Dispossession for profit in Italy

When life gives you lemons, create a hotel for migrants who want to dispossess you of your land.

Vallombrosa is a unique place in Tuscany. Its founder, Saint Giovanni Gualberto, a Benedictine monk, chose this secluded place in the mountains 40 km east of Florence to lead a hermit-like existence, right after the year 1000, and with a restricted group of monks started his own monastic order, the Vallombrosani.

John Milton among many other travellers – found inspiration in Vallombrosa while traveling across Italy in 1638, and a marble inscription reminds tourists that here Milton put into writing his Paradise Lost. Vallombrosa is not a place for crowds; rather a place where to seek meditation and inspiration.

To me Vallombrosa represents memories from my childhood. It could be called a piece of my personal heimat, if you wish. Back in the 60’s, when a car was still a far-flung luxury for many Italian families of the working class, we would take the Sunday morning bus from the train station in Florence with some frugal lunch, and we were back in the city with the same bus in time for dinner. For me, as a child, that was the highlight of the week – or the month – as it was all that we could afford at the time as a holiday.

It was with these memories that I rode my motorcycle along the winding road through the national forest that is part of Vallombrosa. But when I shut off the engine it wasn’t the silence that I had expected as usual but an eerie cacophony that got my attention. A crowd of young Africans, all in their 20’s, were standing and sitting around the area of the monastery, all of them doing the same thing: shouting at their i-phones, evidently talking to their folks back home.

Welcome to the new Italy, where the replacement of the original population, once known as Italians, is in full swing. Only a few years ago this affirmation would have caused sarcastic disbelief, now is the reality in front of our eyes.

It happened overnight (literally), during the winter, when over 100 “migrants” from Africa fresh from their landing in Sicily, were unloaded in this oasis of peace and tranquility. Now, you would think the location was chosen because the benedictine monks were ready to open their doors as a sign of charity and compassion. Far from it.

In reality, and without any help from the monks, what was accomplished was business at its best: minimum effort for maximum profit.

Take a group of local entrepreneurs to take over an old, abandoned hotel near the monastery, one of those hotels that attracted travelers once upon a time. Restore it to make it (more or less) look again like a semi-decent hospice so that you can amass in it as many Africans as possible. Make as much as 25/35 euro a day per person, courtesy of the Italian taxpayers. Welcome to Italy’s fastest growing and most profitable business.

The example of Vallombrosa is not an exception, rather the rule of what is happening in Italy, or what it could otherwise be called “profitable invisibility”.

Until now local governments – especially the ones where elections are approaching – have been very careful in “disposing of” the migrants in secluded, peripheral areas, so that the locals would not notice their presence in their daily lives. Now, at an estimated rate of arrivals/replacements of over 250.000 a year it is going to be a (serious) problem to keep this “profitable invisibility”.

In fact, as migrants are not confined to their housing and are therefore free to move around, by whatever public transportation is available the hard-to-hide consequence is that a city like Florence resembles every day more and more an African suk, with a young African man outside every commercial establishment begging for money or trying to sell useless Chinese knickknacks.

How long will it take for the Italians to realize that their charity will result in their own demise? Who really knows anymore. We see this suicidal behavior taking place all over Europe. Future generations will no doubt see European altruism as a fatal flaw. Yes, you can be too selfless. Yes, you can be too generous, And yes, you can commit cultural suicide by failing to acknowledge that “we can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies.” – Iowa Republican Representative Steve King. Wise words, sir. But words the Italians will adopt? Doubtful.

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