If you could live in any Italian city, where would you live in?

I am originally from Venice, I am currently living in Hong Kong and I have been pondering the same question for quite some time.

Obviously, your mileage may vary, but these are the reasons that would push me to live in Milan:

A. Excellent public transports: by all means, Milan has modern transport services “by modern standards”, not by the (admittedlypoor) Italian standards. After years of neglect, Milan is now equipped with an excellent metro system (still expanding),the administration is openly trying to curb the traffic congestion in the city center and is pushing people to use bicycles.

B. Three airports: Milan has three airports serving the city. Linate(the small city airport, mostly used for Italian / regional routes), Malpensa(the International routes hub) and Bergamo(the Ryanair hub). This gives people of Milan a fantastic range of opportunities to travel, from budget airlines to long-distance connections.

C. Bullet trains: Milan’s Centrale Station is the hub for hi-speed trains connecting the North of Italy to Rome and Naples. This allows people of Milano to reach Turin and Bologna in 1h, Florence in 2h, Rome in 4 hours and Naples in 5 hours. No expensive airplane tickets are needed, no need to go through the hassle of airport security.

D. Cultural attractions and events: Milan is the Italian Capital for cultural attractions (matched probably only by Venice and Rome). If you live there you will find a constant stream of top-notch Museum exhibitions, classical and rock music concerts, musicals. For those of us design-inclined, there is once a year the Salone Del Mobile event (a world-class interior design exhibition spread all over the city). For those more fashion conscious, there is the Milan Fashion Weekattracting crowds from all over the world.

E. Food scene: Milan has a fantastic food scene. After the successful 2015 Food Expo, a myriad of new restaurants — with Italian and foreign kitchens —popped up giving people endless opportunities to try new food, cuisine, etc.

F. LessBureaucracy: in Italy, bureaucracy is terribly inefficient but luckily in Milan — the Italian business capital — bureaucracy has a considerably reduced footprint and limited ability to ruin people’s life.

G. Geographical proximity to many other Italian and European cities: from Milan you can reach in 2h by car/train the beaches of Liguria or the mountains in Cervinia. In 2.5h hours you can be in Venice or Florence by train. In under 3h you can be on the slopes in Switzerland or to the beach in Cannes. In just a 1.5h flight you can be in Palermo or Catania. In under 2h by flight you can be in London, Paris, Berlin, Lisbon, Athens. In 6h you can be in New York. Everything is close, but you still live in Italy. Priceless.

H. Lively job market: Italian’s job market is pretty depressed everywhere except than in Milan. If you are looking for a job in Italy, Milan is the place to be. Salaries are also above average, compared to other Italian cities (but still below what you would get in Germany or the UK, taxes are also punitive).

I. Multicultural scene: Milan is also a foreign culture hub, thus making social interactions much more interesting.

Regardless of the above, there are a few downsides to also take into account:

  1. Cost of living: Milan is (together with Rome) the only Italian city where cost of living is getting on par with the Northern European’s cities.
  2. Real estate prices: Milan is (together with Rome) the only Italian city where real estate price did not collapse after the 2011 crash and are now inching closer to the prices of London, Paris & Frankfurt (new buildings in proximity to the city center start easily from 7.5k Euro/sqm).
  3. Milanese people: Milanese people are overly focused on their career and making money. A big slice of them are not interested in social interaction if there is not abusiness-related quid pro quo. If you cannot make friends in Milan just remember that it’s not you: it’s them. For this reason, if you do not have strong family ties or close friends already living there, Milan can oftentimes turn into a city of great solitude, even for young people.

Thanks for the A2A Joseph Sales

Are people in Milan nice?

I am from Venice and I have traveled quite a lot and I think Milanese people are a special breed of humans: they are amazing.

Milan is Italy’s business pivotal center so you will find a huge community of Italians coming from every region (North, Center and South): so much so that real 100% Milanese people are actually not that common!

