Last week I was in Sardinia. In Cala di Volpe. Today I am in Formentor, Majorca. Both Cala di Volpe and Formentor are beautiful bays (you can google earth them and see) both have a buoy service to protect marine life, but there the analogy ends. In Formentor the two nice guards who you see in the picture provide the service for free, but in Cala di Volpe it seems free when they help you, but the next day they charge you 360 euros for being tied to a buoy. Why is the average Mallorquin much wealthier than the average Sardinian? For a simple reason, honesty pays. Yes, I know that I just gave one example. But if Spain has been doing so much better than Italy over the last 20 years, I believe that this is mainly because on the average Spaniards are more honest than Italians and this shows all the way from the guy who rips you off in the Porto Cervo bar, because he argues that you sat in the VIP section of his mediocre bar (50 euros for a mineral water) to electing Silvio Berlusconi as President.

But there’s more to my stay in Porto Cervo. During my visits I hanged out with people who were frequently visiting Silvio Berlusconi´s Villa. The stories that they told laughing of all these beautiful women in their 20s with fake titles who surround him were very funny if you could only forget that they were not just talking about one billionaire and a regular at Briatore´s Billionaire´s club. The problem is that they were talking about the man who runs Italy and who is the Uber Furbo.

On a short ride from Porto Cervo to Cala di Volpe –a cab ride that would cost 10 euros in Spain and costs 30 in Italy– the cab rider told me that the economy was weak and that Sardinians income was half of those of the average Italian. Somehow, the formula works different in Spain where the average mallorquin´s income is not only higher than the average Spaniard, it is higher than that of the average German, even charging 10 euros.

Ripping people off is just not sustainable. As beautiful as Sardinia is and as good Italian food is (I prefer it to Spanish food), Italy has to find a formula that is more based on honesty not just vis a vis foreigners, but vis a vis each other.

And I know that Porto Cervo is not Italy, but Italy was being managed out of Porto Cervo when I was there and the picture was not nice. And I do speak Italian.

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Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars

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