Northern Italians Versus Southern Italians. Are They Really That Different?

My situation in Italy is a little unique. My husband is from a small (tiny) town between Rome and Naples but we live together in Florence. He’s lived outside of Italy in Spain where he made a lot of friends from the Brescia area who he is still very close with today. We have friends from the upper thigh of Italy all the way down to the toe and the heel of this country’s geographical boot. And, unfortunately, before I met my husband I dated someone from Brescia and I went on a few dates with a few Florentines as well because apparently I’m a giant whore. Some of our closest friends are in Florence, Rome, and of course Cassino and Naples. As an outsider I’m always observing people, watching their interactions, listening closely to their words. Following them home and then watching them eat dinner through their fourth story window. Just kidding. As a sociologist I’m constantly looking for what societal factors are influencing certain behaviors, what motivates people, what separates them, what makes them the same and what makes them different?

I’ve written about the difference between the North and the South before, or at least I’ve touched on it in lists and given it attention in a sentence or two. The reactions, often from Italian people, is either 1) there is no issue between the north and the south. That whole bigot thing is totally made up for no reason, or 2) You don’t know Italy because you’re husband is from the south. Or you don’t know Italy because you live in central Italy, or blah blah blah bullshit. Either way, from personal experience I’ve seen a lot of bias going back and fourth.

Northerners call the southerners lazy, and blame them for the economy while they chomp down on the delicious oranges that the farming south has provided. The Southerners discount the Northerners as “not being Italian and lacking culture.” When I first started dating my husband, a Brescia-born friend of mine said, “I don’t understand what you’re doing. The southern people are all wife beaters. He’ll move you to a family commune and force you into domestic slavery.” Ouch! A Florentine friend said, “Your new boyfriend is cute but I don’t like the eye shape of the southern people.” Another friend said, “Your boyfriend is actually very intelligent for a southern man.” And so it has gone for years. For those who claim a cultural bias doesn’t exist:  You need to broaden your friend group. You might not see it if all of your friends are the same and from your own region, or if your friends are particularly open-minded, but in my almost 5  years in Italy I’ve seen it first hand, from every side, about a million times.

I could write a massive textbook about why every region of Italy is different but I don’t need to because amazing books about Italian culture have already been written. To summarize: Italy has been occupied by a lot of people. You name it, a different part of Italy was occupied by it. Lombards  in the North, Byzantine in the central, Spanish and Greek and Byzantine in the south, Arab in Sicily, Romans all over, and then all of the slaves that Romans brought back to Rome sprinkled around the country. Basically, Italy is a giant crayon box that melted together into the modern Italian people. They all even speak different regional dialects to this day. Have two Italians from a different region speak dialect to each other: Nobody understands shit. However, on that same note, I’ve noticed that Italians also pride themselves on regional differences so much that sometimes people will act as though they’re trying to communicate with a martian. “I don’t understand his accent,” an Italian friend once said in Venice which was totally not fucking possible because I even understood what the dude was saying and my Italian isn’t amazing. Accent and dialect are two different things and if you can’t understand someone’s accent, you’re just being dramatic. If I can understand someone from Boston, you can understand someone from Sardinia if they’re speaking Italian.

Historical differences, i.e. who stole from who and who raped who, has obviously had an impact on cultural development throughout the country as well. Clearly, there are some cultural differences between the North, Central and the South. The differences are not even remotely as gigantic as Italians claim though. Everyone would LOVE to believe that they couldn’t possibly have anything in common with their brethren in the North, Central or South. Sorry, guys, you’re not that different. The differences between the North of Italy and the South of Italy are about the same as the US North-East and the US South. They are different, but it’s not like another planet (unless you’re talking backwoods, then that shit is scary and inbred). The North in Italy has similar biases to what the US North has against the US South, too (I’ll admit that when people say “deep south” in the US I think of sister marrying and sheep humping. I know, it’s so stupid and I’m an asshole.).

In Italy, Southerners are often seen as “less educated, closed-knit tribe of closed-minded religious folks.” Truly, the South had less money (no money) for education until recently so they’re still catching up (or trying to because apparently they cannot budget worth shit in the South).  And farming communities tend to have that close-knit culture. They were farming people. Simple, family obsessed (like stalker obsessed) family people who care about good food, family, friends, and enjoy simple pleasures. Socio-economic status always plays into religiosity. Meaning that people with less tend to pray more. So yeah, the south is still a lot more religious than the North. Northerners are career-oriented capitalists. Now when I say North and South I’m saying Milan area versus like Campania or further south. Florence is central Italy and you’d be surprised how “in the middle” they really are. Florence is a communist city, it’s stuck somewhere between deep traditions, it’s old farming roots, and liberal. It’s a weird combination. Florence, in terms of culture, is more like Washington D.C., not really the deep-south, but totally not like the north-east, either. Meaning? The inhabitants are somewhere between progressive and worldly, liberal and open-minded, and hillbilly yee-haw southern. Again, socio-economic status plays in here and Florence has a strange gap between rich and poor, a strong hold on tradition, while it’s simultaneously flooded with outsiders (like me!), and was historically both yee-haw farmland and royalty much like Naples (not saying Florence is like Naples, just that it had both farming and royalty so a weird cultural mix happened). Confusing. As. Shit.

