. . . Only strictly capable men reach the top in surgery, for instance. For some reason, Italians do not mind entrusting their national life to incompetent and intriguing generals, but refuse to entrust their personal lives to inept surgeons. For analogous reasons, they do not encourage bad opera singers, conductors, ballerinas, courtesans, actors, film directors, cooks, tailors and pilots. These people get ahead strictly on their merit.
- Luigi Barzini, The Italians