What unites the two countries often seems far more substantial than what divides them—an innate sense of elegance, a passion for gastronomy and proud histories of artistic and intellectual attainment. But all that, says Franco Venturini, is precisely what bedevils their relations. France and Italy both consider themselves the cultural superpower of Europe and the result is reciprocal jealousy. For Mr Venturini, who is a columnist on an Italian daily, Corriere della Sera, but French-educated and an officer of the Légion d’Honneur, the links between the two countries are “very close, yet not characterised by any great love. We’re like two cousins, each of whom thinks she is the prettier.”
Why France and Italy can’t help clashing
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