The Dark Heart of Italy

In 1999 Tobias Jones emigrated to Italy, expecting to discover the pastoral bliss described by centuries of foreign visitors. Instead, he discovered a very different country, besieged by unfathomable terrorism and deep-seated paranoia, where crime is scarcely ever met with punishment. The Dark Heart of Italy is Jones' account of his three-years voyage across the Italian peninsula. Jones is preoccupied not by Italy's art, climate, or cuisine, but by the livelier and stranger sides of the Bel Paese: language, football, Catholicism, cinema, television and terrorism. Why, he wonders, is there a parliamentary commission investigating Italy's terrorist 'slaughters', and why do bombs still explode every time politics start getting serious? Why does everyone urge him to go home as soon as possible, saying that Italy is a 'brothel'? And, why do people warn him that 'Clean Hands' only disguise 'Dirty Feet'? Slowly, though, one clear truth emerges: the entire country is in the hands of one man. He owns banks, estate agencies, mobile phone companies - not to mention half the television channels, one of the best football teams, and great swathes of Milan. His personal wealth is estimated at $14 billion. And now, thanks to his coalition with 'Post-Fascists', he - Silvio Berlusconi - has become President of the Ministerial Council. Could this be why everyone in Italy is so paranoid?