101 Italy on Trail – The Basics! A Bit of History

by Maria E. Bellini

If you’ve visited different parts of Italy, you wouldn’t be misjudged if you privately considered the country to be made up of twenty, separate, smaller countries. Differences between regions can be huge.
You may have noticed a strong regional pride that lays firmly rooted in the Italians. And if you’ve chatted to any Italians outside of Italy, you may have noticed that it’s quite common for an Italian to prefer to declare his or her region of origin over nationality. So a person from Apulia may choose to say that he or she is a ‘Pugliese’ (from Apulia) rather than simply saying, “I’m Italian.”

So why are the Italians so low on a national sense of ‘Italian-ness’ and high on regional identity?

To understand the strong sense of regional and provincial pride that often seems to be intrinsic to Italians we have to look at the country’s past. Italy has always been a country of geo-political turmoil and after the fall of the Roman Empire the geographical expanse of lands that we today call “Italy” came under the rule of many different tribes, cultures and political forces that governed what became Italy’s separate states, for many centuries.
All these entities left a solid imprinting on most aspects of everday life: buildings, art, language, culture, tradition, food, social identity and mentality.

The Italian flag in Italy is also known as the 'tricolore' - which means three colours

We have to look at recent history to see when Italy came to be, as one country. It wasn’t officially until the 19th Century, when events brought about under the movement known as the Risorgimento, led by Giuseppe Garibaldi, produced the Unification of Italy with the declaration of the Kingdom of Italy on March 17th, 1861. And it was only in that same year that the red, white and green flag was adopted as a the Italian flag.

20 regions – 20 identities!

  • North-East:
    Emilia Romagna, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Trentino-Alto Adige, Veneto.
  • North-West:
    Aosta Valley, Liguria, Lombardy, Piedmont.
  • Centre:
    Lazio, Marche, Tuscany, Umbria.
  • South:
    Abruzzo, Apulia, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Molise.
  • Islands: Sardinia, Sicily.

A short animation on the Italian Unification

Maria E. BelliniMaria Elisabetta Bellini is Italyontrail.com’s founder, born in the U.K, she came to running whilst living in Italy, where she still lives and trains. Never ceasing to marvel at what’s at the summit of a hill, or around the bend along the trail, she loves using trail running as a means to explore nature, contemplation and Italy.

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