Summer is here and Matteo Renzi, 41, needs to reduce his pot belly before going to the see to sport his swimming pants. Remember, in Italy la bella figura is everything.
But don’t expect to see him running in the former Portuguese colony of Macao (or Macau) every morning. There is a place in Rome called Macao but few people know that it is indeed related to China.
Historian Gianni Criveller, in his historical essay contained in the book Five Centuries of Italians in Hong Kong and Macau. 1513-2013 published in 2013 by Società Dante Alighieri and the Italian Consulate of Hong Kong, writes: “Francesco Saverio Rondina, a learned Jesuit, was in Macau during the middle of the nineteenth-century. A booklet printed there, dated 1864, contains a public speech he gave to refute the then controversial ‘Life of Christ’ by Jules Renan. In another book, published in 1884 in Italy – a travelogue with his eastern travels – he explains why a central area in Rome is still known as the Macao (there is a road and a military barrack with this name): the money used to buy that land was sent by Jesuits living in Macau during the Seventeenth Century”.
Wonderful! A place of tiny Macao is surviving in the very center of Rome and our Prime Minister is there at sunrise, running around, perhaps oblivious of its Eastern history.