Everything is fine, absolutely dandy, sweet-as-they-come, she'll-be-right-on-the-night fabulously okay. "Positive thinking", as the plastic fantastic perma-tanned bunga-bunga short-arsed idiot was wont of saying, can fix anything.
People still walk around looking as smart and polished as ever. The new cars on the road are aplenty, the traffic jams undiminished. The streets abound with locals doing the 'passeggiata', the shops appear busy. The restaurants are bustling.
Except that nobody is buying - the lack of visible shopping bags being ample proof - and solely the affluent Chinese are making purchases in the elegant Via Montenapoleone. The only outward sign really that times are tight, very tight.
As my lovely friend Donatella (not the Versace one, but far more talented and untainted by surgical manipulations) commented:
"In Italy there is this perception that something, some miracle, will always save us at the last minute."
That minute came and went some time ago. But in Italy life continues regardless, as if someone, somewhere, will come to the rescue and replenish the (totally depleted) public coffers, sort out the bureaucracy, place the economy back on track, and put the country on the global map for the right reasons (Belusconi not being one of them).
"Italians are very good at ignoring the obvious and pretending nothing has changed, right until the shit is up to their necks."
The 'ma che ci vuoi fare?' attitude (lit. trans: 'what do you expect me to do about it?') is pretty legendary and - to me, at least - infuriating.
However, when everything around you is capitulating - the economy, the justice system, the public sector, the stalwarts of industry - you can almost accept that there is little any one individual can do to change the tide.
The difference this time round is that the shit is not just reaching their necks.
It is up to their top lip and there is a distinct air of 'fed up-ness' wafting about.
I am half hoping this might, might, just be the momentum needed for my paternal country to get its arse in to gear, pull itself up by the bootstraps and get stuck in to shovelling the shit away. By whatever means possible.
If for no other reason than there is no white knight on the horizon.
And shit stinks, no matter how long you ignore it.