It is difficult to generalize, but Milanese people tend to be:

a. Very focused on their job and career prospects.

b. They all want to make good money (i.e. better money compared to their peers, at least).

c. They “never” stay in Milan over the weekends as they always take the car and go either to the beaches in Liguria (during Summer-time) or to the Alps (during Winter-time). Milan (particularly the city center and during summertime) is beautiful over the weekends as it is basically empty, I’m not kidding.

d. Some of them are incredibly wealthy but their wealth is incredibly understated. Those with flashing cars and the usual expensive watch are usually either the football players or not that rich as it may appear.

e. They rarely socialize out of their usual group of friends: Milanese “friends” go to holiday together, find their partner exclusively among their group of friends, oftentimes work together or have businesses together, etc. If you are not from their group it is almost impossible to gain their trust and become one of them (this is a common trait of Northern Italian people, not just Milanese, but I think that with Milanese people this trait is particularly exacerbated). Exceptions apply in case you are particularly famous and/or rich: in that case they will come to you first.

f. They are extremely careful about their look: a Milanese woman would not even dare to go food shopping downstairs without being 100% perfect in her look. This also applies to Milanese men (within reason).

g. For unknown reasons, they are / pretend to be always in a rush to do something or go somewhere. It is true

h. Socially they rarely make the first step to make (or keep) contact: if you want a Milanese friend you need to work damn hard! They naturally do not seem interested (they have their own circles of friends dating back to at least their high-school years and they are totally happy with them).

i. Politically, they can veer from being extremely conservative to extremely liberal but, in general, politics are not their focus of interest.

l. They only buy German cars (no other option is even remotely taken into consideration). On a September Sunday night, the interminable line of Audis, Mercedes and BMWs coming back from Liguria is (metaphorical) illuminating of the Milanese lifestyle.

m. In Milan, they always commute with their scooter. While commuting, they stay on the phone (uninterruptedly) with someone at work or with their partner.

n. They like to travel to remote places during summer. Nevertheless, they think that Milan is special and whenever they are abroad they keep talking about how things are better in Milan, how they miss Milan, etc.

o. They can be occasionally very generous but also incredibly self-centered. Some of them can spend their weekends to help the poor or the homeless and some others can forget to come to your wedding because they are working too hard.

p. For reasons that I am not really able to grasp, they are very proud to never socialize with the neighbors and to never even know their names even after decades of living next to each other.

Why do some Italians complain about living in Italy? I.e. What makes life hard to live in Italy? I’ve heard many say that if they were young they’d leave the country.

Italy is a fantastic country to live in, as long as you do not need a job or to carry a business.

A. Bureaucracy & taxes

The Italian State genuinely hates entrepreneurs: it is basically impossible to do business in Italy. Those doing a business in Italy should be considered modern heroes, in my opinion. There is a constellation of bureaucratic hurdles, inefficient public officers, notaries, accountants, lawyers, whatever, that you are forced by the law to consult (and pay hefty fees to) even BEFORE you start a business. After you start it, there will be a multitude of completely irrational tax deadlines with draconian penalties (that change every year), bureaucratic checks, useless controls, etc. that actively make your business frankly impossible. Bureaucrats will do anything in order to take no responsibilities, live in medieval times, detached from reality, and they hate businessmen & risk-takers. This impacts all Italians as beaurcrats infiltrate more and more areas of the daily life and are largely unaccountable for their inefficiency, nepotism and, oftentimes, corruption.

B. Never in my garden attitude

Closed market sectors: this is the elephant hiding behind the curtains of the room.

In Italy, entire market sectors are purposely closed to competitors (i.e. newcomers) in order to maintain the good life of the incumbents.

No political party is willing to touch the incumbents’ privileges because any action against them would be politically very pricey. Pharmacists, Notaries, University Professors, Taxi Drivers, etc. are just a few examples of ferocious pressure groups that have been able to blackmail and eventually force the legislator for decades to prevent or outlaw any potential innovation in their relevant sectors so to close their markets to any potential competition.

Many excellent Pharmacy Graduates, Law Graduates, or would-be Taxi Drivers (these are just examples, there literally hundreds of “gardens” where competitions is legally obstructed in every possible way) are not able to enter the market and do their job they have studied hard for because there is a totally artificial limit legally set forth by the State to the lucky few “members” who are allowed to practice that profession.

The psychology of the Italians is that they only advocate for competition, free market, etc. as long as their small business niche is not touched and exempted. For Italians, the market niche where they already work always has already enough competition.

The European Union is trying relentlessly to enforce legislation allowing more competition in these lucrative market sectors, but the local politicians, pressure groups, and professional associations are fighting back in every possible legal (and, oftentimes, illegal) way in order to prevent this to happen.

As a result, Italy is currently only the 69th Country in the world for Economic Freedom: Economic Freedom of the World – Wikipedia

By how much are professional footballers/soccer players better than amateur players?

