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Old 11-19-2012, 10:19 AM
 
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There's this idea that Italians are all very tan, always have brown/black hair, and rarely have light colored eyes.

How true is this though? I've seen a lot of Italians who could easily be from England or even Scandinavia. Do people in Italy really look that much different from people in the United Kingdom or Germany, on average? Genetically speaking, all Europeans are relatively speaking quite close.

 
Old 11-19-2012, 11:41 AM
 
Location: Hong Kong / Vienna
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It heavily depends on the region, but even then things are not that clear. People from northern Italy tend to look like their neighbors to the north, people in the south rather like "classic" southern Europeans.

If you are crossing the boarder from Austria and get into South Tyrol you don't notice any differences.
A friend of mine from Milano has red hair... he told me that he gets the English menu when going to a restaurant in Rome. My aunt from Siena also doesn't really look like a stereotypical Italian from some movies/advertisements.

So yeah... The "idea" you mentioned depends on where in Italy you go.
 
Old 11-19-2012, 02:52 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by belmont22 View Post
There's this idea that Italians are all very tan, always have brown/black hair, and rarely have light colored eyes.

How true is this though? I've seen a lot of Italians who could easily be from England or even Scandinavia. Do people in Italy really look that much different from people in the United Kingdom or Germany, on average? Genetically speaking, all Europeans are relatively speaking quite close.
They do TEND to look different from most other Europeans. Most of the time I can pick out the "classic" Italian if at the supermarket and whatnot. What I call the "hound dog eyes" seem to be reserved for Italians and Greeks (think Stallone).

However, there stereotype about location and are appearance are mostly true. Generally, in the north, pushed up against the Dolomites, they tend to look like those of adjacent countries, being Austria, Switzerland, and France. In the south, it's generally dark hair, dark eyes, and a minimally darker skin tone, but not by much. They might look more like those of the countries of Europe you would have to sail across to, being Greece and Spain, who have been invaders and suppliers of the gene pool. In the center of the country, it's a blend zone. In fact, if the olive coloring is pronounced, they will say "una persona mora," which means a dark(er) complected person as a way to describe a friend, relative, or the counter you need to walk over to for assistance.

There are exceptions. You may get the more stereotypical person in the north, and who is from the north. The dominant genes probably took hold. In the very south of the country, such as Sicily, about 15% to 20% of the population defies the stereotype. Between 1100 and 1300, King Roger from Normandy ruled Sicily from Palermo. My parents are from there. I've got the darkest shade of brown hair, a medium complexion, and light colored eyes, but that's the prevalent look on both sides of my family. That's why when I go to Sicily, they think I'm from either the UK or France. It pisses me off because it's sort of like your own place of origin can't pick you out as one of their own. After I banter with them for a while, it becomes obvious I've got roots there. This last summer, after handing me the keys to a rental car, the guy then said to me "I had a feeling you were a 'local'." Now we're talking. He probably wouldn't say that to most Sicilian-Americans who are on vacation because they don't have the pulse of the place.

The stereotypes are true, with exceptions of anywhere up to 20% still being seen at the extreme north and south of Italy. There's one hell of an anthropological tapestry running through there, being a peninsula jutting out into the middle of the Mediterranean.
 
Old 11-19-2012, 03:41 PM
 
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Old 11-19-2012, 07:02 PM
 
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Aside from the African guy, on that soccer team picture, only a few are not READILY identifiable as Italian - with two being in the top row and one being in the front row. With the others, those are variants of a standard, but not media/ stereotypical, Italian face. Even with the ones who were excluded, it's possible that they could be Italian. However, soccer teams do pull in foreign nationals. Correct about the nose observation. Italians, and folks from the Med, tend to have noses with a more prominent bridge.
 
Old 11-19-2012, 11:36 PM
 
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This is a typical look of an Italian-Italain male in Central Italy and was born on the boot. He is currently very active in film and popular over there. So, here's someone who is not stereotypical,but very much a classic Italian face around Rome.

Riccardo Scamarcio - typical younger Italian actor:
ttp://www.programmazionecinema.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/riccardo-scamarcio.jpg
 
Old 11-20-2012, 12:34 AM
 
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I live in the far north. There are certainly blonds, but not "blond blond" if you know what I mean. True blonds like you'd see on the other side of the Alps are pretty rare (but not unknown), it's more like a dirty blond. There is the occasional redhead as well. Most people have darkish hair with skin tones ranging between light olive to brown. However, the south is indeed darker; I went to Napoli and the difference was striking, even when compared to Rome (which still has a bit more of a mix). I'm half Mexican with jet black hair and often get mistaken for a southerner; when I went to Napoli, dudes trying to sell me stuff kept calling me "paisano", which is a term that a southerner would only use to refer to a fellow southerner.
 
Old 11-20-2012, 04:48 AM
 
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Most Western Europeans are closely related, cousins. I guess that the only different people are those people that came from the Urals and Far East Asia at the end of the Roman Empire. Hungarians, Bulgarians, etc.
 
Old 11-20-2012, 08:03 AM
 
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Northern Italians generally look quite Central European. Southern Italians look more like Greeks, especially in Sicily and Calabria. People in the central provinces have their own unique "Italic" type of look that can really go in either direction but there is a distinctive Italian look regardless. I'd actually argue that if you exclude the far south and the islands, many Italians don't even have a distinctive "Southern European" appearance, and I perceive Italians as a whole as looking less distinctly Southern European than say, the Portuguese.

Most Italians are not as dark as what people from abroad think. The stereotypical Italian American look generally comes from Sicily and Calabria and overlaps with Greek appearances. But it's important to note that, as a Sicilian American, I can generally say that a minority of the population will be significantly lighter in Sicily (10-20% will be blonde with blue eyes) and another small minority of the population will have an appearance that can be mistaken for Lebanese or Armenian.. but MOST Sicilians just look Italian or Greek.


Quote:
Originally Posted by robertpolyglot View Post
They do TEND to look different from most other Europeans. Most of the time I can pick out the "classic" Italian if at the supermarket and whatnot. What I call the "hound dog eyes" seem to be reserved for Italians and Greeks (think Stallone).
Yes, this is true as well. I have them myself. It's one of the reasons that, being half Sicilian and almost half Portuguese, people will say I don't look quite typical for Portuguese. Eyes like that are a Neolithic trait.. you find them in Armenians and people from West Asia as well.

Last edited by virulentpeach; 11-20-2012 at 08:20 AM..
 
Old 11-20-2012, 06:11 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by virulentpeach View Post
Eyes like that are a Neolithic trait.. you find them in Armenians and people from West Asia as well.
Yes, that's true. Aside from the Italians and the Greeks, I have in fact seen them on Armenians and Iranians. However, on people from those countries, there are some features I can't describe, but I can still identify their general area of ancestry. Neolithic is my new word for the day. I'll eventually look it up.
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