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Sunday, June 17th, 2012

    Time Event
    Good things don't die that easily
    One thing I just love to bits about my country is our sense of humour. Long ago, I made a list that said something like: America is a principle. Britain is a personality. France is conflict. Germany is tragedy. Russia is a siege, as seen from inside the besieged camp. But though Italy is a struggle against overwhelming odds, it is one that is marked by Homeric bursts of laughter. The stern-faced titans of our long history - Dante, Michelangelo, Tiziano, Verdi - leave a misleading impression: the fact is that the country lives a lot more on our enormous tradition of humour and satire, from Boccaccio to Guareschi and Trilussa. It is typical of us that Italy should have had the only Nobel Prizewinnder for literature who was a comedian, and for that matter probably the only writer in history who ever made Communist beliefs funny - both are the same man, Dario Fo Italians regularly have to struggle against events, conditions and rivals,, but they cope - and make sense of the mess - by making fun of it, and most of all of themselves.

    That is what I was afraid the Berlusconi years had lost. They have been bad years in many ways, but the worst would have been if we had been reduced to the splenetic and red-faced exchanges that had become typical of our public life then.Now I am no longer worried. Among universal applause and well-deserved laughter, the comedian Corrado Guzzanti has come up with an idea that belongs in the great tradition: the adventures of a very, very minor pagan river god - Aniene - as he tries to make sense of modern Italy and help it. What is great about this is not just that the idea is original and wonderfully executed, but that it is intended to tackle the whole of the country's plight - a wonderfully ambitious goal, and one I was afraid we had forgotten how to do do. Long may Aniene stay with us!

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