Also, it seems that what is “North” or “South” is subjective. Our friends in Brescia consider Florence to be “the south” and our friends in the south consider Florence to be “the north.” We need a map up in here.

So, now that we’ve laid all that ground work, let’s talk about my personal experiences because all of these statistics and academic essays already exist. Have I personally noticed any truth to the bias between the Italian North and South? Sort of.

See Part 2 of this post Here: 9 Differences I’ve Noticed Between The North And South Of Italy

And also? This is a COSI POST! Check out what the other COSI folks have to say! Want to contribute? Use the hashtag #COSItaly to join in on the conversation!


Georgette at Girl In Florence: North Vs. The South A United Italy

Rick of Rick’s Rome: North Versus South Issues In Italy


75 thoughts on “Northern Italians Versus Southern Italians. Are They Really That Different?

  1. Pingback: 9 Differences I’ve Noticed Between The North And South Of Italy | Living In Italy.Moving To Italy. Loving In Italy. Laughing In Italy.

  2. Hi M.
    My wife and family are from Calabria. DEEP SOUTH like.
    I only know from listening to them talk that there is a perceived bias between north and south Italy. i.e. The northners think we are all lazy and stupid in the south, like wise, the northners are just the Germans who stayed after the war…….never said in anger, just regional bs like in the USA .
    As a USA Southern man to the bone, I have one correction to your analogy which is, when you think of the Deep South in the USA you think of deliverance , as in the movie. Well here is a little secret, the movie deliverance took place in West Virginia! The only new state created during the civil war. It was created by an act of congress because everyone in the mountains on then Virginia were all union loyalist and demanded to become their own state and remain a part of the NORTH. So please do not associate deliverance/West Virginia with the SOUTH. Those are Yankee perverts!!!!! Sure, we got plenty perverts/bigots and such here in the south, but they ARE NOT West Virginia southern prevents, they belong to the north and the North gets to keep them!! Gee I feel better already. Love your blog, just trying to keep it real!
    Keep laughing always,

    • Marti, I had no idea that the movie was filmed in West V! Honestly, I’ve yet to sit through the entire film, I’ve only seen the more traumatic parts (unfortunately) and have avoided the rest of it. And for the record, I haven’t spent much time in the US south (Yet! It’s my vacation plan for next year!), but I have a lot of close southern friends and I definitely love their “southernness.” As for the south of Italy, I’m a big fan. Sicily is my favorite vacation spot and at one point I plan on making it down to Calabria. 😉 I have a question, are there similarities that you’ve noticed between southern Italian culture and southern American culture? Have you spent much time in the north (of either country?). I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. 😉

      • Hi M.
        I have soooo many stories I could tell you. By the time I was 17 I had hitchhiked over 3/4 of the United States alone. I was the ultimate wild child. Doing that much traveling helped me develop a much wider defination of normal and what was morally right. I hated segregation! I am old enough to remember white only bathrooms and water fountains. Negros in the back of the bus only. The south has much to atone for. But there is much kindness there as well, much more than I found up north. The left coast has a warm place in my heart because as a 21 year old I left Florida and moved as far away as I could. San Franscio area to be exact. I was and am a dead head forever!!!!
        Serving 24 years in the army allowed me to see much of other cultures. Americans, as a general rule, don’t know what happens outside their county line, much less the world. I find this very sad and it’s hard to relate to my neighbors in Florida.
        As for your question, my wife grew up in southern Italy by the sea, I grew up in Florida by the Gulf of Mexico. We have so many of the same likes and dislikes you would think we grew up in the same town. It’s strange as well as wonderful, we are totally comparable because what home means for her and what home means to me are the same. Nina and I are in Trento this evening and leave for Trieste tomorrow. Will be back in Lamezia Terme on Monday. I’ll write more then. By the way, this glass of courvoiser is tasting mighty fine at the moment! Nina and I toast to you and Francesco’s( god I hope that’s his name) health! Brava, M. Brava. Love talking with you. Nina said she will be glad to provide some female Italian input as time progresses. One last thought, you view things as a sociologist, I view things as a musician. I wonder what the intersection would look like on a vien diagram?
        Your newest friend,

  3. It’s weird that you think of Florence as Central Italy as most people here in Rome would say that Rome is central Italy and Florence is the North. Rome has characteristics of both north and south IMO. But flor is the North. Whenever I’ve been to Florence I’m always amazed by how clean and efficient everything is. But Florentines always seem a bit chilly and reserved too which is what everyone says about northerners.

    Here in Rome the South is anything south of Rome.

