What circle are you?

     One of the reasons why I started writing a blog, was the idea of sharing a point of view, of reaching others and providing them with a glimpse in a world that they otherwise would never hear about with the hopes of triggering a feeling, an emotion, something.  Whether or not that feeling, that emotion, that something was positive or negative, it would solely depend on the connection to the life moment at the time of experience.

Living in Italy has always been a bucket list dream for many, the idea of living in a country so rich in history, culture and wonderful, breathtaking views like Rome’s Vatican Basilica, or Siena’s Piazza del Campo and Florence with its Santa Maria Novella in Tuscany,  it isn’t something you can easily pass on.  Not only Italy is a country which holds about 60% of the world’s cultural heritage, but it is also where Dante took Virgil on his journey to hell and surely not a coincidence to it being the first part of his epic poem.

So many circles to fill, a reflection of Italian political life then and now.  Since the 14th century not much has changed in this country it’s all still who you know that can make or break your future.  What would politics be anywhere in the world, especially here in Italy, without the dine and wine?  Some of the best wines of the world are produced here, does the Brunello di Montalcino ring a bell?  How about Italian cuisine? Who has never had Italian food?  So if we think of Dante’s Inferno, we could very well start off from the gluttons and the third circle, where else in the world can you taste foods, drink wines, or just simply indulge in the so many different regional pastries, from the Sicilian cannoli and cassata, to the Neapolitan sfogliatella?

Pleasures that no other place in the world can provide, because none are like “il bel paese.”

I plead guilty to gluttony, it is one of my seven deadly sins for sure and Dante would surely place me in the third circle, but on the other hand it’s kind of hard not to fall in it, once you set foot on the boot.  I hear many leave Italy and say “it was worth every bite.”

Italy though, isn’t just a land of gluttons, but also of corrupters placing it at the 69th place on the transparency international corruption index of 2011 with a score of 3.9 (on a scale from 1 to 10, 1 being the most corrupt to 10 being the most non corrupt country in the world, or in other words New Zealand).  Countries like Montenegro, Brazil, Ghana, Samoa, Romania and Tunisia, keep us company while Dante would probably say that Italy’s sins are not only limited to the third circle.  Actually, if you take just a quick glance at Italian politics past and present, you may find that many of its political caste, have fallen, risen and fallen again, sometimes deep in the circles of hell.  Thus, if we had the opportunity to journey with Virgil and Dante we could start anywhere from the second circle, lust is definitely a good starting point don’t you think? Mr. Berlusconi might be a great example with his bunga bunga parties; to the fourth with greed or to the eighth with fraud and last but not least, or as the Romans would say “dulcis in fundo” to the ninth circle with treachery (with one name that comes to mind at the moment, but his in good company with many others of the same world, for a spot in all of these circles, Mr. Franco Fiorito the regional leader of Berlusconi’s PDL party).

Sometimes I wonder if this country will ever learn from its mistakes, then I take a look back at the past and I see that nothing has changed since I set foot on its soil over 20 years ago, actually I would say it has worsened, maybe a consequence of the great global economic crisis, but can misappropriation of public funds be an excuse? Not.  The people, are the ones paying for all of this and maybe it is time to ask ourselves for how long are we going to allow these so-called politicians to live at our expense, like parasites.

With the high cost of gas these days, we’re at almost 10$ a gallon, gas is a great commodity to obtain for free and the PDL (Berlusconi’s political party) members of the Lazio regional Parliament spent plenty. They also used public funds to shop at supermarkets, to eat at restaurants, stays at various hotels, ending with iPhones, presents and even flowers.

To think that Mr. Fiorito stated that he earns 30,000€ ($38,981) a month, about 300,000€ (389,812$) a year. He stated that he felt shame for he earned more than the Italian President Mr. Napolitano and the Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti put together.  With that salary he has bought all and everything, from apartments to villas, to motorbikes, cars from BMW to Smart (way to small for him), living the life at the expense of the people who put him there to do good.  Good he did, to himself and his “circles” providing for a Hollywood star lifestyle.  It is incredible to think that a regional leader of a political party earns more than the Italian President and the Prime Minister together and what is even more incredible that in Italy it is possible.  Does that make any sense to you? He almost earns as much as President Obama, with the exception that Mr. President is the head of the most powerful country in the world and not of a regional section of a political party.  So, not only is it possible, but it is quite common for something like this to happen all over Italy.

Let’s just go a few months back to Mr. Luigi Lusi, treasurer of another Italian political party called “La Margherita” the daisy, while no one was watching (yeah, ok) he stole over 25 million euro from his own party, one man alone, is that even possible?  How about Mr. Formigoni President of the Lombardy Region, probably the richest of the Italian regions, accepting vacations pay-offs all over the world and more, in exchange for favors to prominent Italian businessman Mr. Dacò within the distribution of many contracts in the region.

When you turn on the news, it is a never-ending list of who stole what, or how they managed to receive a house in front of the Colosseum without their knowledge (yes you read that correctly, this is the land of fools didn’t you know, ask Mr. Scajola one of Berlusconi’s ministers), or yet how to take public funds without anyone watching and buying themselves resorts in the most in places of the world, or cars, or giving toga parties at the Foro Italico in Rome for a cost of 20,000 euro.

A 20,000 euro public funds party

It is just a decadent world the one we live in and Italy is one of the greatest examples of it with its people always ready to fit the bill without a peep out of their mouth.  It just astounds me how Italians see day in and day out, their elected officials do what they do and not react. Also, what I find even more insulting is watching TV and hearing the same faces, people who have been in Parliament for 30, 40, 50 years and still holding tight to their seat, saying that Italy can survive, that it can make it ou, that if elected for the 5th millionth time they will end corruption, they will bring Italy back to the high standards it once had.  I must be stupid, or I must live in a parallel dimension, because if in over 20 years things haven’t improved and the same people are being elected day in day out, it means that something is wrong, doesn’t it?

2013 means national elections for Italians once again, yes, because it just seems that voting is a national pass time here, with April 2013 being the time in which Italy will show whether or not it has learned anything all from all of these scandals. I really believe nothing will come out of it, how can it? Berlusconi who is almost 80 years old wants to be Prime Minister again; Mrs. Polverini President of the Lazio Region, Mr. Fiorito’s boss, in a last-minute agency, has decided not to resign and is still strong on her throne.  Now, I am not an expert, but a voter.  I will not vote a person who doesn’t resign when a scandal of millions of euro pops up in their administration and denies any knowledge and continues on as if nothing happened.  It just isn’t my world and that of my children.

Mrs. Polverini down in center, in a Kodak moment.

If one doesn’t live up to societies’ moral standards and doesn’t see fit to resign in moments such as these, it doesn’t matter what comes out of their mouth, you are as they are, after all they work for you. Ah, the “dolce vita” where is it?

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2 responses to “What circle are you?

  1. It is very sad to read the above, and even sadder because it is true. Italy is a stunning country with huge potential and young people who want to be able to earn a proper wage and live in their own country. Unfortunately the youth of Italy see the best way to secure their future is to emigrate to the UK, USA etc.

    In todays climate if Italy wants to succeed it is going to have to modernise and deal with the internal corruption, Mafia and heavy bureaucracy.

    • Sooner rather than later would be advisable, but my friend I doubt it will happen, unless people wake up from this come they’ve been in for decades. It sad to see it, but I really do not see any change, just acceptance on the part of the people, which I find the saddest! Is there hope? At this point I do not really know. My generation here has been really *****, with no hopes of any kind of stability, never mind the young ones, just take a look at how Italy invests in its school system and you’ll know how much the young are important for this country.

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