And it’s not just in the open countryside that you feel this. In the encroaching hills of Rome and the way the route from the airport immediately gives way to lush crops and small woods. This is a country of immense natural flourishing.
And do you know what has been planted in amongst this sublimity and beauty? Wind turbines. Massive, gracious, surging wind turbines – creating renewable electricity for thousands of Italians. They are everywhere. And they look amazing and real and part of the landscape. And what is most heart-warming is that they aren’t just to be found atop a mountain where only the goats can bray “not in my back yard”; they are to one side of villages and towns, rivalling – with style and grandeur – the medieval bell towers and fortresses.
Now I don’t know how much of Italy’s energy comes from renewables. But it’s probably not much because no one’s pumping as much money into the sector as they should be. But the point is, Berlusconi and the Italian people have allowed these important structures into their landscapes without letting silly ideas of reduced tourism and spoiled views weigh against the urgency of climate catastrophe and the common good.
Today world leaders are meeting at the Major Economies Forum to talk climate change. We doubt there will be any set figure spelled out by the group to help developing counties reduce and adapt to a changing climate but perhaps the Italian PM could be called upon to build on the good work already underway across his beautiful country. The idea that climate change, if left unchecked, could one day rob Italy of its amazing landscapes and fertile soil is unthinkable. For many people in the developing world they are already seeing their rich and beautiful lands destroyed by the pressures of a changing climate.
Come on Mr Berlusconi, leading at the G8 might be fun. And now would be a pretty good time to have a go.