Between December 17 and 19, La Repubblica newspaper engaged the Demos-Eurisko company to organize and conduct a survey of 1000 Italians representative of the adult population on the state of their lives. It turns out that Italians define themselves as "angry" (as has been discussed quite a bit these past few months among local expat bloggers following Bebbe Grillo's "VaFa" day). But beyond this anger and although Italians are unsatisfied with the economy, worried about personal safety and unhappy about politics, over 80% declared themselves to be happy with their lives.
How do they do it?
Family and friends. While Rome burns, Italians huddle up at home with their family or hang out in the piazza with their friends. That's all it takes to achieve a modest degree of happiness, and they even figured it out without resorting to endless shelves of self-help books -- the upside of a relationship-based society. The word Italians chose to best describe their feelings toward the future was "hope" (speranza). Where does that come from if not from their personal lives, as they are pretty negative about everything else.
If family and friends don't quite fill the gap, there is always hope to be found in sports -- nearly 75% of Italians surveyed believe that the Ferrari will win the Formula-1 championship, 66% are sure that the Italian national soccer team will win the European championship and 62% have faith that Valentino Rossi will win the world motorcycle racing title.
When asked, "What does Italy need to improve itself in the next year?" the number one response was, "More young people in places of power" with "Improve the schools and university" close behind.
So, despite the Italian "malessere" amply described in a recent New York Times article, there is room for hope and maybe this new sense of anger will set in motion change for the future.