Italy in the heart: a correspondent in the Italian heart of America.
Buenos Aires is a huge metropolis. The most European city in Latin America. It is the city of tango, art, nightlife, sky bars and much more. For the eyes of enthusiasts, there is beauty everywhere: in ancient and historic buildings, in green parks, in monuments, in the streets. Buenos Aires is a city full of life where people are normally in a hurry to go to work and transport are always crammed with people. Sometimes you have to wait really a long time to catch the bus and go home.
And those who know it and live in it when think of Buenos Aires immediately its symbol come to their minds: the obelisk. It is an iconic, unique, characteristic monument, located on the largest avenue in the city: Avenida 9 de Julio. The obelisk was inaugurated in 1936 to commemorate the city’s first foundation, that took place four hundred years before, at the hands of Pedro de Mendoza. On that same spot where today the national monument par excellence stands centuries ago there was a church in honor of San Nicola di Bari, then demolished to built Avenida 9 de Julio. And it was precisely on that church, the church of San Nicola, that the Argentine flag was raised for the first time in Buenos Aires. From here, the importance of the Obelisk for citizens: marks where their bandera flamed the sky for the first time.
Today that city we know – cheerful, lively, elated, beautiful, energetic – has had to shut down. Across the world, nations are fighting against an enemy called Covid-19. A virus that is hitting us hard and that keeps us at home, with our worries and fears, but also with our strength, our patience and our hope. In Italy this enemy came first. Sadly, it hit the nation without giving our Italian brothers time to understand how to move and how to behave in order to defend themselves. In Argentina, however, it arrived a few weeks later. Here we knew what to do and immediately the authorities declared the mandatory quarantine on the whole territory. We Argentines too are struggling today, like you. With you.
Buenos Aires has been one of the cities that has welcomed the largest number of Italian emigrants since the past century. In Argentina today more than half of the population has Italian origins: “We are Italian, born in Argentina”. And we are proud of it. The blood of our parents, our grandparents, pump in our veins, They have come to Argentina to make their fortune with a wealth of dreams and nothing else.
This is why on March 20, on the initiative of the Italian ambassador Giuseppe Manzo and with the contribution of the Ministry of Public Space and Urban Hygiene, the obelisk of Buenos Aires was lit with the colours of the Italian flag: green, white and red. To show our Italian fellow citizens the support of the Argentine people and of all Italians abroad.
And me, nephew myself of Italians, I can say that March 20 will remain in my mind and in my heart, I felt close to my roots in such a difficult moment. Seeing the symbol of the city where I was born dressed in the tricolour – the colours that represent the country I carry in my DNA – warmed my heart. An emotion that I shared with many other Italians and Italo-Argentines here in Buenos Aires and Argentina for which Italy represents and will forever be our beloved home!