The photographs published by the Corriere della Sera, of trafficked Africans on the summer beaches, and the videos of the French police charging the Africans at Ponte Ludovico in the south of France, driving them onto the rocks, picture a world collapsing. Not just the Africans' world - they're well into the nightmare - but our world. Our world where we drive along the Aurelia with glorious glimpses of the Mediterranean blue and smiling, heading for France and its gardens in spring bloom, for the Balzi Rossi, for lunch at Garavan with its pretty harbour below us. A large part of summer has just gone; and with it a very English culture and history.
It's not just the seaside either; travelling to Milan for an exhibition, a recital, is suddenly a fraught experience struggling from the Freccia Rossa to even leave the station, overwhelmed as it is by others who are travelling nowhere. Rome? Rome has always been an edgy city but recent advances in orderliness, ease, enjoyment of its grandeurs have collapsed into a frightening sense of threat, certainly in the underground and even just walking in some central parts of the city.
The final sets of vote-offs were completed in Italy yesterday. Again the turn-out was very low, well under 50%, and again the ruling coalition of Democratic Party and New Centre Right lost heavily. Notable gains were made by Forza Italia, by the Lega Nord, by 5-Stelle, and by various civic lists. Venice voted centre-right for the first time in almost quarter of a century, joining swathes of the North rising against Roman central government and its noxious combination (over and above corruption) of economic austerity plus migrant-imposition in communities already without work and resources for far too long and for no good reason.
Renzi's government is under severe threat generated by externally imposed, wrong economic and fiscal policies, and external refusal to help with the migrants. For the latter he has stated Italy will supply short term settlement papers to them all, thus allowing travel anywhere in Europe, unless the frontiers are opened and they can be settled in an orderly and decent fashion. For the former the idiocies and rigidities of eurozone policies and its malformed, misconceived currency are beyond Italian solution alone. Greece (and the Africans) will be as nothing if the two trillion* Euro debts of Italy come pouring out with the collapse of the Italian government.
UDATE: Figures issued this evening set Italian public debt at 2 trillion, 194 billion euros. Greek debt? That's just the billions at the end of that immense sum.