CULTURE AND TOURISM ON-LINE MAGAZINE
- FEBRUARY 2018 -
HOME - Bridge Italy - Books - The moral revival of the South can start from its “best”
Books
The moral revival of the South can start from its “best” In the latest essay by Lino Patruno, Il meglio Sud (The best South) (Rubbettino), an in-depth analysis of the ills of the South but also the glimmer of light from positive projects in a South that works, thinks and holds its own by Raffaele Nigro
SHARE Facebook Twitter

 Nobody talks about the South any more. Pino Aprile said this a few years ago in his successful Terroni. But years go by and the silence on the South continues. Nobody talks about it in Parliament, nor in the blustering electoral speeches of Matteo Renzi or of the many party secretaries. It is Renzi that runs away from an appointment like the one he had at the Fiera del Levante, for fear of having to talk about issues that he thinks have nothing to do with him. It is an issue that has all the characteristics of a desert, to escape from and leave behind because it’s hard to deal with. That’s why Lino Patruno in Il meglio Sud (Rubbettino, 2015, 305pages, 15 euros) launches yet another desperate cry, after those in Fuoco del Sud (2011) and Ricomincio da Sud (2012) and just when he’s decided to cross this blessed South, the way Moses did when he set out to take the Jews to the Promised Land. That desert strikes Patruno as a demographic tragedy, because the number of elderly people is equal to that of children under the age of one. It is a social tragedy, because there are and there will increasingly be fewer workers able to pay contributions to support the pension bill. It is a political tragedy, because if the population falls, the number of our representatives in Parliament also falls. It is consequently an economic tragedy, due to the current youth unemployment in the South, where one out of every two young people is jobless, where the presence of the state is minimal, with businesses disappearing before our very eyes, over 300 a day according to ISTAT figures. 

To tell the truth, people do talk about the South, or rather they badmouth it. The economist Emanuele Felice, for instance, argues that the ills of the South depend on its executive class, a vision that provokes someone like Galli Della Loggia, who though he has always been critical of the South, pulls Felice into line: it is the entire Italian executive class that has produced the ills of the Mezzogiorno. These ills according to Patruno can be summed up in a ghastly museum of Horrors. The book counts about twenty of them, each analyzed and discussed. They are fiscal Federalism, which impacts the poorest citizens; the transfer of capital to the Regions without adjustments at the outset for what is needed in hospitals and in the road and railway system; the lack of intervention to guarantee essential public services. 

Patruno’s examination continues with the analysis of the infrastructures, and the railway situation. Five hours to get from Rome to Bari, the same time from Bari to Naples, twelve from Bari to Reggio Calabria. The trains are obsolete, even on the section pompously described as served by the “Freccia bianca”, where the population has long been waiting for the works for the “Freccia rossa”. On the trains there is no assistance of any kind. The analysis of the infrastructures then passes to the sore point of the road system, to the disastrous Salerno-Reggio Calabria motorway, to the worrying cracks in the Naples-Bari viaducts, to the unfinished Taranto Cosenza road. And if one wanted to get to Catania from Bari? By train it would be exorbitant. And by plane? You’d have to go to Rome and wait for the connection. It would take a whole day. And when will the logistic platform on the Mediterranean ever get started if the port of Taranto is waiting for a dredging that would free it of the rubbish deposited on the seabed so it can go from the present depth of 12 meters to the sixteen envisaged?

The accusations made by Patruno are at this point accompanied by the historical analysis of events linked to the spread of the mafia in Italy. He starts from the Unification, when the phenomenon was first recorded in Sicily. The mafia spread out, slowly attacking the organisms of the State, to the point where it contaminated men like Dell’Utri, one of the founders of Forza Italia, in collusion with the criminal organizations. This was the way we got to the latest phenomena of Rome-mafia capital, while in outlying areas even the processions, as in the case of Oppido Mamertina, bow in respect to the local mafia boss. Patruno admits that the examination of the South cannot shirk coming to terms with its own evils. And this issue of the mafias, although today we are seeing a globalization of the phenomenon, is one of the evils endemic to the Mezzogiorno. The worst South. A South whose disgraceful own-goals are listed here with arithmetical precision. The gargantuan hospital in Gravina that has never been opened; the light rail between Cosenza and Rende, blocked due to internal political feuds in the region; illegal building on crown land in Vibo Valentia; the scarcity of royalties coming from the crude oil in Lucania; the various eco-monsters scattered throughout Campania and Sicily; the rivers of money spent on garbage in Calabria; the abandonment of Pompei and many others…

But does a better South exist? A South not crippled by crime? A productive South? Patruno’s analysis ends with a list of positive projects and of names and organizations that make the South a land that works, thinks, and holds its own. The high point is the naming of Matera as European capital of culture for 2019. 

