Monday, 3 November 2014

The Italians flee Italy - 70% choose the UK

94,129 Italians moved from Italy in 2013 and that is an increase of 16% since 2012. 70% of the Italian emigrants chose Britain as their new home and London is, of course, the favourite city. I am not surprised of seeing this happen. Italy does not give much hope to the youngsters today. It is almost impossible to find a job, no matter how much you have studied. You can no longer afford to raise a family in Italy, and 1 young Italian out of 2 is prepared to leave the country in the future. 

Photo: Eugenio Frasca

A lot of Italians have moved abroad over the years. Argentina is the country where most Italians live, Germany is in second place and there are 570,000 Italians living in Switzerland. Over 4.5 million Italians live abroad and this number is increasing. A lot of young Italians do not see a future in the home country and see themselves forced to move to another country. Most of the people that leave Italy are below 35. The preferred country today is the United Kingdom, then come Germany and France. In these countries you can get a job with a working contract, something almost impossible in Italy today.  

51% of the 30-year-old Italians receive financial help from their parents. It is tough for your self esteem not to be independent when you have reached an age when people often feel like settling down, building up a family and finding a home. 1 young Italian out of 2 is willing to move abroad in order to get a job in the future. 

In Italy a lot of people have been talking about the phenomenon "Cervelli in fuga" (brains on the run), which refers to  highly educated Italians who are forced to find jobs abroad because unemployment is too high and salaries too low. Actually it is not only people that have graduated from University that flee from Italy, but all kinds of people. In a place like London London you can get a job at a bar and get by. It's easier to get a real job with a contract in a country such as UK. There is only one problem - you should be able to speak English if you want to live in an English speaking country. A lot of Italians are bad at English and I am convinced that many more Italians would move abroad if they mastered English better. 

A lot of people complain about the immigration to Italy and I do admit that we have an issue here, even though the problem is European, not only Italian. However, the people moving out from Italy are twice as many as those moving into the country! It's not easy to live in a country where 1 out of 3 children are considered as poor according to UNICEF, and where there are more people dying than being born. Parents here in Italy struggle hard for their children to get an education at University. There are no scholarships or other support, and to get some help to pay the school books from High School and on, you have to be really poor. The parents then want to see the kids find a job, possibly with a working contract, paid holidays and sickness.  There is no social aid available for unemployed young people, and to get unemployment benefits, you must have had a fixed job for at least 2 years. 

I cannot blame the Italians for leaving the country. I do understand them so well. But I can of course not help wondering what  will happen in the future. Who will row this sinking boat? 



The Italian newspaper  Metro 29 October 2014.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Death Penalty

In 2012 676 executions were known to have been carried out in 20 countries and 1.923 people were sentenced to dead. The actual number is much higher than that because some countries, such as China refuses to inform the rest of the world of their figures or how they use death penalty. According to Amnesty International there are probably thousands of executions in China every year.  On October 10 a lot of organizations are focusing on death penalty, or capital punishment. The emphasis in 2014 is on mental health issues related to capital punishment. 

Photo: Amnesty International
In the US 43 people were executed with death penalty in 2012. The US is the only G7 country that still execute human beings. The Middle East saw 557 executions in 6 countries.  In the picture above you can see these figures. In Iran, North Korea, Saudia Arabia and Somalia public executions were known to have taken place.

This scares me. In a time when everybody should help one another improve the society and solve the problems in the world, it is still legal to kill people in some countries! Below we can see the 10 countries with the highest amount of people executed and the figures from 2007-2012. 

Total executed, 2007-12
Total sentenced to death, 2007-12

Some good news:

Latvia abolished abolished capital punishment in 2012 and Bolivia in 2013.There are now 98 countries in the world that do not kill human beings as a punishment. I hope the number will keep increasing.

Take care.



Amnesty International

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Most Swedes are not racists. - Seeking positive thoughts after the elections.

When I was a child I was proud to hear that Sweden had not participated in the second world war. The rhetoric of Adolf Hitler had not managed to convince the Swedes to take part in this terrible war. The Swedes did not want to be part of the killing of Jews, handicapped, gypsies, homosexual people and other people that were part of the millions of people killed by the Nazism. The exact figure of murdered people is not even exactly known, but it should be between 50 and 70 million. Why did happen? Because a man called Adolf Hitler, who did not even have the internet, was extremely good at convincing people with words, body language and tone of the voice. Hitler wanted to protect the Aryan race and blamed the Jews for having killed Jesus. He involved the Italian politician Benito Mussolini, even though he was not neither blonde or blue eyed. Was Hitler afraid of people that were different from him or did he use them to get power?