    • Haha, is it weird? I think it’s just a matter of perception. According to regional maps Tuscany is in central Italy but so is Rome. ;)( However, I know that everyone South of Tuscany considers it “the North” and everyone in the North considers it “the South.” I suppose everyone is right because it’s kind of relative. Really interesting. Florence definitely isn’t the north culturally, it’s a very odd mix. I agree that Rome has a mix of both the north and the south as well.

      • This map means nothing. Abruzzo for example is geographically central Itay, but historically, economically, socially is considered southern Italy.

        Florence and Rome are very different. Florence is closer to Bologna while for many aspects Rome reminds a southern Italian city.

    • Exactly. As a ‘northerner’ and from the Veneto region, we classify Florence as North – with Rome and the Abbruzzo as central Italy. We all do tend to generalise between the North amd south and there are certainly characteristics typical to both, but that’s what makes Italy so diverse and lovable 🙂

  4. My husband Salvatore is from Palermo, I’m Brit and we live in Florence. We’ve been married 27 years He says Sicilians have moved up the social scale since Albanians and Romanians moved in. A lot of my florentine friends were shocked I married a Sicilian but I say there are good Sicilians like there are good Florentines. He cooks, cleans, washes up, hardly the “typical Sicilian”!
    I was at a wedding in Padova and as you say they were talking about us folks in Florence like we lived in Africa!

    • Ha ha ha ha ha! I love the phrase ‘ Sicilians have moved up the social scale since Albanians and Romanians moved in’

      My wife….Mrs Sensible is from Sicily and I am a Brit we live in the North.. Given the option between living in the North or the South, I would eat, drink and live with the Sicilians every time.

    • I remember when i was studying up north(near Bologna) locals would stare at me and say something like me being Moroccan(my mother is from Pittsburgh, only Irish, Welsh and German blood on that side, and my father is a pale Sicilian born and raised, so I’m as white as you can get) because of my accent(and they hadn’t even heard me speaking Sicilian!!!), but in the span of a few years I had reached the acceptance level(“Well at least you’re Italian too”) because actual Moroccans started arriving. This usually happened when interacting with older people, while most people my age were more interested in befriending me so they could visit in the summer 😉
      Luckily younger italians seem to be more appreciative of regional differences, but in 30 years of life i’ve been called a mafioso, terrone(italy’s own version of “redneck”), Moroccan(this might actually be the least offensive) and whatnot by northerners. The fact that I’m also a US citizen in a few occasions even lead people to be convinced I belonged to some “Famiglia” from New Jersey!

      The truth is that Sicily is a very beautifull and very fucked up island. We have everything one would ever want but the level of corruption is staggering, though mostly in bigger cities. It’s a mix of Byzantine bureaucracy, a political “undersystem” that resembles pre-republican times, and the fact that every year something is taken away from us by the central gov. Our schools are in shambles while in the north they are starting to get i-pads; in the North the government is protecting a High Speed Train project(crazy expensive, environmentally insane and useless) with tanks(actual tanks, yes) from the local angry population while in the south and especially in Sicily that same gov. is basically gutting the already collapsing train sistem.

      I could go on forever but then I’d probably have to start my own blog and I’m too lazy for that(HAH!!!)

      PS: for Sicilians, the moment you get on a ferry for Calabria, you are leaving the south.

      Dear M. I’ve stumbled across your blog a few days ago and I’m loving it, plus it makes me think about how my mother must have felt when she moved to Sicily(though I’m guessing Sicily in the 80’s was a wee bit more hardcore than nowadays Florence) and that’s it, I’ll definitely follow you(ok that sounded weird)…


  5. You are so right about the differences between north and south. Living here in Sicily I can honestly say Sicilians hate the north too! I love Florence but my in laws call them ‘mangiafagioli’ and say they are pretentious lot! I will never understand this place!

  6. I am greek and have lived in various countries, (i am now back in Italy) and dated Italian girls from all over the country. They are all jealous, possessive, they want to decide everything, and everytime I split, I keep promising myself that “that was it, never again”, and then it’s always a new italian…
    Italians have small differences but in my opinion, they are all the same, no matter where they come from. They pretend/think that they are different, but actually they are not. Oh yes, one from Varese has a different behaviour in various things (of minor importance) than someone from Palermo, but then again, Varese is closer to Brussels than it is to Palermo, so it is normal, isn’t it?

    • Yes, before my husband I dated Italian men from a few different regions. My husband also dated Italian women from different regions. From an outsider view (me) they were all pretty much similar with the exception of a few small details. My husband was a little more traditional, and a bit more worried about disappointing people (small village mentality) but otherwise they just all seemed Italian to me (obviously they had large personality differences, my husband being a lot more AWESOME than the others).

  7. Pension. Ireland has two pension schemes. One you contribute to over your working years. On that you receive approx. 220 EUR a week. The non-contributory is like welfare and means-tested, and can run as high as 210 EUR a week. The non-contributory, as with all social payments in Ireland, is given to Residents, not just to citizens.

