March 3, 2008

The eternal Roman and Mediterranean soul

Ostuni, PugliaIf it is not a mystery that, on the one hand, the Greek-Roman soul was intimately tied to Egypt and North Africa, it is also true that, on the other, the North-African regions are nowadays considered diverse and almost European by Sub-Saharan black people. Add to this that during the whole Middle Ages North Africans were the most powerful, civilised and wealthy among all Mediterranean and European folks, even though in these days the northern and southern shores of the Mediterranean tend to exchange their roles, since wealth has now moved to the north. Then consider that

many villages in southern Italy (or in so many Greek islands, not to mention Spain, who was under Arabic rule for so long) look Arabic or belonging in any case to the deep southern Mediterranean: take Ostuni, in Apulia, or Sperlonga, in the south of Latium; then look at Sidi Bou Said in Tunisia (see picture above). They are almost identical, belonging to a very similar culture, whether we like it or not, because during the Middle Ages the winning model came from the southern Mediterranean coasts, where civilization (and power) lay.

As a result, according to this Man of Roma’s delicious and thoughtful post, the differences between parts of Italy (and Greece, and Spain) and the North African Countries are not as great as someone might think. And all this while there are parts of Italy—most of the northern and central regions—that since centuries are basically “north-oriented,” and had in the post-Second World War decades an economic, industrial, and socio-cultural growth that made them some of the richest and most developed areas of Europe (while about half of the southern regions still lay in a state of disrepair).

By the way, perhaps that is also why to rule this Country has always been such an “impossible” task—being Italy a too long peninsula … as well as the outcome of very different historical courses and destinies.

To conclude, though I’m not sure I fully agree with Man of Roma—I would prefer to stress the differences rather than the similarities between Southern Italy and the North African Countries—, I recommend a careful reading of his post, supposing that you like travelling through time and space as much as I personally do.