Why do Italians think they're so hard up?
I can't speak for the US, but I'm British and have lived in Italy for the past 5 years and I think it's safe to say that the Standard of Living of the average Italy is no different to the average British person, even in material terms. There are some damn rough parts of Britian, where people struggle to make ends meet, yet Italians have this perception that everyone in the UK is rolling in cash.
Yes, the wages in Italy are slightly lower on average than the UK, but it's all relative, living in Italy is much cheaper than the UK, so it evens out.
People say "Oh, but the South of Italy is dirt poor", well, I think Italy's regions correspond quite well with the UK. Northern Italy is about at the same development as the South of England in my opinion, and the South of Italy broadly speaking is probably on par with Northern England and Scotland, which are a bit behind in South in a lot of areas (no offence intended, but it's true).
What makes me wonder is, why do Italians have this perception that they live in a third world country compared to everyone else? It's almost somewhat of an inferiority complex which simply isn't true.
Italians don't realise how good they have, many people from the real Thirld World would jump at a chance to live in Italy and reap the benefits of living in a country as developed as Italy. Yet all the time Italians are complaining - quit your bitching.