The cradle of European history - Viva l’Italia
Italy - place of longing and central stage of European history. Hardly any other country is home to so many cultural treasures, dreamlike places and monuments that have endured for centuries. Starting with the Romans, whose buildings such as the Colosseum in Rome give us an idea of the power the former world empire held, to medieval cities with winding alleys such as Perugia or pearls of the Renaissance - above all Florence, where the legacy of the Medici remains clearly visible at every turn.
Venice in the northeast is considered one of the most unique cities in the world, literally built on water and the prosperity of bygone times has not faded yet. The colourful houses of the west coast, which blend picturesquely into the rugged bays, are particularly representative of the romantic character of the country, while the volcano Etna in Sicily, one of the most legendary natural monuments in Europe, stands in complete contrast to them. And in Sardinia, on the other hand, we find mysterious stone towers, which were considered ancient even by the Romans.
The Italian Gastronomy also enjoys world fame and has created the world's most successful culinary export, the pizza. According to a legend, the original pizza was named in 1889 after the Italian queen Margherita of Savoy, who received this honour during her visit to Naples (and where the world's best pizza is still served today). And even though noodles originally come from Asia, the Italian variations à la Bolognese or à la Carbonara are particularly popular.
So, there surely are many reasons to be a proud Italian (yes, we know they even won this year's European Soccer Championship...)!
But since when does "Italy" exist?
It may sound strange, but a unified country by this name has only existed since 1861, after it was militarily unified. The centuries-long division of the Apennine Peninsula is particularly noticeable in the country's numerous dialects, starting with Sicilian in the south, which has even been influenced by Arabic, along with French and Catalan.
The Neapolitan and Sardinian dialects are considered to be just as different from the standard language, and even native Italians from other regions understand close to nothing.
Although none of the dialects corresponds exactly to standard Italian, the Florentine variant is probably the closest one. The so-called "tre corone" (three crowns), meaning the three poets Dante Alighieri, Francesco Petrarca and Giovanni Boccaccio, all came from Florence and have significantly influenced modern Italian with their monumental works of literature. However, it took until the 19th century for a consensus to be reached on which language should be the one used by all Italians. The template for a unified Italian was finally provided by Alessandro Manzoni with his novel "I Promessi Sposi".
In fact, in 1950, only 20% of Italians claimed to be fluent in the standard, which is why in the 1960s the television program "Non è mai troppo tardi" (it's never too late) was launched, where viewers would learn Italian with their TV teacher Alberto Manzi.
Even today, most young people still speak their regional dialect in addition to standard Italian.
One country - many facets
The differences are also expressed in the customs of the individual regions - while the north is culturally quite close to the Alpine area and the mentality there also seems to resemble that of Germany, the south is home to chaotic road traffic and a relaxed lifestyle.
Only in Rome everything seems to collide and merge into a wonderful ensemble - as the famous saying goes: All roads lead to Rome!
We are especially looking forward to this virtual run because we have many VirtualRunners members especially in Italy.
Picture 1 : Heidi Kaden via unsplash
Picture 2 : Damiano Baschier via unsplash
Picture 3 : Brenna Huff via unsplash
Picture 4 : Nicole Reyes via unsplash