I've often been accused of berating Italy a bit too much. Things are bad all over. Bureaucracy and corruption exist in every country.
A true story...
My husband has been in Italy for the past two weeks and will be returning tomorrow. He filed his 2007 tax return while he was there. The government, powers that be, many headed hydra, owes him nearly 1500 Euros. This money would mean more than I can say to us. We've just signed a contract on a house. We are literally scraping the bottom of every barrel and emptying every old purse and pocket to come up with the down payment. With today's exchange rate that money would be quite a few dollars.
But we won't be seeing that money any time soon. In Italy, your current employer pays you your tax refund. If you are no longer employed, because you moved abroad, started your own business, decided to stay home, got sick, whatever, the hydra must pay you your refund.
In five years.
With no interest.
The criminal truth.
La vita è bella.