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Tillyard’s tales

The state does not work in Italy, but thanks to small families, "associative" life is thriving, as we discovered when my son joined the local football club

By Stella Tillyard   March 2006

Sometime in the early 1990s, around the time of Silvio Berlusconi’s first assumption of power, the British notion of Italy as a smiling land of huge families, passionate lovers and cooks was swept away. Underneath its beautiful skin, the Bel Paese was revealed as rotten, oozing corruption and fundamentally undemocratic. In April 2001, the Economist grandly declared Berlusconi unfit to lead his country, and this new, bleak view of Italy was taken up by commentators as explanation of the country’s poor economic performance since the famous sorpasso of the 1980s, when Italian per capita income briefly overtook that of Britain.…

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