Peas are the first thing I remember after surviving a passage from the mainland to a small island in the Mediterranean. I was fourteen years old.
Since then, my memory of Italy resembles a puzzle with too many pieces: blue ones, green ones, the ones alone and the ones with family, the ones with school and the ones with work, the ones of day and the ones of night. It has been my home and a place that I have been lucky enough to travel many years of work. The past feels like a romantic blur compared to my recent visits which were far more real.
Twenty years of stagnation have eroded the living standards and taken confidence in the future, driving young Italians to leave the country in record numbers. Many Italians pretend the problem does not exist, but that will not make it go away. Against the backdrop of emigration, Italy became a destination for migrants, whether for permanent settlement or as a way station. While northern Italy booms, the south is at best, stagnant. Worries and insecurity over government, education, immigration, and political stability are legitimate in the population and reflect a major change. The general living standard ranks at the lower edge compared to other European countries. Nevertheless, Italy stays a favorite touristic destination with decay and beauty being part of its mystic and poetic landscape, not to mention the culinary experience and the Italian way of life. It is and will remain a place which attracts people interested in culture and design, as well as tourists who try to get a glimpse of what is left of Italy’s rich history. Pasta and peas are still on the menu. Nothing has changed.