Well, I’m personally excited because today we cover the country where one quarter of my heritage comes from … ITALIA!!! There’s no such thing as a single type of Italian. People from Sicily would almost need a translator to understand people in Veneto. Napoli looks incredibly different from Milano. And people from South Tyrol are like ”Uhh warum sind wir hier?” Italy has definitely made its mark. And today we jump in. [IN ITALIAN] Va bene? Cominciamo!!! [intro] Hey everybody, I’m your host Barbs, derived from my last name Barbato, which translates to ”beard man” I’m serious Hey laugh all you want, but that just means I am might related to Scipio Africanus Barbatus, the guy who defeated Hannibal in, I think, the Second Punic War So, HA, I got victory in my blood. Now I’m probably related to some ancient guy that sold barley or something, Barley that was eaten by Scipio Africanus Barbatus who defeated Hannibal, so YES I still got it, I basically defeated Hannibal. But where was Hannibal defeated? Let’s find out in … POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY In Italy it’s all about ”tutte le strade portano a Roma”. First of all, Italy is that boot-shaped country kicking two deflated soccer balls located in Europe at the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, bordered by France, Switzerland, Austria and Slovenia in the north and two microstates are completely engulfed within Italy, the Vatican City and San Marino, which is like the easiest country to sneak into, like seriously, there’s a japanese restaurant and a sports store next to the entrance with no guards. With two, this makes Italy the country with the most other countries enclaved inside of it! South Africa was so close with Swaziland, but then Mozambique had to exist. Oh and there was a time Reggio tried to secede from Italy back in the 70’s which almost made it three, but that’s a whole other story, just look it up. The country is divided into 20 regions with the capital Rome. 5 of the regions have special autonomous status: Sardinia, Sicily, Trentino-Alto or Sud Tiroll, otherwise known as South Tyroll, the Aosta Valley and Friuli-Venezia Giulia. The country’s largest cities are of course the capital Rome, then Milano and Napoli, with the busiest airports being Rome Leonardo Da Vinci Fiumicino Milan Malpensa and Bergamo Caravaggio international airports. In addition to the two largest islands Sicilia and Sardegna, the country owns over 350 islands off its coast. Finally, there’s that land dispute with France over the summit of Mont Blanc and a small little 2,5 km long enclave in Switzerland called Campione d’ Italia, which is kinda like a special spot exempt from the EU value added tax zone, which makes sense, because it has Italy’s largest casino. Phew, Italy, you got some complication manatics going on. The funny thing is modern Italy once even tried to take a step at colonialism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with areas stretching from the Balkans, northern Africa and the horn of Africa including a short kind of occupation of Ethiopia, but didn’t last that long ’cause the Ethiopians fought back relentlessly and to this day it’s back to the boot with two deflated soccer balls. Guys, I convert metric for you, but I call it soccer, OK? The Canadians, South Africans, Australians, Kiwis, Japaneses and parts of Ireland and the Philippines and Papua – New Guinea all agree with me, OK? It’s not just Americans that call it soccer. [Italian] We call it ”calcio” Phhh OK good luck with that Now this is the part where I typically go down the list of notable sites found in Italy, however the problem is there are literally too many. I’m not even joking. Italy has more heritage sites than any other country in the world that over 50. We all know about the big guys, I’m not gonna mention most of them, instead through my extensive research here are some obscure lesser known yet equally fastening spots: The dining table of Billa Lante, the Bomarzo Horror Garden, Ai Pioppi, a theme park made of rides that require your own kinetic energy to operate, the Necropolis of Banditaccia, La Scarzuola monastery, the free wine fountain of Cammino di San Tomasso, let that just thinking … free wine, the relics of Jesus’ Apostotle St. Thomas, the geothermal waterfalls of Tuscany, the sunken city of Baia, the cliffside town of Sant’ Agata De Goti, the sulfuric fields of Pozzuoli, that fortress built by that crazy guy, the Urbania mummies, the Chiusdino sword in the Stone, the 9 layer maze of Villa Pisani, the road of 52 tunnels, the pyramid zone of Castello, the Incantato Heads carved by a crazy guy. There are a lot of monuments made by crazy people. And of course way too many castles, fortresses, churches, monasteries, museums and ancient sites to list, but you got the point. Now let’s BLAST OFF like a volcano, which Italy has, into the next chapter, shall we? PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY Now we all know that Italy is insanely beautiful and so many areas, everybody wants to see it, I mean even Mr. and Ms. Information went there on the honeymoon … you’re welcome … First of all, Italy’s beauty comes at a cost. The country lies just above the convergence of the Eurasian and African plates in the Mediterranean, but also on the Appenine or Appenini thrust fault line that smashes into western Europe and that’s how the Alps were formed. Basically the Alps make like a barrier in the north with the Appenini mountains running along the entire length of the country as like a scupi spine, until it technically ends in the island of Sicilia. Because Italy’s mountains are volcanic fault formed it has created some amazing natural