    Does anyone know if there is any comparable scheme in Italy and how much the payments would be?

    Do residents, like the recent immigrants from Africa, receive welfare?

    • I’m not sure. I know that I, myself, as an immigrant didn’t receive anything (I didn’t get healthcare or anything until I married my husband and applied for it). Does anyone else know? I can ask a friend of mine, he works with the African immigrants directly.

  8. Sul fatto che non siamo uguali da Nord a Sud, mi dispiace ma penso che differenze ce ne siano e anche tante e più di quelle che uno dall’esterno possa percepire… ma questo è il bello e la ricchezza dell’Italia! Non sono differenze dell’ordine del “Io sono meglio di Te” questa sono distinzioni idiote! Abito a Torino e devo dire che se la città è una avanguardia (nel bene e nel male) su quello che capita in Italia bisogna dire grazie all’immigrazione del sud degli anni 50 con la FIAT. Ne è venuto fuori un melting pot fenomenale, dove al rigore lavorativo e al senso del dovere si è unito il calore e l’umanità! Personalmente sono anch’io figlio di questo miscuglio e ne sono orgoglioso.
    E se proprio non mi volete credere beh.. guardatevi questi 🙂
    Buon Ferragosto!

  9. Pingback: The Difference Between Stereotypes And Cultural Characteristics | Living In Italy.Moving To Italy. Loving In Italy. Laughing In Italy.

  10. Ciao Americana 🙂 your painting is almost perfect ! congrats!
    But I want you to understand something: I live between Milan and Varese, well, what I want to explain is the fact “LEGA”. I am disgusted too by some of the events success, as well as some stage racist about the “Banana fact” or call monkey a Minister , this is shit out of discussion! What I really want is to ” Try” to clarify what north feels (about 35% – approximately one third of the north) is “” federalism “”, I think you know very well what it is (almost like American Federalism). If someone doesn’t know what i am talking on I can just make an example >> if Seattle decide to buy 10 Trolleybus ,I don’t think this fact will affects in any way the population of Little Rock. In Italy, unfortunately, it is not like that. If the city of Lecce (In Puglia – South) decide to buy 10 trolleybuses, probably 75% (sometimes 100%) of this amount is paid by the North, on the other hand, when the city of Milan or Como need to buy Trolleybus they must pay out of their pockets. Simply we are tired of this and would like a little ‘more regional autonomy.
    Regarding the fresh produce of the land that the south sends up to us, I remind you that .. We pay them!

  11. Ciao! Where can I start… Well… You talk about north and south but you never mention your place, the center 🙂 Tuscany, Marche, Umbria, etc. For example I’m from Romagna region so I’m northern but culturally much related to the center (in gastronomy, customs, humour, etc.).
    Anyway… It’s much more complicated and not related with farming culture as in Usa (there are a lot of farmers in north too, even more than in south). I’m not a Lega Nord supporter, they are racist and they like dictators, but I can esure you the main reason why northerners complain is public spending and corruption in most of south regions. Efficiency is the word. What you say about money for education is not true. The point is the opposite. They get a lot of public money that end up in nothing (due to corruption and ilegality).
    I can mention really a lot of examples concerning behaviours and spending. In norther Italy you usually don’t see more people going on the same moped without helmet. You don’t see men at work on the same highway since 30 years. You don’t see the same high rate of fake invalids or the same rate of construction abusiveness as south. What about killing rate? Mafia infiltrations are present in north too but in calabrian Aspromonte reaches 60%. The only emergency service in Sicily has the same cost of the whole healthcare in Piemonte. The number of public employes? What about the 10.500 rangers in Calabria and 2500 in Sicily? I call it crazy. Maybe Italy wasn’t made in the best way but that cannot be a way to justify ilegality and corruption, every time, from southeners.
    Try travelling to different italian cities. You can touch the truth by yourself! Good luck 🙂

  12. I would marry you. Not only are you incredibly talented, funny, and beautiful but you’re going to be the next big thing. I can’t wait to buy all of your books (when is something coming out?). I’m addicted to you.

  13. I’m an Italian guy born in Milan with typical mixed roots from North and South Italy and I have lived in Lombardy, in Tuscany, in Rome and Naples. Yes, especially in the past, Northern Italians and Southern Italians were very different. There are many differences still today.

    Btw Spanish occupied North Italy as well, Germanic people occupied Central and South Italy as well, Normans (another Germanic tribe) occupied Sicily. But Turks never occupied Central Italy, you’re making a mess of ancient Anatolia (Turkish tribes comes from Siberia/Mongolia and settled in Anatolia in the middle ages). Tuscany is a world apart, but historically along with the Repubblic of Venice has been the most influential region in Italy and it’s surely closer (economically, socially, ecc…) to bordering North Italian regions like Emilia, Romagna or Liguria than to Southern regions like Campania or Calabria.

