To make a long story short, for the scarcity of job opportunities in my country, I needed to emigrate in Asia. To be more precise, I live in Macau, China, for almost 7 years now. It is certainly quite a time, and I have noticed that in my life there are sometimes 7 years cycles, so I am guessing this one is coming to an end, hopefully to open more interesting and rewarding opportunities somewhere else.
Lots of people, during these years asked me what I miss of Italy. Not an easy question, but this is what now comes out from my heart.
I miss of Italy good weather, seasons still have a sense and you don’t live in an eternal middle season.
I miss of Italy that there, the word creativity is not threat, but an added value, something to be proud. You don’t feel bad because you are creative and think out of the box, because in Italy in the box no one wants to stay.
I miss of Italy the good manners: people answering your morning greetings without being surprised, thanking you if you hold the elevator door for them, saying hello to you if you casually meet in a medical studio or somewhere in the city jungle. It is nice to see people grateful because the bus driver waits for them and maybe open the door a second time; or having a taxi driver saying to you, before any conversation may take place about the route of your trip, a simple good morning.
I miss of Italy that the parents are not conceiving education as a way to make of your children “money machines”. In my country, as bad as it is now, still parents think that the happiness of your sons and daughters, to help them follow their dreams, it is important more than their own happiness and their fear that one day your kids may not have money to support them. But to have dreams you need to live in an environment that allows you to dream…
I miss of Italy the willingness to help: if you are a foreigner and you go to a restaurant, even a little one, you may be sure that even low level waiters will try to help you fishing words in their lazy English and pronouncing them with a clear Italian accent (in the best cases); you know that if you go to an hospital because you feel that a disease is threatening your life and you don’t know Italian, someone will be willing to help you to find a gastroenterologist or a cardiologist or whatever you need, without falling in deep desperation for the complete inability to share a common language. Foreigners, despite the words of certain politicians, feel very often welcome in Italy if they come to work honestly and provide services to local people.
Yes, this is also important about Italy: we are different. Every region has its own way of being, its dialect, its favorite food. We don’t need to be of one kind to be accepted or to go in leading positions. We are Italians but remains Romans, Neapolitans and so on. We don’t need to cancel our past and destroy our heritage to feel the sense of belonging.
I miss of Italy that if you are talented you can still find people that appreciate your talent as a resource, not a danger. Talent is a danger only in places where talents are not encouraged and cultivated on a fair basis, because talent grows where it wants, not following racial constraints. Yes, I miss especially this of Italy that, amidst the miseries of my country, there are still people that fight for a cultural model that has never to be mixed up with an ethnic model.
I miss of Italy that I can say to my government that they are incompetent, out of place, that still exists, even if quite hidden, the hope that someone else can do better. Are they in that position to serve me or I am at their service?
But what I miss most of Italy is culture, the beauty that surrounds you at every corner, the many intelligent and cultivated persons that can teach me to be a better and more fulfilled person, people that put having in the second place and put being in the first place. People that not only know but, most of all, understand. There is a big difference between knowing and understanding, a difference that is more and more dramatically clear to me.
Yes, these are some of the reasons why I like my country and feel this big hole in my heart, struggling afar from that hidden paradise that I learn to desperately love in the same way that other people remember the good old days in a time (and place) when they are no more there to be seen.