Happy 150th Birthday to Italy!
When we first arrived in Asssi, we couldn’t help but notice Italian flags waving from almost every window. After asking a shopkeeper about the abundance of patriotism, we learned that March 17th was the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy.
It’s hard to think of Italy being such a young country when wandering through medieval towns, but Italy had a city-state system for centuries. Florence, Umbria, Sicily, Rome, and other areas were independent entities and, in some cases, kingdoms. Unification occurred under a perfect storm of constitutionalism, nationalism, economics, and war.
Some would argue that the unified Italy isn’t even 150 years old. Up until the 1970s, according to reports, many people preferred to use their local dialects over Italian. (Some dialects are very similar to Italian; some sound almost completely different.)
There are still calls for a divided Italy. In the 1990s, the political group Lega Nord (Northern League) was formed to advocate for federalism and greater regional autonomy, including secession of Northern Italy from the South. It’s not exactly a fringe group, either. Umberto Bossi, the leader of Lega Nord, is Minister for Federal Reform under Berlusconi. Or was. I can’t keep up with Berlusconi’s cabinet AND enjoy a vacation here.
I can’t tell you if Italy will remain unified for another 150 years, but I can suggest one way to keep Italian unified: bring in a bunch of French Bulldogs. Seriously, they can’t get enough of Miloš here.
Tourists and locals have agreed on one thing: Miloš is pretty darn cute. Maybe it’s not enough to beat back the progress of Lega Nord, but it’s a start.