17 Oct Most common Italian stereotypes
Everyone has heard of The Godfather and Super Mario but do they represent the real Italy? With the help of Martin Solly, the Turin-based author of Xenophobe’s Guide to the Italians, The Local has debunked (and confirmed) some common Italian stereotypes.
Italy is a Roman Holiday Under the Tuscan Sun. “For some reason, Italian travel brochures – especially those you get in the US – only ever seem to feature Tuscany, Rome and Venice,” says Solly. “The reality is that travelling between regions is like travelling between foreign countries. More or less wherever you go, you will find somewhere wonderful with a wealth of different dialects.”
People eat only pizza and spaghetti. Untrue. “Travelling around Italy, you will notice that the menu can be very different depending on the region you go to,” says Solly. “But one thing that you will find everywhere is that the quality of ingredients is always very high. Eating in Italy (the home of the Slow Food movement) is a serious business and it helps that most Italians are usually excellent cooks.”
The sun is always shining. Italy is famed for its Mediterranean sunshine but it can also be cold and damp, notes Solly. “Some friends of mine recently spent Easter in Sardinia and it rained the whole time they were there – and apparently the weather had been terrible since Christmas.” In fact, he adds, “many houses in southern Italy don’t have central heating at all, so it can feel even colder there.”
Mamma rules the roost. “Here, la mamma is still very much a dominant figure,” Solly admits. So dominant, that, according to him, many Italians have difficulty understanding why children would ever want to leave home – “After all, would you want to leave a perfectly run five-star hotel?” “However youth unemployment,” he adds, “is also high in Italy and suitable accommodation can be expensive and very hard to find in the big cities.”
All Italians are dark-haired, olive-skinned with a Super-Mario moustache “This is simply not true,” says Solly. “Not only do Italians in the north of Italy differ from this stereotype, but you often meet Sicilians who look as if they are from northern Europe. This is not surprising given Italy’s turbulent history and the constant invasions and occupations by foreigners (tourists included).” For the record, Super Mario is a Japanese creation.