Some common standardized images Italians want to overcome

 

Some common standardized images Italians want to overcome

 

Traditions, history, politics and food are always considered important, identifying elements for a nation, so much so that, at times, we tend to forget there is more to a country and its people than that. We are often influenced by national stereotypes related, for instance, to particular events that have called international attention, and often tend to associate a given country only and exclusively to them. Italians, just as everybody else, don't want to be solely linked to certain personalities or events, nor being labelled because of them. In the next few paragraphs you'll find out about some of the best known people and things internationally associated to Italy, some of which, let's face it, Italians would rather no longer have to hear about!

 

 

Berlusconi

It is true: the ex prime minister has marked the history of Italian politics.  Rivers of ink have been spilled writing about him: with his infamous bunga bunga and cringeworthy gaffes he has attracted the attention of international medias. However, Italians are quite fed up with hearing people talking about him: many foreigners tend to associate Italy to the image of it given by Berlusconi, an image steeped in squalor, seediness and dishonesty. Things have been changing, though, and Italians really do want to turn the page and start afresh: the international public opinion should do it, too.

 

 Mafia

That of the mafia is a thorny matter. Unfortunately, the phenomenon is still present in the very socio-economic fabric of the state, but in the past decades, several measures have been taken- and still are- by the authorities to fight it. For the international community, the Mafia is implicitly tied with Italy, but for we Italians the subject is delicate and not always welcome, especially for those coming from the South, where organized crime was born.

 

 

 

Pizza and mandolino

Between the second half of 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, many Italians left their country to reach North America in pursuit of happiness and wealth. Many, especially those coming from the South of Italy, exported their local traditions to their new motherland. Among them, Neapolitans were particularly keen on making their famous pizza and their habits known to the locals. Their music, above all, became popular, and with it the mandolin, an instrument that belongs to the musical tradition of the city of Naples. However, it is the past we are talking about: Italians don't want to deny it, but things have changed and moved on. Those almost lyrical images of Italians roaming around the New World with a cardboard suitcase are long gone.

 

Mirco Lo Giudice-Berbiredolu, "Il mago del Mandolino", Wilhelm von Gloeden 
Ph. courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

Italians love their past, their traditions and their history,  but they don't want to be exclusively remembered because of certain stereotypes which have originated from them; there is much more to this country than the caricatural image passed on by decades of visual, literary and cultural pigeonholing, and it's high time everybody finally finds out about it.

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