is the one for the “Marsicano bear” a rare type of bear that lives only between Abruzzo and the regions around and that is threatened by humans. National laboratories of Gran Sasso(LNGS) National laboratories of Gran Sasso are physics laboratories built near a mountain of Abruzzo, called Gran Sasso. It is known as the largest underground particle physics laboratory in the world. There are advanced underground tunnels for experiments (covered by 1400m of rock) and recently hosts the experiment on neutrinos that intrigues the scientists all over the world.

Cinecittà

Let’s imagine the biggest film studio in Italy, in Rome…welcome to Cinecittà (Italian for Cinema City). Founded in 1937 by Benito Mussolini, it is made by several sections and different scenery for every kind of film, short film and also for television programmes. Names like Fellini and Zeffirelli (great directors of classic Italian films) chose these studios for their films and also colossal films (with millions of extras) and recently also Martin Scorsese worked here for his last film.

Cinque Terre

The Cinque Terre is a portion of coast of Liguria, an Italian region in the north-west side of the country. This area is composed of five villages ( Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore) which are together UNESCO World Heritage Site. This place is a tourist destination for its natural importance (in fact in 1999 it became a national park) and for the charm of the landscape. The villages, located on the coast, slowly approach the seaside until they merge with it, this is one of the best views you can find in my country.

Achievements

We don’t have to forget that Italy is really important, worldly speaking, in the field of fashion, both for the beauty of the creations and for the quality of the products, I’m sure everybody knows the value of some “Made in Italy” clothes . Everybody has once heard the names of the most important Italian designers (e.g. Valentino, Dolce and Gabbana,…). Also the car industry is in the first position of our economy, although now it’s not at the top because of the crisis. Then, Italy is one of the first producers in the field of organic food and has advanced systems of production and strict quality checks. But it’s not enough to produce this type of food, if you’re not behaved to eat in a good way. Indeed this “good way” is our Mediterranean diet. What’s more is that Italy is one of the beginners, the first members of the European community(UE), thing that made and makes us proud of our country! At last but not at least there is the fact that our sanitary fittings (hospitals and specialised structures) are public, that is to say that we don’t have to pay extra money to have this service, but the payment is included in the taxes. Something which I’m not sure is an achievement is the fact in Italy we have not war, we have regular (and regularly) elections, our public school system works well and we are free of think and do what we want, within law of course. Right and duties are equally balanced, this is probably the thing I’m most proud of in my country, and I hope not to be the only one, I hope my countrymen don’t consider freedom and peace something foregone, I hope they think these are privileges and if this became necessary, they would fight for that.

Misconceptions

In your opinion, what is the typical Italian look like? Chaotic? Beautiful? Always late? Relaxed? Extremely catholic? Sometimes my foreign friends say me: “You are so quiet for being Italian!” I’m not quiet, I’m just myself, like everywhere in the world in Italy there are quiet and noisy people, there are also people always late and always on time, relaxed and in a Popehurry, beautiful and ugly. In this climate of crisis the distrust Italians is rising, a lot of people think we are not trustable, we live above our possibilities and we are superficial. This is not true, not for all the Italians though, the problem in my country is that rich people think they are allowed to do everything, just for the fact they have much more money than the others, they think money can buy power, intelligence and almost everything! We are damned to be indentified with those who are the worse part of the country. One rich industrialist evades taxes? The world think that all the Italians are like that, and moreover the honest side of the country is constrained to pay more taxes to make up for the damage made by the selfish rich. A tourist guide once said me “the Italian is the worse enemy of Italy”. Of course this isn’t true for all the Italians, but is true for the one who doesn’t respect the public property, for the one who evade taxes, for the one who doesn’t pay the bus ticket. We need to understand that the public property isn’t nobody’s Scientistsbusiness, but everybody’s. I’m Italian and I’m catholic… now you have in your mind a picture of myself dressed like the Pope! Well, in Italy the religious tradition is fading down, even less people is interested in following Jesus’ teachings. A lot of people see religion as an obligation, not as a pleasure. I’m not prompting fanaticism, I’m just saying it’s sad not to exploit the wealth we can drawn from faith. Some say they don’t trust the institution of Church, I agree it isn’t perfect, but we had to try to change it, not only slate it. This distrust is particularly widespread among young people, they find Catholicism something too old for them, I think the problem is the world has changed and people changed with it, but religion remained always the same. Many people think Italian are imprecise and superficial, this isn’t true, in fact since some years in Italy is spreading the phenomenon of brain drain, which is due to the fact that Italian government doesn’t give much to education and culture, so brilliant researchers and students

have to emigrate to search new opportunities. This kind of politics is not as convenient as it seams, rather is really harmful, in fact we have lost more than 4 billion in 20 years, but above all, we lost the possibility of a better future based on the ideas, the creativity and the flexibility of young minds.

This article has been written by Alice Rossi and Dianora Hol. Read about them and other ambassadors here.

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