We The Italians | Two Flags, One Youth: Proud of our history 2.0

Two Flags, One Youth: Proud of our history 2.0

Two Flags, One Youth: Proud of our history 2.0

  • WTI Magazine #145 Nov 13, 2021
  • 258

This retrieval of the column Two Flags, One Youth will provide a glimpse of Italy from the perspective of a young person, born and raised in the bèl paése, but who also nurtures a strong passion and interest for the United States. Within this space, I will commit to talking and exploring a wide variety of different issues with the goal to present the Italian country as young people tend to see it and I will also try to draw a parallel with the American state, offering thereof an insight and a look at these two different - yet connected - nations. 

How do I – as a young person - see Italy? How do young people see it? This column will be an attempt to answer these questions while dealing with various topics, and perhaps sparking people’s interest and welcoming all kind of opinions.    

The first matter upon which I would like to reflect regards how, nowadays, important and significant historical sites, monuments, places belonging to the national history and culture and major tourist sights seem to be preserved, kept, presented, and valorized in Italy; with a light and general comparison with the way this appears to be done in the United States.  

As of 2021, Italy has the largest number of sites defined as World Heritage by UNESCO holding a worldwide record of 58 places. They do not only represent the beauty of unspoiled nature, the architectural brilliance of past centuries or the display of historical masterpieces, but they are also intrinsically connected to the identity of the country; they embody the history, the culture, and the traditions of Italy. These kinds of places are one-of-a-kind elements that make each country unique. And that is precisely why they should carefully and regularly be taken care of, preserving their conditions, repairing the damages caused by the passage of time, cleaning their soil, making them safe and accessible for everyone; something that – as a FAI (Fondo Ambiente Italiano) spot of few years ago shows - does not always happen in our country. 

But this would not be enough. A deeper commitment and investment are intensely needed. These places need to be valorized to the fullest of their potential; people – both Italian citizens and tourists - must know that these sites exist and where they can find them, their existence needs to be shared and widely promoted, visits should be well-organized and properly delivered and their story must be passionately told so that whoever come and see can not only enjoy the experience of losing oneself in the Italian culture and reliving the country’s history, but will also feel so much interest and passion that will be encouraged to further study the topics autonomously. We should proudly and gratefully present our cultural, natural, historical, artistic, and architectural heritage. The value appreciation I am talking about is not meant to have a strategic economic purpose and does not intend to suggest any profitable exploitation, but rather a responsible pledge to care for what our country has to offer and a heartfelt dedication to preserve its treasures and their legacy. 

And a way to do this can be found also in the ability to keep up with this fast-changing world and its innovations, succeeding in maintaining a good equilibrium between the past and the present and understating how the new could help us to respect, valorize and spread the knowledge and pride of the old. The afore-mentioned FAI video can perfectly exemplify this concept by proving how digital resources – even with a brief and pretty simple message – can be effective and reach thousands of people. 

 Visiting the places where history was made, admiring centuries-old buildings, immersing oneself in natural oasis, taking a tour of illustrious monuments and sights should reawaken people’s imagination, should provide a clear and truthful idea about the events of the past that led us to this day, inspire curiosity, make people understand why that is such a significant place and should satisfy people’s interest and raise their emotions. And all of this should be carried out passionately and proudly in every part of our country and in any circumstance. 

In the same way as you can perceive how history took shape when walking through the battlefields of Gettysburg while Lincoln’s famous address echoes in your mind; or get a full understanding of a city’s origin and story and grasping its importance when visiting Boston and doing a tour of its most famous sites, accompanied by the image and the sound of Paul Revere’s horse ride rushing into the city; or the sense of respect, tribute, and courage a person can feel while standing between the two big fountains and admiring the spectacular 1,776 feet tower at the 9/11 memorial in New York. 

Italy has a lot to be proud of, a lot to admire and appreciate, but also a lot to work on, to improve, to make better and more efficient, to make worthy of its value. And this kind of work should be carried out across all generations and through all the means – both dated and modern – at our disposal; and a way to include the younger generations in this conversation is for instance to take advantage of what new technologies have to offer. 

In 2021, we should not underestimate the fact that social media and mobile apps could provide benefits and advantages to deal with this issue; in fact, the firsts could be employed as tools to provide facts and information, share messages, promote events, advertise, and organize visits and the latter can serve as online guide to be taken everywhere and used to locate places, see – thanks to digital recreation – how sights used to be, communicate impressions and suggestions and keep people informed. For example, such an app can offer a wide variety of services ranging from custom itinerary, what to see, tours and tickets and tourist guides to lists of accommodations, places where to eat and drink and go shopping; plus, practical information about the country or a city.        

I wish that all the places I am talking about could give off that feeling of community, pride, care, and respect because we are able to make them so. However, I am also wondering whether maybe we tend to see it this way and have this perception because we live in it and we might take it for granted or are we really not proud enough to be able to instil and inspire such pride? Perhaps we do not fully perceive it, perhaps this is just one side of a much broader conversation, but I am inclined to ask myself whether we are or not really capable of being proud of our country and show it to the world.    

All those sites do not only represent something or someone, but they all tell a story – our national story - and we should be the ones responsible to allow those stories to live on.