“Italians? Too complaining, however they understand how to withstand the French and instantly perceive individuals” – Corriere.it

from Francesca Basso

The dream of the Flemings? “Farmhouse in Tuscany”. Swedes: “You discuss an excessive amount of.” Dutch: “Love and Hate”

from our correspondent

BRUXELS – It has been a very long time for the reason that outlets in Belgium they’d the signal “Ni chiens ni Italiens” (no canines and Italians allowed). It took a long time for Italian immigrants fleeing the famine to reach after the 1946 “coal” settlement between Brussels e Roma, built-in. And it took a tragedy, Marcinelle, to alter the angle in the direction of us. However Brussels isn’t solely the capital of Belgium, it’s the seat of the establishments of the European Union, the place Italians encounter residents of the opposite 26 EU nations every day. L’Italy it’s the third largest financial system in Europe, a element that can’t be missed within the stability sheet throughout the EU. Now the Italians come from the most effective universities, enter the ganglia of establishments and are the landmarks of European politics and tradition. Brussels is a privileged observatory to grasp how others view us. And the conclusion is that the platitudes in regards to the stunning nation survived each among the many nations of the North and among the many nations of the South. Till July 14, the “incomprehensible” resignation of Prime Minister Mario Draghi for the remainder of Europe, this story would have been a distinct half because of the deserves of the previous President of the ECB on the worldwide stage and the truth that for greater than a yr and a half he has helped to make our nation shine with a mirrored mild.

Sports activities is cinema

However let’s go so as. There’s a deep connection between Italy and Belgium. Not solely as a result of the queen of Paola is Ruffo di Calabria, as a result of Romelu Lukaku returned to Inter, and Dries Mertens fell in love with Naples, the place he performed for 9 years – absolutely the report holder for the variety of targets scored in a blue shirt – to level out that to call his son Ciro, a reputation given to him by Neapolitan followers (“I’m very proud that my son Ciro was born in Naples,” he declared, “For 9 years this was my land”). Or as a result of for the reason that seventies the Ferrero household has been residing in Brussels, from the place Giovanni heads the third confectionery group on this planet. And the Italian-Belgian movie “Eight Mountains” primarily based on the novel Paolo Cognettishot by the Flemings Charlotte Vandermeersch e Felix Van Gröningen This yr he obtained the Jury Prize on the Cannes Movie Pageant. The Italian neighborhood is the most important, adopted by the Moroccan. There are about 300,000 Italian passports in Belgium.


We should return to the previous, return to the final century. The Italian Republic was born a couple of weeks in the past when, on June 20, 1946, it signed an settlement with the Belgian authorities to supply labor for the mines in trade for coal at market costs. The nation needed to be rebuilt after the battle, and we wanted uncooked supplies: the settlement referred to as for 50,000 individuals to be despatched, however in the long run there have been many extra. It’s estimated that between 1946 and 1957, 140,000 Italian staff from the poorest sections of the inhabitants got here to Belgium to do work within the mines and quarries that the Belgians not needed to do. The Financial Neighborhood of Coal and Metal (Czech Republic), the core of what would turn into the EEC, wouldn’t be born till 1951. “To start with it was not straightforward, there was mistrust in the direction of the Italians, who fought till a yr earlier than. on the aspect of the Germans, he says Mark Tarabella, MEP: “I’m a Belgian within the second era, my father was born in Tuscany, my grandfather got here to Belgium to work in quarries. There was a worry of foreigners. It took us some time to combine. In any case, the Italians have significantly influenced the lifestyle of the Belgians. Now they’re builders, restaurateurs, many medical doctors. Salvatore Adamo and Frédéric François, two of the most well-liked Belgian singers, are of Italian descent. In 1986 we received Eurovision, the one time since Sandra Kimpseudonym Sandra Caldaroni”. An Italian by origin, a naturalized Belgian, additionally a producer and singer-songwriter Rocco Granata, who grew to become well-known all through the world with the track Marina. Racism in opposition to Italians was on the agenda. “They referred to as us pasta,” continues Tarabella, “. I’ve been Interista since I used to be 9 years previous. In 1972, Inter performed within the quarter-finals in opposition to Liege Normal. They laughed at me, however I keep in mind how good it was after we received.”

Turning level

It’s the tragedy of Marcinella that modifications the angle in the direction of Italians and places an finish to official emigration from our nation. Within the Bois du Casier coal mine within the Charleroi coal basin, close to the Belgian metropolis of Marcinelle in Wallonia, a hearth broke out on August 8, 1956, which killed 262 staff of twelve nationalities, together with 136 Italians. A tragedy that’s nonetheless remembered at present. “At that second, the Italians had been perceived as a inhabitants that sacrificed itself for Belgium and gave a lot for its growth,” he explains. Mary Sand, a member of the European Parliament of Belgium, his mom is from the province of Caltanissetta, and his father is from the province of Enna. “However then the financial disaster of the 70s occurred, and the Italians, who had been primarily employed in large-scale business, discovered themselves unemployed. Their unemployment fee, Enviornment continues, was twice that of the Belgians, they used extra of the unemployment fund, on account of which they got here to be seen as a bit depressing and lazy. Then there’s a third technique to see the Italians linked with the development of Europe, with a brand new era of expats who work in EU establishments, are educated and bear the refined Italian spirit. An evolution that will also be noticed within the catering business: within the Seventies it was primarily pizzerias, now the most effective eating places in Brussels are Italian.” Image of profitable integration Elio Di Rupofather from San Valentino (Pescara), president of the Belgian Socialist Celebration since 1999 and non-Belgian prime minister from 2011 to 2014, at the moment on the helm of Wallonia.

