You must worry about me living in Italy at times like these.
I know that you are horrified, like I am, of the death of Allison Owens. I only thank god that she was not abducted and abused, although being hit by a car on a busy road is absolutely awful. To think that some driver is out there who killed a girl on impact and left her at the side of the road really does not reflect well on Italian drivers. But this could have happened anywhere. This poor girl was terribly unfortunate, crossing the road while wearing an ipod in an unknown country – probably she didn’t see the car, and the car didn’t see her. She had arrived just the day before. My heart truly goes out to Allison’s mother. What must she think, this poor woman who flew over from Ohio hoping to find her daughter alive.
But this, right in the same week as the absolution of Amanda Knox, must have you and other moms worried that they ought not to send their daughters to study in Italy. Luckily I already did that over a decade ago, when things were safer, or so we thought. There have always been rapes, suicides, stalking of American girls in Italy, and probably everywhere else. In Tuscany this year there have been five disappearances of foreign girls, but around here, if they’re Romanians nobody cares. The Americans make the news, the diplomatic issues, the economic repercussions.
You must worry about the political “unrest” in Italy, if it could be called that, for in any other country there would be popular uprising against a right wing leader who is so totally incompetent that even professional associations of businessmen have declared “BASTA.” But if Italians were to start using clubs and rocks instead of words, you surely worry that I’d end up injured in a riot. I promise, I will not go out in the streets against Berlusconi, although my heart will be with those people. I will stick to words.
You must worry that I will lose all the money in my bank account when Italy defaults. Luckily my salary is really low.
You must worry that Italy will be kicked out of the eurozone and the money we converted to buy us a house here will never be recovered. At least I have a good roof over my head, even if it’s one that is devalued and unsaleable.
You must worry that the country I chose twelve years ago, the sunny, crazy place in which my husband was born, will become a place that nobody will want to visit, either out of political protest, or because the things they want to visit will become dilapidated because of lack of funding for their maintenance. Luckily the basic infrastructures should hold up for another few years, as long as we don’t get hit by natural disaster.
At times like these, it’s hard to have a daughter thousands of kilometers away. It’s hard to have a daughter in the place that is the object of international ridicule, for it’s hard to justify being here at all. It looks really bad from the outside. I must say that right now, it looks pretty bad from the inside too. The only thing that holds it together is the whole insieme of what put this country together in the first place: the people (not the politicians, who don’t reflect them), their creativity and furbizia and ingenuity; the amazing produce which still thankfully comes out of the ground, the landscape, the history. I wish I could finish this letter with a sentence like “all they need is to get it together and…”, but sadly I don’t know, and I fear nobody knows, truly what this country needs.