The Rebuilding of Italy: Politics and Economics, 1945- 1955

The Rebuilding of Italy: Politics and Economics, 1945- 1955

The Rebuilding of Italy: Politics and Economics, 1945- 1955

The Rebuilding of Italy: Politics and Economics, 1945- 1955

Excerpt

Till recent times the Englishman's interest in Italy tended to be concentrated chiefly on all that that country had to offer in scenery, in climate, and in the sphere of art. From the wealthy young man of the eighteenth century for whom the Grand Tour was an essential part of his education, down to his less affluent but more comfortably travelling Edwardian counterpart, the main object of a journey to Italy was sun and sight-seeing. How the Italians themselves lived was largely incidental: they formed a background, whether quaint or picturesque, to the new panorama of sights and scenes that the traveller enjoyed, but he seldom stopped to consider how the country was run, how these smiling, cheerful people gained a livelihood, or why, amid all the wealth of magnificent architecture, there were so many signs of poverty. To the Northerner, Italy was warm and beautiful and 'different', and that was enough.

True, the élan of the Risorgimento had caught the imagination of many liberal-minded Englishmen who gave practical proof of their sympathies for Garibaldi and Mazzini. But once unification had been achieved political interest abroad waned again, and it was left to historians to record the less spectacular story of the building of a united Italy.

When the aftermath of the first world war brought with it first chaos and then the Fascist experiment, some English lovers of Italy were alienated by the authoritarian features of the new régime, while others found something to admire in its stern treatment of subversion. But the attitude to the country itself still remained much the same: you went to Italy— usually to Florence, Venice, or Rome—to see the galleries and the churches; or you went there—to the lakes or the Ligurian coast—to bathe and bask in the sun. It was a pity the Italians had this dictatorial régime—not that it made much difference to the ordinary traveller, but still...; or, alternatively, now that they had this new régime...and then . . .

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