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A teacher who makes ends meet as a singer in Barcelona. A biologist from Latina, near Rome, who is now a publisher in Berlin. A lawyer living in The Hague, but dreaming of becoming a deejay in Paris. These are all stories of young people, young Italians who left their country. Heading to where? Sometimes you just need to go ‘elsewhere’ to make something of yourself, because you’re nobody here. They’re aged 25 to 40 and decided to move away from Italy.
Claudia Cucchiarato collected their stories in a book called ‘Vivo altrove’ (Living elsewhere). Recently become a documentary too, it describes what it means to go away for these immigrants of the new millennium. The author herself defines as one. Grown up under the Erasmus wave, she flew to Barcelona at 21 years old, without knowing that she would not be coming back. Her attachment to Italy, however, is still strong. She believes it is important not to lose any hope of rebuilding a country where people can and should live well. Even if it’s not the case today.
The number of Italians who leave and don’t come back is increasingly growing. There are no clear reliable figures, as many of them do not register with the AIRE office (Italians residing abroad). They often travel across cities and continents: they’re known as ‘liquid generation.’ Leaving everything – home, family, friends – for the unknown is no easy choice. It’s not only a brain drain of people who are confident that they can find better opportunities abroad, but also of ordinary people who feel that their country is too stagnant, closed and just looking at itself. A country where the young have an eternal disillusionment for what the future will bring. So, sometimes, you make a leap towards the future, be it the near future or not.
It’s not always a fortunate choice: it is often full of difficulties, contradictions and sacrifice. A graduate in engineering who has accepted to work as a waiter three years ago is a living example. But the most astonishing thing is to see in their eyes an enthusiasm and determination that you can hardly find, even when you’re 20. The website of Vivo Altrove features a striking and touching letter of a very young actor who is about to leave Italy, full of anger. His words cry out in suffering and bitterness against a totally unresponsive State, that doesn’t take the time to listen and act.
Many – perhaps, too many – said over and over again that Italy is not a country for young people. The first who did so are those who made Italy like it is and now exhort their children to go abroad. And here lies the biggest dilemma: what is the real challenge? Stay or go away? Who is going to win, who is going to lose?
If you realise that things are better there, why don’t we try to change things here? Sometimes, we don’t even try. So, that’s maybe not just a matter of anger and grudge for a system that undoubtedly betrayed our promises, didn’t succeed to evolve and deleted the term meritocracy from our dictionaries. Do we maybe fear to roll up our sleeves and rebuild this old deceiving country piece after piece? Why don’t we use the same enthusiasm and determination that we show when we point our finger on the map and choose a better place, to still believe in Italy and come back?