Police at a roadblock to enforce the coronavirus emergency lockdown in Rome on March 28. (Fabio Frustaci/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

In a WhatsApp audio recording, a hoarse voice in a Sicilian accent said: “Cover up — and if we have to respond [to the police], we will smash [them] to smithereens. … They’ll beg for mercy.”

Another replied: “If they send 10 anti-riot police trucks, do you really think they could stop us? Aren’t we all armed with batons and clubs against them?”

The conversation between unnamed small-time Mafia members was shared with reporters by undercover police the last weekend in March in Palermo, Sicily’s capital. The same weekend, marauders raided supermarkets in Palermo and Naples. Police have since been sent as security guards at numerous establishments in both cities.…  Seguir leyendo »

Photo by SERGIO PESCI/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock. Italian army trucks are loaded with coffins to be transported to a crematorium. (Sergio Pesci/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

On Thursday, European Union leaders are holding a videoconference to plan their fight against the new coronavirus. They will also probably discuss the economic consequences of the pandemic. A group of nine member states have proposed that the European Union borrow money to finance the fight against coronavirus by issuing joint “coronabonds,” a move opposed by Germany and the Netherlands.

This decision will be made against the backdrop of a looming fiscal crisis in one of the E.U.’s founding members, and its third-largest economy. Italy was already in a financially precarious position before the pandemic. Its government has run a budget account surplus excluding interest payments (spending less money than it brings in), in 19 of the last 20 years.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hemos sido la generación más afortunada de la historia de la humanidad. Nacidos en la maravillosa península italiana, reclinada sobre un mar “bueno” en medio del periodo de paz más largo y de mayor bienestar del que jamás ha disfrutado el Occidente europeo, hemos sido la jeunesse dorée de la historia universal. Ahora, al entrar en la edad que debería otorgarnos la madurez, una vez alcanzado el “punto más alto” de nuestra existencia, nos vemos llamados a la prueba. ¿Estaremos a la altura?

Para aclarar a qué me refiero, no estoy hablando de la felicidad. Es posible que otras generaciones, más atormentadas, menos prósperas, más desesperadamente vitales que la nuestra, también hayan sido más felices.…  Seguir leyendo »

Los paramédicos transportan a un paciente sospechoso de coronavirus a un hospital en Roma el lunes.

Mientras las infecciones por el coronavirus en Italia rebasaban los 400 casos y las muertes llegaban a las decenas, el líder del gobernante Partido Demócrata publicó una fotografía en la que brindaba por “un aperitivo en Milán”, e invitaba a la gente a “no cambiar nuestros hábitos”.

Eso fue el 27 de febrero. Menos de 10 días después, cuando el conteo llegó a 5883 infecciones y 233 muertes, el jefe del partido, Nicola Zingaretti, publicó un nuevo video, esta vez para informarle a Italia que él también tenía el virus.

Ahora Italia tiene más de 53.000 infecciones registradas y más de 4800 muertes, y el ritmo de contagio se sigue acelerando, pues más de la mitad de los casos y fallecimientos se registraron la semana pasada.…  Seguir leyendo »

A delivery rider in Genoa, Italy, 19 March 2020: ‘Uniting against the pandemic in a show of spontaneous patriotism ultimately makes the nation more cohesive.’ Photograph: Luca Zennaro/EPA

Last week, Italy became the first European country to go into complete lockdown to protect its citizens from a pandemic attack. Previously, such a scenario was just an academic hypothesis for national security experts. Now what Italy is doing can become a model for other countries threatened by the same enemy: coronavirus.

Italy remains under attack, as shown by the rising number of infections and deaths, and the battle against the virus is full of unknowns, but there are three aspects of the current emergency that already contain unequivocal lessons.

The first concerns national security. The pandemic caught Italy by surprise, almost like a large-scale terror attack.…  Seguir leyendo »

People wearing protective face masks walk in the Borgo Pio district in Rome on Tuesday. (Angelo Carconi/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

On March 9, 2020, Italy’s government ordered the entire country into lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. No one is allowed outside except briefly, for exercise, groceries, or medicine. In northern Italy, which has been hardest hit, movement has been restricted for a couple of days longer; a few virus hotspots have been restricted for a little over three weeks. The first infection was detected among tourists at the end of January; the first Italian case was diagnosed on Feb. 21. As of March 16, just under 138,000 people have been tested in Italy, 23,000 are currently infected with the virus, 2,750 are believed to have recovered from an infection, and just over 2,150 have died.…  Seguir leyendo »

Maria Teresa Baldini of the far-right Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) party wears a protective mask and gloves inside parliament after Italy’s lockdown. Photograph: Remo Casilli/Reuters

If the coronavirus pandemic is fuelling any political hope, it is that this crisis is a robust nail in the coffin of populist politics. Surely, some argue, in the face of an entirely indiscriminate, unforeseen and formidable plague, for which no one can be blamed (unlike, say, greedy bankers and unscrupulous lenders in the global financial crisis, or the terrorists of 9/11) people will turn to the truth, to science and to expert-led government.

