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God, how I was rooting for the Italians! And how glad I was when they finally defeated the British team becoming the European football champions. I was rooting for them, just like for my national team. And the whole village cafe, full of Provençal French, joined me.

Italy is not far from here. It takes an hour and a half to reach the border by car or an hour by motorcycle. Many local residents have Italian surnames. They say that they are the descendants of smugglers who had been escaping poverty for centuries by dragging food on their backs. Sometimes it was expensive food, such as truffles. Here, in the French Alps, the truffles are black. They are quite expensive! But in the Italian Alps they are white. Even more expensive! The city of Alba is the world White Truffle Capital. It would be nice to attend the gourmet festival this autumn…

We do not have a completely correct idea of Italy. Yes, this is a wonderful, beautiful country where you can spend your vacation in an interesting and pleasant way. But the Italians had lived poorly for centuries in the north of Italy, and in the southern part of it they were beggars.

Literally until the middle of the 20th century, Italian migrants performed the hardest low-paid jobs in the northern Europe. They worked as miners in Belgium and northern France, laborers in Germany, servants in Switzerland.

Even in prosperous Milan, poor people from the south who came to work, were treated with contempt. It was masterfully demonstrated in Luchino Visconti’s film “Rocco and His Brothers”.

Modern Italy is completely different. And its problems are different. We love it, but we do not know when we can go there again. Well, let us ask Signor Coronavirus, a new travel manager.

Victor Loupan

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