    The most racist in Italy – often without major justifications – are the people from North-East Italy, in the past after the fall of the Repubblic of Venice North-East Italy was one of the most poor areas of Italy. They were called for this reason the “terroni del nord”.

    I have many American friends who live in Italy. And I think that Americans are the ones that have the greatest difficulties in understanding Italy.

  14. I’m Turkish and this made me laugh so much. We have the same exact thing in Turkey but the country can be divided by east and west (west being secular, less religious and richer). The US, Spain, UK, Germany, every country has the same “problem”, I think it’s pretty interesting. I found this blog while looking for the difference between north and south Italy, I have only been to Verona, Venice and Rome (north or south I’m not so sure), but I would love to visit south Italy! My Turkish friends say it’s like the Christian version of Turkey!

  15. My husband and I have visited and traveled from Milano to Soverato, Calabria and many places in between, on both coasts. One observation he has made is: in the North when you greet someone you do not know personally on the street they may or may not reply to you, in the South “strangers” greet you first!!!

  16. Pingback: North versus South issues in Italy as seen by expats

  17. Vedo che esprimere un parere diverso dal tuo non ti garba. Senza avere offeso nessuno ti avevo spiegato che le differenze tra nord e sud Italia esistono, ma evidentemente il mio commento non merita la sua pubblicazione. Ne hai il diritto perché il blog è tuo ma, considerando che non ho né insultato né offeso nessuno, capisco che le persone possono solo dire due cose, qui: hai ragione tu, e anche quel ragazzo greco (che sarà uscito con meridionali nate al nord), non c’è differenza tra gli italiani, abbiamo tutti la stessa cultura, modo di comportarci, di urlare quando parliamo, siamo un popolo! (peccato che questa sia la bugia che vuoi raccontare)

    • If you left a comment before this one I didn’t receive it. I post comments here all the time where people disagree with me. It’s my blog, yes, but it’s also a place to talk about place and culture. Have I ever said that absolutely all Italians are the same? No. I don’t think all of any group are identical. However, culture is culture and usually a nationality of people share common threads of that. My article is not to say that the people are all twins, rather, that the regional differences are not so different that the people are from other planets. My post compared regional differences in Italy with regional differences in the US. Which are very large, very different in a lot of ways but not like you’re dealing with people from Saturn.

  18. It is funny how northern vs southern are described…Briefly, when these two parts were separated, the south was rich and the north poor. The north had debts with England, so they suggested to England help them to conquer the south. This resulted that they moved the resources to the north and forced many people from the south to come to work at the north (northerns were racist, they didnt even wanted rent rooms to southern people). Many of them were killed. Obviously, they dont teach this at school as the History books were written by the north. However, there are documents that still tells the true. Unfortunately, nowadays north continues to steal resources/investiment from the south. Take a look around when you go abroad. Many wines that are written from the south are in fact produced in the north…what does it mean? North steals resources (the wine) from South and takes profit from that.
    If government asks 1,000,000€ to EU to invest in the south, they will barely invest 20% of this money….

    • Before unification the south was so rich that a thousand men were enough to bring it down.
      And if you say: that happened because the north corrupted all military commanders and ruling class of the south, I will say: and what countries are characterized by a ruling class that is ready to sell itself to the first enemy that comes? Rich countries, or thirld-world countries?

  19. Its the south who arent real italian they have arab in their blood when they were invaded by the moors the northerners and central are pure italian blood

      • I know babe, I was being sarcastic because the person above was making a jab about southerners being “Arab,” and not “Italian.” Which is exactly what the southerners say about the northerners but instead of “Arab,” replace with “German,” depending on whomever is making the jab.

      • Certo che fu invaso e DOMINATO proprio da coloro – gli spagnoli – che subirono un’ occupazione islamica durata circa sei secoli. In ogni caso, al Nord – e al centro – sono tutti figli di Odino ! Complimenti per il sito Ms. Evans

      • Yes Normans, kick Arabs away after a period of relative tolernce where Arabs were forced to pay taxes to live in the kingdom of Sicily and encouraged to convert to Christianity

  20. Best Blog Ever. I’ve been in love with Italy ever since I was little. When I stayed with my grandparents, my grandfather would always send me to bed with stories of his Sicilian childhood rather than fairy tales. He and his family migrated to America when he was 15. Days at my grandparents were the best. While my grandma worked in the garden and quilted, he taught me how to cook and the importance of a dinner table in a home. We were very close and I have him to blame for my outgoing personality. He always told me to tell the truth because the time you spend trying to keep up the lies is time you could have been spending with family. Nevertheless I listened (it was hard not to when he was so loud). and I tend to cause hurt feelings. Oh well, in the end I’m only trying to help them.

    Anyways, I really feel like I can relate to you. I’ve always had a love for writing stories and art. I love being able to create a whole new world where I can be anything I want, such as a damsel in distress or even better, a super hero saving the day. You inspire me to follow my heart. I speak my mind as you do toward your in laws (which I admire). I would love to study, and perhaps someday live, in Italy.

