Italians do it better (and Israelis know!)

Being born in Italy is a great fortune, to live in Rome, then, is priceless, Roma caput mundi. When you meet people around the world, of every nationality, chatting, getting to the big question: where are you from?, reply: Italy…(pause)…Rome…, at my answer, I read a mixture of awe and mystery in their eyes, an automatic “ooooh”, maybe you can’t hear it, but it’s there, it’s in the air. Oh yes, I know, I’m a lucky woman! Around the world, my country is seen as a world meeting with sensuality. Italy is a great temptation. We are what others would like to be (most of the time) but have no courage to be!

Despite its internal problems of economic recession, Italy’s culture, history, art, dolce vita, “the great beauty”, fashion, food and wine retains all its incredible charm and, I believe, looking at data, Israelis think the same too!

In the course of 2013, Israel has registered a GDP growth of 3.3%. In real terms, then, it’s an economy in stabilization with growth trends. This leads to an increase in domestic consumption, in particular tourism. The number of departures of Israelis abroad is a sensitive barometer of the economy and security of the Country. According to official data of the Central Bureau of Statistics, Bank of Israel, EIU, in 2012 significant increases were recorded for tourism: 4,348,600 departures of Israelis abroad. In 2013 there has been a further increase of 9.4% for Israeli tourism to foreign countries, amounting to 4,756,700 departures. This trend is confirmed in 2014, in the first five months of this year, it is recorded a 12.4% increase in outgoing tourism.

Examining in detail the flow of outgoing tourism in 2013, the main destinations of the Israelis continue to be Europe for about 60%, and North America and Asia for 20%, respectively. Italy confirms itself as one of the preferred destinations of Israeli tourism, with an estimated total traffic each year of approximately 480,000 transits of citizens with an Israeli passport at the Italian border, equal to 5% of the population of the State of Israel and 10% of total number of Israeli citizens travelling.


Oh yes Israelis are really under the spell! The situation can only improve at the Milan EXPO 2015; Israel itself will have a leading role with one of the most innovative pavilions, just next to the Italian one and then in a central location within the exhibition area. Italy and Israel will be neighbours, united!

This linkage comes from the very far. Among European countries, Italy is friend of Israel thanks to a long and vivid Jewish tradition. The Jewish presence in Italy has twenty centuries of uninterrupted history. From the numerical point of view, except that in the sixteenth century, the overall size has always been contained under fifty thousand units. The core of the Italian Jews, those one belonging to the community, is currently deployed in the main centers (Rome and Milan, respectively, 13,000 and 8,500 units) in six “medium” communities (Turin, Genoa, Venice, Trieste, Florence) and then “small” communities (Alessandria, Casale Monferrato, Vercelli, Mantova, Merano, Verona, Padua and Gorizia, Parma, Modena, Bologna, Ferrara, Pisa, Ancona, Naples). Italy is therefore an open house for the Israelis, it follows a strong and unbreakable tie which is growing.

The Israelis feel themselves home as much as they are “repeaters”, they tend to come back several times but always visiting the same places. Due to an uncoordinated and ineffective presentation of our tourist offices, Israelis fails to perceive the extraordinary diversity of our tourist offers, that is a real shame but we can work on this. Let’s discover them together…

So here I am. Ciao, Israel!

About the Author
Francesca D'Esposito is an Italian project manager working for National Research Council ( and she is in love with Israel and its people.