Don’t just watch it, live it!
The attachment I have towards my native land, to local uses and customs and to Italian traditions should not be a surprise for you.As one travels through Italy, there is one thing that you really can’t avoid to notice and that strongly distinguishes the inhabitants of each area: people, dialect, cuisine, manner and character change rapidly from one region to another from one town to another. This beautiful country achieved national unity in 1861, which is relatively recent if you consider the history of this sun kissed land. An example dates back to World War I (1914-1918), known by historians as the “Great War”, during which the national army was made up of soldiers from different regions and unable to communicate with each other, since they were used to speaking in their own local dialect.
Naturally today people speak the official Italian language , but in the streets of every city, especially those lovely and typical of the provinces, you can listen to speech of words and accents which highlights often in delicate inflections, accents and voice tones, in respect of local traditions and heritage passed down from ancestors. These numerous dialects, enhanced with musicality, have remained unchanged over time, and have added poetry, music, proverbs and sayings to communication through language to this very day. Some dialects are so unique to be considered by UNESCO as part of “World Heritage”.
This variety of customs and traditions are part of the music produced ,of the traditional costumes, of ancient dancing and they contribute to outline the specific identity of each region. A couple of examples are the Neapolitan mandolin and harp or the Sicilian bagpipes: over Christmas these are played from house to house by local messengers bringing good wishes.
Even regional folk dances were born to express feelings of challenge, a good omen for the harvest and the vintage, a prayer, or more commonly there are dances that meant to reveal the different stages of love : from courtship to chase, the flee of lovers, to the crowning of love with marriage.
To say it briefly every Italian is so tied to his roots that he/she is convinced to be born, or at least to live in the most beautiful place in the world. And when an Italian goes away he/she can’t wait to return. And it doesn’t matter whether it’s a seaside or a verdant plain or a misty valley location. This kind of pride and geographic vindication which is second only to the priority and importance of family, is steep in the entire history of Italy. Yes, because the cult of the family, and one’s origins are a whole and unavoidable way of being Italian. No surprise that Italian artists have donated to the entire world the most beautiful poems and ballads dedicated to their mother, to their homeland, to the love for the family, and to their children who emigrated in search of fortune.
In the past, in the name of the family, blood was shed in the streets and squares. Orazi and Curiazi challenged each other in ancient Rome, as well as Guelphs and Ghibellines did within the lush Florence. Rome preserves the saying that “what the barbarians didn’t do, the Barberini did”, arguing a bit “with everyone”, while the great William Shakespeare, who was also seduced by the old disputes, brought on stage in London the love story between the young Romeo and Juliet, not surprisingly the sacrificial victims of the absurd dispute between the two prominent families of Verona, and bitter enemies, the Montecchi and the Cappellettis (renamed by the Anglo-Saxon dramatist as Capulet). This same ancient spirit of struggle between families can be seen today for instance, in Siena, where twice a year the jockeys of the city districts compete in the famous “Palio”, in an exciting horse race in Piazza del Campo.
These are traditions that resist time, by freezing ancient customs and that explain the mood of the Italians. Everything becomes pathos, the streets of the city, where it is impossible to live far from strong and profound feelings. Certain places are so fascinating that it is difficult not to fall in love with them. As you walk or drive along a country road or walk along the pier of a small local port, it is impossible not to get passionate as you encounter beautiful and welcoming places and people who show live passion.
After all, Italy is a land where love and drama, virtue and tragedy, laughter and tears outline the face of every city, and that is in every square, in every street. It’s useless to try to visit beautiful places without trying to understand the stories, the customs and traditions that generate the lifestyle and way of thinking of the Italians. These feelings and traditions are love and tragedy, faith and passion to ever inspire the arts for which Italian are famous in the world.
So no coincidence if almost the entire artistic and cultural heritage of the world is concentrated in Italy. And this is why I invite you to experience Italy through its innumerable pleasing aspects and not simply to visit as a traveler passing through. Live it in every moment in order to truly appreciate it. To be able to love it, tell its stories and transmit its emotions..