In 1965, Pasolini coined the term neo-italiano to refer to the emergence of a new national language, one that threatened to displace once and for all the regional dialects that had, throughout Italian history, defined the parameters of reality for “national subjects” who had remained essentially regional in their primary affiliations (Brunetta: ch. 27). At the time, few Italians were more aware than Pasolini of the ways in which language itself constructs subjectivity; and thus, we can easily argue that Pasolini's neologism can be applied not only to the emergence of a new, hegemonic national language, but also to an essentially new subject - precisely, the “Italian” - constructed out of the rapid modernization of the nation brought about by the economic boom of the late 1950s and early 1960s.
One of the most dramatically visible signs of this economic miracle was the autostrada, the Italian version of the American interstate highway. But more than that, the autostrada became a trope for the ways in which economic modernization inscribed itself within the practice of everyday life. The autostrada del sole, for example, was charged with symbolic significance: as the backbone of the highway system, this autostrada didn't just connect the north to the south; it sped the driver from the prosperous, bourgeois northern provinces to the impoverished, semifeudal provinces of the south, so that the journey was the traversing not simply of space, but of consciousness as well.
This new proximity between radically different Symbolic orders, combined with a new, “mobile” subjectivity constructed by the automobile, put into play within the nation a number of contestatory discourses. Different regions and different economic interests (including those of transnational capital) attempted to fix meaning at the sites where more traditional ideas of the nation were in flux. This essay will look at the way a popular Italian road movie reveals (symptomatically) the problem of defining the new Italian. Then, we'll look at the strategies deployed by advertising to construct the Italian as “mobile consumer.” Finally, Pasolini's documentary Comizi d'amore (Love Meetings, 1964) not only provides a