 
More articles
Culture   Eugenio Barba On Life and Theatrical Thought and Practice Culture   Mark Bradford and Wade Guyton Million dollar American art that’s taking Italy by storm Culture   “Poverty is sexist” The young ambassadors of ONE in Paris against extreme poverty Culture   The middle-eastern origin of blown glass, the pride of Venice Culture   “You don’t know the South” 
The culture of the South relaunched in Otranto Culture   Those Southern women who express the world Culture   Andy Warhol The immortal guru of Pop Art Culture   “Angels and saints in Chicago and Baltimora” Cultural exchanges between the University of Bari and the US Culture   Those farm women, thrilled at their first sight of the sea… Culture   My Puglia as seen from the UN Culture   Forty young Italians with ONE for the fight against world hunger Culture   “American Dreamers” The new dream of eleven American artists on show in Florence Culture   The Fulbright Project? An extraordinary opportunity for a cultural exchange
Books   Not even love transforms the Stock Exchange of destinies Books   And the dream of conquest turned into a mirage of the desert Books   Joseph’s Gargano Books   The tragedy of Mattmark A book so as not to forget Books   Journey through the gardens of Italy Books   When poetry investigates “time” Books   Amidst the storms of life it’s the strength of a loving heart that wins Books   That valley in the Gargano so rich in history that must not be forgotten Books   Grottaglie and its pottery through the life of the benefactor Vincenzo Calò Books   Eighty years of joyful culture Books   Sergeant Romano’s siege like in a movie Books   The magnificent eighty Books   San Marco in Lamis seen from its bell-tower Books   A great love for splendid Castro Books   Better not come home... Letters between Italy and America during the first World War Books   Story of a poet between Puglia and America Books   Worked to death under the sun of Puglia Books   When forgotten objects tell a life story Books   Masserie of Puglia Journey amidst Beauty Books   An excursion into the Salentine dialect … Mai pe iabbu Books   Life, anyway! Books   Rainbow of women Books   Amidst the mountains of Val d’Aosta …in pursuit of the culprit Books   …Once upon a time there was the past Writing about it to preserve the memory Books   Disorder and experimentation in the museum-houses of Ignazio Apolloni Books   Salento stories …in search of lost time Books   Pietro Marti, the great standard-bearer of Salento culture Books   Even tycoons cry Books   If a “whale” island appears one night out of nowhere… Books   From his ancestral Calabria to Roma Precious memories of a lifetime Books   The importance of rediscovering “fraternity” Books   In the wax museum to seek the dream of a better world Books   Naples “Kissed by God and raped by Man” Books   Once upon a time there was the padre-padrone Books   Second World War The drama of the fallen Books   On the Savannah lagoons …to heal Books   The meaning of the 20th century in the saga of the Stille family Books   In Fellini’s La dolce vita the germs of today’s Italy Basilicata   Craco The “second life” of a ghost town Po Delta   The Po Delta park Natural beauty and history Bari   “Cieli americani” in Bari Verona   Verona Shakespeare celebrated its beauty without ever having seen it Courmayeur   Courmayeur All the charm of the low season Ferrara   You can still dream in Ferrara Ferrara   “Action!” Amongst Ferrara’s myriad sets Music   Porretta Soul Festival The Italian Woodstock of black American music Matera   Pasolini-Matera Fifty years ago the first Gospel in the Sassi Naples   “Wood Stone and Friends” Jimmie Durham’s magic vitalism at the MADRE Naples   Art miracles at Vigna San Martino Naples   The Hermann Nitsch Museum From horror to awareness Bologna   Do you want to be FICO? In Bologna you can Bologna   Bologna “The Learned”, “The Fat”, “The Red” Bologna   At the MAMbo Arte Povera on display Polignano   From Brooklyn to Polignano Twelve artists out to conquer Europe Movies   With The Revenant DiCaprio rises again and aims for the Oscar Movies   Quo Vado? When the southern redneck turns politically correct Movies   When the cinema returns to the future Best of Italy   Andria Pietro Zito’s vegetable garden This is where his prize-winning dishes originate Best of Italy   The best Milanese panettone is… Salentine San Marino   “From Hopper to Warhol” on the gentle hills of San Marino San Marino   San Marino Historic appeal amidst breathtaking panoramas Turin   Reggia di Venaria Reale A treasure rediscovered Turin   The Egyptian Museum of Turin The immortal appeal of the Pharaohs Turin   “For President” Photogenic qualities will win the elections Padua   So much… In the city of the three “withouts” Milan   EXPO 2015 Not just food Milan   The oneiric inspirations of Joan Jonas Milan   “Autunno americano” Milan celebrates the States Milan   MILAN The metropolis is still “to drink” (…and “to eat”) Rome   “Empire State” New York is still the epicenter of art Venice   The immortal charm of the 
“Queen of the Sea” Venice   So many “Illumi/nations” with the Biennale d’Arte Rovigo   History and Art In the capital of the Polesine Rovigo   “Divisionism, the light of what is modern” 200 works on show in Rovigo