Is skiing a rich person’s sport?

Last December I met in Zermatt (by many regarded as one of the best ski resorts on the planet) a 19 years old boy from Tel Aviv.

He was very well educated and friendly and we started chatting on the lift: after a bit he explained that he was admittedly money-less as he was studying Mathematics at University and was getting ready to serve in the Military in the coming year.

He added that he loved skiing and normally he was able to ski only in Bulgaria as that country had the cheapest ski resorts reachable from Israel.

I looked at him a bit surprised, given that we were chatting in one of the most expensive ski resorts in Switzerland.

He then explained that this December he planned in advance and with a friend he was able to book a Ryanair ticket from Tel Aviv to Bergamo (close to Milan) for 10 Euro only.

Once in Bergamo, he booked a seat on a very cheap bus to Aosta for just a couple of Euros. In Aosta (north west of Italy), he booked a cheap hostel there and on a daily basis moved to Cervinia by bus where he was able to ski for less than 50 Euro a day.

In low season (before Christmas) you can make the most of your ski days as the slopes in Europe are basically empty.

From Cervinia (Italy) you can ski and cross the border with Switzerland (crossing the Matterhorn Glacier, right in front of the majestic Matterhorn) and reach even Zermatt, if you want to do so.

This is just an example that even if skiing requires dedicated equipment, travelling, ski-passes, etc., if you are passionate for this sport, with a bit of planning you can do it also on a budget.

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)