Observations of a tourist, August-September, 2022

Italy and Germany are dying from diversity. I mean that in the same way as commentators such as Douglas Murray report that mass Third World immigration is bringing about what he calls, to quote the title of his book, “The Strange Death of Europe”. He means the demographic transformation of once overwhelmingly homogenous white and Christian countries into ones largely composed of people from the Middle East and Africa. Some critics have called on Murray to offer more thorough support for his thesis. The following observations are a tourist’s impressions of demographic change in Italy and Germany.

The following observations are based on notes I made during a visit to Europe, from mid August to mid September 2022.

ROME

Rome was my first stop and first visit to the legendary capital of the Roman Empire, the seat of the Catholic Church and one of the centres of the Renaissance that contributed so much to Western Civilisation. The city did not disappoint. I visited the usual tourist sites, and magnificent they are.

Picture: Rome viewed from the Vatican Museum.

I stayed at an apartment ten minutes’ walk from St. Peters Square. The Square has ancient origins. It consists of two outstretched colonnades, four columns deep, embracing a large paved area like two caring arms. The cathedral overlooks the square. It ingests many thousands of visitors daily, disgorging them blinking into the sunlight with far-away looks.

It was impressive enough to gaze up at the cavernous enclosure and wander into aisles and transepts, all replete with art and symbolism. When this is combined with a large-scale Latin mass, as I witnessed, the effect can be ethereal and transporting. And I’m not a Catholic.

Picture. Background, St. Peters; foreground, a sculpture celebrating refugees.

Nearby is the Vatican Museum, too vast to comprehend in a single day. It includes the Sistine Chapel. It creaks the neck to view the famous ceiling, painted by Michelangelo during years of agony and ecstasy. Near the end of the Museum is an exhibit of modernist paintings, including Dali and Picasso. Unexpected.

Picture. The Vatican Museum in the lead-up to the Sistine Chapel.

The city’s other sights and tastes were too numerous to describe. They included the Pantheon, the Colosseum, the Capitoline Museum, the Baroque Trevi Fountain, the Roman Forum, parts of the Old City, and IMHO the best gelato in the world.

The city’s layout and residential architecture were pleasing to the eye. Adding to my impressions of Rome’s deep history were long sections of ancient wall, constructed from bricks and patches of ancient concrete. I walked to hills overlooking the City, sections of wall following the steep roadway up to gardens.

Looking down on the Old City, it occurred to me that artistic Rome, political Rome, and religious Rome are aspects of the Western extended phenotype, imagined, inspired, designed, commissioned, carved, painted, and built by European brains over many centuries.

Swarms of tourists get in the way of assessing demography in Rome. It is impossible to say, by observing a street scene, who is a permanent resident and who is a sightseer about to fly back to his or her homeland. Being myself part of the ephemeral swarm, all I can offer is observations, tiny snapshots.

We are all familiar with news of Italy being deluged by boat-loads of illegal immigrants from Africa. According to research conducted by the Catholic Church, the last decade saw large flows of immigrants and refugees. This resulted in more than six million foreigners living in Italy. This includes over one million Romanians, the largest immigrant community, followed by Albanians, Moroccans, Chinese, Pakistan and Bangladesh. These are the legal immigrants. In addition there have been illegal arrivals from Tunisia, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Sudan and Eritrea. About 15 percent of these are unaccompanied minors.[i]

These statistics were consistent with what I observed. Street scenes were often diverse. Groups of young black men sometimes were in evidence. I saw more Africans and East Asians than individuals wearing Islamic dress.

The subway rail system was one of the most diverse settings. I saw an Italian man, who appeared to be aged 25-30, physically block a white woman from entering a metro carriage. Perhaps she was begging or stealing. Perhaps the man was being unreasonable. This is something I have never seen in Australia or anywhere before.

We had drinks at an outdoor bar in the Old City, close to a giant city gate. This was a tourist location, and most people looked European.

I came across a church service, emitting sounds and some interior scene observable from the footpath. This was not a tourist destination. There were about 25 of Italian appearance in the congregation, plus one non-European, a man who appeared to be North African. The congregation was mainly elderly, including the priest, though there were some middle aged, all women. On the way out, I passed a black man sitting on the floor near the front door, not participating in the service. That’s another thing I’d never encountered before, in Australia, Europe or America.

Ethnic Italians predominate as soldiers. Military personnel were positioned around the City, presumably to allow swift react to security threats. There would be a jeep with two or three uniformed soldiers. Of the dozen or so soldiers observed, all appeared to be ethnic Italians.

Officials and service providers also appeared to be almost exclusively native Italians. On the way to Rome Airport at the end of my visit, the bus driver and ticket-taker were white, as were the many airport and airline officials during check-in and security inspection. During the flight, the crew were also European, as were the staff who managed boarding.

Rome appears to be a city in demographic transition. Essential services – transport, security, and management of the economy and the extensive cultural institutions – are still being managed largely by Italians, at the same time that the population is being changed by the state.

Next, I travelled from Rome to Constance, an old German city on the Swiss border, and then to Munich. Observations in those cities are reported in the next and final instalment of this travel log.

Part 2 of The Strange Death of Europe Up Close. 

[i] Migrants & Refugees Section, Vatican (2022). Country profiles: Italy, https://migrants-refugees.va/country-profile/italy/, accessed 22.10.2022.

This article was first published in British Australian Community