Photo: Molldo_2000
Sweden did not take part in the second world war. Some people keep criticizing the country for this, blaming the Prime Minister at the time, Per Albin Hansson for being a coward. All the countries that surrounded Sweden took part in the war but Sweden decided not to. It let the Germans use the railways but helped so many people in countries nearby such as Finland. I was proud of Sweden. I was proud of my superhero Raoul Wallenberg who saved more than 100.000 Jews and then disappeared, probably died....I still mourn him.

The wind is changing in the large country of Sweden. A party called Sverigedemokraterna (SD), lead by Jimmy Åkesson, is the third party in Sweden now after the elections on September 14th. They got almost 13% of the votes. This scares me. The result of the election below: Source: (

Social Democrats 31.2%
Moderate Party 23.2%
Sweden Democrats 12.9%
Green Party 6.8%
Centre Party 6.1%
Left Party 5.7%
Liberal Party 5.4%
Christian Democrats 4.6%
Voter turnout: 83.4%

I was proud of Sweden and I still am.  I am proud of all those Swedes that still use their own brain to understand. It shouldn't be so difficult to understand how you prefer to escape from a country such as Syria or Somalia. Would you really prefer to stay in your nation and die or escape and live? For me the answer is easy. I would prefer to live and hopefully help others to live as well. 

I have lived as an immigrant in Italy for over 30 years now and nobody has ever treated me badly. Nobody has ever looked at me with suspicion or hatred. Why should then the Swedes think differently about the immigrants in Sweden?

While Sweden welcomes our brothers and sisters from Syria, saving their lives, young Swedes immigrate to other countries, such as Norway. Take a look at this: 
( In times of famine a lot of Swedes went to live in the USA, which is very multicultural.

I am for democracy, Jimmy, and all the other guys at the Swedish party SD, but I am also for clear communication. I am inserting one of your speeches below. Everybody should be free to share the thoughts but yours scare me. 

Sweden is indeed different now than when I moved out. Most Swedes were blonde and blue eyed then, but there were some immigrants that had come to help us keeping up the work. They had black hair and some of them opened some very nice pizzerias. They also had a tough time, but were they better in your eyes because they were not Muslims? 

Jimmy & friends, I am proud to be part of the 87% that have not voted you. I am happy to say that I am not afraid of Muslims, Jews, Atheists, Christians, Hindu, Buddhists or anybody else. I like talking to people from different cultures and religions because knowledge and understanding makes me richer inside. I am not afraid of any religion or race.  I am sure that fear creates hatred, and what scares me is the hatred. I am one of many people and I regret not having been able to participate in the manifestations against racism that took place all over the country yesterday, September 15th 2014, in which thousands of people showed their opinion against racism.

This is an old blog in Swedish I wrote about my life as an immigrant. I think you can read it, Jimmy & friends, and let me know what you think.


Sunday, 7 September 2014

Workplace bullying and mobbing

Do you experience that the working environment has changed recently? Have your colleagues stopped talking to you? Maybe a manager has been telling you dirty things in your ear when nobody heard and now you feel uncomfortable? Do your colleagues laugh when you open your mouth to express your thoughts and ideas? Watch out! Workplace bullying is becoming more and more common!


We talk a lot about bullying and mobbing among kids, and we need to keep helping them. We really need to listen to them and support them in any way we can. Children and teenagers can be cruel to one another, we all know that, and the problem bullying is hard to cope with. Surprisingly, the problem exists also among adult people, especially at work!

What is workplace bullying? The term “workplace mobbing” was first described in Sweden in 1980 by a psychologist called Heinz Layman. He observed that those that were targeted were as traumatized as if they had been in war and believed that 15% of the suicides in Sweden were due to mobbing. Other scientists have confirmed his research and the problem is becoming bigger and bigger.

In the book Mobbing: Emotional Abuse in the Workplace, the writers Ruth D. Schwarz, Noa Davenport and Gal Purcell Elliott describe how the target suffers psychologically and also physically. Targets are often excluded from meetings or denied access to materials needed to do their job well. The aim of the bullying is often to get the person quit the job and tactic often works because the management does not intervene. It can actually be the upper management that orchestrates the attacks if they want to get rid of a resource that they cannot fire legally. Unfortunately, this often works. The bullied employees often see themselves forced to leave the job because the consequences are so difficult that it is impossible to cope with them. Bullying often leads to both physical disorders. According to there are a lot of diseases that are stress-related, as well as health complications from prolonged exposure to bullying. Below are a few examples:

  • ·         Cardiovascular Problems: Hypertension (60%) to Strokes, Heart Attacks
  • ·         Adverse Neurological Changes: Neurotransmitter Disruption, Hippocampus and Amygdala atrophy
  • ·         Gastrointestinal: IBD, colitis
  • ·         Immunological Impairment: More frequent infections of greater severity
  • ·         Auto-immune disorders
  • ·         Fibromyalgia (21%), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (33%)
  • ·         Diabetes (10%)
  • ·         Skin Disorders (17%)

14 million Americans are being bullied today and many more are watching this happening. The phenomenon is growing around the world and also in Italy the problem has started being tackled.The employer has the duty to protect the physical and moral integrity of the employees according to Italian law.

Some of the most common forms of bullying are:

  • Slander
  • Gossiping
  • Menial work assignments
  • Missing information

Bullying can also cause damage the employee's professionalism, when the worker does not perform the work assignment for which they were hired. An employee in Italy can now ask for support for this reason. Also, bullying has been recognized by Inail (the national insurance institute of Italy) as a professional disease. A bullied worker can ask the institute for a compensation if having been damaged by the working environment by bullying.

Even Inail began to consider bullying as an occupational disease: in fact, has been included in the category of occupational diseases is not tabular, that is not included in the tables. Then the worker can claim compensation for the damage also to the said Institute.
Sexual harassment by a manager or colleague can be classified and judged. Physical violence and also indecent proposals should be reported to the upper management and if no action is taken the employee can refer to the Italian law.

It is the duty of each employee to make sure that the employees are being respected by the managers and colleagues. Your manager should not make sexual proposals to you and he/she should talk to you in a respectful way. They should not make inappropriate comments on your physical appearance. Are you being bullied? Take a look at these links (English and Italian). There are some books that might be helpful.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Is it expensive to get fat? - Thoughts about food, health and money

A Swedish boy asked an intelligent question to me the other day. "Is it expensive to get fat?" he asked. "It seems really cheap to buy chocolate and one gets sucked by the advertising," he continued. 


Photo: u-o-0024
The wise boy was right. In Sweden I sometimes see advertisements on candies that costs as much, or as little, as ground beef at a special price, while the normal meat and fish often are too expensive for a weekday dinner. Even the pork chops are more expensive than candy at a special price! The boy also thought it was unfair that children only get to eat candy on Saturdays while adults get to eat whenever they want. True! In Sweden, the sweets are  an important part of many people's lives. The Swedes have gained 5 kg per person on average since the 80's and 56% carry on excess weight. This despite the fact that more and more people are becoming poor. It's not expensive to get thick ...

Europe has, on average, 52% of obese people. In Italy the figure is 33%. Also in this Mediterranean country is increasing poverty one of the reasons why people gain weight. Fewer and fewer can afford to buy expensive proteins.  Although vegetables and fruit are cheap goods here in Italy, many people get full by eating a lot of carbohydrates.  We all need carbohydrates, but as we know they should be part of our meals, not the biggest part. 

Renoir: After the bath

It was not so long ago, it was beautiful to be chubby. Flesh was the sign that he had enough food at home while the poor went lean because the food was not enough.  I find the woman in the painting beautiful, don’t you?  Well, we all have different tastes and opinions, of course. However it is, and has always been difficult for the majority to achieve beauty ideals, even if you try. But is it to look good you should eat healthy food and stay in shape? Isn’t it because you want to be healthy?

Overweight people are more likely to get diseases like diabetes and heart problems and it is an important reason not to exceed the limit for obesity. Fruits and vegetables are important components of the diet and it is not expensive to eat lettuce and broccoli in Sweden either. On the other hand, it is also important not to eat too little. Eating disorders such as anorexia become more and more common in today's society, and we should be careful of how our children and young people eat. The French actress Nolita (below) made a campaign to bring attention on anorexia. She then died at age 28.

Photo: Lapilli

To do exercise on a regular basis and eat for the right reason (hunger) is a good recipe for well-being. Let us eat because we're hungry and make sure we have the joy of food at the table. If you eat food at fixed hours and try to move as much as possible doing the body gets healthy.

But of course the boy is right! It should not be so cheap to get fat! Foods like meat and fish should cost less than candy. Everyone should be able to afford to buy and eat healthy food. What do you think?

Thank you, lovely boy, for today's inspiration!

Take care,



Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Venice is a fish

I am probably not the right person to talk about Venice having spent only a weekend there. But a weekend was enough to fall hopelessly in love with that city. A dear friend, who came to see me during my stay in Venice, gave me a book called "Venezia è un pesce" (Venice is a fish) that I read on the way back to Rome and I must admit that now I already long back to this fantastic town. 