  21. I got here by chance and I would like to say that I’m from Sicily and I agree with what someone says Sicily is not Italy. Sicily is one thousand times better. When someone talks that Sicily had Arabs that’s very incomplete and biased just to give their personal view. Becuase actually the most important domination we had were not the Arabs, Arabs didn’t leave much influence in fact we are mostly Catholic and we don’t speak Arabic but Italian, actually we helped a lot in creating the Italian language that was born in Florence. We also in Sicily had the Normans people originally from Scandinavia or North France. So why nobody says that Sicilians are more similar to Northern Europe (the major domination) culture but they say we are more similar to Arab that was just a minor domination? The answer to this question is that people are biased and that they know very little of Sicily and according to what they hear from biased TV that the North is better than the South. Decribing Sicilian people more similar to Arabs rather than French or German they want to indicate that Sicilians are worse than people than the North. That’s a very big piece of bullshit nothing more and show a lot of ignorance of people that speak about Sicily (no wonder though people from the North say the same bullshit too.) At the same time Sicily was the first European state, nobody knows that and while European countries were like jungles Sicily already had an organised state. So many of the things you said are incorrect to say the least!

  22. So why you wrote “Spanish and Greek and Byzantine in the south, Arab in Sicily, Romans all over” when the Arab domination was a minor one and you didn’t write “Norman in Sicily” that was the biggest and one of the most important domination of Sicily? In my opinion people that write this want to associate Sicilians with Arabs (because Arabs are nowadays seen “bad” or “inferior” people) just to indicate that Sicilians are inferior. So it is either bad faith or misinformation

    • Well, my family is middle eastern so I don’t see the Middle East as “bad.” I also didn’t write an exhaustive list for any region. I only listed a few of the historical influences for each region because I didn’t want the post to be 25 pages long.

  23. If you want to put an historical influence of Sicily then it would have been better putting the Norman one, because was much more important than the Arabic one, that was a really small and less influential. Unless you know the history of Sicily better than I do

    • I chose one of the 20+ previously occupied nations at random. It was not an intentional attack on Sicily. Of a list ranging from Spanish, Greek, Byzantine, Norman, Vandal, etc, etc, I just chose one. Because, again, I didn’t want the blog post to be too long.
      1060-1194 – The Normans
      827-1061 – The Arabs

  24. It’s not a matter of which one was the longest, but which one was the most important. Without doubt the most important ones were the Greek and the Norman dominations. This year from 21st of April to 14th of August in the British Museum in London there’s an exhibition dedicated to Sicily. They chose pieces of art related to the Greek and Norman periods not the Arabic one, that was a minor one and much less influential. I still don’t understand why many people still associate Sicilians with Arabs, that really have a little to do with and not with Normans that have a lot to do with. This is a typical mistake of people from the North of Italy (that is not surprising because of their lack of culture), but it’s surprising that even foreigners, that usually are eager to know things in depth, make the same mistake

    • Firstly, I still don’t understand why you’re so bothered with the fact that people list “Arab,” as one of the conquering nations. It was. It doesn’t matter who was the most influential in this case because I wasn’t making an exhaustive list. I grabbed a handful of historical parties, that’s it. It was never implied that Arabs were the only people to ever conquer Sicily. The fact remains that they were one of the dozens. It was chosen at random from a historical list. There was no specific reason why I chose Arab instead of Norman. It wasn’t something I spent hours deliberating on. I knew the many different groups who conquered every region and, again, chose at random as an example of the diversity that is Italy. There were many, many more I could have listed for central Italy and Northern Italy. I chose not to for length. That’s it. And again, you shouldn’t be so offended by someone listing “Arab,” as a conquering nation simply because “people don’t like Arabs.” It’s kind of racist dude. Sicily was conquered by many, I’m sure that you’re totally right that Norman had more influence. I believe you. However, this wasn’t a post about Sicily and I didn’t go in-depth into any region’s background. So I’m not sure why you’re so bothered that I didn’t create and exhaustive list for Sicily based one which place had more influence. You seem to view it as a negative attack on Sicily, and it totally wasn’t. I could have named the Vandals, or the Byzantine, too. I didn’t.

  25. Because I’ve seen this thing many times and from you article it seems that you want to imply that in some ways Sicilians are similar to Arabs, which are not. But anyway like you I have nothing against any population, and believe it or not I’m not so bothered, but I think it was my duty to clarify for the aim of truth, after I read the article

  26. I am saying hello from California…..Chinatown…… may have to guess which one! I am old but only have love from one person a female who is not too tidy on helping Europeans she needs a touch of Italy! I love to eat salsa which is a very Italian thing now!

