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spaghettipolitics 1: A Country for Old Men

spaghettipolitics 1: A Country for Old Men

Michela Grasso

After gaining some experience as an Italian expat, I deemed necessary to divide the locals of foreign countries into three different levels, based on their knowledge of Italian culture.

  1. The first level is the average person, the 50 years old man/woman who went to Florence 10 years ago and can only remember how to say “belliisimo” and “grazi mille.” This can also come in the junior version, usually the 23 years old Northern European, who spent a week in Rimini and doesn’t remember anything (except all the ways in which God can be associated with animals). The Italian politics knowledge in these people, is dramatically low. Sometimes they have heard about the (in)famous Berlusconi, and most of the time they think the country is run by some sort of Mafia coalition.
  2. Those in Level 2 are more advanced, you can actually enjoy a conversation with one of them. They have usually been in Italy quite often, know a lot about the country and have a favorite where they always come back. They rather talk about Italian pasta than politics and look at you as if they were sorry for your Country’s political situation.
  3. The third level person is either amazing or terrible. They think they know more about Italy than you do and can’t wait to demonstrate it. They have usually never been to Italy, and if they have, it was in the middle of August in Rome, 15 years ago. This person just really enjoys to look at Italian politics to have a fun time and to feel better about their Country’s politics. The questions you are most likely to receive are “Did you vote for the Five Stars Movement?”, “What is the name of the guy with the big beard? Grullo? Grolli?”, “What do you think of people from Southern Italy? Are you racist towards them?
Michele Amoruso, Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

It is always very nice to meet people who are genuinely interested in knowing your culture, especially when you are aware of how wonderful your Country is.
But after talking about Italy with foreigners, the main question that you often ask yourself is: “Why did I leave? Am I ever going back?
Many people think it is weird that we don’t know the answer, but why would anyone ever go back to a place that is dying? A place without any opportunity, with the same kind of politicians that governed in the 50’s, a new government every year and a half and with the growing presence of racism and intolerance.
In 2017, 128k Italians moved abroad, 1 out of 3 was between 18 and 34 (ISTAT, 2017). Many, like me, moved to find a better and more stimulating environment in university, others for their jobs. Many more also moved because they did not have any other option, rather than being a maid with a degree in communication or working as a construction worker, with a master degree in political science.
The average Italian person complains about African immigrants, saying that they have no reason to come to Italy and, that if their country has any problem they should stay there to fix it. But that same Italian has a daughter or a son who studies in the UK or who works in Germany because there were no opportunities for them in Italy anymore.
Italy is affected by the illness of the “double standard”. One standard for the Nigerian guy, who is weak and should stay at home, and one for the courageous girl from Milano that migrates to the Netherlands to study. Double standards are part of the great paradox that infects Italy and are to be found in every aspect of social life (different for men/women, heterosexual/homosexual, rich/poor etc.).

ilsole24ore, Number of Italian emigrants in the World in 2016

Italy Is becoming a country for old men: in 2002 the average age was 41,4 years old, while now is 44,7 (ISTAT, 2018). In 2017 it was the second oldest Country in the world (ibid), this is not only because there are no more opportunities for young people, so that they are almost forced to leave, but also people don’t have any hope in the future of the Country. Also, the economic situation and the precarity of the work market play a big role for all those couples who don’t feel safe enough to start a family.
Italy is a Country for old men, but hopefully, it will soon become a ùcountry for intercultural men. The only thing that is saving us, is immigration.
Immigration is one of the main reasons that keeps the gynecology department busy all the time. Immigrants women have more babies than Italian women: 1,9 against 1,4 (ibid.).
So, while in Germany and the UK, parents at the elementary schools will wonder why in their kids’ classes, there is an unusual increasing amount of Alessandro, Marco, Elena, and Marzia. In Italy, parents will have to accept that the increase of Jasmin, Aziz, and Juan.

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Michela Grasso is a 19-year-old political science student at the University of Amsterdam. Her main occupation, besides studying and working in a sad Asian restaurant, is to rant about Italian politics. She runs a politics page on Instagram called @spaghettipolitics, where comments and insights on the latest news in Italian politics can be found.

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