PINO CORRIAS OBSERVES THE YOUNG ITALIANS WHO LEAVE THE COUNTRY AND HOPE THEY’LL COME BACK TO TEACH US SOMETHING.
Every times I see these Italian kids— all jumpers and smiles, being interviewed in some London pub, with the air of adults on a school-trip, come to climb the world, to study in order to dream, to rough it, living off a few pounds a day and maybe fall in love one night, with nothing to fear, neither labour nor love—I feel a little better.
I like their eyes, widening around the world in search of their destiny. I like their stories, made of miles and meetings, nostalgia that comes and goes. Some of these stories I already know. Like that of Benedetta, the daughter of one of my best friends, lost in Milan’s eternal rainy Monday, full of students parked with nothing to do. One day, at the age of twenty, she threw that boredom off. She flew to a single room in East London, to study cutting and sewing, serving beers in the evenings in order to survive, drawing colourful dresses every other minute. By the end of the year she ended up working for the mad, wonderful Vivienne Westwood, who fell in love with her adult youth.
“…one day, at the age of twenty, she threw that boredom off.”
Or Andrea, son of other friends, stifled under the fog of Italian provincialism, seemingly destined for the eternal waiting list that is all that remains of our universities, who also flew away. One-way ticket, of course. Today he lectures at the Institute for Italian Literature. Not through nepotism, or as a favour, but simply because he’s good at what he does. The health of a country depends on the temperature of its youth. On the speed with which they want to exchange the life that is already changing them. On the courage to invent a new, different road. Better if at a safe distance from parents who, perhaps out of love, or existential emptiness, or faith in protection, would like to govern those choices, maybe chewing them a bit so that their darlings won’t have an upset stomach. Thirty years ago, Italy was the youngest country in the European Union. With an economy that, for all its mess and contradictoriness, its geographical inequality, was dynamic, vital. Today we are a nation of elders, with a leading-class of conformists, traditionalist and unmoveable, a corrupt political class, and a mood so depressed than no bar in the nation, no gin and tonic, no chit-chat served by this Matteo Renzi, can hope to alleviate. Optimism is to be found with these young travellers, preparing their personal challenge.
In Camden Town or in a corner of the City. Behind the counter of a restaurant or a computer. Hoping that sooner or later some feel the tug of home, and come back, to teach us a lesson.