Is Italy better than Britain?
"Dear Brits, we have beaten you at everything - and it's time you realised it"
So a headline ran in the Berlusconi-owned Italian paper Il Giornale yesterday.
As the former Fleet Street editor Derek Jameson used to say in his '80s TV show, "Do they mean us? They surely do!"
Often, it takes someone from outside to point out a country's failings. This list of unfavourable comparisons may have been prompted by the scandal-ridden Italian prime minister's fury at his treatment by the British press, but is there a scintilla of truth within the attack?
• Britain: Gordon Brown and his Labour party in crisis
• Italy: Authority since G8 summit has risen
• Britain: Failing banks
• Italy: No bank has needed to be bailed out
• Britain: Savile Row little more than a bazaar
• Italy: 'Made in Italy' world's leading label
• Britain:Europe's most violent nation
• Italy:Tough action has seen crime fall
• Britain: England relies on an Italian manager
• Italy: World champions
Well, one could go through each of these in turn and argue the toss. But I don't think that is the British response to such provocation. In fact, I would like to suggest a list of things to love about Italy. Mr Berlusconi is clearly going through the wringer at the moment and far be it from us to make matters any more difficult for him.
So here is my top ten:
- Spag Bol
- The weather
- Fiat Cinquecento
- Gina Lollobrigida
- The Renaissance
- Frankie Dettori
- Vespa scooters
- Veneziana pizza (eat and save Venice)
All additions gratefully received.