In 1994, Italian photographer Massimo Vitali, seeking to understand the Italy which had swept Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia (FI) comprehensively into power, took his camera to the beach at Marina di Pietrasanta ‘to see who the Italians were … [and] to understand their attitudes … at that precise moment in history’. In 2022, Italian politics returns to the beaches for a campagna balneare (a seaside campaign) conducted in a summer atmosphere of crisis when most Italians are taking their annual vacation.
The election was precipitated when the Five Star Movement (M5S) removed its support from the government of national unity led by Prime Minister Mario Draghi. The Italian constitution provides for a government to be elected within seventy days (with a 25 September election date). President Sergio Mattarella was obviously displeased to have to announce the dissolution of the government which he had created, and which had received international recognition and restored Italian credibility. In Draghi, Italy had an innovator, a moderniser, and, above all, a capable interpreter of the European Union’s thinking.