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View Poll Results: Is Italy and its people more like those of France or Spain?
More like France and the French 6 22.22%
More like Spain and the Spaniards 16 59.26%
Other - depends/describe 5 18.52%
Voters: 27. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 04-16-2012, 11:56 AM
 
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I've often wondered about this. As for the Spanish, their languages are more similar, their looks are more similar, and their histories are intertwined (Columbus being financed by Ferdinand and Isabella, pit-stopping in the Canaries, and buried in Seville...and the Spanish hold on southern Italy for a while, such that some people now have surnames like Martinez, Garcia and Orlando).

But the Italians seem more culturally consumed with the French...you can take English, French and German in Italian HSs, pretty much in that order, but Castilian Spanish is an atypical offering. The French share an actual border with Italy and the Normans also ruled southern Italy, holding Sicily for 200 years, and where some Sicilian words are French-rooted more so than Italian ( acheter (FR)...accatare (Sicil.)... comprare (IT) )...and a whole slew of other examples. Not to mention that the Italians and the French duke it across a spectrum of cultural dimensions: cuisine, fashion, art, design and entertainment.

Take the poll and discuss.
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Old 04-17-2012, 04:23 AM
 
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Italians are closer to Spain because both languages are mutually inteligible. Almost all Italy has been part of Castilian or Aragonese empires during centuries; Milanesado, Naples, the Two Sicilies, etc.

I guess that Italians don't take Spanish at HS because they don't need it, they can get around in Spain speaking Italian. They speak passable Spanish in a couple of months here.

Italians do feel fascination for everything Swiss and Germanic, but they don't have much relation with France except in Provence. Many Italians consider that parts of Provence are Italian (and such areas were occupied by Mussolini).
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Old 04-17-2012, 06:09 AM
 
Location: western East Roman Empire
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Italy is quite the long peninsula, its southern reaches basically form the mid-point of the Mediterreanean, its continental north is like a bridge that connects western and central Europe, and it has quite the long history.

"Either/or" type questions usually do not reflect the way that the world actually works. "Both ... and" is more likely.

Spanish and Italian pronunciation are basically the same, but the respective vocabularies have only about 50% in common, they are mutually intelligible among average speakers by about half, there are very many "false friends" making for at times gross misunderstandings and comic situations, and it requires some study and/or practical experience in situ for a native speaker of one to become fluent in the other. Meanwhile, though Italian and French pronunciations are quite different, they share much vocabulary and many grammatical constructs and idiomatic expressions that Italian and Spanish do not share. Nevertheless, in this case as well, some study and practical experience are necessary for mutual intelligibility.

To be sure, the Sicilian and southern Italian dialects are closer to Spanish than the northern dialects as a whole are closer to French, but Piemontese, a language in its own right, and Valdostano are very close to French (you mention a few vestiges of French in the Sicilian dialect, but there are also a few vestiges of ancient Gallic in some Lombard dialects).

In the industrial era, Italy is much closer to France than to Spain which spent some 40 years in virtual isolation. Just take account of the enormous amount of direct investment between France and Italy, both industrial and financial. You also aptly mention language study, fashion and design. Also worthy of mention is academics (sorry, French cuisine is not worth mentioning).

However, over the past 20 years or so, with the advent of the EU, Spanish-Italian direct investment has increased, for example ENEL in Spain, also Berlusconi in Spanish television (Telecinco), some Spanish banks in Italy, most notably Santander, I believe. Study of the Spanish language among Italians has also increased somewhat.

Further afield, in South America, something like half the population of Argentina is of Italian descent, basically the other half Spanish, and the two have melded; there are plenty of Italian-origin names, for example, in Argentine politics (though the major Italian multinationals have more significant direct investment in Brazil, but probably due to sheer size).

To summarize, Italians overall are more "in tune" with the French than with the Spaniards, i.e. France has a greater influence over Italy than Spain, especially in the industrial era in Europe mainly because France has been one of the leading industrial powers, and everything that goes with it from finance to fashion to academics. Nonetheless there are swathes of the Italian population that are, indirectly, immersed in Spanish, or Hispanic, culture, especially in the Americas, and Spanish influence has re-emerged somewhat in Europe over the past 20 years or so (and especially in the last six months or so with cantagion of the sovereign debt crisis).

Last edited by bale002; 04-17-2012 at 06:27 AM..
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Old 04-17-2012, 06:41 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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Historically, it seems Italy and France influenced each other more. I've always seen Italy as the main cultural influence in Europe right until the Renaissance - basically from when they adopted a lot of Greek culture to Da Vinci and Michelangelo. While the French like to think they are the cultural leaders of Europe, it's really Italy where most of European civilization has developed. Christianity, for instance, spread to Gaul rather early and among the Franks, while Iberia has always seemed slightly more distant from the heart of Rome, especially compared to the south of France which has always struck me as being very much like Italy.

Later on, however, I think the cultures of Spain and Italy grew closer together, especially linguistically. France is the 'outlier' in the Romance language tree. The culture of southern Italy strikes me as closer to Spain - until recently very socially conservative, a strong focus on the family, rural - in contrast to the North, e.g. Lombardy which has always been more developed like France.
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Old 04-17-2012, 06:57 AM
 
Location: western East Roman Empire
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
While the French like to think they are the cultural leaders of Europe, it's really Italy where most of European civilization has developed. Christianity ...
Not really.

When I think of European civilization and culture, I think primarily of France and Germany, not Italy.

