The term ‘Italia” refers to the Italian Peninsula, which is part of the European continent and in the Mediterranean Sea. Its people are Italian, an ethnic group with many shared cultural traditions, heritage and language. Yet, throughout the peninsula there is a variety in music, foods, customs, traditions from the northern end of Italy to the southern extreme.
Italians in Italy are national citizens and could be of a non-ethnic Italian descent. The majority of the population are of true Italian heritage. Over the centuries many native Italians have moved and settled in other parts of the world. In the countries of Brazil and Argentina, there is a huge population of Italian descent. Also, in North America, millions of people are of Italian heritage.
In examining Italian genealogy, it was from the 1880s until the 1950s that most of Italy’s migration was to the United States. Large Italian communities were established in New York City, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Philadelphia and San Francisco. They assimilated into American culture over the decades, but influenced America food, music and entertainment.
The Latin-based language spoken by Italians is the Romance language of Italian. Approximately 70 million people around the world speak Italian.
Italians for centuries have been known for their great classic architectural styles. From the classic Roman, to Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque to Neo-Classical, their styles have stood the test of time.
Italian have produced great artists, inventors and geniuses such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Galileo Galilei, Bernini, Giovanni Domenico Cassini and Giuseppe Verdi. The people know and respect their ancient history and take pride in the many accomplishments over the centuries.
Over time Italians have been tied to their land in agriculture, a time-honored tradition. The people in rural or urban areas enjoy gathering in the piazzas or in a restaurant to meet with family and friends. Sharing glasses of wine, cheese and Italian cuisine makes Italians happy. Italian dishes benefited from the introduction of tomatoes, peppers, corn and potatoes which came from North America. Each region of Italy has its specialty dishes. All using pasta, mozzarella, garlic, olive oil and tomatoes in the ingredients. Italian vineyards produce one-fifth of the world’s wines.
Most of the Italian people practice the Roman Catholic faith. The heart of the Catholic Church is located in Vatican City, which is in the center of the city of Rome. Some native Italians are of the Protestant religions, about 2 percent of the population and about 1 percent belong to the Eastern Orthodox church. In recent times immigrants from North Africa have come to Italy and are of the Islamic religion.
Italians have mixed with some neighboring regions, an important note in Italian genealogy. In northern Italy there are populations of German-Italians and French-Italians. In the southern area they are Albanian-Italians and Greek-Italians.
Family and social life are the heart of Italian society. It provides a stabilizing influence on family members. Many generations can live in the same household to share responsibilities. The same feeling of being close was exhibited in the numerous Italian communities and neighborhoods that developed in the United States during the massive immigrates to America.
Providing a good first impression is an important behavior for Italians. The concept of ‘bella figura’ or good image is foremost to Italians. People are also judged by their clothing and sense of style.
The many festivals held throughout the year provide times for celebrations. Such activities will include food, wind, music and dancing. It is common for several people to talk, tell a story, laugh or argue all at the same time.
A high level of respect and deferring to those who are older is often done. Activities tend to be done at a leisurely, steady pace. Italians are considered warm, welcoming people who enjoy sharing the pleasures of life with others.