There was a time, late last century, when a brave and free people in the north of Italy dreamed a great dream of a new nation. It was to be called Padania. Followers organized joyful rallies festooned with clover green uniforms and flags where they decried the waste of Rome.
Processions took place where sacred Po River baptismal water was carried to the new land’s “capital” of Venice and legends from the heroic past were shared. Padanian ID cards were handed out. “Northern Bank” notes made a fluttering, fleeting appearance.
Some three decades later, as secessionist tensions erupt in Catalonia, the soaring dream of that folkloric Italian state has, well, not come fully crashing down but largely evaporated.
The party that drove it, the populist, anti-immigrant Lega Nord or Northern League, is instead proposing two modest, legal and nonbinding referendums in the wealthy regions of Lombardy and Veneto this Sunday. There, they’ll put to …