11/11/2014 07:11 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Of Dolphins, Oil, Politics and... Italy


It's 8 a.m. The kids have left for school and my husband is gone to work. I look forward to this moment of the day. It's when I can steal time for myself. The house is quiet. I pull up the rocking chair to the living room window and sip a warm cup of coffee. Our sleepy dog Stella is curled up on my lap. It's mid November. The temperature here in Italy is still warm enough to leave everything open. The salty, damp air fills the room wetting my face and hair. It's just me and the scenery, the sea and I.

The surface of the water reflects the colors of the sky. A dull, grey fall morning; the perfect atmosphere to write a few thoughts on the blank notepad that has been sitting by the television for the past two weeks. The sound of the waves crashing on the shore have been a constant companion. Like a dear friend, the sea has always been there. Through 26 years of bewildering experiences, I am still trying to understand how this beautiful country could generate such a great quantity of injustice and pain. There are so many stories to tell. It's often difficult to know where to begin. Nonetheless I must try, in the name of the love that brought me here when I was nothing more than a young woman with a dream.

My grandfather's tales of dolphins crossing the Adriatic Sea in front of Porto San Giorgio, his hometown, stirred my curiosity as a child. I remember him sitting at the kitchen table, after lunch, sipping his espresso. The aroma of coffee and anisina (a locally made liquor with a liquorish-like flavor ) were comforting, like sitting beside a fire on a cold day. I soon developed a passion for anything and everything that involved the sea. It is in fact the reason I chose to leave Canada and live here.

Throughout the years I tried to learn as much as I could about the marine ecosystem. I felt I needed to do my part to keep the Adriatic and the life that dwells within it safe, for the sake of humanity. Today, many of the species that inhabit this sea are at risk of extinction. Those same dolphins my grandfather used to tell me about have almost disappeared. In all these years I have seen them alive and free twice. My children never have. Seventy years ago this tiny, shallow body of water swarmed with life. Sea turtles, rays, sharks, tunas, fish of all shapes and sizes were plentiful and filled fishermen's nets. Now, we are up against pollution, overfishing and climate change. We are struggling to keep the underwater world alive. More often than not nets, are pulled up nearly empty and what used to be a thriving part of the local economy is in deep crisis.

Despite protests last week the Senate passed a legislative decree called: " Sblocca Italia " ( unblock Italy ). According to President Renzi the new measure is going to pull Italy out of the economic catastrophe we are living in. How? Amongst other things, by opening the way to incinerators, concrete (which leads to overbuilding) as well as to oil companies, whom are now more than welcome to come and drill anywhere they please in the Mediterranean area. If the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico caused the damage we all know about, it is not difficult to imagine what would happen in a similar situation off the coast of Capri, Ischia, Amalfi, or more simply, in our own backyard. Both the marine ecosystem and the economy would be wiped out. Whatever happened to renewable energy, research and protecting the land and water that allow us to survive? But the bigger question is: what has happened to democracy in Italy? The people's voice means nothing to the government. Mr. Renzi meets with Mr. Berlusconi behind closed doors in Rome, and the fate of Italy is decided.

A tepid ray of sun warms my hand. I have stopped writing. An overwhelming feeling of sadness assails me. Before my eyes I see a country that had it all; nature, culture, history, traditions. A country that could prosper on it's beauty, hospitality, tourism, food, wine, art... depleted. What remains is merely the memory of a little girl who grew to love her grandfather's stories. "I live in a boot!," she would proudly affirm to anyone who asked. Little did she know that she was really living in "nowhere man's" land.