The Beggar at Our Door

- because this is what Greece has been turned into by the actions of the Eurozone. We thought it was going to be David and Goliath, but this time David’s slingshot and pebbles were no match for Goliath’s sheer brute power and the terms set for the Greek government seemed more like a ritual humiliation than a proper political settlement - the financial equivalent of dragging a beaten leader behind your chariot through the dirt.

But the Greek Parliament has, like a turkey voting for Christmas, endorsed an agreement that will, by the frank admission of the IMF, reduce the country to even more abject penury, and bring them to their knees again within the next couple of years. It is all very sad and there is a lot of anger across Europe.

The decision comes on a day when the Pope has been giving a diatribe on the evils of global capitalism and exhorting young people to rise up and protest. He has joined forces with environmentalist Naomi Klein - an unlikely alliance, but one that could be very powerful.

In Italy we have been watching the outcome of the Greek attempt to stand up to the Eurozone bureaucrats with interest, because there is an uneasy feeling that this could be one of the next countries to suffer a similar humiliation.

According to statistics released this week, 1 in 4 families in the southern half of Italy live in absolute poverty and there are many in the north living beneath the nationally agreed poverty line. More than 40% of young people are out of work. General unemployment stands at 23%. The national monthly pension doesn't even cover the rent for the elderly. There is also the question of the thousands of refugees who arrive here every week from north Africa and the Middle East - how to pay for them, what to do with them? This is the fate of many.

Dazzi’s is the posh patisserie in our wealthy little town, and next to it there is a shop that has recently closed down (another clue to the state of things) and outside it today an elderly woman, thin as a stick, begging.  She may be from Romania or Albania, but one thing is certain, she doesn’t have any money and the police will quickly move her on. This is the tourist season  and they don’t want the rich tourists to get the wrong impression - or be hassled for their small change. The police had a big clean up a few weeks ago, but gradually the dispossessed are building up again.  And yes, I did have her permission to take the photograph.

Dazzi's - 2 metres away, 2 different worlds


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