And, true, populist leaders seem to have lost their voice, for now: the attempts to blame migrants, porous borders and the forces of globalisation for the coronavirus have received short shrift.…  Seguir leyendo »

I’m a Doctor in Italy. We Have Never Seen Anything Like This

None of us have ever experienced a tragedy like it.

We know how to respond to road accidents, train derailments, even earthquakes. But a virus that has killed so many, which gets worse with each passing day and for which a cure — or even containment — seems distant? No.

We always think of calamity as something that will happen far from us, to others far away, in another part of the world. It’s a kind of superstition. But not this time. This time it happened here, to us — to our loved ones, our neighbors, our colleagues.

I’m an anesthesiologist at the Policlinico San Donato here in Milan, which is part of the Lombardy region, the heart of the Italian coronavirus outbreak.…  Seguir leyendo »

Before the virus came, I was living in my usual, hectic way, going back and forth from Milan to Rome for work. As such, I turned a blind eye to the worrying news coming from China. Even the onset of contagion in the Codogno area near Milan was, to me, just another news story.

So when the virus came close, I was surprised to discover that hard choices had to be made — and fast. The first: Where do we wait this out? Do I stay in Rome, where I live and work, or go back to the little village outside of Milan where my aging parents live?…  Seguir leyendo »

The coronavirus pandemic may claim an unexpected victim: a united euro zone. And if it does, Italy will have done much of the work.

The country has essentially shuttered its economy to fight its enormous health crisis. All retail establishments — restaurants, shops and entertainment — are closed throughout the entire country except for essential stores like groceries and pharmacies. Effectively, millions of Italians are out of work.

These actions would shock any economy. But Italy’s economy is already weak, and has been for decades. Its gross domestic product has barely grown over the past 20 years. Its unemployment rate, at 9.8…  Seguir leyendo »

The nearly deserted Piazza di Spagna in central Rome on Thursday, as Italy shut all stores except for pharmacies and food shops in a desperate bid to halt the spread of a coronavirus. (Alberto Pizzoli/Afp Via Getty Images)

Last Saturday night, I watched in surprise and horror as the television broadcast images of hundreds of people storming Milan’s central train station, desperate to catch a train out of the city after rumors circulated of the coming of a quarantine over coronavirus concerns in Italy’s north. Hours later, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced a partial closure of the region, centered on Milan.

Then, the next day, the restrictions arrived at my doorstep, as Conte decreed limits on travel nationwide.

A thought crossed my mind: Is it time to panic? And soon, will this become a reality not just here but everywhere?…  Seguir leyendo »

Claudio Furlan/LaPresse, via Associated Press

You glance at the headlines, just before going to bed on a Saturday evening, to discover your town has been put in lockdown. Or is about to be. It’s not clear. Apparently, the order hasn’t been signed yet. Social media shows people rushing to the station, mainly for the last trains south. This is Milan, economic dynamo of Italy, the only city in the country that has grown stronger and richer through the long years of stagnation since the financial crisis of 2008. An enormous number of people who work here are from the south. If the city is shutting down for the coronavirus, they want to be home.…  Seguir leyendo »

El norte de Italia actualmente es el centro del brote de COVID-19 en Europa. Hasta el momento, 17 italianos han muerto como resultado del nuevo coronavirus, y 650 han sido infectados. Las escuelas en la región han cerrado, las universidades han suspendido las clases, las empresas le han pedido a su personal que trabajara desde casa y muchos teatros, cines y bares han cerrado sus puertas. El virus causó la cancelación de los dos últimos días del Carnaval de Venecia, que atrae a miles de visitantes cada año. Y la zona sur de Milán, donde se reportaron los primeros casos de COVID-19 de Italia, está en cuarentena.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hacia 1923, gran parte de Italia se había hecho fascista. Giovanni Gentile, Pirandello o Ungaretti aplaudían el régimen naciente o colaboraban con él. Nicola Bombacci, el hombre de Lenin en Italia, iniciaba una aproximación. El éxito político de Mussolini fue repentino y ferozmente rápido. Después un revolcón humillante en los comicios de 1919, lograría recuperar el equilibrio lanzando a sus matones contra un partido socialista al que le había dado la ventolera de fingirse bolchevique. En el 22 tuvo lugar la marcha sobre Roma, seguida de una ganga fenomenal para quien la había convocado: la presidencia del Consejo. En el 25 fue sojuzgado el parlamento.…  Seguir leyendo »

