Despitef Italy’s well-known political turmoil it is difficult to understand why most Italians have such a poor opinion of their own country.
Italy has many leading sectors but citizens have a general tendency to underestimate their own country and to overrate other western countries. Even the official media, television programs and newpapers often indulge in self-criticism and self-devaluation by highlighting inefficiencies rather than showcasing fields of excellence, thus offering a despicable image of their own country.
Italians are hardly lukewarm about their country, they are devoted to their hometown but loathe the country as a whole. The paradox is that Italians love their towns and hate their nation. Neapolitans love their city, while Tuscans might even identify with their whole region but neither think much of the country to which they nominally belong. Italy remains less homogeneous than most other nation states.
All in all, the fiercest defamers of Italy are the Italians themselves. If someone praises Italy for any of its qualities Italians will take pains to demonstrate that he/she is wrong and that their country is the worst place on earth. If asked why they do it they usually reply that they have a capacity to be self-critical. But this attitude reveals a pointless and destructive self-criticism. People who are self-destructive see their flaws rather than their perfection, their blemishes rather than their beauties, their evils rather than their righteousness, they are always overly conscious of their defects, they expect to be ridiculed, they think they are flawed and others are perfect.
So maybe they should know that::
THE ITALIANS HAVE A GENERAL TENDENCY TO COMPLAIN ABOUT EVERYTHING, especially their healthcare system, but few of them are aware that:
THE ITALIAN HEALTH SYSTEM HAS BEEN RANKED SECOND BEST IN THE WORLD BY THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION (Who-OMS),
with only the french system ranked higher.
Healthcare is provided to all citizens and residents by a mixed public-private system. The public part is the national health service (SSN = Servizio Sanitario Nazionale).
Life expectancy: According to the CIA World factbook, Italy has the world’s second highest life expectancy. Thanks to its good healthcare system, the life expectancy at birth in Italy is 80.9 years, which is two years above the OECD average.
Information Technology: Italy is Europe’s fourth largest market for the Information Technology (IT) industry and the Italian Government is committed to modernizing the country through the use of new information and communication technologies.
Medical Equipment : The Italian market for medical equipment & supplies ranks sixth in the world and is highly dependent on imports. and its high per capita income and sophisticated healthcare system translate into demand for a broad range of cutting-edge medical equipment.
Telecommunications Equipment and Services: The Italian market for telecommunications equipment and services is the third largest in Europe. Italy is also the second largest mobile communications market in Western Europe and one of the most advanced.
Pleasure Boats and Accessories: The Italian pleasure boat industry is the largest in the EU and the second largest worldwide after the United States. The Italian market for pleasure boats is stimulated by the existence of 104 ports, marinas and small harbors offering almost 140,000 moorings along Italy’s 8,000 miles of waterways. Typically, outboard motorboats are the most common type of American boat imported into Italy because many Italians believe American quality and technology cannot be matched.
Pet Products: In Italy there are now 60 million pets in a country with 58 million people. According to the most recent estimates there are 7.5 million cats and 7 million dogs in Italy. Pet care was one of the few industries which managed to grow and show dynamism in Italy during the second half of the review period. This growth came in spite of the economic turmoil which has been affecting almost the whole of Europe since late 2008.
Biotechnology: Italy’s biotechnology industry has made remarkable progress in the past five years with the number of biotech companies growing from 83 in 2003 to 228 in 2007. Italy ranks among the leading countries in life sciences – in pharmaceuticals, it ranks third in Europe and fifth in the world. An area with particular growth potential is technology transfer.
ASI, the Italian Space Agency, has become over the last 20 years one of the most significant players in the world in space science, satellite technologies and the development of mobile systems for exploring the Universe. Today, Italy is the third contributor country to the European Space Agency. It also has a close working relationship with NASA and participates in the most important scientific missions. One of the most fascinating projects has been the construction and activities of the International Space Station where Italian astronauts are by now at home.With the launch of the module Leonardo, which took place in March 2001, Italy has become the third nation, after Russia and the United States, to send an ISS element into orbit. ASI has the leadership in the European programme VEGA, the small rocket fully designed in Italy.
