The bridge over the Strait of Messina represents one of the projects on which the Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, Matthew Salvini, has placed greater emphasis and attention on communication. Recently, he has chosen to illustrate this interest through the use of a Mickey Mouse issue dated 1982, which featured an image of the Bridge on the cover. However, she didn’t detect that within the story, the bridge does not have a successful outcome.
It is known that the history of the bridge over the Strait of Messina is long and complicated, and since the current government has revived attention to it, attempts have been made to speed up its construction times. Currently, the commitment is to start work by the summer of 2024, for a project that will cost 13.5 billion euros. Recently there has been an increase in the salaries of the employees of the Ponte sul Strait company and its president.
On yesterday’s occasion, Salvini highlighted how a number of Topolino dated 1982 had an image of the Messina Bridge on the cover, in the hands of Scrooge McDuck. “The cover celebrated the construction sites and progress on the Strait Bridge. It’s been 41 years and we still don’t have the Bridge, despite the fact that the Italians have already incurred considerable costs for the projects. However, it is a fundamental right of territorial continuity for the millions of Sicilians, eliminating the dependence on ferries. It is time to provide an answer after 50 years of chatter, “said Salvini.
The number in question is Mickey Mouse 1401, published on October 3, 1982. A year earlier, the Ponte sul Strait company had been founded and the first inspection had already taken place. In the comic, the main storyline, which runs for 36 pages, is entitled “Uncle Scrooge and the Messina Bridge”. It is plausible that Salvini did not read the whole story, since the ending presents the bridge as completely unusable and the project as a failure.
The narrative begins with Scrooge’s intent to build a bridge to connect Sicily and Calabria. Initially, with the assistance of scientists and models, a single span bridge project was tested (coincidentally similar to the Meloni government plan). However, this model proves ineffective. Dejected by the technical challenges, Scrooge decides to build the entire bridge using coral, a material that grows independently and, if placed correctly, should have connected the two banks with a “solid, ecological and above all economic coral reef”. However, rival Rockerduck steps in and takes over the project, managing to build the Coral Bridge and grab the credit.
The twist comes at the end. The bridge built with coral attracts the attention of tourists, who begin to disassemble it to take the pieces home. As a result, it becomes unusable and is gradually destroyed. Scrooge ends the story by addressing the readers: “See you next tender,” he says.
In essence, the story does not exalt the positive potential of the Strait Bridge, but on the contrary ironically highlights many of the risks, from the technical feasibility to the tendency to opt for the cheapest and least safe solution. This somehow recalls Salvini’s critical attitude towards those who express skepticism or aversion, as defined by him, towards the project. It is important to note that, as stated by the minister himself, in 1982 “construction sites and works” for the construction of the bridge were not in progress. At that time, the planning phase was still ongoing and would remain pending for several years.