The Western World looks with gratitude and pride to its roots in the Mediterranean. The development of philosophy and democracy in Greece was translated by the Romans into a system of law which acted as a broadly civilizing force; this enabled peoples to live together throughout the Mediterranean basin in the pax romana. With the emergence of Christianity these elements provided the Church with struc¬ture for its work, and in turn were transformed in a deeply humanizing manner. Augustine, Benedict, Aquinas and others elaborated structures of spirit and of life which transformed persons from within and reached out to the peoples of Northern, Central and Eastern Europe. This constituted the first ecumenical era and the initial weaning of a multi-ethnic tradition within the Holy Roman Empire, East and West.
A fresh elan of cultural creativity emerged in the Italian Renaissance. Its new zest for life and nature expressed first by Francis of Assisi, provided new ways to look at the cultural creations of the ancients. It generated intensive, creative interest in geography and astronomy, political structures and art. Today we still live out the impetus which this "re-birth" gave to the socio-political and the cultural life of the West.
In all these dimensions of time--ancient and medieval, renaissance and modern--the Italian experience contains essential keys for understanding the progress of humankind. For the emerging nations in Eastern Europe and other parts of the world in search of ways to reconstitute social life in terms of their distinctive cultural identities, the Italian success in fashioning a nation from many regions, each with its own rich tradition, provides striking lessons. For the peoples of other regions of the world who look to the West for models to guide their own development, the Italian genius takes on ever greater importance.
It is the purpose of “Globus et Locus” to work out this content of the heritage of Italy as part of the heritage of humanity and to determine how this can be communicated and lived in the many different world contexts. This transnational spirit of Italy, termed “Italicity” is the central topic of this volume.
Italicity: global and local-Intervention of Piero Bassetti at the seminar in Washington 2002
"The Essence of Italian Culture and The Challenge of a Global Age" (1151 kb)