Italian food is more than just Pasta and Pizza. In fact not only every region, but also every small village has its own very typical dishes, often made with ingredients that can be grown or found only in that area. From wild truffle sauce to wild pig salami sandwich, every little kiosk can be a pleasant surprise for your taste buds. And when the dinner is over, that´s is just the beginning because Gelato (ice cream) to go (in cones or little colourful buckets), cappuccino and espresso coffee are just waiting for you at every street corner. With such a large choice of food, choosing is definitely the hardest part of any meal.
Moreover, as the weather, pizza and gelato they just get better moving from North to South. The most authentic pizza can be eaten in Napoli were it was originally invented, while the most tasty gelato can be eaten in Sicily, even thought, nowadays, Sicilian Ice cream shop style can be found everywhere.
Since the secret of Italian food is simplicity, when ordering pizza you must ask for a Margherita (only tomato and mozzarella, better if Buffalo mozzarella, which is a mozzarella made from the milk of buffalo cow that live only in the South) and when ordering a gelato just go for chocolat, cream, and seasonal fruit flavours. If the gelato maker (gelataio, in Italian) is good it can not get any better than this.
Italian Clothes, Italian fashion
In Italy, every region has its traditional costume, however, nowadays, people wear traditional costume only during special celebration (often link to Agricultural event such as the end of the harvest season) and historical parade.
The traditional Italian women’s costume consists of a long and wide dress which must cover the lady ankles. This is accompanies by a tight bodice with a small waist coat at the top. Women usually wear caps or head veils with it. The material and the colour of bodice and dress could express the lady provenience and her status. As an example, costume made of silk were very common in Lombardia (the region which host Milan) since in that area silk industry opened up since the Sixteen century. On the other hand, in the South, costume made out of sheep wool (in Sardinia this material was called orbace) were much more common.
The traditional Italian men´s costume was instead much less elaborate. It consists of tight pants tucked inside long boots. White pants were normally used only for special days (in which the farmer knew it was not going to work) or by the richest people. In fact, white trouser were very easy to get dirty and, at the time, very difficult to clean. Over the pant, men wear a shirt with tight waist coat, often a vest or a jacket and a hat. The shape of the hat is very regional: in the North people wear more rigid hat, where, in the South people wear soft one such as berretta.
Nowadays, however people dress much more casual. Italian fashion and style are famous all around the world and still today, many tourist, come to Italy just for having a shopping spree and visiting the most famous boutique in Rome and Milan (such as Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Armani and many others). But fashion is not just a hobby for wealthy people only since many very good piece of clothing can be found in street markets as well. Sometimes real treasures can be found among the vendors of Porta Portese (Sunday street market in Rome) or La Montagnola (Friday and Saturday street market in Bologna) and many second hand shop are specializing in vintage clothing.
Italian Festivals, holidays, Celebrations
In Italy every village has its little festival, often link to the typical food of the area, but the most well know are, probably the Truffles festival of Alba and the Chocolate Festival of Turin (where Nutella was born) and Perugia (where Baci Perugina were invented). Food apart, others very famous Italian celebrations are the Carnevale di Venezia (Venice Carnival) and the Palio di Siena. The Carnevale di Venezia is a week long event that brings back all the city memories from the renascent time: beautiful couples dressed in silk, lace and mask walk around the old town streets and squares (in Venetian dialect calli and campi) and pose in the most magical corner of the city for the joy of tourist and professional photographer that come from all over the world just for bringing home some incredible shot. On the other hand, the Palio di Siena is a horse race that date back to the Middle Age and that it is still run following the ancient rules and tradition. Every horse in the race belongs to one of the downtown quarter and competition is fierce. The jockeys run without saddle around the main city square and during the race many of them fall out their ride. However, since in this race all the attention is on the horse, even an horse with not jockey (called cavallo scosso in Italian) can bring its quarter to victory.
