Sunday, January 13

2012 Italy Year in Review

I love all those year end summaries you find across every category and across every type of media.  But, I'm too busy reading those, I confess I did not type up my own list.  Say what you will about next in line to be 'The Sick Man of Europe' (you might call it Greece's younger sister, la Bell'Italia), 2012 was the year that Italians woke out of their apathetic stupor and started taking on the problems that confront the country, while never giving up on what they do best: Arts - Culture - Events - Hospitality.  So, here it is, a short list of great things about Italy:

Colombus points the way toward a New World
- via Queen Isabella's court -
Great Art Discoveries/ One of the most charming towns (or Borghi) in Italy, Citerna got their Madonna back--a stunning work by Donatello, that had gone in for restoration. That's just one excuse to pay a visit to this wonderful Umbrian town (as if you really needed one).
While in Rome, the Carabinieri frequenting the market stalls of Porta Portese managed to return to an Art History professor 200+ works of inestimable value that were being pawned on the banks of the Tiber. figure out how a simple professor amassed such a vast collection...
Then, news came from Palermo that a dozen works from the most valuable heist in the last 10 yrs were found in an abandoned farmhouse in Sicily. They had been pilfered from the church of San Nicola of Trapani.
In Madrid, the Prado showcased a 'new' Titian painting, that resurfaced after art historians decided they wanted a claim to fame it was his.
And finally, the Colosseum finally got the approval for a facelift after consumer's groups looked a major gift horse - donation by successful owner of Tod's - in the mouth -- although we lost the fun decidedly un-battle worthy Centurions in the battle in the taste wars.
I spent much of this year making my own discoveries, visiting new places far and wide, from the Tagliacozzo area in the Abruzzo to 'the city that's dying' in Tuscia, Bagnoregio, to the natural reserve high atop Arezzo, to a half dozen new Tuscan towns (well, new for me), serving up age-old delights.
Women in Italy find their voice / Post-Berlusconi, Italian women have finally decided to take matters into their own hands. They're sick of being mistreated by the media, by the politicians, by the church and by companies.  While Italy's (nearly all-male-run) enterprises still haven't woken up to smell the espresso--that women actually make household purchase decisions (and that includes autos) and still show us plenty of T&A in order to sell oh, say, most everything.  Rome's city govt decided to pass a law that ads that denigrate women would be censored.  As far as I can tell, it's been pretty well-enforced (unlike most laws - the streets of Rome are paid with good intentions).
In the Rome City Govt, women won the -stay with me here-Enforcement of the law already in place that would guarantee equal parts male/female representation.  The Mayor has done his best at playing 'dodge-'em' for three years, refusing to enlist women on his cabinet, citing the Romney line of defense: He's reviewed 'File folders filled with women' but no one willing or able to join his government. Italy's Prime Minister Monti happened to find more than a few tokens for positions in his cabinet, and a woman now heads up RAI Television.  Incredibly, Italians couldn't believe to see that their resumès are larger than their bust sizes.
Then, most recently, after woman after woman (1 every 3 days) is killed at the hands of a loved one or ex, even the EU joined the fray and reprimanded Italy to start figuring out a way to handle this pox on civil society. Which led the Church to chime in, with a Genovese pastor (you know, that city that loves to gush over native son Chris Colombus who discovered America with the help of noneother than the most influential woman of all time, Spanish Queen Isabella) and others stating that women are killed by 'domestic violence' because they dress too provocatively.  Women have come out to protest in the thousands.
And finally, an Italian researcher was lauded for heading up the CERN Particle Accelerator breakthrough - except she's a perfect example of Italy's advancing 'Brain Drain' in which the brilliant minds of Italy are turning their attentions where they can get ahead - and get paid.

The best thing in my year was
finding Arcibaldo
More in Culture / Eataly came to Rome, sprucing up the abandoned Stazione Ostiense and bringing new life to a so-so area, that hadn't seen much action since bombs fell on it in WWII.  With it, came the launch of my new heartthrob, ItaloTreno and their lawsuit win to open up the fence so people could board the train without having to run the Seal Team 6 gamut of escalators and stairs - all of which are out of service to passengers-and have been 'work in progress' for years now.  Let's just say, it took a shorter amount of time to lay the track throughout the Peninsula than to fix the escalator.  
In my world, instead, I launched my book (!) with book readings at Rome's Hotel 47, a monologue show at the Teatro Arciliuto, and invites to even our Camp Darby army base near Pisa - and now, tweeting! (@IrreverentItaly)   Rome's luxe hostel, The Beehive, launched new initiatives from a vegan dining experience, to film nights on planetary issues of our day, to wonderful films offering a great 'how-to Italy' featuring their kids.  They also hosted an Expat Writer Book fair, showcasing authors & publishers and their works around the Boot.  While this winter, we were overjoyed at the annual opening of the ice rink at Castel Sant'Angelo, in summer we loved the summer nights at the castle, with the long walk along the passetto, the wall connecting the Vatican and the Castle.
Italy gained a new holiday, after the extraordinary 1 yr celebration of a united Italy (150 years ago).  Each 17th of March (move over Saint Patrick, we're into Garibaldi nowadays) we'll pay our tribute to what the Lega Party (Northern League) is trying to dismantle, with wild claims of 'corruption in Rome' while their own party heads are caught with the hands in the till time and again.
Retake Rome gained more momentum as schools and citizens take on the travesty of graffiti that is ruining the 'most beautiful city on Earth'. And speaking of retaking Rome, Berlusconi finally got sentenced in one way or another, so is busy running for high office in another attempt to keep him out of jail (his 4 yr sentence in fact already being reduced to 1 yr for no apparent reason). Italy's cowardly parliament decided that jailbirds couldn't serve in government -- unless of course, they 'only' served a couple of years.
I finally got to put a human face and warm hand on my book illustrator and incomparable political satirical cartoonist extraordinaireGianni Falcone when we met on U.S. Election Night in Rome.  And, ACRoma, not only imported U.S. soccer player Bradley, they started touring the U.S. to play 'friendly' matches and draw the American crowds, to great success.  Not only did they tour, so did Jovanotti, Italian rapper - who liked it so much, he's moved to New York.  Another Italian talent lost but another American gain.
You can see more of the week in / week out amazing things to see and do in Rome and that fill my world in my column Dove Sono? (in the right hand side of the official blog page).

*check out the dozens of live links throughout this post!


Judith in Umbria said...

Holy Toledo, Citerna isn't in Tuscany, it's Umbria! And it is adorable and a worthy place to pass a little time and eat a meal, since it has 2 good restaurants. Monterchi, Citerna's eternal foe, is in Tuscany and has no good place to eat.

Anonymous said...

Great post. Thanks for making me aware of these worthy initiatives! I was beginning to despair of the status of women here.

Irreverent Italy said...

Wow-Judith!!! No wonder I liked it so much. I LOVE ALL THINGS UMBRIAN!!
We were right on the cusp, going in/out of Tuscany - Arezzo - Umbria - Valdarno and I must say, I was so dazed by the food & wine...and 40 degree heat....

will correct the post.

jacques said...

Just a comment on your "Dove Sono": you do realize that even if there weren't baggies all over the place for free, Lausanne would still have excrement free sidewalks? And to the contrary, if you filled Milanese or Roman street corners with baggies of any sort, they would disappear within minutes (probably to be used to line the bathroom bin, if not to be used to distribute pills in the discos) and the sidewalks would remain an obstacle course just the same?

Irreverent Italy said...

Thanks for the laugh, Jacques -- I think it's also the case with toilet paper & soap provisions in bathrooms..but as my Italian bf pointed out...Lausanne *is* the size of Ostia.