The Italian scientific community has had unprecedented successes in recent years in astrophysics and cosmology, contributing among other things to reconstructing the first moments of life in the universe and making essential steps towards understanding the gamma ray bursts phenomenon. Furthermore, ASI has built the scientific instruments that are aboard NASA and ESA probes bound to discover the secrets of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. In all of the major missions planned for future years-from Venus to the comets, up to the outer limits of our solar system-there will be a piece of Italy.
Fashion and design: Last but not least; in 2009, Milan was ranked the top fashion capital of the world, and Rome was ranked 4th Examples of major Italian fashion houses are: Gucci, Armani, Valentino, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Ferragamo, Benetton, Bottega Veneta, Krizia, Max Mara, Laura Biagiotti, Trussardi, Missoni, Cavalli, just to name a few. Other Italian accessory and jewelry brands, such as Luxottica and Bulgari are amongst the most important in the world.
Italy’s leading sectors:
The most important Italian productive sectors, include the food, automotive, textile, and design industries.
Italy is recognized as being a worldwide trendsetter and leader in design: Italian architect Luigi Caccia claims that “Quite simply, we are the best”.
In addition to furniture design, Italy has also set trends for industrial design and has produced some of the greatest status symbols cars of the century such as the iconic Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Alfa Romeo.
Italy, in spite of the economic crisis, has one of the highest export rates in Europe, second only to Germany. Export products include nanotechnologies, highly specialized machinery, means of transport and components, middle and high-range furniture products, textiles and clothing, food. Plans to modernise various sectors of the economy, from infrastructure to solar energy, are driving Italian metal exports, especially copper products (cables).
Most of the inventions we use in our daily lives hail from Italy: beginning with the historical start date of western (Italic) civilization in 509 BC Italians account for roughly 40% to 45% of all the inventions and discoveries in history.
- Italy’s contributions to science include the barometer, electric battery, nitroglycerin, and wireless telegraphy.
- Eyeglasses are an Italian invention. Around 1284 in Italy, Salvino D’Armate was credited with inventing the first wearable eye glasses.
- The telephone was created by an Italian Meucci.
- The typewriter is an Italian invention.
- The name of Electricity measurement Volt comes from Alessandro Volta, a pioneer in the study of electricity, who invented the first battery in 1779.
- The thermometer is an Italian invention.
- The piano hails from Italy.
- Enrico Fermi, inventor of the nuclear reactor, was an Italian.
- Famous Italian explorers include Christopher Columbus, Marco Polo, John Cabot, and Amerigo Vespucci.
The automobile is one of Italy’s greatest products. In addition to the Fiat brand, Fiat owns the Lamborghini, Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa Romeo and Chrysler brands.
With almost 40 million visitors, Italy is the fourth most visited country in the world.
Italy has the highest number of cultural sites recognized by UNESCO world Heritage, roughly 50 to 55% of the total art value on earth
Italy has the 3rd largest reserves of gold in the world, the Italian government owns equity in over 13,000 Italian companies the total value of which dwarfs the total government debt.
In Italy 78% of its citizens own a home, of that 93% have no mortgage on their home which is the highest anywhere on earth. By contrast in USA 32% of Americans owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth.
However we can also list some of the peculiarities that make Italy seem “different”: a tradition of loyalty to the region rather than to the nation; the dominance of the family in every aspect of life; the pushy attitude of the unionized labor forces in all sectors, whether they be factory workers, doctors, or shopkeepers; a multitude of political parties with strong ideological or regional leanings; a Church with a tendency to undermine rather than reinforce people’s loyalty to the state.
Limited collective identities (families, political parties, work associations, local pride, religious groups), while commendable in themselves, undermine the nation’s capacity to establish priorities for the common good, because Italians feel diminished and despondent if their own restricted group is put in jeopardy. On the other hand government itself is rarely more than a mishmash of factions constantly “at war” with each other.
Still it is remarkable that in spite of all its flaws and the fact that, with few and short exceptions, Italy has been governed disastrously for many centuries, it has managed to become one of the world’s most beautiful, most accomplished and most wealthy countries. There is nothing to suggest that today’s Italy will prove less resilient.
Most journalists and opinion leaders generally ask “How can Italy change?” but maybe the right question should be:
“How can the world change to become like Italy?”