The Economic Crisis in Italy

Nothing illustrates the state of the Italian economy more clearly than the plight of the marble yards in Pietrasanta.  Once they were full of sculptors from all over the world and the skilled artisans helping them.  They worked alongside other artisans making commercial objects out of marble - fireplaces, statues for churches, floors, bathrooms - and it kept the town alive.  But over the past few years more and more marble yards have closed and there are fewer and fewer places for sculptors to work.  Recently the pace of change has accelerated.  Last September the yard Neil worked in had to close when the owner decided to sell the land for a block of flats.  He and a few other sculptors found a new studio in a beautiful location with good working conditions - it all seemed set to continue happily.  But the owner has been hit by the economic downturn during the summer - no one can afford fireplaces, or marble floors, garden statuary, and even the church is cutting back on renovations.  Yesterday, Friday, the sculptors were suddenly told that the space had been sold and they had until Sunday to remove their work.  Temporary space will be made for them on another part of the site, but it's been a big shock.
Packing Up
Ready to go

The newspapers are full of gossip stories about the private life of Silvio Berlusconi and rumours about his business dealings, but he remains the most powerful man in Italy, despite the fact that the country has one of the biggest national debts in Europe.   We are watching our Italian friends struggling to make a living and hope that Italy will survive.  The cartoon below is doing the rounds of the bars at the moment and really sums up the ordinary Italian's attitude to SB.    It's called 'the Trouser Salute'.


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