Winston Churchill once said that Russia was a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. I have no clue why the old guy had such difficulties deciphering Russian nature. If there is a country in Europe I would use this brilliant sentence for, it definitely is Italy. It’s a country strangled by controversies. It’s considered an advanced First World democracy, yet its political life resembles a gerontophile soap opera more fitting to the last days of Imperial Rome. It was the major cradle of European Renaissance, yet it was politically paralyzed by its lack of unity and suffocating provincialism.
Contemporary Italy looks as a reflection of a geographic rather than a cultural idea. But so do Spain and Belgium. Yet none of these countries produced anything even remotely resembling Silvio Berlusconi. He’s a truly unique, Italian specialty. From his plastic surgery inspired looks to his patriarchal macho attitude peppered with outrageously sexist jokes, there is a common vibe that is unmistakably Apennine. What is shocking is the lack of other Italian qualities that can compensate the bad traits. If only he could, for example, host a good cooking show, or make sculptures, or discover some obscure satellite of Jupiter.
There is another, even more shocking paradox – all Italians I know are absolutely against him. And if I have to trust their words, everybody they know is also against him. Yet the old guy is still in power and not because of a weird coup d’état. He got elected. Several times. Probably by the same people that swear on their mothers graves they are opposing him at any cost. The sad thing is his public image is close to become a synonym for an Italian man worldwide. And that’s sad, no matter from which side of the political spectrum you see it.