The Dark Heart of Italy
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In 1999 Tobias Jones immigrated to Italy, expecting to discover the pastoral bliss described by centuries of foreign visitors. Instead, he found a very different country: one besieged by unfathomable terrorism and deep-seated paranoia. The Dark Heart of Italy is Jones's account of his four-year voyage across the Italian peninsula.
Jones writes not just about Italy's art, climate, and cuisine but also about the much livelier and stranger sides of the Bel Paese: the language, soccer, Catholicism, cinema, television, and terrorism. Why, he wonders, does the parliament need a "slaughter commission"? Why do bombs still explode every time politics start getting serious? Why does everyone urge him to go home as soon as possible, saying that Italy is a "brothel"? Most of all, why does one man, Silvio Berlusconi-in the words of a famous song-appear to own everything from Padre Nostro (Our Father) to Cosa Nostra (the Mafia)?
The Italy that emerges from Jones's travels is a country scarred by civil wars and "illustrious corpses"; a country that is proudly visual rather than verbal, based on aesthetics rather than ethics; a country where crime is hardly ever followed by punishment; a place of incredible illusionism, where it is impossible to distinguish fantasy from reality and fact from fiction.
here: ‘L’Albe’, ‘Il Davo’ and ‘Il Gallo’ have been very, very grandi. I have had the immense fortune, over many years, of picking the large brains of Professors Diego Saglia, Jeremy Elston, Hugh Jones and Niall Ferguson. The sharing of their wisdom in times of need has been invaluable. My avvocato, Filippo Ziveri, has accompanied me on various journeys, and has always been very generous and judicious. I’ve also been exceptionally lucky to share the company, contacts and Catholicism of Glenn
formerly synonymous with the Communist party and now home to its reincarnated self, the Democrats of the Left. I walked up to the first floor where the Commission’s most recent report was being presented. The room was full of those politicians and judges famous for their investigations into the slaughters from 1969 to 1984. A report, coming in at a modest 326 pages, was being handed round. It was entitled ‘Slaughters and Terrorism in Italy from 1945 to 1976’. Of course, all was not quite as it
didn’t know otherwise would think he was the country’s most famous journalist, rather than its most famous ‘murderer’. It would be too strong to say that Sofri has willed himself into this position, but in stubbornly and repeatedly requesting not liberty, but justice, he must have been conscious that he would become a secular martyr. Sofri finds himself in prison, wrote one journalist in October 2000, the day after the closure of his case, ‘for not having doffed his cap to the bureaucratic cast
like something from a fairy-tale, or at least from another century. The whole place is immaculately lit up, with minimal white lights which, through the foggy air, look like candles. People ride bicycles that seem to have been in the family for generations. Palazzi are propped up by columns which look as delicate and thin as pencils. The house-fronts are all brightly coloured, normally the mellow, vaguely regal yellow which is called Parma yellow (a colour popularised by the Duchess Maria Luigia,
scheduling became legal was known as Law 223 or ‘the Mammí law’ (named after the Minister for Telecommunications). It was proposed in 1984 and passed, eventually, in 1990. It sanctioned the de facto national broadcasting by Berlusconi, ending for all time the monopoly of RAI and creating the RAI-Mediaset duopoly. Five government ministers resigned in protest at the legislation, already wary of Berlusconi’s omnipotence. The then Prime Minister was Bettino Craxi, who had been best man at