Short, fat, poor English, always eats, loves his 'mamma', knows someone who knows someone who also knows someone who is in the mob, wears posh suits, moves his hands when he talks and has pasta twice a day. This is what the average Italian looks like in the rest of the world's eyes.
But wait there's more. The average Italian man is said to be narcissist, egomaniac, coward, selfish, unable to follow basic procedures and unable to follow the rules. True or not, it's a stereotype, a stereotype which is strongly proved by the latest, tragic events in Italy.
I am speaking about the Concordia's tragedy and how behind the death of so many innocent people seemed to stand one single man; one single Italian man.
His name is Francesco Schettino, chief captain of La Concordia, one of the biggest cruise ships of just as famous Costa Crociere.
In the past days we have been listening to Schettino's phone calls, we have been witnessing what appears to be an appalling lack of integrity and loyalty to his passengers; passengers he was responsible of; passengers he has been said to have abandoned on their own destiny without thinking twice.
Italian people don't come across brilliantly from this story. Yesterday more details emerged and we have been able to understand more about what happened on Friday night. From the transcripts of the phone call between Schettino and a coastguard, it has been possible to understand Schettino's role in the hours that followed the tragedy.
If you knew Italian you would be able to understand more about that phone call; you would be able to understand about that coastguard. His name is Gregorio De Falco and he is the captain of the coastguard of Livorno. He was the voice of the night; "Go on Board," he ordered to Schettino many times without the latter doing as said.
His voice instructed Schettino about what to do and how to do it.
"I understand that. Listen; there are people that are coming down the pilot ladder of the prow. You go up that pilot ladder, get on that ship and tell me how many people are still on board. And what they need. Is that clear? You need to tell me if there are children, women or people in need of assistance. And tell me the exact number of each of these categories. Is that clear? Listen, Schettino, that you saved yourself from the sea, but I am going to...really do something bad to you...I am going to make you pay for this. Go on board," Captain De Falco's voiced ordered to Schettino during their five minutes conversation.
Today Captain De Falco is the voice of Italian People; an angry voice, angry as every single Italian is.
Yes, today we are furious and we are because a human accident, a stupid accident, caused the death of people who didn't deserve to end their life in such a horrible way. We are because a five-year-old girl was left on board and is still missing; as are more than 20 people. We are because it took Mr. Schettino an hour to call the Mayday. We are because pregnant women, elderly and people who needed assistance were left without any coordination from their captain.
And we are because someone who was clearly incapable of doing his job was made responsible of more than 4,000 people. And, yes, we also are because people like Mr. Schettino do nothing but compromise the already damaged image the rest of the world has of Italian people.
Yes, today we are 'furious', as stereotyped as it might be.