An important point about Italy:

…which is that all sorts of things are immensely complicated.

To wit:

“The Italian legislative corpus,” remarked the authors of a recent study,  “has long represented a labyrinth even for the shrewdest legal practitioner because of its complexity and its sheer volume.” No one knows for certain how many laws there are.

In a typical act of showmanship, Calderoli arranged in 2010 for a bonfire on which he claimed to burn 375,000 laws and other regulations that had been nullified by his department. The oldest was from 1864. Estimates of the number of statute laws in force at the time of Calderoli’s appointment varied widely, from around 13,000 up to 160,000, excluding those passed by regional and provincial legislatures.

The government declared that, as a result of his ministry’s work, the tally had been reduced to around 10,000. But that was still almost twice as high as in Germany and three times as high as in Britain.

If the law in Italy is complex, then the way in which it is enforced and implemented is, if anything, even more so.

For a start, there are five national police forces. Apart from the Polizia di Stato, there are the semi-militarized Carabinieri and Guardia di Finanza (a revenue guard charged with curbing tax evasion, detecting money laundering and patrolling Italy’s territorial waters).

Then there are the Polizia Penitenziaria, whose officers guard the prisons and transport prisoners, and finally the Corpo Forestale dello Stato, responsible for patrolling Italy’s forest and national parks.

In addition, there are myriad provincial and municipal police forces.

Altogether, Italy has more law enforcement officers than any other country in the European Union. The scope for overlap, rivalry and confusion is considerable.

There are four layers of government in Italy— national, regional, provincial and municipal— any relatively large project will almost certainly require approval at more than one level and, in many cases, at all four.


Pirandello is a quintessentially Italian writer— perhaps the quintessentially Italian writer— forever gnawing away at the boundaries between reality and fiction, madness and sanity, past and present. The audience at a Pirandello play is repeatedly disconcerted and misled. Apparent certainties are undermined. Ostensible facts prove illusory. His works are, in short, very much like the experience of living in Italy.



Hooper, John. The Italians (p. 42 & 54). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.





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