• What would Italy have been without Mike Bongiorno...

    Italy is rife with regionalism

    Let me explain 
    The other day I was talking with some friends on twitter about how foods in particular are considered to be hits in one place and misses in another. But it had me thinking, aside from food (which we know is the lifeline of Italy) everything in Italy is entrenched in it's own regionalism.

    I'm not talking about North and South
    No, no. This is more than the divide of North (anywhere considered above Rome) and South (anywhere considered below Rome) - where does this leave Rome precisely; anyway, Italy is more than the North/South divide. It's whole context is regional.

    The influences of regionalism occur in everything. Look at Puglia and how that has been shaped by the greco-turkish invasions. Sicily which was a North African colony. Le Marche which had the influence of the Etruscans. Naples which was a Basque city until some 500 years ago.

    Who was Mike Bongiorno 
    So Mike Bongiorno was one of the first faces on Italian TV. An American/Italian he along with Television at the time united Italy in creating the basis of the modern day spoken language; by this, not only I but a lot of historians will point out that before TV and Mr Bongiorno came along, dialects were still the spoken tongue of the land. Someone travelling from Naples to Milan would sometimes struggle to understand what was being said. (If you understand Italian, this clip is quite simply genius...Toto e Peppino a Milano).

    What Mike Bongiorno did was initiate the basic principle that Italian, not dialect should be spoken, everyone would in effect be getting an equal voice. To think it took an American/Italian to do this is remarkable!

    Effectively what he did was create a standardised Italy. Don't believe me? Here's a perfect example of regionalism...Chiacchiere.

    A typical biscuit/sweet pastry associated with Carnevale. But did you know that it also called (wait for it);

    bugie (Genova, Torino, Asti, Imperia), italianizzazione del ligure böxie; cenci o crogetti (Toscana) chiacchiere; (Basilicata, Sicilia, Campania, Lazio, Umbria, Puglia, Calabria, a Milano, Sassari e Parma) cioffe; (Sulmona, centro Abruzzo) cróstoli o cróstołi (Ferrara, Rovigo, Vicenza, Treviso, Trentino, Friuli, Venezia Giulia); crostoli o grustal (Ferrara); cunchiell' o qunchiell (Molise) fiocchetti (Montefeltro e Rimini) frappe (Roma e Ancona) gałàni o sosole (Venezia, Verona, Padova)gale o gali (Vercelli e Bassa Vercellese) guanti (Caserta) gròstołi o grostoli (Trento) intrigoni (Reggio Emilia) lattughe o latǖghe (Mantova) maraviglias (Sardegna) rosoni o sfrappole (Modena, Bologna, Romagna); sfrappe (Marche); sprelle (Piacenza); risòle (Cuneo e sud del Piemonte)

    Who knew that eggs, flour and bit of sugar could have so many different names? Now, if that wasn't bad enough, I dare you to go to a pasticceria in Venice and ask them if their crostoli are anything like the fiocchetti you once had in Rimini. The answer would be, no.

    And this is the thing with regionalism, it's not just a question about names of products, it is the way the whole approach to creating something local to the land, region and even village takes over. Italy is unique in a lot of ways doing this. Put it this way, I'm from Campania, the region home to Naples. My maternal grandparents are from the same region, only they are in the mountains and approx 40km from my paternal village. 40km and I can't stand the Pizza in the maternal village. Why? "Because it isn't the same."

    And this is Italy. It's basis in a lot of ways, the things that make it stereotyped is because of the modern culture influenced through three/four generations of TV, thanks to the likes of Mike, but it's real essence is that this basis is expanded upon because of the regionalism. It's almost as if you are adding layers to a cake, some regions will have lots, others, a lot more.

    So what would Italy look like without the influences of Mike Buongiorno? No one knows, but one thing is certain, Italy couldn't be Italy without it's regionalism, and vice versa.

    p.s. Grazie Mike!

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