you could hear in most faculty clubs.nThe reason for this is partly the Italianninterest in politics, but it is more anfunction of CEISLO’s presence in thenvillage of Olginate. I wonder if Americann”think-tanks” would have a morensignificant impact if they began toninvolve the people in the neighborhood?nThe next day we visit the mayor ofnLecco, a very prudent and able mannpresiding over the upgrading of Lecconto the status oiprovincia. I note that henhas a sister cities arrangement withnmany cities but none in America. Hengrows uncomfortable, explaining thatnLecco is a commune d’Europa. Later,nsomeone explains to me that the mayornis in a difficult position. As a ChristiannDemocrat he belongs to the party thatnsent Italian soldiers to the gulf war, andnthe left is waiting for any opportunitynto accuse him of being pro-American.nWe cannot eat and argue all thentime, and we spend our days visitingnLecco, Bergamo, and Como, wherenwe meet Elvio Conti, who takes us onna cruise of Lago di Como. We eatnlunch in Menaggio — real Lombardnfare from the lakes: a hearty dish ofnbuckwheat and cheese that can see anman through an entire day of hardnlabor, and fishes from the lake —nsmoke-dried lavorello and fresh tinea.nAfter several bottles of wine, our headsnmight as well be at the bottom of thenlake, but Conti takes us to a little barnfor more wine and shows us the hotelnwhere the Lega Lombarda held a rally.nThe proprietor is away, but his sonnbuys us a grappa. (Note, we had nevernbefore tasted anything drinkable calledngrappa, but this is very good.)nBack in Como, we are taken shopping,nand although it is late and we arendue back in Olginate, Conti signals usnto follow his car. My wife grows impatient,nsince we have no idea where wenare going, but we end up in the verynsilk factory she had been begging me tonfind. Somewhere in my increasinglynincoherent Italian, Elvio had figurednout where we really wanted to go. Thatnis the mystery of life in Italy, wherenpeople never seem to plan anything orneven answer a letter, but they arenalways two steps ahead of you in doingna kindness.nOur last little adventure was a trip tonMilano to see the cathedral and tonmeet journalist Mario Marcolla and an44/CHRONICLESnyoung man who wants to do an interviewnfor Christianita, the official organnof the Alleanza Cattolica. Marcolla isnthe Italian translator of Russell Kirknand a real expert on Anglo-Americannconservative thought. We go to the topnof the Duomo in the forest oigulie andnstare at the Madonnina. I do not see UnResegone, the mountain that loomsnabove Lecco, despite the assurance ofnthat Milanese comic-book miscreant,nCattivik.nFrom old Milan, the city of faith —ncommercial as well as religious — wendescend to the blaring world of Cattivik’snMilan and try to have a quietnconversation in the roar of a policenunit’s mobile generator and a phonynPeruvian band. (Anyone who speaksnSpanish can pose as an authentic Andeannmusician.) Marcolla observes,n”Sempre la festa. . . .Morning, noon,nand night, it’s party time, and nobodynworks, and they wonder why we don’tncatch up with Germany and Switzerland.”nLike all men who love their country,nMarcolla is hard on Italian vices andnmay not realize how much worse offnwe are in the United States. From hisn(affectionate but deprecating) descriptionnof his son (allegedly a libertariannwho likes Ayn Rand), I expect to meetnwhat Lew Rockwell would call a realn”modal.”Instead I find myself shakingnhands with a polite and hardworkingnyoung man. I had friends in SouthnCarolina, who were always complainingnabout their daughter’s laziness andnrudeness, when in fact they had rearedna studious young lady with beautifulnmanners. Does this mean, I wonder,nthat it is bad parents and bad citizensnwho cannot criticize what they claim tonlove?nItaly is currently undergoing a seriousnconstitutional crisis, and all partiesnseem to understand that something hasnto change, if the government is ever tonclean up the massive fiscal corruptionnand begin to do battle with organizedncrime. Italians are full of spleen againstnthe partitocrazia, and my friends in thenLega Lombarda are rueful in comparingntheir own country with Switzerland,nbut behind all of the anger and allnof the bitterness, it is impossible to missnthe passionate love of Italy (especiallyntheir little part of it) that animates everynItalian I have ever met, including anRockford lawyer who had just returnednnnfrom a month’s visit. I met him in anlocal Italian grocery, and he could notnstop talking about the beauties of Tuscanynand Sicily. His one worry was thatnAmericans (he was born in this country)nwould spoil it. I agreed with him.nI recently attended Rockford’s FestanItaliana and listened to a foul-mouthedncomedian telling ethnic jokes. (He gotnnervous when he realized that thenpriest he had been needling was, innfact, the bishop.) After asking hownmany Siciliani, how many Baresi, hownmany Napoletani were in the audience,nhe concluded by saying, “Thenimportant thing, though, is that we’renall Italians, right?” Only one personn(probably not an Italian) asked if therenwere any Americans. But Sal Richardsnis probably right. Being an Italian, evennan Italian-American of the third generation,nmeans something, but whatndoes it mean to be an American? Mostnof us don’t have the faintest idea.nThomas Fleming is the editor ofnChronicles.nLetter From thenLower Rightnby John Shelton ReednA Good Job for the FederalnGovernmentnThere is good reason to be suspicious ofnthe U.S. national park system. You cannstart with its origins.nIn 1864, an act of Congress seizednthe first parkland for the federal government,nevicting some homesteaders fromnthe Yosemite Valley and directing thenstate of California to administer thenplace. In the context of the Civil War,nmaybe one more little bit of federalnusurpation hardly mattered, but thingsnwent downhill from there. Barelyntwenty-five years later, the feds decidednthey didn’t like the way California wasnrunning things, and grabbed Yosemitenfor themselves.nThat they did this at the urging ofnJohn Muir, sappy Scottish pantheist andnthe original California flake, is anothernreason to be suspicious. Muir had littlenfaith in omnipotent deity, but a lot innomnipotent government: God had pre-n