My post yesterday about the effects that an increase in tourism would have on Puglia got me thinking though I’m sure it should be the other way around for the blogger. I thought about other places in the world that I visited both before and after tourism took off and one of the biggest changes was, to fit in with the needs of tourism, in almost all those areas the long lunch with every shop, office and business closed disappeared.
In Southern Italy the long lunch break is still very much the norm and indeed pranzo or lunch is the main meal of the day and supposedly is when the family gather around the table to eat together . Father then retires to a chair or his bed for a nap as do the young kids while Mum washes up and starts to think about what to cook for the lighter evening fare. Of course it started when it was too hot to work in the fields in the heat of the afternoon and would have made some sense then. But today as Sr. Letta our leader looks at ways to save money and improve GDP is it such a sensible idea.
In fact would we kill two birds with one stone by abolishing it and going to a normal working day in the South. Can you imagine no more people asking if we have a word down here similar to the Spanish word mañana and we always replying yes but it doesn’t carry the same sense of urgency. Or how about a French group singing an Italian song in Spanish while I put the tea on.
So I started to think of the benefits of stopping this outdated practice apart from the necessary one to help improve tourism.
A massive saving is to reduce rush hours from four a day to two a day. Again in the past you staggered off your field and walked home for lunch. Now you get in your car and drive up to 25kms home for lunch either with the wife or with mamma. In fact some Italians are so attached to their car that they will drive three blocks home and then drive back to spend 10 mins looking for a parking spot. Think of the fuel saving alone and Italy imports all it’s fuel. Then think of the heating saving in winter if the office worker stays in the office and eats a sandwich like they do in the north and the rest of Europe.
Wow now businesses in the north with subsidiaries in the south don’t have to cram everything into the morning session. People around the world could speak to businesses, etc during normal office hours and get replies in a timely fashion not wonder why the phone is not answered every afternoon.
Schools could stay open longer during the day and not close to ensure that the children, teachers, caretakers, school bus drivers are all at home tucking in to a hearty labourers meal by 1.30 pm. Schools would not have to open on a Saturday like now. Think of the savings again plus kids could do a full day and have breaks and do PT and games whereas now they just sit in class. Boy they could even do more than an hour a week doing computer studies and be ready for a career in the real world.
Women could join the workforce in far greater numbers. Italy has the lowest number of women in the workplace of any EU country and most of that is skewed because of the south. Women not cooking bloody great labourers meals have time to look at getting out and working themselves. It would be dramatic.
Fewer women at home and kids would leave and find apartments. No one cooking, cleaning and washing for them well let’s move out. Italy has the highest number of kids living at home over 25 of all the EU countries. Not healthy figure. One blogger in Naples was saying before she left to go back to the USA the one thing she would remember about Italy was dating 38-45 year old men and being asked if the night might end with them staying over at her place because they needed to know so they could phone their Mum and tell her not to wait up or prepare breakfast ( though many left early to have breakfast at home!).
I have at a stroke solved the tourism issue, improved Italy’s balance of payments, increased Italy’s productivity, improved the lot of women and got more of them into the workforce, mobilised young labour to move for jobs and improved the education system in the south and that was just a few minutes thinking . I bet there are more benefits. And the downsides well not many if any. The family around the table is a bit of myth now, the TV in most houses is blaring out and the kids are on the phone texting. In fact I don’t think it would change La Dolce Vita that we enjoy in any way at all.
I think that deserves a beer and so I shall head off for one now the rush to go back to work for 5 pm is over down here !But I must be home to avoid the 8 pm or 9pm rush home it’s lethal as they race back for the fourth time that day. Actually that must be another benefit. How many Italians down here never make home or back to work but end up in hospital after racing back and forth 4 times a day. Another huge saving on healthcare etc.