For the past 10 years or so the Italian economy has been getting worse and worse. Italians have been cutting back on secondary expenses, especially learning English as a foreign language. On top of that is the long-standing envy that Italians feel for American political, economic and military power, the recent rise of the Internet which many Italians use but resent because 99% of the information on the web is not in their language, and since most Italian businesses can’t compete with the web they blame the web for Italy’s economic decline.
This anti-American hostility is also exacerbated by periodic international incidents: the scandalous murder trial of American student Amanda Knox in Perugia, the conviction in absentia of eight U.S. citizens accused of being C.I.A. agents who kidnapped a suspected Muslim terrorist on Italian soil, and the activism of actress Asia Argento who accused American film producer Harvey Weinstein of soliciting sex for film roles, while at the same time she was paying off former child actor Jimmy Bennett for giving him alcohol to have sex with him just after his 17th birthday (she was 37 at the time). Typically, the Italian news media falsely reported that the crime occurred when the minor was just before his 18th birthday.
Far from criticizing Asia Argento, many Italians defend her simply because she’s Italian while her accuser is American. My own recent arrest and conviction in Palermo on the ridiculous charge of producing “child pornography” is probably only one of many lesser known cases of the Italian state persecuting American citizens. The fact that my father was an Italian citizen and my mother was entitled to dual citizenship (as the daughter of Italian citizens) doesn’t impress anybody in this country, since despite the official “law of blood” in Italy’s legal code, a “real” Italian speaks Italian without a foreign accent, dresses like an Italian, eats like an Italian, and otherwise acts like an Italian. There is no room for nonconformity in this country.
So after many years of helping Americans find work as teachers in Italy, I’m no longer advising American citizens to try to work in Italy, and I would even warn American tourists or international students to be aware that they may become the targets of discourtesy, scams, theft, or even personal violence here.