Within the darkness of Italy’s Corona crisis there appears to be light. Inspired by the touching videos of Italians joyfully singing together on their terraces, and in identification with the country’s drastic Coronavirus outbreak, Israeli cartoonist Shai Cherka decided to illustrate the character of “Srulik” singing the song entitled ‘Saranda’ from a terrace.
In the illustration, Srulik is singing to his Italian counterpart “Italia Turrita,” which represents the national personification of Italy, in the appearance of a young woman with her head surrounded by a mural crown.
The illustration was created within the framework of Charka’s participation in The Israeli Cartoon Project (TICP) for the purpose of strengthening solidarity between Israel and Italy. He thought of the idea of drawing the two characters after consulting with Israel’s Ambassador to Italy, Dror Eydar, asking him whether Italian culture had a national character similar to Israel’s Srulik and Uncle Sam for Americans. This was in order to create a caricature of identification with Italy.
Upon Charka’s request, Eydar immediately suggested Italia Turrita, the character that serves as a personification of Italy. “This character’s roots can be found in ancient Roman culture and mythology and has undergone a number of transformations throughout the centuries up to the birth of modern Italy. Italia Turrita appears in many aspects of Italian culture—art, literature and politics,” said Eydar.
Shai Charka explained, “A few months ago I was on a wonderful vacation in Rome. The images and reports currently coming out of Italy are in complete contrast to the beautiful memories that I made there. Therefore, I wanted to show that we Israelis identify and stand with Italy in these difficult and perilous times, especially in a warm and comforting way that can be seen in the videos of the Italians singing on their terraces.”