After a long weekend of dreadful excess – due partly to the celebration of Italy’s liberation (from itself and its unwise choices), celebrated each year on 25 April by precisely one third of the population, partly to the fact that Giuseppe and I have been together for 22 years, and partly to the irresistible and typically weekend combination of like minds, alcohol and propinquity – I found myself this evening watching a documentary about airports.
Made by Report, more or less the only programme of investigative journalism on Italian television, it looked at the state of Italy’s many airports, scattered like mouse droppings in a dirty kitchen across the country and constituting a hole into which vast amounts of taxpayers’ money are regularly thrown. The programme compared the Italian situation to that in other, more civilised countries like France, Spain and Germany (oddly, the UK wasn’t mentioned), as it does every week, to Italy’s cost.
What makes the Italian situation basically shit is too complicated to go into now – hints: private vs public, competition vs collaboration, Ryanair vs the world – but what struck me was not so much the structural or political differences between the Italians and all the others, as the difference in age. Barcelona Airport is run by a rather attractive young man who can’t be more than 35. Ryanair’s European representative might have belonged to the Arctic Monkeys. Ciampino, on the other hand, is managed by someone who should have been pensioned off a decade ago.
The impression the programme gave, quite incidentally to its actual purpose, was that Italy is run by old men. Old men who aren’t prepared to tell the truth, perhaps because they don’t remember what it is, or that it might be important. Some of them were almost as old as Berlusconi.
Who still hasn’t told us what his plans are to save Alitalia.