If you look at the picture you can actually see that Venice has the shape of a fish. It is not big and you can actually walk around it quite easily. If you can walk. When I arrived and started crossing some of the 500 bridges, I wondered how a person on a wheel chair can survive in this town. But for a person who has no problems to walk Venice is like a dream...

How can all those fantastic buildings be standing there in the middle of the sea? How was Venice built? The "palazzi" that you see, all those fantastic marble buildings, could not be built in the water. They would have sunk in the mud. No, there are hundreds of thousands, no milions of trees under the town, that hold up the buildings. Under the Basilica della Salute there are at least one hundred thousand of trees. Under the Basilica di san Marco there are rafts made of oaks. Impressive!

 I arrived in Venice by plane and took the "vaporetto" to the centre of the town where I had booked a room on the internet. I had a map and thought it would be quite simple to find the B&B. But no way! Venice is a labyrinth! There are 6 sections in Venice and the place where I was going to stay was in the section Cannaregio. You can find the places by asking the number of the building. Or - you can call the hotel/B&B- and ask them to come and pick you up :) My advice is to live in a central place so that you easily can walk around. 

"My" room in  typical Venetian style.
I was lucky enough to find very nice staff at the B&B. I was shown all the places I could go on a map and how to get there. I was also informed of the prices of the museums, ferries and how to save money. Venice is very expensive and if you don't know how to move a weekend will cost you a fortune!

On Saturday I met a friend who showed me around Venice on foot. We wandered the whole day long and had some fantastic spaghetti in a nice restaurant. She gave me the book Venice is a fish written by Tiziano Scarpa, that I started reading already on Saturday night when I came back to the hotel room. 

I was surprised to read about things I had never thought about. There are no cars in Venice, we know that, but I had not thought of the fact that there are no bicycles either. The author grew up and spent his adolescence in Venice and even tells how difficult it is for young couples to meet. Italian families rarely let the young family members bring a boy/girlfriend home and since there are no cars to meet in they often find places in the narrow lanes or at the stairs inside an entrance. Scarpa even tells the story of a couple making love on a bench in big sack in a park at night. Incredible for a Swede but not for an Italian.

Scarpa guides his reader through the Venice of the senses, starting with a chapter on feet, then legs, heart, hands, nose, eyes and so on, exploring the smell, taste and look of La Serenissima. My friend, Desirée, took me all around Venice on foot and showed me "her" Venice; the places that she visited when she studied at university. It was indeed a great experience listening to this Swedish woman speaking Italian with Padova accent making the local people think she was one of them.

Everybody smiled and was friendful in Venice, it was really contagious! The gondoliere who welcomed us to cross the Canal Grande from the Fish market (mercato del pesce) to the fruit and vegetable market smiled warmly, even though this tour cost us only about 2 euros per person. It is called a "Caronte-tour", since it gives you a chance to sit for a while in a gondola, crossing the Canal Grande. A normal tour by gondola cost about 80 euros, which would be a fantastic experience for a romantic couple, but the Caronte-tour was perfect for me!
My friend Desirée shows me where we are on the map.

A good piece of advice that I received from the young man at th B&B was not to go to Piazza San Marco during the day since it is far too crowded. He was right indeed. The line to get into the church was very long. Next time I will follow his advice and go there at 7.30 in the morning. 

If you walk a lot during the day, it is great to take the vaporetto (ferry) number 1 from the station on the Canal Grande in the evening. Venice is very beautiful at night and you can see a lot from the ferry while having your feet rest.

Murano. Photo: Private. The flowers are made of glass.
Murano and Burano are two islands that should be visited. I only made it to visit Murano, the famous island of glass factories. The craftmen that blew glass in Venice were banned to this island a long time ago due to the risk of fire. I really advise you to go there! I didn't like objects made of glass so much before visiting this island, but now I love them! It is also very beautiful to travel around on the ferry.

Venice has about 13 million of tourists per year. It is sited on 118 islands and the historical city (Centro storico) has about 60.000 inhabitants whereas the Terraferma (Mainland) hosts 136.000 people. Venice has been called with a lot of different names, such as: a Dominante", "Serenissima", "Queen of the Adriatic", "City of Water", "City of Masks", "City of Bridges", "The Floating City", and "City of Canals" . 

Venice has to be visited at least once in a life time. For me it has to be at least twice because I really didn't manage to see everything I wanted! 

