anonymous asked:

why the fuck did you do this? Southern Italy already exists, this is dumb

((R R A N T.

I coiuld have brushed this off as anon hate (but I don’t really think it is, idk), but I will use this as an occasion to explain my point of view about Hima’s Romano.

First of all, the name!

Lovino is NOT an actual italian name, it is a butchering of the italian verb ‘Rovino’, ‘I ruin’ or (this idea is a little joke of mine, an italian confused as you about it), the archaic form 'Lo vino’, “The Wine”.
My Southern Italy’s name is Romano, an actual name with its origin on the Roman Empire’s age.
It comes from Romanus “citizien of Rome”, and many Byzantine emperors and rulers had this name, including the modern poltician Romano Prodi. Vargas is ok, since it is a surname that is widely used in all of the peninsula, from Milan to Palermo.
I would like to give him a second name, now I am set on Ferdinando (widely used in the Kingdom of Naples, the Two Sicilies and modern Naples itself), Enea (Aeneas, the mythological hero) or Achille.

Second point: Family.

Hima sets North Italy as his brother and Grandpa Rome as his, well, grandpa, but I am not too sure about it, nor is the Italian-Hetalia Rp fandom (most of us are history nerds, including me).
First of all, the last time Italy was unified properly before the Risorgimento, was before the fall of Western Rome and during the Kingdom of Ostrogoths/Odoacer, so how can they be brothers, if not under the good ol’ Roman Empire? I am a proud classicist, so I support the idea of them being Rome’s sons like pretty much everyone in the italian fandom.
Who is the mother? There are two: Romano is son to Rome and Ancient Greece, making it Greece’s brother, since Southern Italy’s name itself, Magna Graecia (widely used nowadays, too!), comes from the time when Greek colonies were founded along pretty much all of S. Italy’s coasts, but I will talk more about this next time, N. Italy’s mother may probably be Gallia Cisalpina, so they are 50% brothers.
In the end, according to me, Romano’s family is:
Rome (Dad★), N. Italy, Spain, Portugal, Romania, France, the Italian Regions and Greece (a lot of brothers, yeah?).
He is not 100% Feliciano’s brother, but he loves him anyways.

Third point: looking and acting.

Romano’s design is fine, I’d expect him to be pretty more tanned, and his hair should be curlier, but I am not complaining at all.
I think of him as older, pretty much at Spain’s age, tho.
Acting, here comes the real problem.
Romano is shown to be a stressed, whiny kid who depends on Spain and gets angry for ANYTHING, plus the “Potato Bastard” thing, ugh.
By stereotypes and a good 50% of truth, Southern Italians are more similar to Feliciano rather than being close to Romano. We are, and trust me we actually ARE, more welcoming, open minded and generally always happy about life, go lucky people. By stereotypes, we could say Hima is right on us being very flirty with tourists (I have a lot of friends who only date tourists and random foreigners, fml), pretty much hot headed, and lazy (yes, I won’t lie to myself, most of us are very lazy).
Also, the fact about him and his relationships–
They are pretty fucked up. We do joke a lot about Germany, but we like them! The greatest king Southern Italy had was Holy Roman Emperor of a German Dinasty (Frederick II of Swabia, google it) (i am using this to say something Germano related will come very soon ;)) ), and they invade us in summer with their precious tourists, bringing us money, so yes, WE LOVE YOU GERMANY.
Also Chigi in Italian is not an actual word, it is the name of a roman family and one of the italian government’s palaces in Rome but not anything really-

I will talk more about this another time, anyways! Please, PLEASE SUPPORT NON CANON VERSIONS OF CANON CHARACTERS!

nobody will probably will read this, but I had to))

How to say “butcher” in Sicilian

I don’t want to hurt the feelings of vegeterians but today I want to talk about the several ways to say “butcher” in Sicilian. Right now I can think of three different ways of saying it. They are:

  • Carnezziere: This is the most common Sicilian term for Butcher. Although it might seem an Italian word, this term is not even present on the dictionary. It is easy to imagine that it has been taken from Italian or Latin and rendered in Sicilian as carnezziere, in fact, “carne” means meat, while the suffix -iere is frequently added at the end of Italian words to describe a profession. 
  • Bucceri/Vucceri: It comes from the French word boucher which it means butcher. Another word derived from the same French term is “A Vuccirìa”, an important open-air market in Palermo. “A Vucciria” was a chaotic and colorful market and for this reason the same word also means noise.
  • Chianchiere: This is the least common term for Butcher. Personally I have heard it only a couple of times but in the area of Naples it is more ordinary (I think). Probably it has been borrowed from Neapolitan language when the southern regions of Italy were part of the same kingdom, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. In the past the meat was cut and then placed on a wooden counter called “planca”. Over time the word was transformed into “chianca” and the butcher became “chianchiere”

