Not even close.
I've spent quite a lot of time in Italy. Not recently, but the times have not changed all that much. My first sojourn into this backward country was a real shocker, however.
As a young soldier in the U.S. Army, I took a 30-day leave to travel around Italy along with two of my army buddies. We took the train from Munich, West Germany and headed south to the land of wine, pasta and sunshine. What a heaven on earth to spend a long vacation, or at least that is what I figured would be the case.
The train trip was uneventful, until we got off at the train station in Bolzano in the northern part of the country. I had to relieve myself and went into the public restroom facilities at the train station. This is where the stark differences between Italy and western civilization diverged: the urinal was just a ledge against the wall, and the "toilet" was simply a couple of concrete wedges to place your feet located in between a 6" hole in the floor. And toilet paper? None to be found.
I was a 21 year old corporal (actually what is called a Specialist 4th Class, same same), and had been in the service for 2 years by then: I knew how to cuss like a sailor, spit and hawk loogies with the best of them, and how to generally act like a miscreant. But this took me by complete surprise. What the hell was this? I might as well have looked for a stand of bushes, it would have smelled better; the fetid stench inside this 'facility' would have made a buzzard puke.
The whole country is filthy. The restaurants, the buses, the cabs, the people. Filthy dirty. And we adjusted to this culture quickly. We rented a car, and noticed that nobody obeyed the street signs, stop signs, and drove on the sidewalks if they needed to, which they all seemed to.
When in Rome, as they say. So we threw out all of our western politeness that our mom's taught us, and actually had a pretty good time down there. What the hell. In 1976, we could buy a 750 ml bottle of white wine for approx. 25 cents, as the lire to the dollar exchange rate was quite attractive at the time. We lived like kings for a month.
Now the place is ground zero for the Wuhan virus. It is spreading like wildfire, with no end in sight. I am not shocked. Their health care system is probably no different than their train station restrooms: let's just say they are 'lacking.'
Just like their justice system. They treated a shy college kid, Amanda Knox, like she was Charlie Manson. They trumped up ridiculous charges of her murderous rampages (of which she had nothing to do with), and kept her in jail for the better part of two years before she was finally exonerated. Yes, justice in Italy is probably very similar to health care in Italy.
I can't say that I can see much hope for them in their fight against this viscous scourge. They are just not the types to prevail if they can't even provide toilet paper in their restrooms. They can't even provide toilets in their restrooms, much less toilet paper.
Of course, things may have changed since I was there. Probably not, though.
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