The Italian press is jubilant in announcing that Paolo Sorrentino’s “The Great Beauty” won the Academy Award as the best foreign language film. The movie, entirely set in Rome, is essentially a tale of the physical splendor and moral decadence of the Eternal City.
The exact amount of moral decadence in Rome is difficult to assess. The point is the physical splendor. Instinctively one would agree that Rome, together with Florence and Venice, is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The Italian and international press, however, tells another story.
On October 2013 the New York Times published a famous article by Frank Bruni entitled “Italy Breaks Your Heart”. Exactly like Sorrentino’s movie, it is a narration of the Italian decay. But it is a decay not only moral, but also very physical, with Bruni pointing out at the dirty and maintenance-lacking Italian roads. A sizable part of the article is set in Rome, with Bruni even interviewing Mayor Ignazio Marino.
On Saturday, Italian newspaper La Repubblica published another article by Francesco Merlo about the “magnificent bankruptcy” and “unstoppable decline” of Rome. Again, a tale of dirty and broken roads, criminality, vandalism and mass tourism. Carlo Verdone, another famous Italian director – even more famous than Sorrentino, at least in Italy – is interviewed. “There is nobody keeping a decent conduct, perhaps everyone in Rome deserves bankruptcy” he bitterly states.