Before getting into the very essence of this post, I’d like to state a few basic assumptions concerning the relation between Italians and holidays. For us Italians these are self-evident truths but, for most ‘sane’ people, can be obscure:
– Until before 2008, the year of the big economical crisis we Italians are never going to recover from, Summer holidays actually were August holidays. In Italy the entire world as we knew it used to stop for the month of August. Factories, offices, shops, everything was closed down for most of the month. Therefore August was the month of proletariat and of upper-class vacations. Different in their destinations but lined up in the same never ending queues on the high-way (the difference here was between cursing from inside an air-conditioned car with a certain allure allowed by your fresh and immaculate linen shirt, and cursing sweating like a pig from within your soaking T-shirt advertising some nerdy soccer team nobody ever heard about). Even though after the 2008 crisis companies encourage (force) their employees to get as many days off they can (so they can stop the expensive machines) – and as a consequence people take their weeks off in June, July and September as well – most Italians still tend to go on holiday in the month of August. I strongly suggest you to watch the funny (and instructive) Italian movie by Paolo Virzì ‘Ferie d’agosto’ (one left-wing and one right-wing family getting acquainted in August, as they spend their ‘ferie’ in two neighboring houses in Ventotene);
– While choosing their Summer holiday destinations, Italians always consider the ‘social status’ factor. ‘Will I look like a loser or a winner?’ is a bigger concern than ‘do I really like this destination?’ or ‘can I really afford going there?’. There is another illuminating movie called ‘Mari del Sud’ which I suggest you watch. It’s not really a good movie, but the basic idea is brilliant: Alberto has lost all his money and his position as his financial consultant ripped him off. He was supposed to leave to the Caribbean with his wife and daughter. To avoid the ‘brutta figura’ (I covered in a previous podcast, you will recall) within his circle of friends, he decides that his family members are going to spend their vacation in the cellar at home, pretending to be at the Caribbean (and telling their friends they actually left for this exotic destination). I don’t want to reveal the ending in case you may find it somewhere on YouTube and decide to watch it!
– Another dilemma is: vacations alone or with your family? Holidays with friends? Vacanze with the in-laws? No matter which kind you choose, you’ll always end up with a guilty conscience (we Italians do not seem to be able to live without it!). ‘We should have taken la nonna along’ is one of the most frequent regrets a woman pronounces as soon as she gets off the car upon arrival (while the man suddenly rediscovers his faith in the Almighty and starts murmuring an incomprehensible litany with his eyes pointed towards the sky).
Now we can get to the heart of the matter: what do left-wing and right-wing Italians choose as far as their Summer destinations are concerned? And what means of transportations do they use? What about their favorite arrangements?