Do you know where your Minister of the Interior was yesterday at 1:00?
Despite busy pre-election days and the hoopla that has been going in the news over ballot forms, from 1-2:15 he was enjoying a leisurely lunch of: risotto con zucchine, pollo al limone accompanied by mixed grilled vegetables and a slice of cake, followed, of course, by an espresso. He was scheduled to speak for the American Women's Association of Rome and the American International Club of Rome at their monthly luncheon.
I had assumed he would rush in (late) long after the lunch was over, escorted by blue-suited, blue-toothed body guard types, and instead he simply showed up at 1:00 and thoroughly enjoyed the ambiance of the Hotel Savoy, the company and the food before getting up to speak at 2:20.
He was delightful, witty and had many interesting and intelligent things to say -- just what I had expected and why I had paid for the extravagant mid-day meal. He had studied comparative law at Columbia University where he is now on the faculty and has spent enough time on both continents to have a good sense of both countries (and good English as well!).
He prefaced his talk by saying that he was more interested in the upcoming US elections than of those in Italy, but would not tell us his preferred candidate, noting that in any case, a change for the better was in the air.
To explain the tie that binds the US and Europe he drew a lovely analogy, "Although the US and Europe are different, America is like a daughter for me." We are different, indeed, and the daughter can grow up to be stronger than the father, but the tie binds, especially for the Italian family! In terms of the new world order, "This in not a time for empires, but in the context of global alliance, the Western world shares common values on which the battle of market forces takes place." Although we are different we are closer to each other when compared to the rest of the world.
Italy he described as, "A bizarre country" and "A summary of the world."
"Of course we have beauty, then we tend to be inefficient yet wonderfully efficient when we want to be. We present ourselves worse than we really are and we are very open to others while being scared of others at the same time."
"Italy is the problem and the solution. We lack a basic platform and a sense of common identity -- Italians had a state, but not a nation when it was formed. It was missing common values shared by everyone, instead tied to minor and localized identities.
But, he summarized, "somehow we always end up among the winners."
And its true! Now how do they do that I wonder...
a domani (for a special Italian election treat),