When I started working as a trainee lawyer in Milan many years ago, I frequently went to grab lunch in a coffee shop close to our firm.

One of the young baristas there was a very nice guy who happened to play in the AC Milan Primavera(the semi-pro youth team) and occasionally train with the AC Milan Serie-A pro team.

It was year 2002–3, so this guy met and trained with the legendary AC Milan line-up which eventually won the Champions League against FC Juventus in Manchester in May 2003 under Carletto Ancelotti’s helm.

For those who are not old enough to remember it, that was a stellar team, made of legendary players going by the names of Shevchenko, Maldini, Pirlo, Seedorf, Pippo Inzaghi etc., all of them in the prime-time of their careers.

That season, we bought the cheapest season-ticket to San Siro we could find (“Terzo Anello”, the top outer ring) and went many times together to watch Serie A and Champions League matches.

Through a common Romanian friend who was a waiter in the VIP zone, he was able to sneak us in the VIP zone at half-time and there he introduced me to Arrigo Sacchi, the legendary AC Milan former coach of the 80s, and even Kakha Kaladze and Massimo Ambrosini (who were both injured at a certain point of the season so they were watching the game from the VIP zone) and I often asked him how was like to play against the Pros.

He explained me the following:

  1. Pro players are not magicians making incredible tricks with the ball on the pitch: zero. Quite the opposite, their game is pretty straightforward to the point: get the ball, pass or shoot it. Little to no “tricks”.
  2. Pro players are physically extremely fast: they get to the ball incredibly quickly and much faster than semi-pro players. Compared to semi-pro, they play another game: they run amazingly fast with / without the ball. They also execute much faster. They take the ball, move, pass / shoot much quicker than semi-pro players, thus leaving a much shorter response-time for defenders to take appropriate countermeasures.
  3. Pro players are mentally extremely fast: they know where the ball will be (and can run there faster). Before they will receive the ball, they already know how to move, they know who will be in a certain position to receive their pass, they know what a certain player will do, where he will shoot, etc. Mentally their brain is hardwired to be “already there”.
  4. Pro players are extremely focused on the task assigned to them by the coach and use their superior performance for the benefit of the team.

The guy finally added that when the youth semi-pro team was playing against the Serie-A formation, the pros were so quick in their movements, actions, passes, etc. that the semi-pros basically did not see the ball.

I hope this helps!

What do you like most about living in Italy?

I am Italian and have been an expat since 2010. After living in London for 2.5 years, I currently live in Hong Kong but I regularly come back to Italy for (long-ish) holidays and to see the parts of my extended family still living there.

What I like the most about living in Italy is the following:

A. I know the people: people in Hong Kong change country every few months or after a few years at most. If you make a good friend here in Hong Kong, be sure that next year most likely he/she will relocate elsewhere. I remember that after 3 years in Hong Kong I basically lost all my friends here, one by one, because they had relocated elsewhere. Cost of living is simply long-term unsustainable if you are not local and/or benefit from a first mover advantage (ie. those that moved here 20 years ago). In Italy this would be impossible: in Venice or in Milan I have the same friends living there since the past 20 years (!) and none of them would even dream about relocating abroad. They have kids, a house, a solid job: their life is positively set in Italy for good;

B. Everything is close: in Italy wherever you want to go, it is pretty close. If you live in Milan (north of Italy), in just 2 hours by car or train you can be at sea in Liguria, in the mountains of Cervinia, or in Venice or in Florence. In 4 hours you can be in Rome by hi-speed train! No need to take expensive airplane tickets and go through the airport security hassle.

C. Cost of living: things cost much less in Italy than in London or Hong Kong. I am aware that the prices are steadily increasing also in Italy but everyday stuff (as well as real estate) is still much cheaper there than in Northern Europe.

D. Warmth of people: generally, people are kind and warm, in most of your daily interactions. Here in Hong Kong you never hear unknown people wishing you a simple “Good morning” in the elevator. Ditto for London. It is not that they are bad, it is just a cultural thing I suppose, but these small things make a lot of difference in your daily life (at least for me).

E. Naples: Italy has Naples and no other Country in the world can say the same. Naples is an extraordinary city and, in this world of skyscrapers made of cold steel and concrete, they don’t make cities like Naples anymore, so much so that I consider it in a league of its own compared even to other Italian cities (and I am from Venice, itself not a bad city!) or World Capitals. Naples may be too chaotic for some, but the mix of fantastic art, exceptional food, colorful history and the passion of its people, make it completely worth it (their coffee is also on another level).

