Paikin is the anchor of TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin, where he discusses politics and current affairs. The 56-year-old journalist, who is Jewish, originally hails from Hamilton and currently resides in the Yonge and Eglinton area of Toronto.
Panoram Italia: When did you first become enamoured of all things Italian and why?
Steve Paikin: “I took Latin throughout high school in Hamilton. I was learning all about Roman history, the forum, the Coliseum and all of the important red-letter dates in Italian history. When I finally went to Rome, in 1977, for a school trip, it was like all of my studies were coming true. I give credit to my high school Latin teacher, Bryan Wylie, who was the greatest. I think he’s been to Italy, I’m going to guess 40 times, and he loves the culture, and got us all interested in it. He was one of the staff chaperones, and if my interest in Italy started before I went there, it certainty blossomed after.”
"If there were a person from history I’d like to meet it would be Victor Immanuel,
who unified all of the Italian states"
PI: What was your favourite experience when you last visited Italy?
SP: “I was there earlier this year, on Easter weekend in Venice. I have two sons in university in Europe. I had them meet me in Venice and it was a wonderful time. I haven’t been to Venice in 31 years, and it was so exciting to be back there, and share this time with them. For about 25 years, I didn’t leave North America for vacation, so I guess in the last few years, I’ve been trying to catch up on international travel, and coincidentally all three of my sons, (I have four kids) have been in university in Europe at various times.”
PI: If you could live in an Italian city, which would you choose and why?
SP: “That’s easy – that would be Rome. I’m a big city boy, and Rome is phenomenal. I’d want to live in Rome.”
PI: What other connections do you have to Italy?
SP: “I’m married to an Italian – my wife was born and raised in Rome and she came to Canada when she was 12. Her parents met in Italy, and settled there, and then they moved to Sudbury. They loved living in Italy, until the terrorism of the middle 1970s scared them and they decided to leave – it was the time of the Marxist terrorist groups. They went from Rome to Sudbury, and my mother-in-law is currently still in Sudbury. My wife lived in Sudbury until she was 18, and there is a large Italian community there.”
PI: Do you speak Italian?
SP: “I know a few phrases, and I love trying them out. I can speak a few fluently, and I can get by a little.”
PI: Since you work in television, are you influenced by Italian TV or movies?
SP: “I’ve seen all of the classic Italian movies – The Bicycle Thief, Rossellini and Fellini’s films, and Swept Away, so I love Italian movies. If there were a person from history I’d like to meet it would be Victor Immanuel, who unified all of the Italian states. During my trip to Venice, it was historically significant to be there because we were there one day short of the 500th anniversary of the first Jewish ghetto in Venice. We went to the ghetto and saw all the old synagogues. I’m Jewish, so it was a pretty important place for us to be on that occasion.”
PI: Complete this statement: Italy is…
SP: “…phenomenal in spite of everything.”