Annalisa Merelli recounts her experiences after she voted “no” in the Italian referendum, unlike the majority of her friends:
On Dec. 4, Italians went to the polls to decide on a reform referendum that would redefine the power of local governments and reduce the power of the senate. With a high turnout, my countrymen rejected the reform. In the press, the voters’ decision was described as an Italian Brexit, and a triumph of populism. Beppe Grillo and his Five Star Movement, arguably Europe’s largest populist party, celebrated with Matteo Salvini, leader of the xenophobic Northern League; Marine Le Pen sent congratulations via Twitter, claiming that Italians’ had disavowed not just their prime minister, but the entire European Union.
What had actually happened, however, was more nuanced. And yet, the disappointment amongst liberals — the majority of whom had supported the reforms — was palpable.
It was a difficult vote, and while I stand by it, I don’t discount the possibility that history may prove me wrong. So I was eager to hear the reasons why so many of my friends had voted “yes.” Before and after the vote, I wanted to understand their points, and I certainly respected their choices.
But they — the yes voters, whose opinions and commentary filled my social media platforms — didn’t seem to have the same respect for my reasoning. As an opinionated citizen with consistently liberal views, I am used to being attacked and insulted by conservatives for my choices and opinions. But the liberal critiques I read weren’t so much attacking my decision as they were questioning my intelligence and my ability to understand the issue.
For the first time in my life, I was on the outside of the so-called liberal bubble, looking in. And what I saw was not pretty. I watched as many of my highly educated friends and contacts addressed those who disagreed with them with contempt and arrogance, and an offensive air of intellectual superiority.
Luigi Cadorna was the Italian Chief of Staff when World War 1 broke out and when Italy joined the conflict a year later. He was a man of tradition and believed that most important factor of military success was the will and determination of his soldiers. During the numerous Battles of the Isonzo River, this doctrine proofed disastrous for his troops.
In our last live stream with Othais we talked about the Italian rifles and pistols of WW1. This is the slightly edited version in which we focus on the rifles. Check out Othais’ channel for more details.
The Arditi (“The Daring Ones”) were special Italian assault troops in World War 1. And even though they were only able to really make a difference on the battlefield in 1918, the effects on morale and culture can be seen to this day.
The dust of the 8th and even 7th battle hasn’t really settled on the Isonzo Front, but Luigi Cadorna is already unleashing the 9th Battle of the Isonzo River. The Austro-Hungarian troops under Svetozar Borojevic von Bojna can only look forward to the onset of winter because that will give them the long needed rest on the mountainous battlefield.
While the 7th Battle of the Isonzo River was still raging, Italian chief of staff Luigi Cadorna was already planning the 8th. The war of attrition was going in his favour even though the Italian losses began to mount too. But how long could Austria-Hungary keep up against the constant pressure?
One of Indy’s favourite historical characters is actually King Zog of Albania. History’s heaviest smoker and probably the only monarch to pull out his gun and shoot at his own assassins. But King Zog is not the only reason why the story of Albania before and during World War 1 is so fascinating and complicated.
This week 100 years ago Manfred von Richthofen is credited with his first aerial victory on the Western Front. He shoots down a British airplane with his Albatross D.II. At the same time the Isonzo Front is in full swing again where Luigi Cadorna is leading another offensive.
One hears murmurs against Mussolini on the ground that he is a desperado: the real objection to him is that he is a politician. Indeed, he is probably the most perfect specimen of the genus politician on view in the world today. His career has been impeccably classical. Beginning life as a ranting Socialist of the worst type, he abjured Socialism the moment he saw better opportunities for himself on the other side, and ever since then he has devoted himself gaudily to clapping Socialists in jail, filling them with castor oil, sending blacklegs to burn down their houses, and otherwise roughing them. Modern politics has produced no more adept practitioner.
The Italian offensive taking Gorizia last week surprised everyone. Including Italian Chief of Staff Luigi Cadorna who overlooks the huge strategical advantages now open in front of him. Instead he hesitates and “glorious” victory gets a few dents. At the same time, Romania is getting ready to join the war on the side of the Entente too and on the Western Front German morale is dwindling as the French and the British Army are getting more confident at the Somme and at Verdun.
Federico da Montefeltro shone brightly as the “Light of Italy,” one of many torches that helped light the flame of Renaissance. He made his name as a wily yet honest mercenary captain, but he also ruled as prince of the small, remote town of Urbino. There, he and his wife built an illustrious court that celebrated creativity, knowledge, and justice.
Born an illegitimate son, Federico da Montefeltro became the heir of Urbino when his family got the Pope to legitimize him. As a child, he was sent to Venice to serve as a hostage for his family’s part in the wars of Lombardy, and by 15 he had turned his fate around to become knighted by the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund. At 16, he became a condotierre, a mercenary. Although he was technically prince of Urbino, his land was isolated and poor, so mercenary service allowed him to make money. He excelled at it: he never lost and never broke a contract. Cities began paying him NOT to fight against them, and he channeled their riches into his hometown. He looked after his soldiers families in Urbino, walked the markets every day, and held court in his garden where all citizens were treated equally under the law. Since he loved history and philosophy, he built one of the greatest libraries in all of Italy, hiring scribes to find and copy classical works that might have been lost if not for him. He also built a palace where he fostered art of all kinds, and young people from noble houses across the continent flocked to his court. His wife, especially his second wife Battista Sforza, built Urbino alongside him. She’d received the same liberal education he had and often counseled him on politics When he was away, she held court in his stead. Sadly, she died of complications while bearing Federico’s only son, whom he named Guidobaldo. Guidobaldo was intelligent and well read, but he was sickly and could never be his father’s equal in war. After Federico died, the Borgia came and seized Urbino from Guidobaldo, but although his family lost its holdings, his legacy lived on as the ideas and attitudes he’d nurtured in his court survived and spread far enough to help spur the beginning of the Renaissance in Italy.
Benito Mussolini was a well known Socialist before World War 1. But the lead up to Italy’s entry into the conflict caused a split between the Socialists and the pro-interventionist Fasci. During the war, Mussolini was sent to the Isonzo Front where he became even more popular. After being sent home, he continued his agitation with great financial support from France, Britain and Italian industrialists.