All posts filed under: History

Sirian refugee story: Dilovan’s walk to Europe

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out true meaning of it is creed”. Dr. Martin Luther King. 28/8/1963 “Me too, Dilovan, I have the dream that one day we can live in peace in my country, Syria, the country that we have lost. Because of a war we do not understand, everyday there are thousands of deaths, no food, no water, no electricity and absolutely no work. I have a bride to take care of and a younger brother. We have Isis on one side, the kurdish army on the other and the sirian state with Bashar Al Assad as the third part, all asking to join in and fight with them. I didn’t like the idea of staying in my city waiting for an Isis raid: it would have been risky especially for my wife, who could have been kidnapped and who knows what else. So, like millions of Syrians who are on my same journey, I decided to try to get to my parents in …

‘Big, beautiful’ walls don’t stop migrants in the US or Europe

– by Anna Triandafyllidou, European University Institute Walls have a strong political connotation in post-war Europe. The most tragically famous was the Berlin wall built in 1961 to prevent citizens of the DDR (otherwise known as East Germany) from seeking refuge in the West. The fall of that wall in 1989 signalled the reunification not only of Germany but of the entire European continent, and the end of the Cold War. It also marked a European commitment to providing asylum to people fleeing from persecution. Unfortunately, history often repeats itself and citizens forget. Thus, walls and fences have been proliferating in Europe over the past 12 years as a response to migration flows. The most famous wall of them all. Roland Arhelger, CC BY-SA Fortress Europe It was as early as 1995 when the first project for building fences around the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla on the North African coast started. It was completed in 2000, three-quarters funded by the European Union for a total cost of €48 million. However, the continuing attempts by …

The Greek asylum crisis: moving beyond the blame game to a real solution

– Anna Triandafyllidou, European University Institute An unusual wave of cold weather in the first week of January 2017 exposed the stark deficiencies of Greece’s asylum seeker policy. Camps housing tens of thousands people seeking refuge from war were hit by snow and freezing rain, with residents exposed to sub-zero temperatures and arctic winds. The winter crisis made headlines worldwide. It left no doubt of the fact that ten months after the EU-Turkey agreement led to a stark decrease in migrant flows to the country, Greece is still struggling to cope with the asylum challenge. Substantial funding has been made available to deal with the migration emergency, both directly to relevant ministries and to international NGOs. According to a recent European Commission report, Greece has received €295 million out of a total of €861 million earmarked for the Europe-wide refugee crisis. Of this €295 million, at least half has been given directly to international organisations. But it’s not working. Greece’s impossible task Greece is currently facing a Sisyphean task. It must first provide appropriate first reception …

“Fire at Sea”: the italian take on the refugee crisis

“Fire at Sea” (Fuocoammare) by Gianfranco Rosi is the italian film chosen to compete for Best Foreign Language film at the Academy Awards: it’s a brave choice taken by a selected few at the Italian National Film Industry Commission (ANICA). Easier stories could have been picked from the shortlisted ones, but the elitist group of people representing the various branches of the industry decided to stick their necks out for a cause. The cause is a humanitarian and historical one: “Fire at Sea” tells the true story of unimaginable journeys to escape foreign bombs and survive thirst, now, in our highly-civilized, super-progressive and hyper-connected 2016. The choice has received large support by the italian public opinion (#fuocoammare), Italian PM Matteo Renzi was proud and national television screened it on October 3rd: Italy being represented by Fuocoammare for the Oscar competition is a choice seen like a patriotic support to what italian nationals are doing to save lives in the tiny mediterranean island of Lampedusa in Sicily. In fact Italy is the only country to have a National Day to Remember the Victims of Migrations and rise consciousness on Hospitality, and it’s October …

Pietro Leopoldo, Grand Duke of Tuscany and Emperor of Austria

The Royal Lover

Gracefully walking down the marble staircase in a long and heavy white dress, Livia Raimondi Malfatti, moved towards her lover, His Royal Highness the Grand Duke of Tuscany. Fine lace framed her face and neck, tight velvet suited her delicate chest and shoulders, gardenia water perfumed her soft hair. He was waiting by the door, white gloves in hand, upright in his profile, straight in a perfectly cut black coat. He looked at her, offering his arm down the last few steps. She leaned willingly. He tasted of talcum powder and freshly sprinkled cologne. A footman opened the door for them and they were driven to the theatre in a closed carriage. It’s maybe like this that evenings between the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Pietro Leopoldo, and his beloved Livia Raimondi Malfatti began. They probably met late at night, after his official duties with his wife, Maria-Luisa of Spain, who gave him sixteen children. We are in the second half the Eighteenth Century. He is a powerful sovereign, she is a ballerina. He builds a …

Beach in the Thirties

Beach in the Thirties

In the Thirties, during the summer, even from the tiny small village of Pozzo della Chiana, in the rural area of Valdichiana in Tuscany, people found ways to go on vacation to the sea. In the picture, Caterina and Giuseppina, two young local beauties are wearing bathing suits in the time’s fashion. They seem to have chosen the Versilian coast for their break. © Melissa Pignatelli 2012 Source and picture:  © Fotoclub ‘Il Pozzo’, Storia e Immagini della Valdichiana, 2000