Friday, November 1, 2013

The New York Times: "Italy breaks your heart"- it certainly breaks mine

Over the last days, an article published by The New York Times titled “Italy breaks your heart” has gone viral on social networks in Italy.
I read the whole article and found it sadly realistic. However, the part that struck me the most is the following:

“Italy is what happens when a country knows full well what its problems are but can’t summon the discipline and will to fix them. It’s what happens when political dysfunction grinds on and on and good governance becomes a mirage, a myth, a joke. [...] There’s so much beauty and promise here, and so much waste. Italy breaks your heart.”

And it’s so true: Italy does break my heart.

It breaks my heart a little every time that, during a Politics lecture, Italy comes up as the bad example for any single issue (media, electoral system, government stability- you name it, Italy is a bad example).
It breaks my heart when I open the webpage of the BBC and I find headlines regarding Berlusconi’s trials, or a government crisis, or yet another corruption scandal. Not to mention the heartbreak when I turn to Italian newspapers.
It breaks my heart when I suddenly feel homesick and I wish I could be there to enjoy the good food and the sun, but then I realise that, even when I do go back, I feel like leaving after two days because I can’t even stand to watch a whole news bulletin without getting a stomach ache.
It breaks my heart when I see pictures of beautiful cities like Florence, Venice or Rome, and I feel a surge of pride, but then I think that all those wonderful places would deserve a better country.
And, above all, it really, deeply, truly breaks my heart when people question me on the defensive “So you really don’t want to move back here?”, as if I were just being difficult and as if it were easy for me to be away from my friends and family.
I realise that this is just another nostalgic rant from an expat. But The New York Times managed to capture in one sentence exactly what watching Italy sink does to you: it breaks your heart. And as popular wisdom has it, it takes time to mend a broken heart.