formations, like the Dolomiti rocks, the steep sides of lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy, the Umbria Valleys, the angelating hills of Tuscany. This also means that Italy is kinda split in half east and west, with a major lush bassin locked in the north that receives an abundance of fresh snow melt creating rivers, like the longest one, the Po river located in the avenient Po valley. This valley extends about 650 km (400 miles) all the way from the French border to the Adriatic Sea, which ends in the little stand you may have heard of called Venezia or Venice. This also means that Italy is a volcanic country. To this day there are about 30 volcanoes, 3 known active ones, Etna, Stromboli and the famous Vesuvius making it the most densely populated and potentially deadly volcanic region in the world. It’s like, yeah, I know I could die, but oh man the pizza here is totally worth it. Speaking of which, about a quarter of the land is arable allowing them to grow lots of food. I’m sure you’re fully aware of the typical italian dishes however each region kind of specializes in a certain cuisine. In the north, you have foods like polenta, gnocchi, white truffles, Liguria has great pesto and in South Tyroll you have germanic inspired dishes like Knödel dumplings and strudel. In the center, you have things like lasanga, boar, artichokes, lamb, steak, gelato, pasta which comes in over 600 variations and indisputably the best wine is in Toscana. The south is the PIZZA KINGDOM and Napoli is like the capital. Sardinia is known for those cool cheese fritter dumpling things. Italy enjoys a mild, mediterranean climate, only snowing in the north and high altitude areas. Now despite deforestation and pollution being an issue and Venice flooding almost every year now, Italy is actually the most fauna-biodiverse country in Europe with over 57,000 species recorded. That’s about the third of all european fauna. About 48 hundred are endemic like the sardinian red deer, the italian cave salamander, the alpine marmot, marsican brown bear, the crested porcupine and the national animal, the italian wolf. Otherwise as the 8th largest nominal GDP in the world and the 8th largest exporter Italy’s economy is heavily driven off of industry and productions, specifically in luxury items. Major world renowned companies like Fiat, Lamborghini, Ferrari, Maserati, Ducati, Pirelli, Armani and Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci and Prada are key players in keeping Italy in flow. In many ways there’s kind of like a sense of class that almost expected with being Italian. No matter how intense things may get, you know just watching you with your shoes unpolished. Which brings us to … DEMOGRAPHICS Now being Italian, we’ve all heard the stereotypes: loud, passionate, hand gesturing, bad driving, temperate sense of clean freaks that never follow the rules and as offensive as that may sound it’s kind of based off of truth. BUT with good reasoning. We’ll explain in a bit, but first … Italy has about 61 million people in their country and they are the 3rd most populous country in the EU after the whole Brexit thing and the 6th in all of Europe. Getting the exact ethnic makeup in Italy is a little difficult, because Italy is a lot more diversed than you would think. About 92% of the country identifies as ethnically Italian although keep in mind that’s kind of a broad term considering how many different types and shades of Italian there are. But nonetheless Italian. Whereas about 2% are Romanian, 1% North African and the rest of the country is made up of a slew of global people groups, everything from Albanian, Eritrean, Chinese and Ukrainians. They also use the Euro, the type C plug outlet and they drive on the right side of the road. Now when it comes to Italy it basically comes down to two thing: north and south Southerners like to joke and they call northerners ”Polentoni” based off the polenta that they eat and likewise northerners like to call southerners ”Terroni” which I actually don’t even know where that’s based off of. My research kinda ended there. If you know, type it in the comments. Basically the north is like where all the financial districts and stereotypical operi, preppy people live whereas the south is kinda like where the rustic, tough people live. Plus you know the south is kind of like Mafia territory. Oh come on everybody already knows it. You have the Cosa Nostra in Sicilia, the Ndrangheta in Calabria, the Camorra in Campania, the Sacra Corona Unita in Puglia. Don’t worry though if you visit as a tourist you should be fine it’s not much of a big deal anymore. I mean unless you start a mob war by yourself nothing will pretty much happen. So NO STARTING MOB WARS, OK? Got it? There are so many different dialects in sub-groups like South Tyrol mostly speaks German kind of, Aosta Valley speaks French, sort of No, but seriously the standard Italian language spoken and taught today is based off the Florentine version of Tuscan Italian which is kinda like an intermediate between the Gallo-Romance dialects of the north and the Italo-Dalmatian dialects of the south. This all happen because prior to Italian unification the country was split between multiple kingdoms and states, each with their own semi-latin based language which made communication a little bit of a challenge. For example in standard Italian you might say ”Di dove sei?”, but in Sicilian ”Di unni si?” In standard: Ciao, come stai, tutto bene?, but in Venetian: Come vala? Tut ben? In standard: forchetta, in Lombard: Perù? This is one of the reasons why Italian is attributed to the creation of the famous italian hand gestures. People who would