Because Italy is more than a geographic expression..

Alessi S.P.A. US

Friday, December 10, 2010

Naples And Italian Global Competiveness

Naples, to me, is a symbol of Italy not maximizing its potential on the world stage. Flippant, corrupt (the mafia has a solid grip in Italy) and chaotic, the city has come to personify the inefficient attitudes that grips and grabs Italy by the wrists and throat. When I was in Naples in 1990, I saw a beautiful city in violent decay. It left us stunned to see it in such a state. It has no business being that way.

We basically saw a city tearing itself apart despite its culinary and artistic wonders; to say nothing of its tough-minded, passionate people. They reminded me of New Yorkers. If you've ever had an espresso in Naples with Mount Vesuvius ominously staring back at you you know what I mean.

Napoli is a city like no other. A gem in the middle of the Mediterranean built by the ancient Greeks.

How a city of such magnificence and historical importance can wallow in conditions unbecoming of a majestic city is beyond me to comprehend. It's almost as if Italians have no interest to the point of pure sadness in their cultural legacy. They spit in the face of their history. A history that has impacted world civilization on so many levels.

The problems facing Italy are big to be sure but even in areas that should be second-nature to Italy like tourism it laughably trails places like Germany, USA, Canada Spain and France by several measures. Indeed, by several global competitive reports, Italy simply lags and stagnates pretty much behind most of its Euro neighbours. Not that things are necessarily so much better elsewhere. Western culture as a whole is experiencing a serious downtrend. I'm not sure what these "trends" really mean.

Nonetheless, it baffles how Italians can accept this. Are they even attempting to tackles some of the problems they face?

This blog is about exploring Italian business and a face of the country oft overlook namely, in part, because of unfair stereotypes but mostly because Italians don't respect what they've got. They mostly have themselves to blame. So while we take pride in Italian made objects, we're not blind to its problems.

God bestowed upon them a jewel. A gem. And they act like they have nothing but a bunch of rocks and spray paint.

The contradiction of course is the "name" and "brand" Italy still possesses a powerful image that conjures up many thoughts and emotions for people.

I mentioned New York earlier. I've been visiting that city on and off for over 25 years. I saw it pre-Giuliani and post-Giuliani; pre 9/11 and post 9/11. If a city like that can rise again so too can Naples. If you're not convinced of this comparison, how about how Barcelona went from a backward town to a world metropolis?

And who knows? Maybe it can spark something inside the Italian soul and reinvigorate its commitment to preserving its national heritage.

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