Today is the anniversary of the birth of Giuseppe Garibaldi (Nizza, July 4th 1807, Island of Caprera, Sardinia, June 2nd 1882)

Giuseppe Garibaldi was born in Nizza (now Nice, France), then ruled by the Kingdom of Sardinia and Piedmont. Famous general and politician, was one of the most important makers of the unification of Italy (also known as “Risorgimento”). He emigrated in South America in 1834 after a death sentence of his government, due a failed revolution in Piedmont with his participation. He fought there for rebels against the Empire of Brazil and Uruguayan rebels against Argentina. He returned to Italy in 1848, at the beginning of  the Italian first War of Independence (1848/1849); he bravely fought with his volunteers against the Austrian army and then founded with other revolutionary forces the Roman Republic in the Papal State (1849), fallen in the same year with the occupation of a French army, that restored the Papal government.

Anyway, his most famous enterprise was the “Spedizione dei Mille” (Expedition of the Thousand) in 1860; he moved from Genoa to Sicily, in command of about 1,000 volunteers, to try to occupy Southern Italy, then ruled by “The Kingdom of Two Sicilies”. His soldiers, badly armed and popularly known as “Camicie rosse” (Redshirts) for the color of their uniforms (the shirts were originally prepared for butchers, to camouflage the blood stains), helped by local rebels, incredibly won several times the well organized Neapolitan army and occupied in the same 1860 Naples, the capital of the Southern Kingdom. Garibaldi gave up the conquered territories to the Kingdom of Sardinia and Piedmont, that became the Kingdom of Italy in the same year.

In despite of the modern revisionist history, some separatist Italian movements and nostalgics of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies, that maintain the existence of conspiracies to destroy the happy and rich pre-united Italian states, no one can deny his valour, bravery and skill of command. It must also be noted that the Garibaldi’s redskirts came from everywhere in Italy, and most of them from Northern Italy.

After other military enterprises and adventures, Garibaldi spent his last years in a small farm in Caprera, a little island near Sardinia.

It’s also worth remembering that Garibaldi volunteered to the President Abraham J. Lincoln in the American Civil War in 1861. He was offered a Major General’s commission in the U.S. Army, but he refused, asking the command-in-chief of U.S. forces and a formal declaration that the objective of the war was the abolition of the slavery. Lincoln wasn’t still ready to this, so the thing didn’t have a concrete following (the Emancipation Proclamation was issued two years later, in 1863).

Samuel Colt sent 100 guns and rifles as a gift to Garibaldi at the beginning of his expedition to Southern Italy: he was so satisfied of these innovative weapons to buy 23,000 of them.

Taranta ❤

The dance originated in the Apulia region, and spread throughout the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.
The stately courtship tarantella danced by a couple or couples, short in duration, is graceful and elegant and features characteristic music. On the other hand, the “magico-religious” tarantella is a solo dance performed supposedly to cure through perspiration the delirium and contortions attributed to the bite of the Lycosa Tarantula spider at harvest (summer) time; it agitated in character, lasted for hours or even up to days.

The tarantella is most commonly played with a mandolin, a guitar, an accordion and tambourines. Flute, fiddle, trumpet and clarinet are also used.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Vedi Napoli e poi muori

“See Naples and die.”

It was a phrase coined during the reign of the Bourbons of Naples, considered by historians to have been the city’s Golden Age. Until its annexation to the Kingdom of Italy in 1861, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies was the wealthiest and most industrialized of the Italian states. Naples was the 3rd-most populous city of Europe (after London and Paris), and certainly one of the most opulent. Even today, a visit to Naples would not be complete without seeing the royal palaces in and near the city. So before you die, you must experience the beauty and magnificence of Naples. 

Some say that it was German poet Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe who coined the phrase. In 1786-88 he made a journey to Italy, which inspired his play IPHIGENIE AUF TAURIS, and RÖMISHE ELEGIEN, sensuous poems relating partly to Christiane Vulpius, who became Goethe’s mistress in 1789. The phrase can be found in Italian Journey (in the German original: Italienische Reise), 1786-88. 