F. Food: wherever you go in Italy, you can be more or less sure that you will be served top quality food. Variety is also outstanding. Every 50 km there is a different recipe to discover, local food, a particular way to cook, some special delicacies. This is priceless and unheard elsewhere.

G. Culture: virtually every city in Italy (no matter how big or small) is full of cultural attractions like museums, churches full masterpieces, monuments, beautiful buildings, medieval walls, ancient ruins (sometimes dating back to more than 2000 years ago), etc. Nothing even comparable (in terms of density, naturally) is available for example in Asia. In my opinion, access to cultural attractions readily available completely changes the quality of your life.

Are there many Italians in the French Foreign Legion, and how does the Italian government view these people?

I only indirectly know of an Italian guy who was involved in the 80s in a football-related riot between two different supporters factions, where one young man ended up being killed by a knife wound.

He was indicted together with half a dozen of other supporters who joined that fatal fight: once the investigation started, it was a clear that one or more of them would have given an exemplary sentence and eventually would have served a very long sentence for homicide.

In order to avoid lengthy and expensive criminal proceedings and eventually going to jail for a very long time, he promptly bid farewell to all his friends and family and went to Marseilles by night train to enroll in the Foreign Legion (apparently this was advised/recommended to him by someone in the Police itself, at the time).

He spent there approximately a decade, being also involved in missions in Central America and Africa, and for that time nobody heard of him, not even his aging mother (I do not recall if he ever telephoned home).

After his time in the Legion, thanks to the new identity granted by his newly issued French passport, he settled somewhere in Southern France and returned to Italy at first only for brief periods (in order to meet his mother), and subsequently for longer extensions of time.

He had become extremely quiet and soft-spoken and never mentioned anything particular about his time in the Legion, except for the occasional non-descriptive bits with his closest relatives.

As far as I know, the “previous” person, with the relevant identity, citizenship and ID documents, just became untraceable under Italian law (like when someone disappears without leaving trace, a will or a suicide note).

The last time I heard of him — many, many years ago — he had moved permanently back to Italy and had joined an agency for the personal security of Italian VIPs.

What was the most promiscuous person you have ever met like?

I know two guys who are total legends in the “promiscuity” field.

They are both attorneys in Milan, one in his 30s and the other recently turned 50. They are both certainly not workaholics and career is not their first priority in life (something else is, see below).

Both are fantastically skilled in street-pick-up.

You may have already heard before that there are many people who have this skill, but when you actually see with your eyes one of them “at work” it is pretty mindblowing (especially for an adult man) how they can just start talking with any girl they choose and after a drink and 30 minutes of chatting and laugh, they can head back to her place for sex. With all due respect, they are basically the Roger Federerof the Promiscuity Championship.

From what I could see with my own eyes, even if they don’t know each other, they are both very similar:

A.Look: the first thing to clarify is the following: both are completely average-looking guys. Not particularly handsome, not particularly kind, no fancy car, not particularly funny, smart or romantic, no fancy clothes or watch, they don’t go to gym, nothing, zero of this stuff. Completely average guys.

B. Practice: they practice the Art every day. They train everywhere and every time: at breakfast at the bar, during the lunch-break, during the aperitivo at the evening, even after dinner. They never rest and are always on Alert-Mode. They never know when the next chance will be, so they need to always be ready. For them, taking the next girl to bed is a matter of continuously perfecting the Artand maintaing the momentum: there are no rest-days in their calendar.

C. Experience: they both told me that they started very earlyin life, at 14–15. When their peers were focused on playing football or basket, they wanted to take as many girls as possible to bed: now that they are well into their 30–50, even if they have very taxing jobs and responsibilities, this is a habit deeply ingrained in their life routine. There are weeks were they are able to take 7 different women to bed (1 for every day, Monday to Sunday). Once they see a girl that ticks all the boxes (more on this later), they have almost like a Pavlovian Reflex and start the “Ritual” below.

D.“The Eye”: preliminarily, it must be said that they both developed a set of skills that normal people do not really care much of, which grouped all together I called “the Eye”. TheirEye is simply on another level of analytical firepower: in a blink, they notice impossibly tiny details, body language, eye contact, smile and face expression and if all the boxes are mentally ticked, they approach the girl without a second thought. After years of experience they already know when ‘that’ specific girl will be seduced in a very short time.

