Growing up in Italy is a bitter-sweet. Italy’s culture is strong, rich of an imagery that had thousands of years to mature. In particular, design, architecture, music, and movies are world class, as many have recognized.

While Italian design has world renown in cars, furniture, and – to possible parity with France – fashion, the other items are not widely accepted to be part of the Italian strengths. Architecture, for instance, is something that most people associate with past centuries, and they see no new contributions. Similar fate awaited the Italian movie industry, once leading the pack of avant-garde movie making. Today all the common man knows is Il Postino and Life Is Beautiful.

In music, though, Italy’s vitality is unprecedented. There is nothing that is more Italian to my senses than its music: melodic lines sung by artists that typically write their own songs, with minimal instrumental aide, but a lot of background chorus. When these songs start soaring, it feels as if the whole world revolved around a medieval piazza, with young folks flirting with each other and old folks staring gently.