Famous Italian Stories or Epics
Italy is full of history so every battle field, castle, city tower and stone, basically carries its own small story and some very peculiar legend. A very famous one is the legend of Azzurrina (the little blue one), the daughter of the Rossena (a small village of the North closed to the city of Reggio Emilia and Modena) Castle porter. She was called Azzurina because of her odd features: she was a beautiful little girl with exceptionally fair skin and blue long hair. Because of her strange hair colour no other kid want to play with her so she was often seen playing alone in the shadow of the castle court yard. One day a very sudden and heavy summer storm hit the valley and from that day she disappeared. All the castle was in despair because she was such a sweet little child that nobody couldn’t help to love and her parents spend the rest of their life looking for her everywhere and asking for news to the merchants that travel the main road. However, still today, when summer storm put and end to the warmest summer days, some people could still hear the sound of a child laughing and playing around the castle court yard.
Italian Children’s Games
While in the kindergarten, I was playing with my friends 1-2-3- stella (1-2-3-star) a very simple game that keep us busy for hours at the time. One of us had to stand in front of a wall with his/her eyes close and and he has to say aloud ´1-2-3- stella´. In the mean time all the other kids had to stand away from the wall (5 meter away was usually the starting point) and fast moving toward it. Once the word stella was pronounced the kid at the wall could turn and open his eyes while the other kids had to stop and stand still in any position they were busted on. Anyone who could stand still had to go back to the starting point. The game was ending when one of the kids could touch with his/her hand the wall. He/she was considered the winner and he could decide which game play next
Verbal or nonverbal communication in Italy
In Italy people talk as much with their hands than with their mouth. Many foreigner people found that very charming and a bit funny, however it is true that Italian can not fully express them selves when gesture don’t follow their words. This make every conversation very theatrical and very fun to watch and hear.
When your hand move so much, invading other people personal space become pretty easy, hence, in the Italian culture, as in many other Mediterranean culture, people tend to maintain a short physical distance and touching each other (hand on shoulders, pats on the back) is a pretty common habits even among people that barely know each other. Because of that, even greetings among stranger became a kissing affair and, funny as it is, the number of kisses in the chick that made a greetings proper change moving from North (just one kissing or even just one hand shake among man who meet for the first time) to South (up to 3 or even 4 kisses no metter how close the people are).
Still nowadays the most part of Italian people considered themselves Catholics so Italy is full of old and, sometimes, new Catholics churches. The most important is, of course, the roman church of St. Peters, where the Pope lives and the body of S. Peter should be buried.
In general Italian people are very close to their family and they often don’t live the parents house until they are 30 years old. Up to 40 years ago, people were actually living the family house only when they were getting married, but today things are different and once they graduate from high school or University, many young people move to other city (often bigger city of the Nord such as Bologna, Milano or Torino) looking for better working or studying opportunities. However, even when the kids are away, the mothers don’t stop to cook for them and few times a year package full of traditional homemade food appeared on the door steps of the kids who are living to faraway to be able to sit every week at the traditional Sunday lunch.
Italian Fun facts
Many Italian are highly superstitious so they try to spend the day in bed when Friday 17 come around, they change their way if a black cat cross their pat, they never walk under a stair and, when they spill salt, they throw an handful of it behind their left shoulder using their right hand so to scare the little demon that stand behind them. Moreover, different that in many other culture, for Italians number 13 is a very lucky number hence few people always wear a charm in the shape of a number 13, often paired with a little red corn (sometimes very similar to a red chilli pepper). Golden charms like those ones are considered lucky and they are often give to little kids as present in the day of their baptism. Even thought superstition is slowing disappearing, many people try to don´t sit 12 guests around their table (13 people at the table with the host) and, when this is unavoidable, they prepare the table for 14 anyway so to not have the night ruin by some unfortunate events they call on themselves.
