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Povera Italia, Povera Europa

November 6, 2015

Living here in Italy, we constantly hear the complaints of our fellow Europeans: Times are tough, there’s no money and no work and everyone laments that they wish they had the things that America has. They want the big cars, the big streets and the big life that define America. However, they seem not to know that these things come with hard work. Povera Italia, povera Europa!

Hard work and sacrifice are lacking in the European vocabulary. Here in northern Italy, businesses are closed Sunday, Monday and Thursday afternoons. In addition, most retail businesses are closed from noon to three in the afternoon on the days when they are open. How can you make money or have an economy when you don’t open your doors? It’s often the same in Germany, Greece, France or wherever. Locals claim it is tradition. However these closures were invented to support a rural farm economy which chiefly no longer exists. I submit it is pure laziness and reliance on the comfortable government tit. It certainly isn’t going to deliver a big anything. Povera Italia, povera Europa.

Years ago, I sought out advice from a local plumber. I carefully avoided the aforementioned hours of closure only to find a note on his door that read “torno subito” (be right back). I dutifully waited for nearly three hours and finally asked a man in a nearby business when the plumber would return. He told me that the note had been on the door for years and that I should simply find another plumber. Puzzled, I inquired further. It turned out that being a plumber was sort of a hobby for this fellow. He certainly did not want to be bothered with actual work.

If a country and its people want to remain in the eclipse of the dark ages, that is probably fine. However, they should not whine that they don’t have the same standard of living as people in the new world who actually work hard. It is akin to the welfare mother who laments that she doesn’t have a better life with a butler. Better is earned; better is not an entitlement. Povera Italia, povera Europa!

Leaving the material things in life aside, what about personal responsibility? Here in Italy, the common thinking is that everything is the responsibility of the state. If you become ill, the government will fix you. If your dog craps on the sidewalk, surely a government employee will be along shortly to clean up the mess. I was once admonished for picking-up trash along our local road. “That’s work for the state!” I was told. My reply was, “We are the state!” In like fashion, volunteerism is not a known quantity hereabouts. The first question is always, “Chi paga? (Who is going to pay me?) I organized a small group to shovel snow at our church only to find I was a group of one. A couple of years ago I held a door open for an elderly lady exiting the market with a bag of groceries in each hand. Rather than thanking me, she flew in to a rage and asked me what I wanted…. money? Apparently the Boy Scouts do things differently in Italy. Where is the hope to move forward as a society with this type of thinking? Povera Italia, povera Europa!

Times are tough but the tough are not going anywhere.

There is no money nor will there ever be when doors are closed.

There is no work for people who don’t want to work.

Many want the things that America has but they are unwilling to work like Americans to get those things.

In the end, the state is us and we need to help ourselves.

Povera Italia, povera Europa!

Read author Allen E. Rizzi’s latest books available at

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  1. sunny lockwood permalink

    Love the plumber story!


  2. allenrizzi permalink

    True story …. that little note is still on his door.


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