travel barely 50 km and find themselves in a hard to understand dialect region. So essentially they had to kinda get their point across fast. There’s a saying that Italians have ”L’arte di arrangiarsi” or ”the art of arranging”. which translates to something like ”the art of figuring out on your own”. When words fail, hands succeed! There’s no specific code, but some generally accepted gestures include things like: Mi dispiace Sei pazzo! Bere vino! Belissimo! Delizioso! Stai attento? Ma cosa dici? Perfetto and Fare le corna Speaking of social backround we don’t have enough time to explain the entire history of Italy, but in the quickest way I can put it. Etruscans, Romans, Christianity, ridiculous amount of separate kingdoms and feudal states, barbarian invasions, Byzantines, medieval kingdoms, Renaissance, Napoleonic invasions, Sardinia – Piedmont unifies Italy after 3 independence wars or 4 depending on who you ask, mass emigration to other countries begins, WWI, Fascism, WWII, Resistance movement, after-war economic boom, 2008 crisis which brings us here today. Basically the epicenter of ancient Rome was here hence the capital being named Rome. Speaking of which even though the Italian monarchy ended long ago, there are still two descendants that still exist today acting as heir apparents. The Catholic church has played a major role in Italy even to this day. Almost every single town has at least one church. About 88% of the country identifies as Catholic, however only a third say they are active practisioners on a weekly basis. And one of the reasons why Italy has made such a univesal mark is partially because between the late 1800s and the early 1900s Italy experienced a mass emigration in which over the years around 25 million left. This is considered the largest mass migration of contemporary times. Suddenly you have new communities of Italians all over the world in places like Brazil, Argentina, the US, UK and France. Oh wow, this video is running long and I can’t even get to talk about the deadly Calcio Florentino game of Florence or the Santa Maria delle Grazie snake festival, Opera Pupi in Sicilia. So many cool things, but we gotta move on. Some notable people either from Italy or of Italian descent might include people like: Cicero, Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Dante Alighieri, Niccolò Machiavelli, Donatello, Caravaggio, Galileo Galilei, Christopher Colombus, Amerigo Vespucci, Marco Polo, Niccolò Paganini, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Luigi Pirandello, Federico Fellini, Luciano Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, Umberto Eco, Sophia Lorren, Valentino Rossi, Roberto Baggio, Monica Bellucci, Silvio Berlusconi, Enzo Ferrari, Donatella Versace, Giorgio Armani. Mainstream American artists of Italian descent might include so many stars like: Frank Sinatra, Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Sylvester Stallone, Leonardo Dicaprio, Steve Buscemi, Quentin Tarantino, Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, even Nicholas Cage has some Italian descent. Again Italian people have such a strong and solid history and culture, but what is the rest of the world think of them? And what do they think about their neighbors? Wow that brings us to … FRIENDZONE Italy is a really great guy once you get to know him. But that’s just the thing, you gotta warm up to them, al dente style. First of all, France is like their best frenemy. They smile at each other, but secretly they always try to compete with who has the highest class in elegance. They also hate the fact that France has Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Nonetheless, with historical bumps like WWII, they still cooperate well today. Argentina is like the adoptive daughter that they sent to Spanish boarding school, but they still fiercely refuse to make friends with their neighbors. As mentioned in the Argentina video, the majority and largest demographic of people in Argentina have Italian heritage and they love doing business with Italy. Malta and San Marino are kinda seen as like their little sons that they love helping out even thought San Marino is like way older than the modern unified state of Italy, but that’s besides the point. They think it’s cute how Malta speaks their own language that kinda have incorporated Italian words and San Marino is like their good luck charm who more or less has always been peaceful and drama free since the 4th century. Of course the Vatican is like a unique player that they pay their respects to, but will not give the opportunity to rise another empire and hence they keep them confined in the basilica grounds. In terms of their best friends though literally every Italian I talked to has said the exact same two countries: Greece and Spain. As mentioned in the Greece episode they live by the ”una faccia, una razza” rule. One face, one race. These three countries make the trinity of the Mediterranean. You know it’s gonna be a good time when you put a Spaniard and a Greek and Italian in the same room. Nothing can stop them! They own the seas, they trade, they share stories, they drink together, they marry the crop out of each other. In conclusion, for centuries Italy has been a beacon of art, literature, fashion, architecture, history, religion, cuisine, traditions & landmarks to the rest of the world. And personally I’m proud to be a part of it. But most importantly I’m proud that my barley-selling bearded ancestors basically killed Hannibal and saved the universe. And I get to take at least 40% of their credits. So basically I SAVED THE UNIVERSE. Totally true, not made up, 100% fact. Stay tuned. The Ivory Coast is coming up next!