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And all here wondered if there was some magic middle way that France can find to keep its way of life, and the things that matter here: family, friends, good food and enough time to enjoy them all... to keep them and yet put France back to work without turning into Britain or the US (a prospect quoted at me in horror by many on my recent travels).
Human side
Before I moved here I had assumed that the French were rather like the British, although with nicer wine and food, more mobile faces and a better class of shrug.

But I have come to realise just how Mediterranean France really is, far more like Catholic Spain or laid-back Italy than its work-obsessed northern neighbours, where time is money and time is to be raced against rather than savoured slowly.
In Paris, as I sat down for coffee with friends the other night, the waiter at my local cafe greeted me by name, and called me his "petite" - I think with a certain Parisian irony.
Even in the big city though, there is still the human side, the pleasurable dawdling along the way to enjoy a meal or a conversation.
That night, all of us joined in the anguished national debate over France's future, after the elections.
And what came up again and again was the same sense of fear and hope that I had heard in Donzy.
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What is the meaning of laid-back Italy here? Does it mean that Italy is an under devolped country?
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Rex
But I have come to realise just how Mediterranean France really is, far more like Catholic Spain or laid-back Italy than its work-obsessed northern neighbours, where time is money and time is to be raced against rather than savoured slowly.

...

What is the meaning of laid-back Italy here? Does it mean that Italy is an under devolped country?

From OALD:

Laid-back adjective (informal): calm and relaxed; seeming not to worry about anything:
a laid-back attitude to life
SYN easy-going.

I think the comma before "is" shouldn't be there: " ...Mediterranean France really is far more like Catholic Spain or laid-back Italy ..."
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'Laid-back' means relaxed / not stressful.