20 centuries, the United Kingdom and Italy share a truly special relationship. From the time of the legendary Romano-British leader, Ambrosius Aurelianus, from whom the figure of King Arthur was said to have originated, traces of an Italian presence began to appear in ancient Albion.
There was once an Italian Archbishop of Canterbury, colonies of merchants and bankers are said to have chosen Britain during the Renaissance, a significant community was established during the Tudor period and, throughout the eighteenth century, England became a favourite destination for Italian musicians, artists and intellectuals. However, it was only after 1830 that the flow of migration from Italy assumed the character of a mass movement and today over 500,000 of our compatriots are living their lives in the land of Her Majesty.
The affection is mutual. As the historian Amedeo Quondam wrote, Italy has been the land of dreams in the British imagination, an inspiration for its writers and poets. This British Italophilia reached its height in the literature of the Grand Tour and was reaffirmed during the Risorgimento of the nineteenth century, which embraced English liberalism and Italian patriotism. Today, British born people living in Italy number 65,000.
Il Club originated from the need to create a source of information and a community for discussing British culture at a complex moment in history, characterised by the effects of the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union. The potential misunderstandings that could arise from the challenges posed by the task that lies ahead, now require a decisive reaffirmation of our communities’ identification with those values that laid the foundations for the rule of law and democracy, which were developed in Great Britain, thanks to habeas corpus, free trade, common law and liberal democracy. These make up the great legacy that, one June eight hundred years ago, an English king left us in the form of the Magna Carta, laying the foundations for the rule of law and democracy.
The founders of Il Club are convinced that the decision of the British people could seriously undermine treaties and conventions, create instabilities and concerns, but it must never destroy our connection to the principles of democracy and British culture.
The name of this magazine is respectfully inspired by The Club, an association founded in London in February 1764 by the painter Joshua Reynolds and the scholar Samuel Johnson. It was intended that it should consist “of such men, as that if only two of them chanced to meet, they should be able to entertain each other without wanting the addition of more Company to pass the evening agreeably”. Johnson wanted a “group composed of the heads of every professional and literary field, somebody to refer to in our doubts and discussions, by whose science we might be enlightened”.
According to Martin Luther, the printing press was “God’s ultimate and greatest gift”. After all, it was his only tool for converting others. Of course, we now have other ways of communicating, but we have chosen paper because we can’t resist it.
In the first issue of Il Club (October 2017):
- “My first year in Italy.” The UK’s Ambassador to Italy tells her story. By Jill Morris
- The spirit of Dunkirk. By Vittorio Sabadin
- BREXIT. Challenges and opportunities. By Marco Piantini
- The 25th edition of the historic British Council conference. By Paul Sellers
- Oxford and Brexit. By Alastair Buchan
- Nadey Hakim. The art surgeon. By Davide De Leo
- Gianluca Vialli. “I’ll tell you about my England”. By Stefano Boldrini
- Maurizio Bragagni. The Italian entrepreneur who loves Britain. By Davide De Leo
- Ernesto Nathan. The London gentleman, Mayor of Rome. By Anna Foa
- The Gentlemen’s Clubs of London: The Story of the In & Out (Naval and Military Club). By Tommaso Alberini
- Wimbledon, the oldest and most prestigious tennis championship in the world. By Claudio Giua
- Do you know dog law? A dog’s life in the UK. By Eugenio Montesano