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Chris Slatter

My Blog


Hello again, Italy

Rune of the day: Sigel , harvest


June 2nd was the 150th anniversary of  Italian unification and some journalists are using the opportunity to assert that Italy isn’t really united at all. For a few, mostly English-speaking journalists, Italy is a loose confederation of cities each with its own identity and fiercely loyal inhabitants who couldn’t give a fig about a national identity.  The reality though, as this English-speaking journalist has found out, is quite different. Romans, Florentines, Genovese and Neapolitans feel a sense of national identity. They are different, of course, as inhabitants of different cities are bound to be, but all are proudly Italian.
Returning to Rome after four years in France was an emotional experience. Neither
my partner nor I actually cried with relief as we left France and motored down through Piedmont in our little yellow car, but only because we’re too middle class for such things. Looking down on the bay from the road that clings to the cliff above Genoa made the tears well up, but by then we had mastered our emotions, though not the sense of wonder that Italy evokes in almost everyone.
According to the World Tourism Organisation, Italy receives 43.7 million tourists a
year, not as many as France, Spain, the USA and China, but a respectable number nonetheless. What is not known, not even by the Italian authorities, is how many come for a few weeks and never go home. There are thousands of them. Some come to find romantic partners, to escape their humdrum jobs, or simply to take a risk for the first time in their lives. Without the support of conventional employment which is nearly impossible to find in Italy, they offer photography courses, cooking tours and host conversation evenings for each other. Some do get jobs, though. English teaching is always a good bet, though not well paid. One lady of my acquaintance, the administrator of a large and prestigious university in the United States, came for a two weeks, resigned her job and started work in Rome as a dental nurse.
What is it about Italy that creates such feelings of romantic longing that corporate ambitions are shelved, the ties of friends and family broken seemingly without a thought? Is it the cupola of St. Peter’s gleaming at the end of Via della Concialiazone glimpsed as you drive by on your way to dinner, or the peal of church bells on Sunday mornings in Florence, the casual collection of magnificent antiquities that is Perugia? Who knows, most of the ex-pats I speak to are unable to articulate a reason. And I suppose I should ask myself that question, too, because I am no different to any of them.
I’ll report on how fate treats me as I attempt to make a new life for myself in Italy and hope that you’ll find it instructive. If you detect some thread among my ramblings that indicates a reason for my being here , perhaps you’ll let me know.

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About Me

I have been an advertising copywriter, film director, teacher of screenwriting and a television producer. I have worked for some of the world's largest advertising agencies in Australia and the UK before attending the London Film School for two years.

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