I get why APH Romano is just referred to as Romano and why APH Veneziano is referred to as Italy. To put it simply, Romano first represented the Kingdom of Two Sicilies and Veneziano represented the Kingdom of Sardinia, later the Kingdom of Italy in 1860. By the end of 1860, Italian troops took over the Kingdom of Two Sicilies, took apart a lot of the factories, and relocated a lot of them to the north. This forced the south to economically survive on agriculture, and that didn’t entirely work because of active volcanoes. Because of all the crops dying, a lot of Southern Italians( mostly Sicilians ) came to America from 1860-1920. Anyway, the Kingdom of Two Sicilies dissolved into part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1860. So Veneziano was the original Kingdom of Italy and Romano was just added on. This is why most people call Veneziano Italy and Romano just Romano. I would also like to add that this would make the two half brothers. Romano was first just Sicily, I think, so in about 750 BC, Ancient Greece colonized Sicily, and so that makes Romano Greece’s older brother. If he did represent Sicily, he would also have Arabic and Spanish blood in him. Veneziano has Lombard and Germanic blood from the German conquests of Italy after the fall of the Roman Empire. 

The Palazzo Reale di Napoli is a palace, museum, and historical tourist destination located in central Naples. It was one of the 4 residences near Naples used by the Bourbon Kings during their rule of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies (1734-1860). With the arrival of Charles III of Spain in 1734, the palace became the royal residence of the Bourbons. Upon his marriage to Maria Amalia of German Saxony, Francesco De Mura and Domenico Antonio Vaccaro helped remodel the interior. It was Charles who build the other 3 palaces on the periphery of the city center. Today, the palace and grounds house the Teatro San Carlo, the smaller Teatrino di Corte, the Biblioteca Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele III, a museum, and the regional tourist board.

The Heroine of Gaeta - Maria Sophia of Bavaria

Maria Sophia of Bavaria was the last Queen of the Kingdom of the Two Siciles, who by the age of 19, had been a queen, lost her kingdom, rallied soldiers around her in the hopeless defense of a lost cause, and had had men - even her enemies - writing reams of romantic slush about her. She was “the angel of Gaeta” who would “wipe your brow if you were wounded or cradle you in her arms while you die”. D'Annunzio called her the “stern little Bavarian eagle” and Marcel Proust spoke of the “soldier queen on the ramparts of Gaeta”

She was intelligent, lovely, and headstrong; she could ride a horse and defend herself with a sword. She was everything you could ask for - a combination of Amazon and Angel of Mercy. 

Maria Sophia came from the Bavarian royal House of Wittelsbach, the daughter of Duke Maximilian Joseph of Bavaria and Princess Ludovika. She was the younger sister of the famous Empress Elizabeth (Sissi) of Austria. Like her ravishing older sister, Maria Sophia was said to be ‘unusually beautiful’.

In 1859, Maria Sophia married the soon-to-be King Francis II of Bourbon, the son of Ferdinand II, King of Naples. Within the year, with the death of the king, her husband ascended to the throne and Maria Sophia gave up the frivolous court pursuits of a princess and took on the full-time responsibilities as the queen of a realm on the verge of crisis. 

The Italian peninsula was in the grip of turmoil brought on by a combination of revolution, nationalism and republicanism. People were eager for an Italian unification. Upon their ascension, Francis II and Marie Sophia were already the target for invasion by the army of revolutionary republicans led by Giuseppe Garibaldi.

To avoid bloodshed in the major city of Naples, the king, the queen, and their army retreated to Gaeta to make what turned out to be a last stand. By this time also the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia under King Victor Emmanuel II had joined the fight for Italian unification and lay siege to the stronghold of Gaeta, which eventually overcame the defenders. It was the siege of Gaeta that gained Maria Sophia the reputation that stayed with her for the rest of her life. 

She was constantly on the walls, tireless in her efforts to rally the defenders, giving them her own food, caring for the wounded, encouraging the troops, and shouting defiance at the enemy. She refused the chivalrous offer from the attacking general that if she would but mark her residence with a flag, he would make sure not to fire upon it with artillery. “Go ahead and shoot at me”, she said; “I will be where the men are."  

However, it was a vain and hopeless fight. The King and Queen were forced to give up Gaeta and went into exile in Rome. They were welcomed as honored guests of the Papal court but the position of the Pope was under the same threat that had already befallen their own country. 

