Abroad most people know mostly stereotypes about Italy. Everyone knows it’s a beautiful country, with excellent food, rich cultural heritage and great artistry. There is always the typical associations of Pizza, Spaghetti, Fashion, Roman empire and the Mafia.
But there is a lot more to it than that. So let me break it down for you:
1. Healthcare System: 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). Surgeries and hospitalization provided by the public hospitals or by conventioned private ones are completely free of charge for everyone, regardless of the income.
2.Life expectancy: According to the CIA World factbook, Italy has the world’s second highest life expectancy. Thanks to its good healthcare system, excellent diet and low crime rate, the life expectancy at birth in Italy is 89 years, which is two years above the OECD average.
3. Made in Italy: Italy is recognized as being a worldwide trendsetter and leader in design.
Italy created the most iconic fashion brands; Pitti, Prada, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Armani, Versace, Fiorucci, Valentino, Tod’s, Hogan, etc… In 2009, Milan was ranked the top fashion capital of the world, and Rome was ranked 4th
Italy has invented the greatest status symbols cars of the century such as the iconic Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Alfa Romeo. The automobile is still one of Italy’s greatest products. In addition to the Fiat brand, Fiat owns the Lamborghini, Ferrari, Maserati, Alfa Romeo and Chrysler brands.
4. Export: 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).Italy is Europe’s fourth largest market for the Information Technology (IT) industry.
5. Industry: Italy has long been Europe’s second-biggest manufacturing power, beaten only by Germany. It is, in fact, one of the five countries in the world boasting a manufacturing trade surplus above $ 100 billion. The agricultural and food sector is among the leading ones.And let’s not forget the organic foods industry: Italy boasts the biggest number of firms in Europe, and is among the first, globally, with respect to farming surfaces and growth rate. The main branches of metalmeccanica includes firearms, automobiles, textile machinery, machine tools, and other transport vehicles, and domestic appliances.
6. Solar energy: Italy is the first country in the world for solar energy incidence with respect to electricity consumption (in April 2015 over 11%), thus dispelling the belief that these sources would always and in any case have a marginal role in the Italian energy system, and that their excessive development would create significant network management problems.
6. Inventions: 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.
Here are some examples:
- 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.
7. Space: ASI, the Italian Space Agency, over the last twenty years, has become 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 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 (and they have to be on time!). 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.
8. Cultural Heritage: Italy has the highest number of cultural sites recognized by UNESCO world Heritage, roughly 50 to 55% of the total art value on earth.
9. Language: Italian is the 4th most studied language in the world. It follows English, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese in the rankings of most popular languages among students. But while the top three can boast hundreds of millions of speakers and have clear CV-boosting potential, the appeal of Italian is somewhat less obvious. It’s certainly not a language which is guaranteed to help you in business, beyond a very few selected careers, and it only just creeps into lists of the top 20 most spoken global languages. People actively choose to study Italian for fun, for love, for music – and maybe on a whim – and this is part of what makes it such a bella lingua.
10. Private wealth: 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.
11. Lifestyle: On top of all this and despite the country’s political problems, Italians enjoy one of the best lifestyles and quality of life of any European country, or indeed, any country in the world. The foundation of its society is the family and community; Italians are noted for their close family ties, their love of children and care for the elderly, who aren’t dumped in nursing homes when they become a ‘burden’. In Italy, work fits around social and family life, not vice versa. The real glory of Italy lies in the outsize heart and soul of its people, who are among the most convivial, generous and hospitable in the world. Italy is celebrated for its simple, relaxed way of life, warm personal relationships and time for others, lack of violent crime (excluding gang warfare), good manners and spontaneity – Italians are never slow to break into song or dance when the mood strikes them. For sheer vitality and passion for life, Italians have few equals and, whatever Italy can be accused of, it’s never plain or boring.
“That taste for life in its fullness, the ability to appreciate beauty and the good things in life, the flair that leads to enjoy the small daily pleasures giving value to every detail, the ars vivendi made of impeccable elegance but never stilted or affected”
Few other countries offer such a wealth of enthralling experiences for the mind, body and spirit (and not out of a bottle!). Italy is highly addictive, and while foreigners may complain about the bureaucracy or government, the vast majority wouldn’t dream of leaving and infinitely prefer life in Italy to their home countries.
Put simply, Italy is a great place to live, enjoy the pleasures of life, and raise a family.
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?”