Walking in Milan and getting around doesn’t give me the perception of a city re-born after a 7-years long economic depression. I still see shops closing in areas where it was unthinkable to shut down until a few years ago (BAires). Shops in the centre are half-empty during once busy weekends. Food stores relentlessly lower prices, and it’s not uncommon to see food-related billboards and adverts in town promoting best prices ever. I no longer have to reserve a table at restaurants in most of the once busiest districts – Tortona, Garibaldi, Ticinese. The Milanese movida seems to be definitely over.
Media write about the end of the Italian economic recession. The benefits of the coming EXPO are on the mouth of all (optimistic?) friends I’m talking to. Eataly and few other bold entrepreneurs still invest here; and the openings gain pages and pages on local press. Which I voraciously read, hoping to find real signs of change.
Nevertheless, this is not what my eyes see when I spend some time in town. Milan’s life is not even comparable with towns I am used to visit. London. Dubai. New York the last. It never was. But the gap seems unbridgeable today. It’s like the once economic capital of Bel Paese is slowly descending into Dante’s inferno.
And while I am writing these notes, I just hope to be wrong and to be the only one in town not recognising the so bright signs of a new rise. Because I love this city. I love it so much.
Well, 2013 (real) italian GDP went down 1.9%, and even the “recession-ending” third and fourth quarters saw a growth(?) of 0.0% and 0.1%, respectively.
On the optimistic side, this might mean that we reached the bottom, and you’re mostly looking at lagging indicators. On the pessimistic side, I’m not convinced at all that we did reach the bottom, especially because the causes of the dis-equilibrium within the eurozone were only marginally addressed.