So much of the modern world seems bent on what feels to me like a selfish isolationism based on ethnic division.  We saw it when communism relinquished its grip on Eastern Europe; Czechs and Slovaks experienced the velvet divorce, whilst Yugoslavia tore itself apart in bloody conflict.  Since then we’ve seen Sudan, Syria, Iraq flare up as the interests of one group are favoured over another.  Scotland came close to leaving the UK, and now we Brits will debate whether to remain in the European Union.

It saddens me.  I’m a great believer in the value of diversity and working together, (yes I’m pro-Europe) but increasingly I feel as if I’m in a minority.  Or perhaps I’m blind to my own selfishness.

Against this its easy to forget that Italy’s relatively recent history is one of unification.  The country didn’t exist until unified following a series of wars in the mid 19th century; Venetia being annexed in 1866 by King Victor Emanuel II in 1866, hence his statue alongside St Mark’s Basin.  The unification has lasted longer than the monarchy as Italy became a republic in 1946.





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