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Pope Francis meeting the poor at the Community of Saint Egidio in Rome

I was very touched to be part of the big crowd of people who wanted to be in Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere in Rome this afternoon. Thousands of people welcomed Pope Francis. It was a fantastic experience!

The Piazza was full, even though some people had not been able to join due to the heavy rain. Nevertheless, there were thousands of people singing cheerfully when I arrived. I was there together with some dear friends and I am happy to be able to say that I have met the Pope and listened to some of the speeches made by poor, immigrants, sick and elderly in the Church of Santa Maria in Trastevere. The Pope was touched to tears when the 90-year-old woman Irma talked about how important it is to appreciate the elderly and how her life changed when she started helping those that were older than her when she was 70. Now, I am not able to move or do many things myself, she said, but I am not to be put aside. I still have a lot to give.

A young Roma man touched me deeply when he told the pope and the audience how people from the community came to pick him up to take him to school when he was a little boy. He kept studying thanks to the volunteers of the community and eventually found a job and now has a family and lives in a flat. He keeps helping other Roma people and tell them to study.
 Many people talked and unfortunatelly I had to run away before listening to the Pope since it started raining too heavily. I have posted the video above (Italian).

The Community of Sant'Egidio was founded in Rome in 1968. It has 60.000 members today in over 73 countries in the world. I was told that a site was started in London where there are 8 members who have started up the activity.

The members of the community do a lot of volunteering and I paste the below from the homepage:

Friendship with the poor
The third "work" typical of Sant'Egidio, fundamental and daily commitment since the very beginning, is the service to poor people, lived as friendship. The students of 1968 who began gathering around the Word of God, felt the Gospel could not be lived far from poor people: poor people as friends and the Gospel as the Good News for poor people. Thus the first service of the community began, when it was not yet named Sant'Egidio. It was called the "People's School" because it was not simply providing extra tutoring for drop-out children of the slums of Rome (like the "Cinodromo" shacks along the Tiber), but it was the beginning of a friendship between the rich and the poor. Since then, the people's schools multiplied, in Rome and in all the other cities where the community lives, with special attention to the most disadvantaged children in the most difficult situation.

The Pope was invited to the Synagogue in Rome at the entrance of the church today, and we will soon see him there. Francis believes in communication and said so also during the sermon.

Thank you Comunità di Sant'Egidio for this great experience!

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Abortion in Italy - 70% of Italy's gynecologists are conscientious objectors

Of course, we have all asked ourselves  the question whether it is right or wrong to have an abortion, haven't we? 70% of Italy's gynecologists are against abortion and refuse to terminate a pregnancy. This counteracts the law 194, for free abortion, in some places, yet still give doctors the right to choose.


Since 1978, the Italian women have been able to go to the govermental hospitals to have an abortion. The law 194 for abortion was introduced on 22 May the same year. However, you can not always go to the nearest hospital to interrupt a pregnancy beause a lot of Italian gynecologists are against abortion and refuse to do this kind of surgery. On average, 70% of gynecologists in the country refuses to interrupt a pregnancy, but the number varies from city to city. At the hospital in Jesi (Ancona) is 100% of the gynecologists are conscientious objectors.

Italy is one of the countries with the most conscientious objetors when it comes to abortion. In Britain 10 % of the gynecologists refuses to abort, while an average of 80% of the doctors in Portugal considesr it unethical and object. In Italy, we know that the Catholic Church has a big influence, but is this the only reason why doctors refuse to terminate a pregnancy? According to the doctor Giovanna Scassellati at San Camillo Hospital in Rome, religion is not the only reason. She believes that one can be against abortion without being a Catholic, and it is very stressful to have to do with abortions. At the hospital where she works 91% of the gynecologists is conscientious objectors.

In Sweden, about 110,000 children are born each year and  between 35,000 and 38,000 abortions per year are carried out. In Italy the objectors have increased by 17.3% in recent years, according to the Metro newspaper (13 March 2014). The number of abortions has also declined in recent years in Italy.
Photo: Percent of abortions in Italy

Below we can see what percentage aborted pregnancies we have in different countries in Europe. Romania has the largest number of abortions while Holland has the lowest. Germany have fewer abortions than Italy so I do not think that it all depends on the Catholic Church. Why does Sweden have so many abortions? I believe there is a good sex education in Sweden and is also very open to talk about sexuality. Or perhaps it isn't so?

Percent aborted pregnancies in the different countries in 2010

I will not dig into the ethical question of abortion and discuss if it is is right or wrong, but I am confident we can all agree that the best would be to avoid an abortion? What do you think?