7 History Facts and Lessons about Italy

Let’s continue with the project on Instagram and let’s discover together 7 history facts about Italy and what they can teach us.

Castello Sforzesco

The topic of week nr. 3 on Instagram was history, which was not an easy one as, in terms of Italian history, there’s so much material to put one’s hands on, it’s actually unbelievable. How to choose just seven facts?!

In the end I decided to pick not very known facts, just to bring something new to the conversation, and I hope I did the right choice.

History, along with geography, has always been my favourite subject at school and given what happened to my family and my territory, during WW1 and WW2, I have always been used to be the receiving end of direct reports. History is of fundamental importance and I hope people will always keep that in mind. There’s so much to learn from history and its notions are way beyond those concerning names and dates to be known by heart, it’s all about learning from past mistakes which should not be repeated.

I have two favourite quotations about history: “History is the teacher with the worst pupils” and “History lovers are condemned to see people making the same mistakes over and over again”. Well, both painfully accurate.

I am a history lover and it’s true you happen to recognize people not having learned from history by the way they act, yet, I do not exclude myself from this misconduct, as I often find myself repeating the same wrong patterns in my everyday life. I think we all do that in some measure. Knowing history, though, allows you to recognize those patterns and you are given the opportunity to try to change them.

Italy, given its long and troubled history, surely has a lot to teach. Let’s discover 7 inspiring truths through the 7 facts of the week:

YOU NEVER KNOW WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN

In Italy there’s a saying: “La vita è una ruota che gira” – life is a wheel that turns – one moment you are up, the next one you scrape the ground.

I think that both common people or national institutions tend to see only one side of the coin in this matter. When a country is a superpower, it probably tends to believe nothing is going to break it and when, on the other hand, you scrape the bottom of the barrel, you probably tend to see no light at the end of the tunnel. Well, nothing must be given for granted.

This small, internationally and politically insignificant boot-shaped country in the Mediterranean, called Italia, was able to be a superpower in the past (Roman Empire), and throughout its history it has gone through alarming ups and downs. As we like to say here, “we are constantly on the verge of a disaster”, but, in one way or another, we always manage to make it.  And start again.

BE GRATEFUL AND RELY ON MOTHER NATURE

Francis of Assisi had everything he could ask for – money, connections and a good reputation – yet, he decided to disown his family and live in poverty by giving away all his belongings. He roamed around Central Italy in order to preach and help those in need and he lived in total communion with Nature. He was said to be able to speak with birds and tame wolves and he even wrote a touching ode to God to thank Him for Mother Nature.

I’m kind of scared of our total dependency on technology and if on one hand progress made our life easier, on the other hand it made us total inept in the most basilar things. What if something happens and we need to look for food on our own…would we be able to do that?

“THEORY” AND “REALITY” ARE TWO COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THINGS

History is full of examples of people theorizing policies, which seemed good to them on the paper, but, once put into practice, turned out to be awful ideas. With consequences that most of the times affected innocents.

This is a very extreme example of this kind of occurrence, as it involves people speculating on war, but it surely gives the idea of how things can quickly go out of hand and plummet.

This fact has always unsettled me as artists are usually seen as people with a heightened sensibility and empathy…I could never understand how an artistic movement was able to conceive war as something positive.

BLIND FAITH IS NEVER A GOOD THING

Having faith or believing in something is generally a good thing, as it provide you with a purpose in life. However a belief must be something you choose to follow with a critical sense, not something that it’s forced on you or that you’re after without ever questioning it. This is valid in every aspect of life, being your faith a religion, a political party or a lifestyle.

THE WORK BEHIND THE SCENES MUST BE ACKNOWLEDGED

The city of Torino is famous in Italy for being the initiator of many things and never being able of be a perpetuator. Turinese people even rely on a myth to explain this thing, claiming they suffer from the “Syndrome of Phaethon”: everything that is created within the city is destined to go away.

The former Capital city of Italy, another “title” which was taken away, was the city that provided the country with the National TV Rai and that was able to launch the Cinematographic Industry, all things later snatched away by Rome.

In most recent times, Turin also risked to be deprived from another brilliant thing, its famous Book Fair, in favour to Milan, but luckily, it didn’t happen.

The story of Turin has always made me think about how history books are constantly focused on the big events and often fail to acknowledge “minor” cities or occurrences.

Same thing that happens with people, I guess. We always recognize prima donnas, but never those working behind the scenes or the so-called “eminence grise”. One thing is sure, though. As also the Turinese people (sometimes way too timid and demure) should do, we need to step forward and recognize our own merits and let other people know about them. This does not mean humble people should suddenly become boastful, just they should let others know about their valour, to stop suffering from inferiority complexes.

DON’T LET YOUR IMPULSES GUIDE YOUR DECISIONS

I fully support the principle of letting out one’s emotions and trusting one’s instincts, but sometimes, as Italians, we exaggerate and we also let our impulses run wild and command our decisions. Listen to me: don’t do like us.

Sadly, we are a mercurial people and our politicians are fully aware of it and use this characteristic at their advantage. We change our opinion and stance In a matter of seconds sometimes. Just an example is the EU: from being big supporters of Europeanism, we have recently started to develop a sentiment of hatred toward it.

Just for the record, I’m not saying that there are no reasons of being critic of the EU, far from that, as there are A LOT of pressing issues to be solved, but I also do not think that quitting is the solution (hi there UK). Anyway, moral of the story: sometimes sticking on a position is necessary. Without work you don’t get anywhere.

BE INSPIRED BY THE PAST

Past is something that inspires.

In terms of art, this is something I learned from my municipality Vicenza, the famous Palladian city. In his architecture Palladio was stimulated by the Ancient Roman style and, just to give an example, his world famous Villa La Rotonda – imitated by literally everybody – with his cupola and oculus, was inspired by Pantheon in Rome.

In more recent times Milan hosted the Universal Exposition and when projecting  the official symbol, The Tree of Life, artistic director Marco Balich was influenced by Michaelangel.


What are your thoughts about these 7 “lessons”? Thanks for following these posts and #12WeeksInItaly on Instagram!

A presto!

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13 thoughts on “7 History Facts and Lessons about Italy

  1. Oh yes, for the country with so much history, you condensed it quite nicely. I never knew about the wedding bands! 😮 (But my history is terrible. Only now, surrounded by the ghosts of all these Etruscans, the wish for it is awakening.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I do love the art of the Futurists, but I disagree tremendously with much of their manifesto. As you said, it was strange to find artists who actually supported war.

    Another wonderful post, as always!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. fkasara

      I feel exactly the same about Futurists! Their art is really interesting, but the manifesto…ugh!

      Oh, thank you very much! 🙏❤❤

      Like

    1. fkasara

      The majority of people was forced to give up the wedding rings (there was not such thing as free will during the dictatorship), but those who promoted that “campaign” were surely affected by blind faith…And the officials running away with two damigiane (I’m not sure if “jugs” is the right translation, maybe you can help me) full of rings is surely a good example of greed and corruption…*sigh*

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I haven’t seen the jugs, but if they are a type of container for liquid, that sounds right. Giving up one’s ring is such a personal commitment and I would imagine if not forced, most people would have given up anything but their fede – quite incredible.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. fkasara

        Wikipedia says “carboy”. It’s a big jug, useful if you have to “transport” the liquid. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carboy I don’t know if it’s used in the US.

        Yeah, I was quite shocked myself when I learned about this. Some old people told me about it…they were just kids at the time, but they remembered their parents giving up their rings ://

        Liked by 1 person

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