Made in Italy

Prejudices die arduous, they’re like a karst river. This was skilled by the Italian ambassador in Belgium. Francesco Genuardi, who simply took workplace in April 2022: “The College of Leuven used the Flemish slogan ‘So you will not order the ‘Ndrangheta for dessert’ to promote its Italian programs,” he says. I instantly spoke to the rector who determined to right away cease the promoting marketing campaign, they’d no intention of offending the Italian neighborhood, and we did conform to strengthen cooperation exactly as a way to make the actions carried out by Italy extra identified to uphold the rule of legislation. … and the struggle in opposition to organized crime.” Apart from this episode, Genuardi has at all times proven nice curiosity in our nation: “My dedication now could be to Made in Italy diplomacy, additionally expressed in innovation and expertise,” he explains, “to make Italy much less identified right here. There may be additionally nice curiosity in our nation in Flanders. A survey carried out throughout Covid amongst younger Flemings discovered that certainly one of their largest desires is to open a farmhouse in Tuscany.”


Clichés about us abound with Europeans working in establishments. However one reality emerges: “The Italians are thought-about a individuals against the French, in relation to whom the Belgians have an inferiority complicated, they at all times attempt to imitate them,” he says. Giuseppe Meroni, Dean of Parliamentary Assistants: “Different Europeans actually respect the Italian lifestyle, our vogue, sports activities.” Affirmation got here from Sweden. Those that work in establishments agreed to talk, however beneath anonymity, which is a assure of cruel sincerity. “For the Swedes, you’re the nation of the three Fs: meals, soccer, vogue. A fantastic nation to go on trip and the place you may eat properly, however the place it’s higher to not dwell, as a result of you aren’t very organized. Draghi is an exception, he’s beloved and believed in by everybody in Europe. Your attribute, our Swedish supply continues, is that you simply discuss an excessive amount of for us, possibly as a result of we discuss too little. In establishments you’ve got community, you don’t respect actual chain of command, however you understand how to unravel issues. You do not have an organized community like in Germany, it is extra of a private community that we sort of envy.” All “thrifty” nations are on the identical line. The Dutch supply is much more direct: “We love and hate Italy. We love the individuals, the nation, your meals, you’re emotional, passionate, direct and open, however you’re chaotic and never very organized. You’re a conservative nation that avoids change, doesn’t perform the mandatory reforms. In establishments you’re in all places, there may be an Italian mushy energy that we envy you and which relies on private relationships. Below Draghi, Rome was thought-about on a par with Paris and Berlin. The abstract is {a photograph} of Draghi, Scholz and Markon on a practice to Kyiv. Speaking to an Austrian modifications nothing.


Within the south we’re beloved extra. “One face a race”, a Greek supply jokes: “I got here to Belgium to check in 1999, and 6 months later Italians, Spaniards, Portuguese, Maltese grew to become my associates. The Italians deal with you as equals, with the Belgians and Germans you’ve got the sensation that you simply deserve their friendship, he says. With Italians, we shortly perceive one another, they’ve the identical mentality, we don’t at all times undergo the formal approach of fixing issues. When the debt disaster got here, you understood us and didn’t humiliate us, didn’t ask us to promote the Acropolis, as a result of we went bankrupt. Italy is a rustic that we admire and we envy you right here since you are good at making connections. There may be competitors in sports activities.” For Spaniards, “we’re like brothers, two nice nations of the South,” one other supply explains: “Prior to now we had an inferiority complicated, now it’s gone. Our benefit is that Spain has a extra steady coverage. What occurred to Draghi left us baffled. Nonetheless, there’s a cultural and linguistic closeness.”

Household and advantage

The Portuguese additionally really feel nearer to us: “We now have an identical social construction,” our interlocutor notes, “primarily based on household and powerful ties with native communities, the human side usually prevails over enterprise. Nonetheless, we’ve a distinct view of relationships, not like you, we share enterprise and household. The stigma of a household society, the place there isn’t a meritocracy, stays. However you, just like the Portuguese, shortly discover options, however we think about you a much less business-friendly nation.” Affirmation comes from taxi drivers. After they acknowledge Italian origin in lots of, virtually throughout North Africa, they start to recall the glad interval spent in our nation earlier than coming to Brussels: they emphasize the heat of individuals, good meals, solar, nice solidarity, however then they add that it is a place the place they don’t come again as a result of “Belgium is doing lots higher”.

September 8, 2022 (modified September 8, 2022 | 11:12 am)

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