Italian Philosophy (and Philosophers) in Leuven

On September 1, 2016 I entered my office at KU Leuven for the first time. I was starting a 3-year scholarship, which is now half-way over. I was still struggling to turn on my computer, when an old professor (whom I now really love) stormed in, and briskly asked me who I was. When I said my name, he immediately added: “And where are you from?” Eventually, the conclusion of his syllogism was quite natural: “Italy, again!!!” The old professor was right. The number of Italians at the Institute of Philosophy (and in Leuven, in general) is quickly growing. Not just students in Erasmus, but also Ph.D. candidates and young researchers, like myself. At least 90% of the prejudices regarding Italians are actually right. We are clearly louder than other people, we like to hang around, and to speak our language, even in the presence of foreigners who are normally too polite to interrupt us and re-establish the Koine English. Personally, I’ve always sincerely loathed all these habits. On holidays, I’m the one who pretends to be from somewhere else, every time I stumble upon flocks of Italian tourists who are looking for the closest pizzeria. This did not prevent me, however, from pinpointing in record time the best pizza in Leuven (it’s ‘Mangia e Via’, in the Parkstraat), and to get friendly with the owner, who 50 years before me also emigrated. By the way, both his sons are lecturers at KU Leuven.

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