Another holiday here in Italy and it is clear that many people have ponte ( bridged) between the two holidays so for 3 days leave they gat a weeks holiday. This seems very true of our rich cousins in the North of Italy who are here in numbers over the last three days. Some are here to open up their summer houses and give them an airing and others to visit family and the rest to holiday. They come to see an Italy of 30 years ago, to marvel at buying a cappuccino for €1 when it costs €4 at home, to snigger at the fashions in the shops, to experience a life where internet connectivity is a surprise not the norm, to be frustrated that the mobile phone signal is unavailable outside of towns but also to enjoy fresh food at half the price and slow down from the hassle of life in the North.
We country cousins who many from the north find quaint do manage to get our own back on occasions. They might drive large Mercedes and 7 series BMWs but they still get lost as their tom tom etc can’t cope with roads without names or the fact that what it thinks is a road had a house built across it a couple of years ago. And so we sit in the bar waiting. Several times an hour a huge car will pull up and the electric window will swish down allowing a draft of cool air conditioned air to escape. Where is Galante will be the request from deep inside the leather seated vehicle. Now I don’t know if you have seen Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
but in the movie the outlaws have a bolt hole above a saloon and sitting outside was an angelic looking, butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth, type guy . The sheriff’s posse rides in . The old guy scratches his head chews on his straw and then seemingly remembers two people riding through and points the posse in entirely the wrong direction while Butch and Sundance sit upstairs. We have a similar guy in Mario . He looks the part of a real local with a big moustache and worn clothes. This is a guy that knows every inch of the countryside is the impression he gives. Up he stands and peers into the big car and then gives directions. The window slides back up and the car moves away. We collapse in laughter and wonder how far they will get before they realise they are miles away from Galante.
Italy was one of the first European countries to introduce the holiday in 1891 that marks the struggle by workers in the USA to obtain an 8 hour working day. Mussolini moved it to April but it was re-instated in 1945 on May 1st.
It is particularly relevant this year as our new Leader Enrico has committed himself to labour reform. Contrary to the opinion of most financial “experts” Monti did no labour reforms at all. He put up taxes and invented new ones and then toured the capitals of the world telling the “experts” all that he planned to do but achieved nothing. Our very Left wing leader is hoping to use welfare reform to bring in labour reform . I wish him well. There are 700 unions in the public sector alone and Italy is one of the few countries where union membership is rising ( +14% since 2000 ). Mussolini once famously said ” It is not difficult to rule Italy it is merely useless “. Enrico might find the quote very true.
The three biggest unions celebrate May Day each year with a huge concert in Rome which is televised on Rai and attended by thousands of people. This evening two of the stars are the songwriter Nicola Piovani who amongst a myriad of songs wrote the music to this beautiful and very sad Italian film
If you haven’t seen it please do. One of the other stars tonight is Daniele Silvestri fresh from his success at the San Remo Festival this year.
Now I know I’m old fashion but I do find many of these newish Italian singers ( he is actually 45) seem to really struggle to hold notes and many make Rod Stewart’s gravely voice sound like the purest on earth. Many are not for me. But talking to younger Italians they love this style of singing so it is a generation thing.