Como una resaca, la larga campaña de la derecha soberanista sobre los inmigrados deja su reflujo. Un movimiento ondulante nacido donde el agua es más profunda, alimentado por el lenguaje del odio contra el “distinto” y utilizado para señalar a los enemigos y conquistar el consenso. La prueba de que los mensajes de rencor y la propaganda sobre seguridad han aumentado el miedo y han creado más incertidumbre la ofrecen los últimos datos difundidos por el observatorio para la seguridad contra los actos discriminatorios (Oscad), instituido en 2010 por la Dirección Central de la Policía criminal del Ministerio del Interior.

Las estadísticas —presentadas el pasado 21 de enero en Roma durante el congreso sobre Las víctimas del odio celebrado en la sala multifuncional de la presidencia del Consejo de Ministros— hablan claro: en 2019, en Italia, se cometieron 969 delitos de carácter discriminatorio (hate crimes, es decir, delitos de odio).…  Seguir leyendo »

El transformismo y la envidia social

Conte. O como se suele decir en Italia, emulando el famoso tuit de Donald Trump durante la crisis desencadenada en verano por Matteo Salvini en el Papeete Beach de Milano Marittima, los numerosos Contes. Los Giuseppes: o, como vamos a intentar demostrar, el resurgimiento —en una Italia que es primera abanderada del soberanismo fascista de la Liga— del transformismo. Un regreso, por así decir, a Cavour y el cambio de chaqueta como instrumento para estabilizar un país caracterizado por una especie de a-democracia. Es decir, un caos democrático como estabilización paradójica de una Italia que hace años que no tiene una mayoría regida por los principios de la coherencia política y los ejes ideológicos de la «derecha» y la «izquierda».…  Seguir leyendo »

On Nov. 29, London Bridge was the site of another terrorist attack. Usman Khan, a 28-year-old convicted on terrorism offences in 2012 and then released from jail last year, stabbed two people to death and injured three others. British police shot and killed Khan, and the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack the following day.

A week later, a Saudi trainee at a Navy base in Pensacola, Fla., murdered three sailors before military security shot him dead. The Navy grounded nearly 300 Saudi trainees while the FBI investigated the incident as a presumed terrorist attack.

These two acts jolted Western governments and security agencies to the risk of jihadist terrorism.…  Seguir leyendo »

Can ItalianLong a fixture on British trains, the standard class quiet carriage is now being unveiled in Italy. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photos be persuaded to speak sotto voce on the train

The announcement that Italy’s high-speed train franchise, Frecciarossa, is introducing “quiet carriages” has been greeted with relief and irony. Of the many stereotypes about Italians, one that refuses to die is that they are loud, and even many Italians doubt that a “quiet carriage” will ever remain so.

Frecciarossa’s quiet carriages were previously only available for business passengers, but they proved so popular that they will now be available to passengers in economy class too. They will be called “Standard Silenzio”.

In some ways, Italy has earned its reputation as a rowdy country. A 2015 survey of global noise pollution placed Italy second for racket.…  Seguir leyendo »

Una de las peores inundaciones en la historia de Venecia ha sumergido algunos de los emblemas culturales de la ciudad, entre ellos la Basílica de San Marcos en Piazza San Marco. Esta es sólo la sexta vez que la basílica se inunda en 1200 años, pero la cuarta de las últimas dos décadas, y la segunda en menos de 400 días. A este ritmo, el frágil entramado veneciano de calli, campi y palazzi, bordado sobre un sedimento que se hunde, puede ser destruido por las aguas en cuestión de décadas. ¿Pero qué hay de la gente que lo habita?…  Seguir leyendo »

Este verano ha sido para Italia un verano complicado. Como italiano, no recuerdo una crisis en pleno mes de agosto. Una tormenta previsible, debido a la formación de un Gobierno entre dos fuerzas políticas muy distintas, los Verdes (Lega) y los Amarillos (Cinque Stelle). Dos partidos con visiones contrapuestas pero unidos en ser populistas, antisistema, contrarios a los partidos tradicionales y nacionalistas. Un movimiento Cinque Stelle primer partido con mas del 32% del voto y fuerte en el Sur, área económicamente complicada y constantemente subvencionada, y la Lega (ex Lega Norte), ya presente en toda Italia con el 17% del voto, pero muy concentrada en el norte, territorio de emprendimiento y de mucha más riqueza.…  Seguir leyendo »