Italy is so beautiful that the Italians coined the expression “Il Belpaese” – The Beautiful Country, to emphasise the fact and to brag a bit around the world. The sense of living in the most beautiful place in the world is prevalent amongst the Italians and the rest of the world does not lag too much behind. And how Italy became so good in selling its image of the astonishing beauty?
Do it all with style
Well, one of the striking features of Italy is that they don’t pay attention to the thing that are maybe… well, very important in other countries and civilisations, but they are meticulously committed to perfection in design, food, architecture and clothes. the rest may wait. And indeed, maybe Italy is not the most orderly country in the world, but the thing that fascinate people is rarely order or perfection in handling things that cannot be easily seen. What people, as superficial being, like most, is what catches the eye. And the Italians are champions to do each and every of these things with style!
Design is better than hard work
What people really like and really notice is sheer beauty. And they fall in love with it with ease and teenage excitement. Italy has, to be truthful and honest, a tremendous geographical position, it is almost like an island, with its “boot” that cuts deeply into the Mediterranean. Surrounded by sea from three sides, with and enormously long coast, it is not hard to have beautiful landscapes all around. Byron and Shelley fell in love with the landscapes, and we have many sunsets over the Italian coast eternalised in Romanticist poems in English. The South or Mezzogiorno is especially spectacular in natural beauties: from the Greek and Arabic influenced Sicily to crazy Naples and Basilicata, so old that they can even put the Jesus Christ and his Jerusalem from 33 AD there, and everyone would believe. If you have ever seen The Amalfitan Coast or Calabria, you would have no further questions and woould rest your case immediately. And if you go to the North and Lazio, you will find yourself enchanted in the “Magic Triangle” of Venice, Florence and Rome, so full of art and times passed by that you will never be able to get rid of these pictures in your head. Blame film and literature for that. Who once saw Anthony Minghella’s “The Talented Mr Ripley” or James Ivory’s “A Room With a View” will never forget the picture-postcard images that capture both eyes and soul, both heart and mind. Oscar Wilde was intoxicated with the beauty of Ravenna, the last standing Byzantine city in the world, which is a reminder how the world looked like in the 6th or 7th century. Often neglected, many places in Italy are equally charming. Let us put it this way: being a town or a city in Italy is like being a team in England’s Premier League. You can be astonishing and perform mediocre, in the middle of the league table, while the same performance could make you champion in any other league. In such a fierce competition, it is hard to stick out. Milan, for instance, is great in objective terms, but in such a competition lots of times people dubbed it “the ugly cityof Italy”. Yeah, right. In any country it would have been a jewel. But this is Italy.
Tu vuò fa l’americano
It is exactly the Americans and Hollywood who made Italy so adorable and wanted. In the 50s, America was great and rich, and Italy was a post-war and cheap. So the Americans used the newly designed ships and airplanes to see the beauties of Europe and felt like kings. Quickly, like the Britons some century ago, they fell for Italy: for vespas, pizzas and pastas, for charming town centres, for design clothes, for cars and music. The love was mutual, the Italians became the most fierce Americana-lovers in Europe. And the Ialians quickly understood that they have all the pluses needed: it is better to design pretty. Maybe the Lamborghini or Ferrari are not mechanically as reliable as German cars, but they are relaible technically and by far the most beautiful and stylish. Maybe some other clother endure more wahings, but the Italian fashion is what is the most elegant. Maybe some other food is better or tastier, but pizza is the most popular fast food around the world, not sandwich and not hamburger and not sushi and not falafel. Pizza. And maybe there are better lovers or better looking buildings, but the world loves the Italian ones. It is as simple as this: build once, nicely, and just keep it for centuries and collect the money from the people eagre to see it. Well, the Americans and the Britons should not complain. I saw the photos of the old Los Angeles and old Atlanta. They were as pretty as Vienna, or Milan, with fancy buildings, pedestrian areas and trams. Before they turned into a gigantic human-hating car parks. The Brits destroyed Birmingham themselves to make room for motorways and alleys. The Italians stuck to the old and narrow, unmodern. And they won the tourist battle. Since from the start, it was not a battle for the economic and practical mind, it was a battle to win hearts. And the Italians won ours.