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The pandemic is not over yet, but things are looking up. Italia was hit early and hard by COVID 19. In 2020, the world became emotional watching videos from all over the country of Italians singing in solidarity from their balconies and windows. This turned into discouragement and low morale as things worsened. Besides mass vaccination campaigns and the reopening of more activities, recent successes are boosting morale across the country. Italia is back in sport, music and even outer space!

The Azzurri -the Italian national team-have won 4 times, but did not even qualify in the 2018 World Cup.  Now the team has had no losses in 34 games.  The last time they lost was September 2018 to Portugal 1-0 in the Nations League. 

Unless you have been self-isolating without electricity, you know that on July 11th at Wembley Stadium, the Azzurri beat England to win the European Cup for the first time since 1968.  The Azzurri played well throughout the tournament, so fans were hopeful.  It was not an easy win-taking 30 minutes extra time and then going to shootouts.  The game was anxiety inducing and could have gone either way.  I was sad to see the English team immediately take off their medals!  They played well and should have been better sports and role models.  Federico Chiesa asking Siri to ‘chiama mamma’ cheered me up again.  The Azzurri will be trying to earn a 5th star at the World Cup in Qatar in November 2022. 

Also on July 11th, 25 year old Matteo Berrettini was the first Italian to be in a Wimbledon final, playing Novak Djokovic. He did not win, but it is not all about winning. Berrettini is the first Italian man to win a Grand Slam since 1976.

May 22nd in Rotterdam, Festival San Remo winners, Italian Glam-rockers Måneskin won the Eurovision Song Contest with ‘Zitti e buoni’ thanks to a massive public vote. This was Italia’s third win-the others being in 1964 and 1990. 

Eurovision 2021 was the largest in-person event since the Pandemic started-until Euro Cup, I believe.  The contest is huge in Europe with 39 countries participating, but hardly known at all in North America.  Måneskin is made up of singer Damiano David, bassist Victoria De Angelis, guitarist Thomas Raggi and drummer Ethan Torchio, aged 21-22.  They met in school in Roma and were finalists in the 2017 X-Factor Italia.

Zitti e buoni literally means ‘quiet and good’, but in this context means ‘shut up and behave’.  It was written by the band members.  The lyrics are brilliant.  They are about being yourself and not conforming or worrying about gossip.  Read more about the lyrics here.

So young and so talented!  Below is a video of their winning performance at Festival San Remo in February, complete with a full orchestra. 

The winning country hosts the following year, so the 66th Eurovision Song Contest in May 2022 will be in Italia. 17 cities have put in a bid and the winner should be announced by the end of August.

Last, but definitely not least we have ‘AstroSam’. Italia’s first woman in space, Samantha Cristoforetti will be the first European woman to command the International Space Station.

Last week the ‘Visit Italy’ marketing campaign at the Brussels International Airport went viral. The billboard reads ‘I migliori psicologi consigliano l’Italia dopo una pandemia‘ -The best psychologists recommend Italia for the post pandemic blues!

Auguri Azzurri, Matteo, Måneskin and AstroSam! Also visit Italia, but don’t all go at once! Ciao, Cristina

Photos from: my TV screen, Matteo Berrettini and Måneskin’s Instagram accounts @matberrettini, @måneskinofficial