Oil and Water: Northern & Southern Italy Are Two Different Worlds

The world is a very small place when you examine how people behave. When one takes a peek at Italy, you would suspect that a country that is 96% Italian and very homogeneous would display very similar behaviors, languages and cultures.  Just like in the United States, geography plays a major part in the distinct differences between their Northern and Southern Italian people.  Flora Fine Foods would like to take you on journey to explore the stereotypes behind Northern and Southern Italians.  Just as if two people were conversing in America, the Texas rancher would be able to spot the Wall Street stock broker from Manhattan a mile away.

The Northerners

Kind of like the Northerners in the United States, the stereotypes about Northerner Italians remain pretty much constant across their culture.  Southerners view Northerners as elitist that follow very strict manners. They are Industrialist and capitalist. They rely heavily on a refined sense of business to keep their economy steady.  This mentality is ingrained in the culture since the days of Venetian trade markets in Veneto, and a young Genovese explorer named Christopher Columbus returned from the New World to Liguria with spices and gold for trade.

Northern Italians are considered to be a more educated bunch per capita considering the economies that drive their regions.  The industrial triangle connects Milan, Turin and the seaport in Genoa connects a variety of dollars that are driven from manufacturing, wineries and banking.

The Northerners are very focused on the aesthetics of fashion. Milan is a reflection of that mentality as it is the hometown of Versace, Valentino, Prada and Armani.  Jeans were a creation of Genovese sailors during the time of Columbus.

Language is something else that is very different in the North.  Dialects are just as pronounced as listening to a person from Long Island talk with a person from New Orleans.  Northern Italy consists of Friulian, Piedmontese, Ligurian, Venetian, Lombard and Occitan. Imagine listening to a person from Brooklyn who speaks with a person from Augusta, Maine. Two big differences.

Food reflects the landscape as well.  Being close to Austria and France, Northern Italy’s cuisine are very rich in butters, rice, corn, creams and green vegetables.  They use less olive oil, tomatoes and pastas. Pastas are not extinct in the North. Polenta, gnocchi and risotto are very popular.  Game animals like quali and rabbit are delectable items found on dinner tables during holidays.

The world is made up of many different people, personalities and cultures.  Italy in itself is two worlds.  We will now highlight the neighbors to the South.  It’s amazing how a few thousand miles separate two completely unique cultures that are part of the same country filled with 96% of the same people.

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The Southerners

For the people in the South of the boot, the way of life is very different from their brethren to the North.  From the volcanic, rich soils of Campania to the Kingdom of the Sicily, Southern Italians eat, work and speak different from the Northern regions.  Known as Mezzogiorno or “midday”, the Southern region of Italy consists of Abruzzo, Apulia (heel), Calabria (toe), Campania (shin), Sardinia (French forgotten island) and the island of Sicily.  The Southern part of Italy hosts tons of rich history that has sculpted Western civilization. From the dawn of the Roman Empire, the establishment of Islamic states in Southern Italy, Napoleonic Invasions of the French and the unification of the country into the Kingdom of Italy, Southern Italy has a variety of different cultures that have manifested from years of human expansion.

From these invasions and expansion of cultures, Southern Italian regions hosts a spectrum of different dialects of Italian. Much like the United States, everyone from the South has a different twang or dialect they communicate that is unique to their home state.  People from Georgia has a vastly different accent to those in Texas or Louisiana. The same applies to the Southern regions that consist of what is considered the Neapolitan languages.  The languages are broken up by region and are distinct to geographic location. From example, in the Abruzzo and Marche region the locals speak a dialect known as Abruzzese or Southern Marchigiano. From this dialect, there are four more dialects that come about depending on the province the individual hails from. Some other regions like Aoulia (Pugliese, Apulian, Barese), Calabria (Lucanian or Northern Calabrian), Campania (Campanian, Napolean proper, Ciletano) and Sicily (Sicilian) all contain deviations of the Napoleonic Italian language.

Sunshine and land are abundant in Southern Italy.  Less industrialized than the North, South Italians live a much more agrarian lifestyle that revolves around being outside and interacting with nature.  The crops of Southern Italy staple around tomatoes, wheat, eggplant, citrons, olives and rice.  The crops reflect in the food as well.  Traditional Southern Italian dishes consist of more pasta, rice, tomatoes and olive based dishes.

Now this leaves us with a major question.  Where does it leave the Central Regions of Italy? To be continued…

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