How did I become so patriotic? W l'Italia

Italy just won the European Football tournament - and I am very happy about this, of course!

Not that I really mind about football, but a final is a final and thus a matter of honor and pride :-) 

Especially, I am happy for my country because, after more than a year and a half of tight restrictions and limitations, of fears and anxiety for being the first country in Europe to be affected by the virus, we had something to finally uplift our spirits! and what better than football?

But the match of yesterday was much more. It was a final against my second residence, against England!

Inevitably, competition and rivalry started between me and my colleagues and friends from England, in a form of a nationalistic positioning where everyone was pretending to be more interested in football than we actually were! 

In the last 2 years in England, I found myself to be much more patriotic than I ever thought.

In my early years of travelling, when I was 20 or so, I was so deeply critical about my country and really looking forward to escape from it. I couldn't find anything pleasant about Italian loudness, ways of escaping rules and obligations, traditional inefficiency,  nepotism, and queue-jumping.

Indeed, I made the choice to move away, frustrated by the stupidity of Italian policies toward research and education, and by the first-hand experience of rigged contests.

I found myself in England, and after few months I found myself stuck in England - by the virus.

From abroad, I was observing the devastating images of Italy weakened by the pandemic. I was talking with my family and friends and my heart was broken by fears and nostalgia. 

In that occasion, though, Italy really surprised me. People were respecting the rules, without searching for a way around them. They were respecting what the Prime Minister was saying, without too much complaining or contesting. And in all this, they gathered they strength toward the things we do best: socialising and food. Italians were still able to uplift their spirits with family meals and lots of cooking. Italians were still able to enjoy their life and to recognise how precious it is!

We were just great - and great were our covid policies. In other parts of the world, people struggled for months to keep a mask on. In lots of countries, they still dont comply. 

That's where I started loving back my country. That's when I realised that the neighbors' grass is not necessarily greener.

And then, the syndrome of the Italian abroad started. And I started missing our glorious food, the sun, the mess and the loud speaking, tha hand gestures and, not ultimately, mum's cuddle.

I become proud of our more distinctive features. About how passionate and fiery we are, about how we love emotions, and feelings, and passion. About how we value relations and friendship. About how warm and physical and effusive we are. About how loudly we speak, and how upfront we are. And how unfiltered and genuine we are in manifesting what we think. About how easily we complain and we argue with each other for the only pleasure of giving air to our lungs.

I am generalizing, obviously, in a very personal research for regularities and consistent patterns of behaviours about my own people ;-)

And I still hate that my people are always late and that most of things in Italy dont work  because of corruption and favouritism. I still hate that academia is so undervalued that I will never find a job in Italy for what I have studied. I hate that so many young people have to go abroad to see their potential enhanced.

But being abroad for most of my last few years taught me that being Italians is not that bad at all, and that we are amazing in so many things: food, of course, and coffee, monuments, art!

Especially, though, that we are strong, and creative, and so used to find a way around our own failing political system to be ingenious, resilient and still proud. Proud of being Italians, and humble in front of our own defects, which are many and which we are not scared to acknowledge, in a daily form of auto criticism!

A lesson that many should learn, starting from the English, who may be much more refined and polite than us, but who really dont know how to lose!

And so, amongst what we all interpret as a blatant certainty of being superior, they took off their silver medals and left the stadium without honouring the winners. 

We would have never do that - we are so used to feel inferior!

But yesterday we were the master - of football, fairplay and good manners. And we are all so proud of that!

And, as Bonucci said, the secret is all into our pastasciutta!


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