E. First Contact: once the Eye has found a target, they approach the girl: they keep their hands in their front pockets, make a step and say “how are you?” or “where are you from?(one of their preferred targets in Italy are “the foreigner Tourist girls”), keeping their chin up and not losing eye-contact.

F.The Ritual: once they start talking, they have a set of questions and sentences (completely vanilla and generic) to keep the conversation going, no matter what. There is no pause, the girl is always “special”, “fantastic”,they often say “oh, I know what you mean”, etc. The conversation goes on until out of the blue he asks her to have a drink somewhere. If the girl does not decline, the ritual goes on for some more time and eventually once the girl is completely in their ‘reality distortion field’ the two first kiss right there and shortly after that first kiss they agree to have sex at her place.

F. Zero social media:quite curiously, both have no social media precence, they do not have Whatsapp, have no Instagram. They both do not use Tinder or any dating appsof sort. Their promiscuity is completely “analogic”, like the social media revolution never happened. They perfected the Art and pick up any girl wherever they are: it can be at the supermarket, at the gas station, at a party, in a book fair, art exhibition, wherever. As far as I am aware they seduce hundreds of women every year. I asked them why they don’t use any apps or social media and the answer has always been: “too time consuming” and “not worth the effort”.

G. No attachment: I asked them repeatedly and they both confirmed that they never get attached to the girl of the moment, no matter how amazing she is. Whenever they seduce a new girl, for them is just another day at the office. There is no emotional attachment whatsoever, which really surprised me. After they go to her place and do what they need to do, they go back home or to the office and go on with their life. No exchange of phone numbers, no “I want to see you one more time”, nothing.

H.They never went into trouble:just to be totally clear, all women were consensual adults that simply were fascinated by them and accepted the idea of having an ‘adventure’.

I. What’s the point? (Since many asked in the comments, I added this) I asked them the same and they both say that: 1) they just love sex very much (they cannot stand the idea of being monogamous) and 2) they love to test themselves and see if they are able to take one more girl to bed. It’s more or less something like an addiction.

Back when Italy was not unified, was there an Italian national identity?

Far from it.

The Reign of Italy was born only in 1861.

Before that, for centuries, the Italian peninsula was divided as follows:

A. In the north: a constellation of Duchies (Milan, Mantua, Ferrara, etc.), Reigns (the Savoy), Republics (the Serenissima), Municipalities (hundreds) with completely autonomous jurisdictions, languages, traditions, and oftentimes fighting against each other extremely bloody wars lasting for decades at a time.

B. In the center: the Vatican.

C. In the South: the Kingdom of the two Sicilies.

Once the Savoy unified the Italian peninsula under their helm, one of the Founding Fathers, Massimo D’Azeglio, has been quoted saying: “Now that we made Italy, we need to make the Italians”.

To build a true Italian national identity proved particularly difficult: Venetians had the Serenissima Republic since the Huns invaded the Peninsula one thousand years earlier. In the South there were non-sporadic invasions by the Spanish, Normans and even Arabs, influencing culture, language and also food and it was still vivid even the old Greek culture heritage.

In order to find an example of a truly unified Italian cultural identity, we need in fact to go back to the Roman Empire.

Mussolini swiftly picked up on this idea at the beginning of the XX century with the whole Fascism cultural package and, unfortunately, we all know by now that it was not the most smart or fortunate attempt to re-establish a national identity.

After the disastrous WWII, Italy slowly tried to rebuild its national identity and in my opinion this is still an ongoing exercise which is far from having reached completion.

What are the must-dos in Capri, Italy?

I love Capri and these are the unmissable things to do once there:

  1. Visit the Villa Jovis and Tiberius’s Jump (free)
  2. Go to Lido delle Sirene (free option available)
  3. Stay at La Fontelina next to the Faraglioni (entrance fee)
  4. Take a boat and visit the Blue Grotto
  5. Take a boat tour around the island
  6. Visit Anacapri (free) and Lido del Faro (free option available)
  7. Dancing at Anema e Core (entrance fee)
  8. Have a drink at the legendary Piazzetta
  9. Visit the Giardini Augusto (small entrance fee)

Why has Italy fallen so low?

