Stereotypes (and insults) among Italian REGIONS

Surely you know many stereotypes about Italians, for example that they are always late, they gesticulate while speaking or that they are very loud. These things are partially true. However, that’s how foreigners see Italians. But…do you know what Italians think about themselves? No? That’s good, you are about to find it out!

The Most Common STEREOTYPES among Italians

Most of the stereotypes among Italians are about the inhabitants of a city or even of an entire region and sometimes they are a bit mean.

For starters, many Italians still notice the very marked difference between the North and the South of the country. So much that the inhabitants of the North usually call (in a negative way) Southerners as terroni, which comes from the concept of the South as an underdeveloped territory where people lived off agriculture and plantation of the land. In turn, the inhabitants of the South call the Northern polentoni, since polenta in the past was the basic nourishment of Northern people’s diet.

After this introductive division, let’s see how Italians consider other Italians, city by city.

1 – MILAN

Let’s start with one of the most popular Italian cities, Milan. Let’s say that this one doesn’t have a good reputation in Italy: locals, the so-called Milanese, are often considered as cold people, always rushing and presumptuous. However, there are also some positive stereotypes about them, such as the fact that they are trustworthy: if they promise or say something, they’ll do it.

2 – ROME

Let’s go on to the beautiful Italian capital, Rome. Generally, Italians don’t have strong stereotypes on Roman, the inhabitants of Rome, but locals have stereotypes among themselves, in particular, among young people, it is felt the difference between “pariolini” of the North of Rome and “bori” of the South of Rome. In short, it is said that “pariolini” are richer and show off their richness through clothes, cars and expensive jewelry, apart from being arrogant. “Bori”, instead, dress up with less fancy brands, they are forced to use public transport and speak very often Roman dialect.

3 – BOLOGNA

About Bologna, this town often gets three nicknames: Dotta, Grassa, Rossa. From these three nicknames you can deduce the stereotypes linked to its inhabitants, the so-called Bolognese : they are cultured people (Bologna hosts the most ancient University of the Occidental world, which dates back to 1088); they eat very well (tortellini, tigelle, mortadella, ragù, piadina, just to mention some of them); they are communists (red is the color generally associated to the Communist party). 

4 – VENETO

Let’s move on to Veneto, intended as a region. Normally the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Veneto is alcohol (Prosecco and Spritz, to mention some). In the rest of Italy, as a consequence, it is said that Venetians, the inhabitants of Veneto, are drunkards and alcoholics. However, be careful: according to the data of the Italian Ministry of Health, Venetians do not rank first among the “drinkers” in Italy, the leaders are the inhabitants of Friuli Venezia Giulia and those of Trentino Alto-Adige. 

Rumor has it that the Venetian curse a lot, thus they use swearing and profanity about deities and other religious aspects. As a matter of fact, many locals have the habit to use cursing in the middle of the sentence, as filler words, with no intention to offend. It is also common to hear that they are racists, because of the fact that in Veneto the League was born, which is an ultra-right political party. 

5 – NAPLES

Let’s move on then to Naples, which is probably the city that is more often subject of jokes and clichés. The most commonly heard stereotype is that Naples is full of thieves, who rob you at every corner, but the truth is that this could happen in any big city, a little caution wouldn’t hurt. Not surprisingly, in the World Crime Index of 2020, the city was ranked even safer than Rome.

Rumor has it that the inhabitants of Naples are dishonest and do not want to work.

6 – SICILY

Even the stereotypes on Sicily are very conditioned by the idea of criminality and lack of safety, so that people (Italians) think that the inhabitants of Sicily, known as Sicilians, are all “mafiosi”, which is ridiculous. Furthermore, there are still people who believe Sicily as an undeveloped place, both in terms of technology and mentally, and that everyone has a strong, excessive bond to family and tradition.

7 – LIGURIA

Let’s go back to the North and deal with Liguria. The first stereotype that comes up to every Italian who thinks about Liguria is that their inhabitants, Ligurians, have the “braccino corto”, which means that they are cheapskates. In turn, they say that they are not stingy but know how to save money. Rumor has it that they are unfriendly and unwelcoming to tourists. In fact, when we went to a Pesto Shop in Portovenere, in Liguria, we found this sign. I think that now they make jokes about it as well. Luckily!

8 – MOLISE

Another stereotype, which is mainly a joke, is that Molise doesn’t exist. It is the second smallest region in Italy and the fact that it is not particularly important nationally (in fact it lacks tourists), has brought many people to affirm on the Internet that Molise is non-existent.

This comes from a joke, which became first a meme [here I’ll show you some of those that circulate on social media] and then became a national phenomena, which actually brought some advantages to the region that went from anonymity to gaining some importance, since now whoever passes by Molise, either to move from a region to another one or decided to spend their vacations there, feels the need to take a picture and confirm on Social Media that indeed, Molise does exist!

Other Less Popular STEREOTYPES… 

In other cities or regions, stereotypes are less popular, but still present.

Elsewhere in Italy, for instance, rumor has it that Sardians, the inhabitants of Sardinia, are all shepherds, since it is the land of pecorino.

Moreover, people believe that Tuscans, the inhabitants of Tuscany, constantly fight with each other and that there is a constant competition of the cities and villages among themselves.

Speaking about Apulians, the inhabitants of Apulia, other Italians think that they all speak “badly” like Lino Banfi or Checco Zalone, according to generations. They are two Apulian comedians famous all over Italy: their Italian language, in movies, is often grammatically incorrect or has a noticeable accent. Therefore, when hearing “Sono pugliese(I am Apulian), other Italians usually answer with sentences such as “Per fortuna abitiemo in campegna” (luckily we live in the countryside) but with the “e” instead of the “a” (Lino Banfi’s typical accent) or “Se ce l’ho fatta io… ce la puoi farcela anche tu!” (If I made it, you can as well) or “Ma che comportazione è questa?” (What kind of behavior is that?) (by Checco Zalone).

It is believed that Piedmontese, the inhabitants of Piedmont, are “falsi e cortesi” (fake and kind) , which means that they seem kind in appearance but they judge you as soon as you turn your back. Italians also think that they just pretend to be humble!

The general idea about Calabrians, the inhabitants of Calabria, is that they are jealous and distrustful. Furthermore, contrary to what is thought of Italians abroad, it seems that they are introverted, they do not give much confidence and they would rather stay with their own group of friends. They are very stubborn. Andrea Camilleri, the creator of Commissioner Montalbano, makes him define his girlfriend as ‘testa di calabrese’ (Calabrese’s head), in other words a stubborn person that when sets her mind on something, she really wants it to be that.

Obviously, it is better to clarify that all of the above mentioned stereotypes are just stereotypes, even if there is a grain of truth to them (because they are not born out of nowhere), they surely don’t represent the complexity of Italian people and places, but mostly focus on negative aspects on which then you can joke about.

Then, if you know some Italians or you are one and you come up with some other stereotypes that I missed, write them in the comments.

Don’t forget that it is all a joke and nobody wants to offend anyone, so even the tone with which these stereotypes are mentioned should be light and not offensive at all. Because it’s okay to joke but as an Italian proverb says  “Il gioco è bello quando dura poco” (Don’t take a joke too far).

If you are interested in further curiosities about ITALIANS, we suggest you to read the article dedicated to the habits and traditions in Italy that seem WEIRD to foreigners.

Furthermore, if you have trouble accessing certain websites from abroad due to georestrictions, you must try NordVPN: if you use the coupon code LearnAmo, you will get an exclusive discount, a 30-day “satisfaction or your money back” guarantee, and free protection against malware!

Leave a Reply