Friday, July 08, 2005

North vs. South

Even before I moved here people have been telling me about the differences between the North and South. Now that my Italian is getting better I seem to be reading the paper more (usually La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno) and learning more about this difference. People can have stereotypes that will last forever so I’m looking for facts. Some recent facts I’ve seen are these…
In Puglia water is the most expensive in Italy. I thought this was no big deal because it makes sense since it is very dry here. There is only one “river” (I would call it a stream) and not many lakes so I could see why water would be expensive but Molise just north of us has much cheaper water and in the Milano area they have the cheapest. Also just out in the news is recycling. It seems in the North they recycle up to 70% or 80% of their trash, which ranks as high as some of the best areas of Europe, while in the south they are at 12% or 13% and some areas below 10%. To make a long story short, the water is blamed on corruption and the trash is blamed on people’s attitudes (which confirms a few stereotypes). Another strange example of southern Italy, just the other day, right out in front of where I work, someone stole 300 feet of railroad tracks in the middle of the night (not the ties just the metal tracks). That’s no small feat and to get away unnoticed…. Lastly politics. When I moved here I remember a few weeks later I learned the word for mayor, sindaco, because Brindisi’s mayor was all over the papers. Why? Because he was in jail for corruption. Also did I mention that the Governor of Puglia, Nichi Vendola, is a gay communist? It’s funny because he says he speaks for the average working man in his Armani suits with his boyfriend. Does that sound like your average Southern Italian? So I have to say that some of the stereotypes seem to be true and division between North and South are there. I bet you didn’t know that there is a small group up North that are calling for the North to split off and become it’s own country called “Padania”. Strange but true.

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