Train and ox-cart: a tale of two countries in one.

zanardelli sul carro di buoi

How often have travellers repeated the tale of the striking contrast, the struggle between modernity and tradition in the same city or the same country?

This common place of development literature has a rather long history. In September 1902, the Italian prime minister, Giuseppe Zanardelli, was the first Italian head of government to visit the southern province of Basilicata since the country’s unification in 1861. While the North of the Italy was already experiencing its first industrial spurt, with growing railways and spreading hydroelectric power, Basilicata remained isolated and neglected, plagued by rural poverty, landslides and malaria, cut off the railway network.

The picture of old Zanardelli getting off a train and standing on an ox-cart, was the vivid image of diverging economic path. It certainly witnessed Zanardelli’s determination in tackling the economic problems of southern Italy, but it also confirmed many Italians in their idea of the dualism of their own country, North and South.

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