On 24 December 1869, after ten years of marriage, Maria Sophia gave birth to a daughter, Maria Cristina Pia. Cristina was born on the birthday of her aunt, Empress Elizabeth, who became her godmother. Unfortunately, the baby lived only three months and died on 28 March 1870. Maria Sophia and her husband never had another child.

In 1870, Rome fell to the forces of Italy, and the King and Queen moved in Bavaria where Francis II died there in 1894. Maria Sophia’s activities were, however, far from over. She continued to preside over a Two-Sicilies court-in-exile and never gave up hope for a restoration of her adopted kingdom. 

During World War I, Maria Sophia was actively on the side of Germany and Austria in their war with Italy. She hoped that the defeat of Italy might to lead to the restoration of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. But that was not meant to be. She went on to see her beloved homeland, the Kingdom of Bavaria, taken up into a united German Empire, and Italy became, irrevocably, a single nation state. She lived to see Mussolini take power in Italy and to see Hitler make his first move in Germany. She was still active enough in her 80s to stand at the window of her apartment in Munich and look at anarchists and police battling in the streets. She wanted "to see if young people of today still have the stuff they had when I was young.”

Maria Sophia died in exile in Munich in 1925. The Italian newspaper il Mattino announced her death, and was praised as ”…one of those European princesses who, with her great gifts, would have had another destiny but for the dramatic events of her times.“

She attracted harsh criticism, but she also generated so much respect and admiration in her long life. Even from those who would be her most extreme political enemies such as the famous Italian ultra-nationalist Gabriele d'Annunzio called her the "stern little Bavarian eagle”. The Queen was buried alongside her husband and their short-lived daughter in the Church of Santa Chiara in Naples.  The sculptress Harriet Homer (who made a sculpture of Maria Sophia) called Maria Sophia “a violet-eyed heroine of Gaeta.“

The Kingdom of Naples (Italian: Regno di Napoli), comprising the southern part of the Italian Peninsula, was the remainder of the old Kingdom of Sicily after the secession of the island of Sicily as a result of the Vespers of 1282. It was officially known as the Kingdom of Sicily, although it did not include the island. For much of its existence, the realm was contested between French and Spanish dynasties. In 1816 it was merged with the island kingdom of Sicily to form the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. The Kingdom of Naples roughly existed from the Middle Ages to 1860. It was often united politically with Sicily. 

Women In History: Queens and Princesses

74) Princess Luisa

Luisa of Naples and Sicily (27 July 1773 – 19 September 1802), was a Neapolitan and Sicilian princess. She was born at the Royal Palace in Naples. Her father was the future King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies and her mother, born Maria Carolina of Austria, was a sister of Marie Antoinette. She was one of eighteen children, seven of whom survived into adulthood.

On 15 August 1790, she married her double first cousin, Archduke Ferdinand of Austria. The wedding ceremony took place in Florence, the capital of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany which her husband had ruled since the beginning of the year. Her husband ruled the Grand Duchy till 1801, when he was forced by Napoleon to make way for the Kingdom of Etruria. 

Luisa died in childbirth the next year at the Hofburg Imperial Palace in Vienna; the princess is buried in the Imperial Crypt with her stillborn son in her arms.

The Oral Church - Its Not What You Think

It’s clear to most outsiders, that the Roman Catholic Church has an important role to play in Italian and Italian-American life. Especially for second generation and beyond Italian-Americans, it’s a part of who we are, and is in our blood.  We’re all christened there, receive our first communions in virginal white,  and play ball for our local CYO.  

I’m now going to take you on a trip, and you won’t need a passport to go.  Hop on.  Next stop is to a small town in Calabria called Pianopoli.  Pianopoli is a place that may as well be stuck a hundred years in the past.  It’s a place where old Southern Italian life goes on today just as it did in 1910.  Cranks and levers work life and the land in an old mechanized way that has long been surpassed by the modern world and its technology.  It’s a place where in every family, extended family comes in from as close as the reaches of this little village and as far as Brooklyn, NY to eat and drink too much, together.

