A North-South divide exists in the UK, but its influence is not felt as keenly as the North-South divide in Italy. On the surface, geographical differences in Italy don’t seem so huge; the Italian regions, seem to have more in common than anything that sets them apart. The food, culture and climate are broadly similar, although they do reflect the different climates and geography up and down the country. However, there is considerable prejudice. I know people in the North who won’t set foot anywhere further south than Florence. My landlady in Italy used to get very upset about hanging out the washing on the line on Sundays. She used to declare that “we aren’t in Naples here”, the implication being that only Neopolitans would be as brazen as to let their undies flap around in the breeze on holy days. Even cleaning is a prejudiced activity in Italy; many Italians clean their kitchens with an almost competitive fervour; the Southerners must outdo the Northerners and vice versa! I find it perplexing when even a marriage between a Northerner and a Southerner can be discussed in hushed tones.
This North-South divide has existed at least since the unification of Italy in 1861 and throughout Italy’s history there has always been some factor that has contributed to this ongoing division.  In the seventies, public life was dominated by a “razza padrona” (the ruling class) which exhibited a code of silence, a hidden economy and extensive bribery. This was the beginning of wide-spread corruption and an abuse of power in government that lasted until the nineties. During this year, it seemed that all the parties were engaged in their own internal squabbles and made no attempt to occupy themselves with the evident economic and social problems. There were strikes and there was pervasive absentiism in the workplace. At Fiat, every day 20,000 workers were absent, resulting in 35-40 lost hours in the course of the year.  No wonder the Italians suffered from a “stanchezza politica”, a tiredness for politics! Turning their backs on the political vacuum in Rome, the “Modello Terza Italia” (The Third Italy Model) economy emerged. In brief, this Third Italy consisted of the North East and Central regions of the country which thrived on the dynamism of small industries and local and community cohesion.
May 1971 saw the first transmission of “Telecapodistria”. This was a public television and radio service that broadcast to the Adriatic coast area including parts of Italy, Slovenia and Croatia (the former Yugoslavia). It was broadcast from Koper in Slovenia and became very popular both in Yugoslavia and Italy because it was broadcast in colour. Until 1976, when it was ruled that privately owned, fully commercial stations could be established on Italian soil, it was the only fully commercial station broadcast in Italy.  Spending much of the summer holidays in North-East Italy, I remember watching this channel on TV, particularly the cartoons. The channel also broadcast the first music video TV show. It featured Western pop music and was broadcast both in Yugoslavia, and neighbouring Italy.
On the 30th December a law was passed extending maternity rights. This allowed pregnant women to stop work two months before the birth of their child and allowing them leave for three months afterwards.
I can’t leave this year without mentioning the continued grip of the mafia on Italian society. In 1971, the attorney Pietro Scaglione and his driver were murdered on the orders of Salvatore Riina, head of the “corleonesi” mafia. This murder was the first in a war against the state by the mafia. And yes, you would be right in thinking that the corleonesi came from the Sicilian town of Corleone, made famous by the The Godfather.
 Storiologia website – 1971 (in Italian)
 The Third Italy Model (in Italian)
 The North-South Divide (in Italian)
 Capodistria TV and station on wikipedia (in English)
 Salvatore Riina on wikipedia (in Italian)
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