Being Italian

I will not be exhaustive. I guess it wouldn’t be possible. My question is: what does it mean to be Italian?

Not that I ever felt Italian, actually. At least as long as I lived in the Country. At the time I loved to argue that, since the Treaty of Osimo was signed only in late 1975, I was not Italian by birth. My grand-grandmother became Italian citizen during the first occupation of the city, by fascist decree. And my grandfather had his name Italianized by law, in the same period. (However, I tend to forget that another grand-grandfather was a Sicilian officer of the occupying Italian Royal Army).

I did not know I was black

It didn’t really matter to me that I was speaking the language, holding the passport and supporting the national football team. Eventually I was not really able to identify any other Country I was belonging to. I guess it was a sentiment shared by most people born in the old Habsburgic city. Just I did not have any national feeling.

Then you move abroad, and people need to categorize you. Not really a problem in the US, where 20% of the population — in spite of have never been in the Country — claim to be Italian, by origin. However, in Sweden I soon discovered “to be Italian”. It reminded me so much of an interview to a guy born in Zaire, who said “I did not know that I was black, until I moved to Europe”.

North, close to Venice

The whole thing become a bit more complicated when from Sweden I moved to Japan. What was I? Italian. Where do you come from? Sweden. Confusing. When I applied for the Alien Registration Card I was asked if “Sweden is a city in North or South Italy”. — North, close to Venice, has been my answer.

So, am I Italian? Maybe I am. Mostly by others defining me as such. I just wonder if I really look like any of the guys in the Jersey Shore show.

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3 responses to “Being Italian

  1. Pingback: I never had a black grilfriend | The Incredible Tide·

  2. Pingback: Italy – Spain, 3 – 2 | The Incredible Tide·

  3. Pingback: Kurdish identity | The Incredible Tide·

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