My impression is that, despite every news media outlet on earth coming out and saying that that Italy really had nothing to celebrate, most non-leghisti Italians actually did feel like celebrating, and Turin’s packed squares, riverbank, and streets were a testament to this last week. On via Po, someone hang the above banner, addressing leading leghista Roberto Calderoli, one of the six senators who stayed in session in Montecitorio in Rome: “Roberto, we’re celebrating. If you’d join us, we’ll give you a beer!” No doubt they’re busy plotting how to exploit refugees from the Arab spring to the League’s advantage.
For at least a day, the participatory nature of Italian celebrating won out over the lose-lose implications of the Libyan crisis, the nuclear question, Rubygate, youth underemployment, brain drain, slug-like growth, and all the other problems that everyone is acutely aware of.
Now, although the celebratory spirit in Turin was palpable, the sign enjoining Calderoli to join the festa is evidence that there are those in Lombardy, the Veneto and Piedmont who have their reasons not to celebrate independence. However, it’s a bit circular at best to go to a place like Bolzano to find this out. Many of the people in Sudtirol/Alto Adige would have objected to being under Rome even in the glory days of the miracolo. Talking to what amounts to ethnic Austrians about their pride in being “Italian” — especially when the Republic has done everything possible to keep them happy in Italy — is specious reporting. A shopowning leghista in Treviglio or San Dona’ di Paive would’ve been more incisive.
A couple of days after the big bash, I was having lunch with some friends in a nearby restaurant when the Tripoli-born owner came up to speak to us in good English. He began by talking about a trip he’d made to the States in the middle of the Reagan years — when Libya was being bombed, actually. Although cowed by the icy reception he got at Laguardia, his mood improved when he made it to San Francisco, where he appreciated how people loved the food, the weather, the sea. Marveling at this diversity, he told us, “the United States are not so different than my country — although they are united, they are not all the same!”