Mon. Jul 15th, 2024

Italy, Emilia-Romagna, Bologna, Individuals strolling alongside slender cobbled avenue lined with meals retailers

Gary Yeowell | Stone | Getty Photos

RIMINI, ITALY — The seaside city of Rimini is the Jersey Shore of Italy: From right here to the port city of Ancona within the southeast, there are greater than 40 miles of sandy seashores. 

It was made well-known by native son Federico Fellini, who develop up within the city and featured it in a number of of his motion pictures, together with Amarcord. 

The area, Emilia-Romagna,  is synonymous with Italy’s best export: La Dolce Vita, the nice lifetime of wine, meals, handsome individuals and quick vehicles. 

You possibly can see la dolce vita the minute you hit the seaside: the plain very first thing is the seaside bars, tons of of them, the place 1000’s — sporting as little as potential — wash down oceans of Aperol spritzes, Negronis and Italian white wine for five euros ($5.35) a glass. 

Then there’s the meals, which has made this area one of many foodie capitals of Europe. 

Individuals flock to the cities of Parma, Modena, Bologna, Ravenna and Rimini to eat the Parma ham (prosciutto), the cheese (Parmesan, in fact) and the pasta in countless varieties, however significantly tagliatelle, tortellini and lasagna, all made by hand. 

It is also the commercial coronary heart of Italy, the place Ferraris, Maseratis and Lamborghinis are made. 

The Jersey Shore, however not 

Not like Individuals, Italians don’t simply plunk down their seaside bag and dive within the ocean. 

The Italians have constructed small cities on their seashores, and there’s a protocol. 

Right here, you lease a seaside chair and umbrella from the cabana boys. The chairs and umbrellas are organized in neat rows, practically three dozen of them, all numbered, that stretch all the best way to the Adriatic Sea practically 1 / 4 mile from the road. 

And it’s the Adriatic that everybody comes for. It separates the Italian peninsula from Croatia and Albania 100 miles to the east. Just like the Atlantic, the Adriatic lacks the clear blue water of the Mediterranean, however what it lacks in shade it makes up for in temperature (already 67 levels), calmness and accessibility (Bologna is lower than an hour away). 

With a lot cash, a lot solar, a lot water, and a lot meals and wine, you’d assume life can be an countless celebration, however the Italians don’t appear very pleased nowadays, and with good purpose. 

A discount for Individuals, however not for Italians 

Italy is closely reliant on tourism. Greater than 2 million Italians are employed within the vacationer business, about 8% of whole employment. 

The excellent news: the vacationer enterprise is booming. 

Enterprise has been “loopy good,” one taxi driver in Bologna instructed me: “Since Covid, it has not stopped. Not even in winter. Vacationers hold coming.” 

A gondolier in Venice, an hour to the north, instructed me that every one 433 gondoliers in Venice have been working full-time, even by means of the winter. 

“The enterprise of the gondoliers has been superb within the final yr,” he instructed me, whilst he charged 120 euros (about $130) for a 45-minute gondola trip within the slender, watery canals behind St. Mark’s sq.. 

That ocean of vacationers is enormously helped by the presence of Individuals. Whereas Europeans, significantly French and Germans, make up the most important group of overseas guests, Individuals do one thing their European brethren do not: They tip very well. 

“We love Individuals,” one waiter in Modena mentioned to me after I left him a ten% tip for distinctive service. 

For Individuals, Europe normally however the smaller cities of Italy particularly are an incredible worth. At one level final yr the greenback was on a par with the euro. Even at present, with one euro roughly $1.07, the continent’s nonetheless a relative discount. 

Costs might be larger in the summertime excessive season, however proper now you may get a great resort room inside strolling distance of the seaside in Rimini for 100-200 euros ($107-$214).  On the well-known Grand Resort Rimini, inbuilt 1908 and the location of a number of Fellini motion pictures, you may mingle on the well-known pool or the resort’s non-public seaside for $200-$400 an evening, relying on the day of the week. 

On the seaside, on the Il Circolino restaurant, you may get a pasta course (tagliatelle al ragu —it is superb) for 12 euros ($13) and fundamental dishes like hen or seafood like polpo (octopus) for 15 to 22 euros ($16-$24).  

These are the high-end locations. 

It is a discount for Individuals however, for many Italians, even these costs are out of attain. 

“Enterprise is nice on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, however a lot will depend on vacationers,” the supervisor of 1 restaurant instructed me. 

The issue, he mentioned, is that the nice life made well-known by Fellini is more and more out of attain for atypical Italians. 

It is all concerning the taxes

“The typical Italian right here makes about 20,000 euros a yr [$21,400],” he instructed me. He is possible speaking about these working within the service business. A mean wage in Italy in 2021 was about 29,000 euros (about $31,000), based on OECD statistics. That is nonetheless under the European Union common of about 33,000 euros. 

However his face actually soured when he began speaking concerning the subject that unites each Italian: taxes. 

They’re excessive. Very excessive. Italians pay three taxes: nationwide earnings tax (together with a 9.2% social safety contribution), regional taxes and municipal taxes. The earnings tax fee is progressive: The highest fee for the earnings tax is 43% — larger than the European common of 38%. 

“If an Italian pays all of their taxes they might pay over half their earnings to the federal government,” the supervisor mentioned as he clasped his fingers collectively and rocked them backwards and forwards, Italian for “I am unable to consider we’re paying this a lot.” 

No marvel so many salaries are paid beneath the desk. Italy has a well-known black market economic system. 

What’s left to dwell on is the issue. Rents in Rimini are 550-650 euros (about $590-$700) a month for a tiny one-bedroom residence. That’s about 40% of the take-home pay for one of many supervisor’s staff. 

It is little marvel that 62% of younger Italians (25-29) nonetheless dwell with their mother and father. 

Smaller marvel nonetheless that even a 12-euro plate of pasta can really feel a bit extravagant. 

No shock, too, that the supervisor mentioned the enterprise more and more depends on wealthier Germans, Brits, and Individuals. 

“For Individuals, Italy is great, however for an Italian to go to America, it is unimaginable,” he mentioned. 

Italians are leaving searching for alternatives 

Excessive taxes. Low common incomes. Excessive inflation (8% a yr). 

Life has gotten tough sufficient that many younger Italians are persevering with to go away Italy searching for alternatives elsewhere. 

5 million Italians are actually dwelling abroad. 

One other main motivation: lack of job progress. 

I had lunch with one household, a lady and her two kids, in Padua, a college metropolis about an hour northwest of Rimini. Each kids, ages 24 and 31, dwell at dwelling with their mom. 

The oldest has been working in Denmark for the previous few years, for a software program firm. He has been visiting his household, however was going again to Denmark that week. His sister, who labored for a yr within the U.S., is getting her diploma in structure in Venice, however admits she might wish to go overseas to complete her research. 

“I feel it might be higher to go overseas, to get extra expertise, and perhaps higher job gives,” she instructed me. 

The underside line: Italy’s best export, la dolce vita, remains to be alive and nicely. The solar, the wine, the meals, the improbable individuals, are all nonetheless right here. 

It is simply getting just a little tougher for the locals to partake in that nice export.

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