Every Sunday like clockwork, the men gather at the center of town to discuss the affairs of the day.  You know, stuff like: Which teenager is Berlusconi sleeping with now?  Who was just appointed to a position of local importance and how much did they pay for it?  How Reggio could have stayed in Serie A if they just had a better goalkeeper.  All the while these men are smoking their unfiltered cigarettes and drinking their morning cappuccino and afternoon espresso strong enough to make your local Starbucks barista hear your order the first time.  If you know anything about life in the south, you’ll know that their sun rises with cappuccino, and once it reaches its heated mezzogiorno, the only coffee they’ll drink is espresso.  What’s missing for these men?


“But wait, didn’t you just say that the Church was as Italian as pizza pie?”  Yes, but only to half of the population.  The women, but it wasn’t always that way.

For over one hundred years Southern Italian men have avoided the Church like they avoid drinking each other’s wine after losing a game of bocce.  To me, as a historian who has studied in depth the Spanish Inquisition and Latin American History, it’s no coincidence.  It’s fair to say the Catholic Church has always held sway over the hearts and minds of its practicing constituents without always having the best intentions.  Whether they were forcing Jews to renounce their faith or leave in Spain, or forcing the native inhabitants of the Americas to convert or die, their motives were usually based in economics rather than Salvation.  

When the British called the northern Savoy loan in, it also wasn’t a coincidence that they looked south for help.  But Rome wasn’t going to help them directly. Instead, they turned their noses and pointed their fingers and sticky hands beyond the walls of the Vatican and into the rich and lush Southern Kingdom of the Due Sicilie.  

Sitting on five times the amount of gold than under the pope’s hat, Rome knew that if the South were to fall to Savoy, that some of that gold destined for London bankers, Turin’s businessmen, Florentine leaders and Milanese merchants could end up a stone’s throw from the Coliseum and in their pockets as well.  And while Garibaldi and his Red Shirts began their war in Sicily, and within the intelligentsia, the Church offered its assistance in helping win the war over hearts and minds of the Terroni.

In small towns across the South, the local priest held an almost god-like position within the community.  He was more than the spiritual leader.  He was the mayor, healer, and learned one that the villagers had always trusted to give advice and help in any every way, only now the guidance was guided by vatican elite who saw the potential for financial gain if the South would fall, and not what was best for his constituents.  

And so it began, the preaching against a King who never offended the masses of the land and whom American Founding Father James Madison considered a “friend of America”.  Revolution in Paris and other cities in Central Europe sparked anti-royal riots across the continent, and the priests used these as an instrument to ignite more of the same, and a more “democratic” South.  

When it came time to decide whether or not to join a “greater” Italy, the priests’ job was tested.  It was a test they passed with flying colors.  1.7 million voters up and down the penisula voted to join the Kingdom of Italy with the House of Savoy holding power under the tricolor flag that had already been flying in the South before its last King left.  There were only ten thousand dissenting votes.  Job done.  One dynasty for another.  That fateful election set in motion a series of events that would lead the South down a road of poverty, disease, destitution and mass evacuation; a path that a population who remained could easily trace right back to St Peter’s.  They may not have been formally educated, and many may not have been eligible to vote, but these men weren’t stupid.

If you were to ask those old men who gather at the village square in communes throughout the South why they aren’t at Church, you’ll get a similar response that was given by the men in Pianopoli.  Sometime, over a hundred years ago, the local priest, while the men were out working in the fields, had slept with all the women in town.  It was and still remains a common narrative, one of the South’s first post unification urban legends.  

Wives and unmarried daughters had been ruined by the priest who simply couldn’t help himself.  This is in fact the oral history as to why my own family had left their beloved homeland.  One of my proud ancestors simply couldn’t allow the family’s honor to be marked in such a way, so he took it in his own hands to take revenge.  The story goes that my great grandfather’s oldest brother shot the local priest while he was in the backhouse in retaliation, and being shunned by the community, they all left for brighter shores here in New York.  But it was true, metaphorically.  

This metaphor of the priest and the wife even displays itself in Italian-American pop culture.  In HBO’s The Sopranos, while Tony is away with Meadow visiting college during Season 1, the local priest, a notorious food and wine grubber - which also could reflect the role priests may have played during the unification period - spends the night at the Soprano residence with Carmela.  Although nothing sexual ever comes into fruition between the two, the tension is there, and when Carmela reveals to Tony that Father Intentola spent the night, he responds by laughing asking her if they played “name that pope”.  When she tells him that he gave her communion he further scoffs at her  suggestion and says, “he spent the night and all he did was slip you a wafer?”.   