  27. The truth is, there are very distinct regional differences in every country in the world. This goes for the U.S. and also for other smaller European countries like Spain, France, Portugal, etc. Perhaps in Italy this is more pronounced due to late unification and socio-economic conditions. Southern Italy is primarily agricultural and always has been. It is poorer, more slower in pace and perceived as backwards compared to the North. The Northern part of Italy is more developed, industrial ,wealthier and seems more like Switzerland or Austria than Southern European and Mediterranean countries like Greece, Portugal or Spain. Today, everyone speaks standard Italian and the country is 98% literate. Dialects persist but only among family and friends are they used in the towns where they originated. Accents are different from region to region, but that is also in any country. If an American from Boston can understand a Scotsman from Glasgow, a man from Milano can certainly understand another from Palermo if they are both speaking standard Italian !

  28. north is the north, the south is from tuscany down. Italians are from Tuscany down. In the north they’re celts, not italians. It’s history, it’s dna.
    Central Italy means nothing. Rome for me and everyone from the north is south, not center.
    It is like people from the south try to be northern pretending to be from the “centre”. Peple from Calabria and Naples pretend to be the centre, and now, leaving the status of south to Sicily only.
    Someone still believe “the south was so rich and prosperous” without the north, “full of resources”. It always make me laugh. Someone can’t really divide reality and imagination.
    It would be nice to divide north and south, finally. And see how well the south get along, with its resources and prosperity, and will of work of its inhabitants

  29. Hello everyone.

    I would like to know thé mentality of people from Pontecorvo. Normally its considérés to bé south of Italy. Anyone from Pontecorvo can give any insights about cultural différences and mentality?

    • Pontecorvo is in Southern Lazio, and Southern Lazio was part of the Kingdom of Naples, so it’s clearly more Southern Italy rather than Central Italy.

  30. Nice article. I’m 100% (3rd gen ital American) italian. My family is from all over Italy including Sicily. People tell me all the time that I don’t look italian at all. It’s Annoying as hell. They say I look like a “Jew or Irish.” I don’t believe I fit either of those stereotypical appearances either. I have medium almost light brown eyes, sandy blonde hair, and I’m about 5’9, 205 lbs, and fair skin.,most of my family is olive skin, dark hair, dark eyes. They look Sicilian which is where my maternal grandparents came from. I don’t know much about my fathers side. From which region would you say the people have most similar appearance/characteristics to mine? Thank you. I hope to hear from you

  31. I’ve lived in many countries in the world having spent a lot of my time in the Middle East. Before going to the Middle East I lived in Italy. I’ve dated and or married Arabs, Latinos, and Italians Southern Italians are more like Arabs than any other country I know. Especially the GCC Arabs- I have traveled and lived in many of them. From corruption, to family ties, fashion, superstitions such as the evil eye – the only difference is Arabs are a bit more conservative from Islam depending on the country – but everything else is the same – if you tell an Italian it is like many Arabs they will be offended but it’s virtually the same especially the south – I prefer Italy as the conservative nature of the Middle East was too difficult for me and being American I like the Northern part as it is a bit more career focused but still family oriented – I prefer it over my native country the US where we are not as family oriented as I like.
    People get upset or offended because of personal pride and or thinking one is better or worse but – each country and culture is different and various regions or sub cultures within the region. It’s all about what is important to each person family, career, religion, and etc. diversity and differences will always be there and are fascinating and part of life –
    I love northern Italy because it works for my personality it may not be the place for somebody who has a different personality or values

  32. Love your writing, and your stories about Italy. I want to visit hopefully in 2017. I have family from Calabria. I am friends with cousins in Italy but I would like to do a family tree so I better get started learning the language.

    Nancy Liuzzo Sullenberger

  33. Yes definitely, Northern Italians are different from Southern Italians. I’m of Southern Italian ancestry (Calabria, Apulia, Sicily) and I’m not ashamed to admit that. Greeks are more similar to Southern Italians rather than to Northern Italians. South Italy starts with Southern Lazio, Campania, and Abruzzo. Even Central Italy (Tuscany, Marche, Umbria) is very different from South Italy.

  34. Every country has a disparity in regions and especially from North to South. In Italy, this may still be more pronounced and is enigmatic because the country is so small. However, today differences are so mitigated because we have technology, social media, everyone is well educated and speaks proper Italian, people travel and move around, we all look and dress the same in the Western ad industrialized world, etc. These stories of vast differences and stereotypes are by and large from a bygone era; my grandparents day in the early 1960’s ! Back then, South of Rome was the “Deep South” and was still mostly agrarian, very poor and backwards and contrasted Northern Italy more visibly and acutely. Women were domestic, illiteracy was high, especially for women and old stereotypes had veracity. Today, Italians are Italians from every part of Italy and Sicily and foreigners really do not see or comprehend the big differences or divisiveness that exists and the animosity between the two regions in Italy that still exits today; although much more tacitly and far less obvious !