TL;DR

A.The political class has been used to gain consensus through huge, erratic and irrational public spending and by giving out privileges to certain classes of citizens at the expense of the whole nation.
B.As a consequence, in the last 30 years the national debt ballooned (currently well above 120% of GDP and still growing) but still the older generations (at all levels and social classes) have a strong sentiment of entitlement and do not want to give up their absurd privileges: the Italians mentality remains strongly bureaucratic and prone to corruption, tax avoidance, shortcuts & privileges. At the same time, Italians only advocate for competition, free markets and innovation as long as their privileges are not touched.
C.The younger generations are the least protected/most damaged and are thus flying out of the Country in droves (0.5m people last year alone) looking for jobs abroad, and causing a huge brain drain at home.


The long answer

1. The Early Years: from the Economic Miracle to the Terrorism

Italy has fallen so low for a series of reasons dating back to the 60s, 70s and 80s.
After WWII Italy was a country in ruin.
Unexpectedly it was able to achieve a great comeback in the 50s and 60s (the so called “miracolo economico“).
In the late 60s the “civil rights” revolution started and in the 70s the decade of red/black terrorism opened, basically dead-locking the Country for a decade (politicians, judges & journalists were kidnapped, shot and often killed, bombs exploded killing hundreds of civilians in order to cause a permanent status of terror, Sicilian-Neapolitan-Calabrian Mafia-style organisations started to infiltrate the political apparatus at all levels).

2. The “Pax Italica“: buying peace through public spending

The political class was unable to deal with the changing times and totally lacked a modern vision to guide its people forward (especially in the south, where economy was/is impressively lagging behind) in any way other than “buying” consensus like:

a.widespread generous pension-welfare concessions especially for public sector employees (for many years, they could go to pension with just14 years of work, so called “baby pensioners”);

b.thousands of jobs were created in the public sector every year out of thin air for no purpose other than just to “manufacture” consensus across the country, particularly close to the Municipal/Parliamentary elections (e.g. (i)18 thousands “cleaners” were hired by the School System in just 1 year, allegedly “by mistake” – (ii)to date, the Municipality of Naples still has approximately 20k employees, many of them are not even required to show up for work and go working at a second “undeclared” job elsewhere);

c.gigantic expenses for improbable and never-ending infrastructures – e.g. the Salerno-Reggio Calabria highway: to date, still unfinished after more than 40 years of uninterrupted works.

d. tax evasion of entrepreneurs, professionals, small business owners was tolerated (and oftentimes promoted) for decades.

e. corruption among the public officers was/is widespread, blandly punished and socially accepted as a way to obtain public procurement contracts, shortcuts from bureaucracy and achieve privileges at the expense of the rest of us (60bn € of cost for the community in 2013 alone).

f.thousands of companies (so called: “enti inutili” – “useless entities”) were created by the State/Region/Municipalities with no employees whatsoever, but with a board of directors appointed for the sole purpose of giving a well-paid office job to friends & families of politicians.

It was commonly accepted by the political class that in order for the economy to keep going they had to get into more debt and everybody would be happy.

3. Who pays? In the 80s the national debt started increasing 20% yoy

The situation started to become critical from the beginning of the 80s when the national debt kept increasing 20% yoy. The country was obviously poised for a disaster and the whole political system dominated by the Democrazia Cristiana, the Socialists and the Communist Party (with the exception of a few lonely politicians regarded as “crazy” at the time) turned the blind eye and kept foraging this kind of expenses to obtain the consensus of a large slice of the population (especially in the South of Italy where unemployment, mafia, organized crime, lack of entrepreneurs & infrastructures made the situation particularly difficult for the vast majority of honest people living there).

In the 80s Italy was a perpetual lavish party: politicians at all levels (from secretaries to MP and Ministries) were all having the best time of their life. Italy was now the 7th world power: a complete house of cards made only of public debt.

Basically all Italians were supporting this system where everybody was stealing something at the expense of someone else (or the future generations).

Corruption of public officers was rampant and unashamed: even low level politicians or Municipal councillors were unashamed of their exorbitant Hollywood-style life.

4. The wiping out of the old political class: Berlusconi enters the scene

The situation collapsed in 1992 when Italy was on the brink of bankruptcy and the Government was forced to devalue the Italian lira by 15% in one night just to pay the salaries in the public sector.

At that (dramatic) stage the political class instead of waking up, tell the truth to the taxpayers and do something, decided to bury its “collective” head under the sand, until a widespread investigation by the Magistrates of Milan exposed a rotten system of corruption at all levels (North/Center/South) in the political systems (with a huge scandal and disenchantment which lasts until today).

