What springs to mind when we think of Italians? Pizza makers, romantic latin lovers, big families, bad drivers? Every nation has a stereotype. Traditionally the English are seen as bowler hat wearing, umbrella carrying reserved types with odd fashion sense and not knowing how to cook.
Do we all identify with this image? I think not!
Ahead of the Milan EXPO in 2016 the Italian Ministry of Economic Development produced a video debunking some of the common misconceptions about Italy.
It was called: Italy the Extraordinary Commonplace.
I'm sharing it now a year on as it showcases some of the amazing talent coming from this sometimes turbulent country that most of us see mainly as a holiday destination.
I'm also including a passage from the book 'The Italians' by Luigi Barzini. I read this when I was 19 and studying Italian culture. I was surprised then and still am by the number of Italian names and products which pepper our everyday life without as really realising it. This book was first published in 1964. Unfortunately it's still true that Italy is a country with great potential but without all the opportunity to realise it.
See our related post "Italy: Land of opportunity" where we'll discuss the 'Brain Drain' currently facing Italy, which has lost half a million of it's 18-39 year olds in the last 20 years. Though these are official figures, the actual numbers are believed to be a lot higher.*
*Dr Paola Subacchi, 'How can Italy reverse its brain drain?' World Economic Forum, 1 April 2016.