Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Italian culture and history 101


I have started this one week course on "Italian Culture". This is a mandatory course for the non-European students attending the University. This is the exam session for us and I thought it would just be "a waste of time" in these important hours. It turned out to be the contrary.
Professor Giunta, who takes the class, is young, friendly and funny. It seems like we are listening to stories which are amusing and intriguing. Yesterday he talked of Italy being a country consists of many countries. It really is an unified country but stark differences among regions, provinces and even neighboring villages remind of the relatively new timespan the country is united, about 150 years.

One of the main differences is between the people of north and south Italy. People from south are open-minded, friendly as ever and loves to live an easy life (read lazy) whereas people from north are more industrious, unkind and less friendly. The adjectives may sound harsh but we should remember that we are not talking in general but in comparison. From the experience I have, I must say Italians are friendly and kind in general. But obviously the people from south Italy are like us: more gossipy, funny and warmer.
In the word of the professor, the people from north are "more German" while the people from south are like "the people from sunny places". I guess sun has to do something with it, the north part having the usual cold European weather and the south enjoying a lot of shiny summer.

Italy has two independent countries inside it (did you know?) : the all known Vatican city and the "oldest sovereign state and constitutional republic in the world", San Marino. The professor, as it seems, was not very interested to talk about San Marino. Probably it does not have that much of an interesting history. He talked a bit about Vatican, which possesses one of the finest and largest libraries of the world. (To get a more blood-rushing experience about the Vatican, go read "Angels and Demons" if you have not already)

Then he talked about some recent events like why Italy is having problem with immigrants and foreign workers. As it is the interface of Europe with the Mediterranean sea and quite close to Africa and Albania, people frequently come to Italy by waterway, which is a bit hard to have a borderlike control. On the other hand, unlike France or Great Britain, Italy does not has a colonial past and thus lacks the ability to integrate and live with foreigners. Thus they suffer from Xenophobia, the fear of foreigners. This fear is one of the factors which led the current Berlousconi government in power as they promised to apply stringent laws on the foreign workers. The professor said the situation is changing and the next generation of Italians would certainly have come across the phobia, as they are now mixing up with the foreigners in schools and all other places.

Then we sort of discussed about the difference between the "touristic cities" and "important cities". Italy being one of the topmost touristic destinations, people throughout the world know about Rome, Venice, Florence. Rome, as the capital is of course of importance, but also there are cities like Turin and Milan which are important form strategical, industrial and economic point of view. The professor being born in Turin, talked highly about it. He asked us not only to visit the most common places in Italy but to some uncommon but rather beautiful (and may be important) cities. FIAT, the well-known automobile company is also located at Turin. Somebody asked about Ferrari and it turned out that actually FIAT owns Ferrari, which besides producing awesome sports-cars, happens to be one of the best 10 workplaces in Europe!

This is it for now. I hope you have enjoyed as much as I do telling.
Ciao!

1 comment:

Shahan said...

well written. I like history(specially those that were not written in our social science book back in school).