Famous places in Italy
Since Italy is full of history, almost every city has at list one famous place so any traveler could just choose for him selves were to go next. However, as a start, anyone should visit at list once Rome, the capital of one of the most famous ancient empire that can be considered an open air museum, Florence, the place were Renascence reached its highest picks of beauty and cultures and Venice, probably the most beautiful and romantic city of the world that was once one of the most important trading city of the world.
Example of Italian arts such as paintings and statues can, nowadays, be admired in many Museum of the world, but nothing beats the magic of seeing a Michelangelo or a Leonardo in the place were they were originally made, walking in the city where the artist live and breathing the air that they breathed.
When in Rome: Beautiful Must See places of Rome, Italy
The Pantheon: The Pantheon is a temple, church in Rome. It is absolutely beautiful, in a sense that it has hundreds to thousands of visitors every month. The original Pantheon was built in 27 BC-25 BC under the Roman Empire, during the third consulship of Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, and his name is inscribed on the portico of the building. The inscription reads M·AGRIPPA·L·F·COS·TERTIUM·FECIT, “Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, consul for the third time, built this.” The building is circular with a portico of three ranks of granite Corinthian columns under a pediment opening into the rotunda, under a concrete dome, with a central opening (oculus), the Great Eye, open to the sky. The weight of the dome is concentrated on a ring of voussoirs 8.5 metres in diameter (almost 30 feet) which form the oculus. A rectangular structure links the portico with the rotunda. In the walls at the back of the portico were different sections for statues of Caesar, Augustus and Agrippa. The large bronze doors to the cella, once plated with gold, still remain, but the gold has gone away. The pediment was decorated with a sculpture in bronze showing the Battle of the Titans – holes can even still be seen where the clamps which held the sculpture in place were fixed. It is adorned with paintings, and a garden.
Roman Colloseum: The Colosseum’s name has long been thought to be derived from a colossus (a 130-foot or 40-metre statue) of Nero close by. The statue was later remodeled by Nero’s successors into the likeness of Sol or Apollo, the sun god, by adding the appropriate solar crown. Nero’s head was replaced several times by the head of succeeding emperors. At some time during the Middle Ages, the statue disappeared; people believe that since the statue was bronze, it was melted down for usage of other things. Evidence of its base may can be found between the Colosseum and the nearby Temple of Roma and Venus.
The Colloseum is an arena, a huge and vast space of masonry walls and can be seen miles away because of its height and width. The Colosseum measures 48 metres high, 188 metres long, and 156 metres wide. There are 80 arches on each of the first three levels, making 240. The wooden arena floor was 86 metres by 54 metres, and covered by sand. Its elliptical shape kept the players from retreating to a corner, and allowed the spectators to be closer to the action than a circle would allow. Over 100,000 cubic meters of travertine stone was used in its construction. Lots of plays, and fights were viewed in this area.
The Temple of Venus and Rome: the largest temple in Ancient Rome, It was located at the far east side of the Forum Romanum, near the Colosseum. It was dedicated to the goddesses Venus Felix (Venus the Bringer of Good Fortune) and Roma Aeterna (Eternal Rome). The designer was emperor Hadrian. Construction on the temple began in 121. Although the temple was officially inaugurated by Hadrian in 135, the building was finished in 141 under Antoninus Pius.
The building measured 110 m in length and 53 m in width. It was placed on a stage measuring 145 m in length and 100 m in width. The temple is made up of of two main chambers (cellae), where the cult statue of the god was, in this case the statues of Venus, the goddess of love, and Roma, the goddess of Rome, both of them seated on a throne. The cellae were placed symmetrically back-to-back. Roma’s cella was faced west, looking out over the Forum Romanum, Venus’ cella was faced east, looking out over the Colosseum.
Important Note: This article was written by a person who is familiar with Italian culture based on his or her personal anecdotal observations. Additionally, there are quite a few generalizations to make the article easier to understand for the children. Dino Lingo does not accept any responsibility for errors, omissions or subjectivity in the content of this post.
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