Back to the 1800’s, remember, in the mid-nineteenth century women didn’t vote, and it was soley up to the fellas.  And only a select few of them as well, 2% of the entire population to be precise.  It was the men who were talked into this deal with the devil by people who, to them, were the closest to God.  

Shortly after unification, when things went from bad to worse, the Italian state began to encourage Southerners to leave rather than trying to fix the problem they had created.  Its also when the myth of the South being Italy’s central and endemic problem began.  One didn’t need a formal education to figure out what was happenning.  News of the growth of industry and success up North coincided with the devastation that was obvious all across the South, and all around its people.  That devastation was amplified by outbreaks of disease in urban centers like Napoli and the fact that it was on the back of a tremendous earthquake, one of the worst in the region, shortly before the breakup of the Due Sicilie, that killed over 10,000 in Basilicata alone.  The men knew.  The women didn’t.  So they kept going. 

It just wasn’t polite conversation.  I like to imagine it like the Twelve Oaks party scene in Gone With the Wind.  While the men at the party were smoking cigars, drinking brandy, and talking politics and war, the women were upstairs taking a nap.  Except is wasn’t gentlemen talking about a war of honor, it was hard working, honest men, who needed to have their voices heard louder than they had been in the past that was being discussed.  And that kind of discussion just wasn’t had with women, so it wasn’t mentioned in their company, at the dinner table, or even at mass, where men and women would attend together.  Except now, after figuring out that their most trusted advisors had betrayed them, they turned their backs as well.  But how could they explain it to their women?  

They did it through the language that they knew the fairer sex would understand.  The language of love.  The broken hearted husbands.  The trampled on older brothers.  The poor children.  The dishonored family name.  They all had to now live with this, and how could they go and sit and listen their message anymore?  To the men though, it wasn’t their wives and daughters who were raped by the church, it was something even more precious, but never to be uttered aloud.  Their freedom.  

And they still haven’t forgotten as is evident in the city centers and church pews in Sunday mornings throughout the Mezzogiorno.  

It was also clear with first generation Italian-Americans, whose men, like my great grandfather, also stayed away.  My grandmother and her brothers and sister had to be snuck out by their grandmother and baptized while Leonardo was hard at work, otherwise it never would have happened.  But as the generations came and went, they realized that the reason they had been staying away had since been returned, and so did they, in droves.  We see them on Saturday mornings with baby wrapped in white, on Sundays in April and May as the sun’s warmth begins to be felt again, and on the basketball courts in our parish gyms.

So now that we’re back in America in 2011, what does your Italian American family history have to declare?  I’d love to hear.   

#Neapolitan Mail’s stamp. (Bollo della Posta Napoletana, Grana 2).

Note the horse on the left, symbol of the Neapolitan provinces (all the continental part of what was then the Kingdom of the two Sicilies) and the triskele on the right, symbol of Sicily and the Sicilian provinces, the rest of the Kingdom. At the bottom of these two symbols, we see three fleurs-de-lis, heraldic symbol of the House of Bourbons.  

Why Italian-Americans May Dress As They Do

From a post about how ethnicity dictates how, or how we don’t, dress:

Gladhands, I’m going to quote you here (in response to a post regarding how African American Zoot Suits, aka Steve Harvey Suits, are something many black Americans deem being well dressed, while other more conservative black Americans avoid them) because what you have to say rings true for me as well, except as an Italian-American instead of an African American.

The guido subculture has been something thats been shunned since its inception (the first generations of Italian-Americans who did their best to “Americanize” their immigrant parents customs) and its something I consciously try to avoid when I dress, whether its casual, street wear, or CBD (Conservative Business Dress)-or as CBD as I get. I like you, however, have realized that there is some important cultural significance to this “guido” culture, that as much as they try to disconnect from the old country, that ties directly into the lives their ancestors lived and the reasons those men and women LEFT Italy in their own diaspora.  I’ve concluded that this subculture in fact should be embraced by Italian Americans because our culture is also disappearing, faster than you can say “manigut”. In fact, the topic, not necessarily from a sartorial perspective, will be a pet project of mine that a few SFers and the many Italian American friends I have will be helping me formulate through the sharing of their experiences.

