This is just a first impression. And first impressions tend to mislead. But a Sunday stroll on via Sarpi finds an amazing bustle of activity. Fashionable, well-dressed people shop for shoes and crowd into grocery stores, arms full of fresh meat and vegetables. Every shop is open. A gaze into some shows that, beyond the storefront where wares are displayed, that there are many more rooms deep inside, extending all the way back into a courtyard. Men rush into these courtyards with handtrucks stacked with heavy plastic bags packed with merchandise. Window shopping aside, this is, of course, more or less how the neighborhood is every weeknight. Consumption and production thrive.
The point to take away is that every one of these shops is Chinese. Every single Italian shop is closed, which is totally normal for a Sunday, but the contrast is sharper given the amazing activity of the Chinese. And I should point out that although the Italian shops are closed, plenty of Italian shoppers are around, looking at the shoes, cautiously examining vegetables at the market, getting take-out pasta or roast chicken from the deli that also sells barbecue ribs and fried squid.
The first article of the Italian constitution is that it is a “democratic republic, founded on work.” The presence of a via Sarpi shows what kind of future Italy is being created today. Those who ignore it will not be able to do so for much longer.