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Authors: John Hooper

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The Italians

BOOK: The Italians
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ALSO
BY
JOHN
HOOPER

The Spaniards

The New Spaniards

VIKING

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) LLC

375 Hudson Street

New York, New York 10014

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A Penguin Random House Company

First published by Viking Penguin, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, 2015

Copyright © 2015 by John Hooper

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

Photographs by Christian Jungeblodt

ISBN 978-0-698-18364-3

While the author has made every effort to provide accurate telephone numbers, Internet addresses, and other contact information at the time of publication, neither the publisher nor the author assumes any responsibility for errors or for changes that occur after publication. Further, publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.
Version_1
For Lucy
Contents

Also by John Hooper

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Maps

Acknowledgments

1.
The Beautiful Country

Porta Pia
.
Glory and misery
.
“The crux of the Italian problem”
.
Islands, highlands and plains

2.
A Violent Past

Leo’s legacy
.
Goths, Lombards and Byzantines
.
A holy forgery
.
The communes
.
The Venetian exception
.
The medieval Mezzogiorno
.
The Italian wars and the Sack of Rome
.
Under foreign yokes

3.
Echoes and Reverberations

Two Italies . . . or three?
.
Civismo
.
A linguist’s playground
.
Superiority and sensitivity
.
The
vincolo esterno
.
Of
furbi
and
fessi
.
Fragile loyalties
.
The prime minister who vanished from history
.
Trasformismo

4.
A Hall of Mirrors

The Minister for Simplification
.
A plethora of laws (and law-enforcers)
.
Bureaucracy
.
Truth and
verità
.
Mysteries and the “misty port”
.
Pirandello

5.
Fantasia

Myths and legends
.
A phantom army
.
Pinocchio
.
Copiatura
.
Masks and messages
.
Opera
.
Padania declares independence
.
Dietrologia

6.
Face Values

The neo-Fascist’s bare arms
.
Style and
look
.
Symbolism
.
Talking visually
.
Videocracy
.
Bella
(and
brutta
)
figura

7.
Life as Art

Treasuring life
.
A thick layer of stardust
.
Work and leisure
.
La tavola
.
The Mediterranean diet
.
Slow Food and fast food
.
A brief history of pasta
.
Foreign food . . . what foreign food?

8.
Gnocchi
on Thursdays

D’Antona and Biagi
.
A love of the familiar
.
“Acts of God” and acts of man
.
One step to the right
.
Conservatism, technophobia and gerontocracy
.
The “BOT people”
.
From
catenaccio
to gambling fever

9.
Holy Orders

A blurred line
.
The bloody end of Muslim Italy
.
Jews and ghettos
.
The Waldensians
.
Freemasonry
.
Blasphemy
.
The Lateran Pacts
.
Christian Democracy
.
A less Catholic Italy
.
Comunione e Liberazione
.
Sant’Egidio
.
Padre Pio
.
The “testicles of His Holiness”

10.
Le Italiane—
Attitudes Change

Great-aunt Clorinda
.
From Mozzoni to the
Manifesto di rivolta femminile
.
Gender and language
.
Veline
.
Desperate housewives
.
Ricatto sessuale
.
The influence of Berlusconi
.
If Not Now, When?
.
Change in (and on) the air
.
La Mamma
: glorified but unsupported

11.
Lovers and Sons

Al cuore non si comanda?
.
A sexual revolution (within limits)
.
Sensuous she-cats and “Italian stallions”
.
Adultery
.
Prostitution
.
Contraception and the mystery of the (missing) unplanned pregnancies
.
Mammismo
.
Gender stereotyping
.
Homosexuality

12.
Family Matters

An honored but changing institution
.
Divorce
.
The decline of marriage
.
The Italian family firm: myths and realities
.
The arrival of the
badante
.
Stay-at-home kids: spoiled or just broke?
.
“Amoral familism”
.
Menefreghismo

13.
People Who Don’t Dance

From behind shades
.
Wariness
.
The Fox and the Cat
.
To
ciao
or not to
ciao?
.
A love of titles
.
Mistrust
.
Alcohol (and teetotalism)
.
Narcotics

14.
Taking Sides

Il piacere di stare insieme
.
Guelphs and Ghibellines
.
From the Genoa Cricket and Athletic Club to Berlusconi’s AC Milan
.
Professionalism . . . and professional fouls
.
Gianni Brera and the footballing press
.
Il processo del lunedì
.
Fan radios
.
The
ultras
.
Referees
.
Calciopoli

15.
Restrictive Practices

Possessive instincts
.
Catholicism and liberalism
.
Lottizzazione
.
Capitalism without competition
.
Protectionism
.
Shareholder pacts
.
Enrico Cuccia and
il salotto buono
.
The never-ending tale of the foreign
lettori

16.
Of Mafias and
Mafiosi

A relatively crime-free nation
.
What makes a mafia?
.
Cosa Nostra decapitated
.
The rise of the Camorra and ’Ndrangheta
.
Sciascia’s palm tree line: organized crime creeps north
.
An absence of trust and the legacy of Unification

17.
Temptation and
Tangenti

How corrupt is Italy?
.
The role of patronage
.
A tolerance of graft
.
Corruption and
corruzione
.
Nepotism
.
“Everything in Rome comes at a price”
.
The culture of the
raccomandazione
.
The cost of graft
.
A “renaissance of corruption”

18.
Pardon and Justice

The navel of Italy
.
Abusivismo
.
Laws and conventions
.
Pardon and justice
.
The Sofri case
.
Slow-moving courts
.
The 1989 legal reform
.
Garantisti
versus
giustizialisti
.
The
magistratura

19.
Questions of Identity

Italy has a birthday party
.
Campanilismo
and the frailty of separatism
.
Concepts of
Italia
.
Diversity and disunity
.
Dialects lose ground
.
The north-south divide: perceptions and statistics
.
“Italian-ness”
.
Immigration
.
Racism
.
Sinti and Roma

Epilogue

Blue skies, blue seas . . . and unhappiness
.
Italy’s economic decline
.
Rules and change
.
The need for a dream
.
Jep’s smile

Notes

Index

Acknowledgments

A book like this is built on myriad observations and impressions rather as limestone is formed out of an infinite number of tiny shells. So my first and most important thanks go to all the Italians I have met over the years that I have spent in their country—friends, neighbors and casual acquaintances—because it is their descriptions of themselves and their explanations of their society, their recommendations and advice, their hints and silences that have done more than anything to give substance to this work.

BOOK: The Italians
7.98Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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