Back to the sartorial, well sort of. My great grandparents came to NY over 120 years ago and when they did, they did everything they could to “become American”, even if it was at the expense of their own culture. This included dressing American, speaking American, and eating American. They became avid NY Giant fans (baseball) and spent much of their little leisure time at the Polo Grounds faking American accents in the cavernous grandstands. Another aspect of the “change-over” was the disassociation with the Roman Catholic/Latin Church. Although still believers on Sunday, much like the conversos and marranos of Spain during the Inquisition, they stayed far away from it during the week.  This is evident today with the millions of “lapsed” Catholics that are out there.

The easiest way they could replace their own culture with an American one however, was to adopt a WASP wardrobe, or strive to dress like those blue blooded Americans who were now migrating outside of city centers and into the lush and green suburbs of Long Island, Westchester, New Jersey and Connecticut. The guidos who stayed, who could easily be identified through their accents and clothes, whether its The Situation on Jersey Shore today, or Tony Manero from Saturday Night Fever 35 years ago, were clearly Italian Americans, clearly urban and clearly Catholic (gold chains with crucifixes or even worse, a St. Anthony medal). Italians who came here wanted nothing to do with a religion that was viewed as archaic and un-American by those suburban blue bloods, and the easiest way to do that in everyday ife was through dress and speech. Even Italian names began to change once in America (my great grandfather went from DonDiego to Bell, and first names became Anglicized, Sebastiano became Steven, Vincenzo became Jimmy). It also probably didn’t help the situation that Church officials top to bottom across the South (formerly the Bourbon Kingdom of the Two Sicilies) were implicit in the brutal oppression that Garibaldi and his cronies laid on the people there in the 1860s. But thats for another blog post…

We as a Protestant-American society look upon people like Mike The Situation with disgust. Abercrombie & Fitch (Can you find any two names more Wonder Bread than those?) even began paying him NOT to wear their clothes, imagine if they made that same offer to an African American reality tv star today? They wouldn’t, because African Americans are not as big a threat to the Protestant American ethos as Roman Catholics. I, however, see someone like Mike and Snookie as holding onto more of their identity, albeit changed over the years, more than most of the Italian Americans who know little of where they come from and instead turn to their Northern oppressors as heros and icons of their culture, which in my mind is the biggest falsehood in Italian American identity. Most of us hail from the South, where we spoke a different language-I wont even call it a dialect. I argue it was as different as Spanish and Portuguese, and aside from linguistics, had a very different culture and way of life.

That different way of life was a polar opposite to the Protestant American Capitalist work ethic and caused the same type of problems within our subculture that we are now seeing in Greece, another Mediterranean culture with whom Southern Italians have much in common, on a global scale.  While the rest of the civilized world looks at the protesting young Greeks as lazy, entitled, and slobbish, I choose a different lens to view them through. I’ll share with you this last story of my Neapolitan family: the Nunziatas came here in 1900, and during the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s they owned a scrap metal business. When the Second World War started they could have made millions, but instead chose to work and get just enough scrap so that they could shut down shop and spend the rest of the day at the beach, or lounging around with their family. At first glance, and most of my own family feels this way today, they would seem lazy and undesirable with a questionable work ethic. But if you look deeper, it was just their way of showing what held more value in their lives. Rather than working all day, and making a ton of money for future generations, they valued the time they had on this earth with their family then, in their present (they were very close), and to them, that was worth more than the dollar bills that could have lined their pockets and bought them expensive wardrobes.

Some will say, with their Protestant American Work Ethic branded on their consciousness and unconscious, that these folks were lazy, entitled bums, just like many are calling the young Greeks today. I argue, that this philosophy, which frustrates a great many Western Capitalist visitors when they go to places like Naples and the Greek Islands (shops closing for the entire month of August, 2 and a half hour lunch breaks, opening at 11, closing at 4), is neither lazy nor entitled, but simply has value placed on other things aside from money and work, a completely different, and perhaps Catholic value system.  Its why the Nunziatas were usually in a pair of trousers and “wife beater” guido undershirts all the time. Because it was the time and people they got to enjoy life with, rather than the “stuff” that we’ve been brainwashed to “need” by our capitalist system that was most meaningful.

Most Italian American try to distance themselves from that culture today, and one way is through how they dress, by consciously avoiding the very style (life and sartorial) that was once the very foundation of who they were, or weren’t.  I think the guidos maybe on to something.  being a father of two, there’s nothing more in life that I enjoy more than spending each second that i do with my children.  While I slave away at a job I don’t enjoy every day, I start to look at things through Snookie and Mike the Situation’s lenses, and I’m starting to think that they may be onto something that is plenty deeper than GT and L.