The very land whose ruins, art, architecture and traditions date from antiquity, seems far too mature to have such a young birthday–150 years. Yet “Italy” is, in its way, this young.
The country’s history and people elude a narrow characterization. To be “Italian” is, in a sense, to espouse principled nonconformity, and show loyalty only to the most local and familiar entities (beginning with family and extending to region). These deeply entrenched characteristics bind the nation at its core.
On the pages of this edition, Italy is seen through various lenses: historical, culinary, musical, artistic, topographical, athletic and photographic.
The Risorgimento was the result of a unique confluence of conditions and an extraordinary leader, Giuseppe Garibaldi, who united the Peninsula’s self-governing territories under one banner.
Since then, despite collapsed governments, the devastation of several wars and a political, sociological split between the North and South, the cry for unification is ever-present.
That said, Italy can still feel like a collection of proud, diverse territories and pronounced individualists—Tuscany, Veneto, Lombardy, Campania, Sicily, Umbria, Piedmont, Calabria, Apulia, Lazio, Molise, Abruzzo, Marches, Trentino-Alto Adige, Aosta, Emilia-Romagna, Basilicata, Friuli, Liguria, Sardinia—the delectable and colorful opposite of neutralizing globalization.
I cannot help wondering, in light of renewed recent political tensions between the North and South, if Italy circa 2011 could give rise to a new Garibaldi, one who could mobilize this eclectic and beautiful mass towards a successful, enterprising and cohesive 150 years ahead.