For me, France is a country of provincial banality, a land where patriotism flowers only to hide the bloodied earth of revolution, where history was begun at the Bastille by a horde of peasants running amok with pitchforks, decapitating their betters because they were just that. Before the Revolution, the French insist in their clipped accent, with a Gallic shrug of the shoulders meant to disarm contradiction, there was only poverty and aristocracy. Now…the shoulders shrug again and a jutting chin points to the dubious grandeur of France. The truth is they have now a poverty of spirit and an aristocracy of politicians. Italy is different. Italy is romance.
– Signor Farfalla in ‘A Very Private Gentleman’ by Martin Booth.