  35. Once upon a time, the sea united and the land separed. That’s why Southern Italian regions share much culture each other. People travelled around the lands by sea. The big gap is between central and northern Italy. Once you surpass Appennini mountains separating Florence from Bologna everything suddenly changes and stays like that to Milan. Every single region of Italy had a different particular influence from abroat (spaniards, frenchs, arabs, turks, normans, even russians) and that’s why they’re different each other. You know, they share something with nearby regions, but at the same time they’re different in something else since those adiacent regions share something with farther ones. That’s why italians from different regions easily bound on certain common traditions and then suddenly fight in a second for any other difference: heritages are mostly different. North took from Germany and France; south-west took from Spain, France and Tunisia; south-east took from Turkey, Greece, Portugal (don’t know why), Normans and even Balkans and Russia (St. Nicholas of Bari). Sicily took from them all (except Russia). Yes, this is a very good mixed soup.

  36. It seems like you have a biased view on the issue north-south due to the fact that your husband is a southerner… Isn’t it? Plus you actually do not live in northern italy since Tuscany belongs 100% to central italy.
    Northern Italy is that area where gallo-italic languages are spoken and veneto language. You did not mention the linguistic issue. I can guarantee that until 30 years ago almost nobody used italian language to communnicate with family and friends here in the North. Gallo-italic languages are very different from italian and more related to Occitan, Catalan and even French. Unfortunately they are not spoken very frequently today because 1) southerners have invaded most of our cities (Milano, Bologna and Torino are mostly southern cities), 2) the istitutions have engaged in a battle against our distinct northern culture and if we want to keep our culture alive we are judged as racist separatist. In fact italian nationalism and fascism, based on the characters of central and southern italy, has still much influence over italians.

    If you want to see yourself how different we are you should really visit an authentic northern italian town, meet the locals (not southern immigrants), discover their culture and mentality. It is not enough having visited the cosmopolitan Milan. Milan represents more the South. Go to the dolomites, to Trieste, to some veneto village. There were fewer southerners migrating there. Or go to Valtellina or to Aosta, Langhe, Ossola. Those places are inhabited mainly by the locals.

    One more thing: there is also a sort of cultural difference between north-east (Veneto, Friuli, Trentino and I would add also eastern Lombardy) and North-west (Piedmont and Liguria). Emilia-Romagna is more close to Central Italy (to me..). North-west has always been more culturally advanced. People there tend to be more down to earth, with fewer prejudices, less bigots. On the contrary North-east is still very traditional in certain way of thinking. They remind me a bit the people from Croatia.

    So before having an opinion you should have strong evidence. We true northerners are not racist, we just want that the state recognizes our existence and let us live as we want.

    Sorry for my english.

    • I’m definitely not prejudice against the north, since it’s the part of Italy I’d prefer to live. And I’ve spent plenty of time in the north and northern culture. I have northern friends and had a boyfriend from the north long before I met my husband. With that being said, I also don’t agree with a lot of the stereotypes that some northerners have against southerners. My northern friends always painted southerners as ignorant animals. And from my experience, a lot of southerners are incredibly intelligent and very hard working. That’s really all that this article is about: that stereotypes aren’t always true. The north and south divide in Italy is very similar to the northern and southern divide in the US. My point in this article is that there are basic differences, but that there are similarities too. Just like with any group of people anywhere.

      • Nonsense. The north and south divide in Italy is similar to the divide between the United States and Mexico in every possible way: intelligence, complexion, culture, productivity, mannerisms, etc. White American average IQ: 100. For Mexico: 88. Northern Italian (where 60% of the economy originates) average IQ: 100. Sicily: 89. Mainland Southern Italy: 92.

      • OK I got yout point!
        it is not as if we were 2 different animal species, of course! there are lot of similarities…
        Also, we should never take prejudices seriously, as scientific facts.
        I also have some friends from southern Italy: they all migrated to Northern Italy for studying at university or they families moved when they were just kids. They are not stupid ignorant animals, nobody think that…
        Actually in all my life I have never heard any northerner mocking southern people: they were all welcome to live here and they were given a chance to improve their life. Maybe this a false belief of some southerners, that tend to feel persecuted?

        On the contrary, I have witnessed several time (I can’t event count the times… maybe millions?) southerners, who live in the North, complaining about how shitty and horrible this land is, how terrible our food is, how much they are superior to Northerners in all fields… They are the only people having culture, having good families, beautiful and serious women, delicious food… while all that comes from the North is pure shit. Then, most of the times you realize that they live in some southerner ghetto of some ugly city, they only stay with their similars, they never try to learn something new from our culture.

        Also, they tend to be suspicious of ANYTHING that is not from Southern Italy. For example they normally do not have good attitudes towards foreign immigrants (African, Asian, Eastern Europeans…). They believe that people from foreign countries are naturally inferiors. You can see many Southern Italians hitting on foreign girls, for example Romanians, because they believe that “all foreign girls are stupid bitches”.
        My girlfriend is a foreigner, although she has got the italian citizenship, and she made only northern Italian friends. She always says that finds very difficult to relate with southerners… is she racist? I don’t think so…

        In conclusion, it is true that there are many prejudices, but 99% of them come from the Southern part.

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