The first thing about Italy that I mentioned to my dad was: Here people are your size! Coming from the Netherlands the physical differences of the inhabitants are obvious at first glance and my 5’6” dad feels at home. Italians look a lot more like south Americans, but looks is just the beginning. Crazy traffic (the REAL “I might get killed at any minute” type) clothing hanging from drying lines in every window, graffiti everywhere, buildings turning old, and rusty, and ugly… combined with the charming and sweet personality of Italians (that provide the friendliest of services from the train to the bar) paints an image too familiar if you call any large south American city your home, particularly Buenos Aires. My dad and I found ourselves enjoying the beauty behind the chaos, almost breathing in the smog as you would French perfume… and making bitter comments turning all the good things of Holland to the opposite extreme -out of spite: “too clean, too neat, too organized!” Is there such a thing as too good? yes, and we found it by contrast travelling through the small towns of the Toscana. Of course, every ugly, dirty, sexy and savory detail comes at a high price, and the saying “lo barato sale caro” (cheap prices have a high cost) might have found a second meaning in Italia in regards to usability.
Streets too narrow for the filled-to-the-top buses, structures unable to accommodate the thousands of daily tourists, our-of-service machines, and more are parts of the daily decor and by the time the charming effect wears off, a deeper rooted problem arises where huge gaps of technological tangles are discovered. Italy is an area of possibilities for usability progress, cities pumping money to encourage young professionals in the areas of technology and development, EU regulations on the rise, an eagerness for transformation and transition.. But change will be painful, it will be slow, and it won’t come without a fight. It will be an interesting endeavor to witness and hopefully be part of it!
With our bags packed, being at the airport extra early to take our cheap flight back, the smell of coffee getting overwhelming, the people pushing their way through to get in the flight, one last glimpse at the unordered line (with reason, see the sign?) made my dad and I sigh… we will miss Italy, with all our senses and our heart, but maybe a trip to the ordered North -once in a while- is not so bad!