When I think of Christianity and Italy, especially from Rome southwards, I think primarily of the Mediterranean, not Europe.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
Later on, however, I think the cultures of Spain and Italy grew closer together, especially linguistically. France is the 'outlier' in the Romance language tree.
Not really.

Culturally, France and Italy grew closer together, much closer, especially in the north, with the onset of the industrial era; in terms of direct investment, they are like New York and New Jersey.

Linguistically, though Portuguese and Spanish share like 95% of their vocabulary, Portuguese pronunciation is closer to French than to Spanish, and, as mentioned, though Spanish and Italian pronunciation are closer than they are to Portuguese and French, French and Italian share much vocabulary and many grammatical constructs and idiomatic expressions that they do not share with Spanish and Portuguese.

The outlier on the Romance language tree is Romanian.
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Old 04-17-2012, 07:22 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bale002 View Post
Not really.

When I think of European civilization and culture, I think primarily of France and Germany, not Italy.

When I think of Christianity and Italy, especially from Rome southwards, I think primarily of the Mediterranean, not Europe.



Not really.

Culturally, France and Italy grew closer together, much closer, especially in the north, with the onset of the industrial era; in terms of direct investment, they are like New York and New Jersey.

Linguistically, though Portuguese and Spanish share like 95% of their vocabulary, Portuguese pronunciation is closer to French than to Spanish, and, as mentioned, though Spanish and Italian pronunciation are closer than they are to Portuguese and French, French and Italian share much vocabulary and many grammatical constructs and idiomatic expressions that they do not share with Spanish and Portuguese.

The outlier on the Romance language tree is Romanian.
Later on France came to the forefront, but I've always viewed Italy as the cultural centre of Europe.
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Old 04-17-2012, 07:36 AM
 
Location: western East Roman Empire
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
Later on France came to the forefront, but I've always viewed Italy as the cultural centre of Europe.
Fair enough, we all have different views.

I've always viewed Italy as the center of the Mediterranean, not Europe, and the Italian city-state period of around 1250-1500 as sui generis, something unique in history, neither especially European nor Mediterranean, perhaps closer to classical Greece (around 600-350BC).

I view the French and Spanish and Austrian invasions of Italy starting around 1500 as something commonly European.

Anyway, in the industrial era, as measured by direct investment, there is no doubt that in Europe, France has had a greater influence over Italy.

However, as measured by sheer population, I agree that culturally many Italians, mainly southern Italians and some northern Italians as well, and their respective diasporas, share many traits in common with the Spanish and their diaspora in southern cone South America and to a lesser extent with other Hispanics.

Last edited by bale002; 04-17-2012 at 07:44 AM..
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Old 04-17-2012, 07:48 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bale002 View Post
Fair enough, we all have different views.

I've always viewed Italy as the center of the Mediterranean, not Europe, and the Italian city-state period of around 1250-1500 as sui generis, something unique in history, neither especially European nor Mediterranean, perhaps closer to classical Greece (around 600-350BC).

I view the French and Spanish and Austrian invasions of Italy starting around 1500 as something commonly European.

Anyway, in the industrial era, as measured by direct investment, there is no doubt that in Europe, France has had a greater influence over Italy.

However, as measured by sheer population, I agree that culturally many Italians, mainly southern Italians and some northern Italians as well, and their respective diasporas, share many traits in common with the Spanish and their diaspora in southern cone South America and to a lesser extent with other Hispanics.
You'd be surprised how much 'high European culture' the French learned from the Italians.

The Vatican, Sistine Chapel, St Peter's Basilica. Catholicism dominates most of Europe and the Vatican is still the spiritual heart.

Dante Alligheri

Michelangelo

Da Vinci

Puccini

Arias, the Operas, classical singing

Classical Arts

The Ufizi Gallery in Florence

Perfumes

Giorgio Armani

Dolce and Gabanna

Prada

Ferrari

Lamborghini


No, of course none of these things define European culture.
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Old 04-17-2012, 08:02 AM
 
Location: western East Roman Empire
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trimac20 View Post
You'd be surprised how much 'high European culture' the French learned from the Italians.

The Vatican, Sistine Chapel, St Peter's Basilica. Catholicism dominates most of Europe and the Vatican is still the spiritual heart.

Dante Alligheri

Michelangelo

Da Vinci

Puccini

Arias, the Operas, classical singing

Classical Arts

The Ufizi Gallery in Florence

Perfumes

Giorgio Armani

Dolce and Gabanna

Prada

Ferrari

Lamborghini


No, of course none of these things define European culture.
Well, actually, quite the opposite, you are reinforcing my view.

With the exception of Dante, all those things on your list are post-1500, when Europe's (i.e. Italy's, Venice's) access to the eastern Mediterranean is significantly restricted for about three hundred years, it more closely intertwines (the Europeans invade Italy, Hapsburghs, e.g.), for a while is relatively enclosed, but it breaks out through the Atlantic, and into the industrial era.

Thanks!

Last edited by bale002; 04-17-2012 at 08:26 AM..
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Old 04-17-2012, 08:19 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bale002 View Post
Well, actually, quite the opposite, you are reinforcing my view.

With the exception of Dante, all those things on your list are post-1500, when Europe's (i.e. Italy's, Venice's) access to the eastern Mediterranean is significantly restricted for about three hundred years, it more closely intertwines (the Europeans invade Italy), for a while is relatively enclosed, but it breaks out through the Atlantic, and into the industrial era.

Thanks!
You said France and Germany were the main cultural influences on Europe (no time period specified). I just refuted the view you stated in that post.
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