Camogli by night – Liguria, Italy – and the status symbol relativity theory

imageA romantic Medieval town, built on 2 levels, connected by steep stairways, bars down by the harbour, many artisanal bakeries, car-free cobbled streets, book stores and cafes serving Italian style hot Chocolate. A prime wedding destination for wealthy Genovese families – conspicuous by their anachronistic style statement – I haven’t seen so many precious furs in one place since a trip to Russia in 1999. There is something odd, to me, about women in silk robes draped with arctic fox and ermine furs, tailored in old- fashioned styles, looking as though they found the fur in Aunt Emma’s attic and consequently as if they are playing at dressing-up, or going to a fancy dress party, rather than, as I have been assured by expert Italian tourist guide in tow, playing at showing status. Funny world isn’t it, each country has different status symbols. A German friend once asked me if I had noticed that German manager types often drive very big cars – preferentially Mercs, BMWS or Audis? I said yes. She said, did you also notice that the engines on the cars are smaller than the engines in equivalent Swiss owned  cars? I am not much interested in cars, so the answer was no. She said check it out, also the Swiss cars usually have information on make or engine power removed, the message being, if you know, you know and if you don’t, then that says it all really.  So my German friend continued, often German owned cars are cheaper but look flashier than the Swiss owned ones, because the look of the thing is what counts. Flashy in Switzerland is bad, bling is frowned upon, historically money is something you have in the wealthy families, but don’t advertise. An old  joke about rich upper class families was, if your daughter could slice bread so thinly that you could read a newspaper through the slice, she was ready to marry.  Ie parsimony is a marketable quality. In many wealthy countries being skinny is a sign of financial fitness, ability and prowess, case in point, a friend of mine and a good manager was  told to shed 15 kgs if she wanted a promotion…. She changed companies.  When did you last see a fat senior manager? In some African countries and historically in some European countries being chubby shows wealth and is a desirable quality, and brides go to get fattened  up before they marry. And as for fur, well, wearing fur in Switzerland,  unless you are Aunt Emma, aged 80, clearly wearing an old relic, or in St Moritz among the gliterati and away from the plebs, is generally frowned upon  and could very well lead to a nasty altercation with a passing PETA member.

4 thoughts on “Camogli by night – Liguria, Italy – and the status symbol relativity theory

    • Hi Cynthia – lovely to read from you! That’s always the way isn’t it, after a while you adapt to your environment and what was unusual is suddenly the norm. In Switzerland winter is the season where everyone wears black wool so all other clothing styles catch my eye!

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