I'm not sure if anyone of you ever noticed this, but when I tell something about my homecountry I very often don't say "In Italy we...", "In Italy it happens that..." or "In Italy it's like...". Most of the times I say something like "Where I come from...".
Also, when I meet new people I usually introduce myself with "I'm from Italy" instead of "I'm Italian".
You will be wondering what the matter is, I come from Italy so saying one or the other one doesn't make any difference. Well I tell you that it makes a lot of difference.
Let's take a look at this picture:
That's the map of the languages spoken in Italy beside Italian. I live in Veneto, pretty much the green area up-right marked with "VE". If we now virtually delete Italian language from everybody's mind and we move myself to the area just next to Veneto marked with "LO" I would have some serious problems communicating with the people who lives there. Actually, I would understand not a single word of what they say.
Maybe you are now asking yourself how that is even possible. Well, that's possible because Italy as a politc state has been created just in 1861.
And believe me, though it is very celebrated period it wasn't a nice chapter in history: it all happened through wars and fake referendums, all that being driven by foreign powers like United Kingdom, France and Masonic Lodges.
I will just tell you that Massimo d'Azeglio, one of the main protagonists of the unification, once said "We have made Italy. Now we must make Italians". I am not kidding. That is a real quote.
But please, don't make me enter the details.
Anyway, before that there were many different states. And of course different states mean also different languages, cultures, traditions, food. Differences that of course has been softened a lot in 153 years (on purpose because do you remember? They have to make Italians now), but that still exist.
Personally I really like this multiculturality we have, I think it's great. What I don't like is how this multiculturality is handled.
I have been told that here in Finland Saami people are very well respected. Lucky them to be in Finland! In Italy if I walk into some public place (post office, tax offices, job interview, etc...) and I start talking Venetian I am instantly marked as a dumb redneck that can't even speak Italian. I think it's a very racist thing. But it happens daily, though.
Right now I am trying to think what a foreign person (not necessarily a Finn) thinks when he hears the word "Italy". Excluding bad things such as mafia and Berlusconi, and things like pasta, pizza and mandolino I guess he would thinks about stuff like:
- Roman Empire and related things (Colosseum, gladiators, etc...)
- Some iconic Renaissance art (Birth of Venus, Michelangelo's David and the Creation of Abraham are just the first I can that came into my mind)
- Some random famous cities like Roma, Venezia, Firenze, Milano, etc...
The point is that, technically, none of these things are really "italian" because they were created centuries before Italy as a political entity was created, and centuries before people even started to think "ok guys, you know what? Maybe we should put this stuff together and make just one big state". I mean, not even close.
Each one of those things was created by artists who were proud to belong to their little yet beautiful state, may it be the Republic of Venice, the Church State, the Duchy of Firenze, of Milano or whatever. And this is, in my opinion, the reason why you can go to wherever place in Italy, and still manage to find something beautiful to see, this is the key of what made Italy so culturally rich: the presence of many little states, where each one was caring about building nice palaces and monuments in it.
If it was united much before, there would be interesting things just around the capital and maybe one or two other cities, pretty much as every other state in Europe.
And do you want to know a ridiculous fact? In school we are taught: "during Middle Ages and Modern Era Italy never managed to set herself as a major power in Europe because unfortunately it was divided in many little states too busy fighting one each other".