Friday 20 April 2018

Brendan O'Connor: Big picture all about little details

Italy may be a basket case, but on a micro level it can teach us a few things, writes Brendan O'Connor

RECIPE FOR A HEALTHY COMMUNITY: In Italy, every village has its own local artisan stores
RECIPE FOR A HEALTHY COMMUNITY: In Italy, every village has its own local artisan stores

I think you can see God in Italy. And not just in the churches, though presumably he is there too. It is, I think, in the detail of how they approach life. And detail is the key.

They are fastidious -- about their food, their clothes, about the detail of everything, about how things work, about keeping things right. I was down in Tuscany kind of pre-season last week. The people who owned the beach areas along the sea -- the whole long beach was carved up into privately held strips with facilities which people pay to use -- were out fastidiously painting and fixing tables and chairs and raking the sand. All done slowly and carefully, with an eye to detail and complete immersion in their task. Here, we would possibly throw out the broken tables and chairs, or maybe we would get a guy in to fix them. These guys did it themselves, slowly and carefully.

This passion for detail shows itself too in how they put themselves together. It's a cliche, but everyone does really have a look in Italy. From the old peasant farmer to the young women, everyone has a very carefully put-together style going on. The quality and age of the clothes may vary but they are put together with care and with an eye to portraying the so called bella figura, more than a way of dressing, almost a way of life. Because these things are important and deserve to have time taken over them.

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