Chaos Theory and The Italian Tourism Website

27 08 2008

CONFESSION:This post does not, in fact, have very much to do with CPG and digital marketing. But… it does speak volumes about culture, and why progress is often so difficult even when (especially when?) everyone seems to want it.

If you substitute individual city names or regions with “department” and the Italian Government with “top management”, this story may seem uncomfortably familiar.

I couldn’t love Italy more.  My wife and I got married there. The country is beautiful. But the government may be the world’s most fascinating trainwreck.

Here’s something I just read about:

Five years ago, Italy decides “let’s build a tourism website”. How hard could it be?

So far they’ve spent $66 million dollars.

Of course, the site still doesn’t work.

They can’t customize their homepage. They have two main databases; each flatly refuses to talk with the other. One assumes that if a conversation did become possible, it would quickly degenerate into an argument over wine, Sophia Loren, or the proper way to prepare veal.

When the Web site went live in February 2007, the first name of director Federico Fellini unaccountably became “Gioacchino.” Nobody knows why, or how.

Typical seafood dishes from the coastal region of Marche featured “pork roast with prunes.” Hugely popular in Poland. In that region of Italy? Not so much.

It’s hilarious and odd and feels entirely Italian; in fact it may be impossible to really understand unless you’ve been there.

Read more here.


P.S. Why is the Italian government such a mess? Maybe because while the history books claim Garibaldi unified Italy, each town still considers itself to be the center of the universe. And even if Reunification actually DID happen, nobody is sure when. Scholars think it started around 1815. When did it end? Was it around the 1871 Franco-Prussian War? Maybe. Except for the fact that the last città irredente did not join the Kingdom of Italy until after World War I. 

P.P.S. The photo is of an authentic Italian traffic jam, caused by an Italian trucker strike. It is not Photoshopped. More photos here.








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