Italy’s Strength: Comfort in Disharmony


In a time of confusion and fear across Europe and America, Italians’ emotions also are at fever pitch. But that’s not enough to break their real core: the joys of life itself.

By Beppe Severgnini / Jan. 29, 2019 / NYTimes


To many foreigners, Italy may look and sound like an endless festival. But this noisy, messy, passionate discussion actually keeps the nation together, especially at times like this. A new migrants’ crisis is taking place over a boat carrying 47 people that has been prevented from docking in Sicily. People shout and argue and many say unpleasant things. But they don’t clash in the street or hate each other. Social tensions in France, Britain and the United States run higher. We have no Yellow Vests in Italy, no Brexit-like psychodrama, no shutdowns and no walls. To be sure, we are arguing again about boats with migrants. But our national pressure cooker is fitted with a valve so that political steam is slowly and safely released. It’s an orchestra of finely tuned humanity, even if that humanity sometimes rises alarmingly in pitch.

For Italians, even disharmony is a sign of sanity, decency and, most important, joie de vivre. And no populist government can change that.