According to a recent report by Confesercenti (a federation of small businesses in Italy) there is one part of the Italian economy that’s booming despite the grim economic times: the Mafia. With £100bn annual profits (to put it another way, 7% of GDP) the Mafia seem to be the only business currently skating on liquidity.
For the majority of the Italian public, times are tough and set to get tougher, even without the onerous bills for state funded Presidential orgies (and on that note, can we please take a moment to celebrate, despite the gloomy times, the fact that the country no longer suffers a president who ‘jokes’ about Obama’s being ‘suntanned’ or threatents to ‘dust off his Playboy charms’ to win over the (female) Finnish Prime Minister. A big hoorah for the passing).
All this feels a far cry from Le Marche, a predominantly agricultural region made up of small family businesses. In Italy there are 2.6 million farms, the vast majority (94.7%) of which are family-operated and small – averaging only 5 hectares in size. These are just the sort of farms that together form the Nudo olive grove co-operative. There’s no pretending times aren’t difficult. Economic pressure as well as all the usual worries of weather and bugs and mosca and all don’t add up to carefree evenings. But at least we can guarantee, through our adoption programme, that they will sell their entire olive oil harvest.
With that, and no Silvio, surely there is reason to be cheerful. Happy 2012.