Then Berlusconi all of a sudden came to power in 1994 luring the middle class by promising a (well overdue) libertarian reform of our aging Country: lower taxes, more jobs, leaner bureaucracy, reduction of the State’s footprint on the market, more freedom in the economy, etc.

Obviously, no reform whatsoever was passed in more than 20 years of Berlusconi reign, but quite the opposite: all classes who had gained any privileges in the past 50 years (the most glaring examples being pharmacists, magistrates, notaries, lawyers, taxi drivers, doctors, untouchable public sector employees, journalists, Alitalia pilots, etc. – the list could be endless) lobbied very hard (and successfully) to strengthen their privileges against any possible reform of the Country: the Parliament confirmed again and again its complete inability to do what was the “right thing to do” regardless of the loud crying of each lobby unwilling to give up its privileges.

For almost 20 years the left/right political debate was focused exclusively on Berlusconi (and his unashamed attempts to pass countless “personal laws” to solve his own problems and to favour his companies and his acolytes) instead than reforming the Country.

To exacerbate the problem, the Vatican (still with a strong voting influence on the older generations) unashamedly sided with Berlusconi in exchange for the introduction of a body of medieval-style legislation allowing them to extend their influence on the population, increase their already massive fortunes and deny any liberal civil rights to the common people (e.g. prohibiting IVF, limiting abortion in public hospital because of “conscience” of doctors, limiting the availability of the latest anti-conceptional pills in pharmacies, thousands of “catholic religion” teachers (i.e. priests) hired by the public school system, real-estate tax exemption on the Vatican-owned properties used for commercial purposes (20% of real estate in Italy is owned by the Vatican), prohibition of same-sex marriages, lengthy and expensive procedures to obtain a divorce, etc.).

Now Berlusconi is almost 80 years old, he is not Prime Minister anymore and the Country has been in continuous recession for almost 10 years in a row.

Still, nothing has changed insofar as the political class (Left/Center/Right) still lacks both the vision and the guts to tell its people (the voters) that a large slice of the population has been living way above their means for decades and it is time to completely overhaul the core rules and mentality deeply rooted within our Country and waive the now unsustainable bureaucratic attitude & byzantine privileges which have been dragging us all so low.

Our current politicians prefer to blame the immigrants, the ISIS, Mrs. Merkel, the globalization or China for all the problems that Italy is facing.

5. Mr. Monti delusion

Most probably, if we look back at the past 5-10 years, Italy had the biggest chance to get some reforms being passed when Mr Monti was appointed as Prime Minister during the 2011 Euro Crisis and the Parliament was ready to pass anything in order to save face, as long as he took the blame in front of the people: very importantly, Mr Monti came to that seat after a strong academic career spent advocating for decades the liberalization of the economy both in Italy and in Europe, the reduction of privileges, etc. — also, he enjoyed the support of the vast majority of the over-taxed, over-working middle class (an ultra rare commodity in Italy).

Mr Monti was (or, better, appeared to be) the right man, in the right place, at the right time.

Nevertheless… rarely a man failed so much the hopes of his countrymen as Mr Monti did. He and his Ministries (some of them even more appalling than him, like Mrs Fornero) proved themselves completely detached from reality (typical academics living in a cloud, not knowing that devil is in the details), unaware of what the real issues were, and unable to achieve anything whatsoever except raising the taxes (he did not liberalize anything, failed to attack either the bureaucracy or the privileges of the many lobbies mentioned above, made a huge mess with an amateurish reform of the labour market, screwed the pension system, etc.).

6. What remains: an aging Country in ruins

We are now in 2015 and the youth unemployment is above 43%.
Almost half a million of (young, extremely well educated, specialized) Italians leave the Country every year to look for a job abroad.
Italy’s debt is above 136% of its GDP and still increasing.
The judiciary system is rotten to the core (according to OCSE, Italy ranks between Congo and Rwanda for the efficiency of its judicial system).

Most importantly, as many commentators in Italy and abroad have said, we are now witnessing a deepening breach of the social contract between younger and older generations: the younger Italians have no rights, no jobs, high taxes and no welfare. Older Italians have good pensions, free services, untouchable jobs, plenty of rights & welfare and feel entitled not to give up anything in favor of the younger generations.