This is not a cliché.

Every day a new story
11 September 2020

Credit where credit is due: the Bel Paese

Luciano Fabro, Italia d'oro - 1971 Galleria Palatina di Palazzo Pitti

We live in a beautiful country – even the ads at gas stations along the motorway profess the same. Beauty as far as the eye can see, and the world is green with envy. The British and French boast their capitals, the medieval wonder that is Strasbourg and breathtaking Nice and Marseille overlooking the Mediterranean. We have Venice and Naples, so beautiful to stop you dead in your tracks, Rome is the centre of the world, Renaissance gems such as Florence, Mantua, Siena – and I could go on and on and on. Norway has its fjords, we have Monte Argentario, Taranto where two seas meet, the Blue Grotto. The Moai on Easter Island protect the land and their ancestors, but can we say that the Conigli Island and its bay, or the Grotta della Poesia in Lecce, or the Golfo di Orosei are not just as beautiful? Iceland has its geysers, while Pope Pius II visited the thermal baths in Petriolo, and then we have San Filippo, the volcanic thermal baths in Sicily; and while we are it, in England they are incredibly proud of Bath’s Roman heritage, but we believe nothing can beat our Tettuccio in Montecatini, San Pellegrino, Levico Terme, the monumental thermal pool of Bagno Vignoni. And that’s being humble, mind you. The Fuji islands have a famous volcano, but what about Stromboli, the Vesuvio, the Etna? Are the great American parks more beautiful than the bauxite cave of Otranto, where that emerald lake hides amid the fiery red rocks? In Switzerland, the price of a coffee is as steep as its mountains, while we have the Alps and are the home of coffee. In Australia, Ayers Rock, in California El Capitan. What about us? We have the Dolomites – which are a lot more than Braies Lake. And yet, there is always a but. We seem unable to protect, safeguard, highlight an unparalleled beautiful heritage we may not even deserve. Rundown old city centres, the state of neglect of the countless medieval villages, the devastating fury of parked cars, nearly one atop the other in the bigger cities and the ever-dwindling resources on the Alps, the indifference of most Italians in taking care of what surrounds them. I could go on and on – but these are all examples of the fact we do not know how to give credit where credit is due. We have a bountiful resource and we neglect it, rather than investing it to create jobs, sustainable tourism, and a lot more. After all, this is how we are, and I wonder if will we ever wake up and do something about it?

Michil Costa (thoughts based on ‘Rifondare l’Italia sulla bellezza’, Emilio Casalini)