Tuesday, August 8, 2017

So Your Character is from Italy ... Featuring Emily @ Little Black Sheep

It's time for this week's So Your Character is ... Post! This is a weekly segment where I interview lovely volunteers from around the world to give you a firsthand account of being a citizen of their respective country or having a disability. I'm hoping to encourage international diversity, break stereotypes, and give writers a crash course on how to write a character from these different places on our planet. If you haven't checked out last week's  So Your Character is from Bolivia ... be sure to hop on over there and give it a read!

My dad's side of the family has direct Italian origins, so I grew up with a lot of stories about his Sicilian grandparents and eating a lot of authentic Italian food. I'm so glad I found Emily so I can learn even more about this amazing country!

Disclaimer: The content below may be culturally shocking to some. Each of these posts are as uncensored as possible to preserve the authenticity of the cultures of each of the interviewees.

(None of the Images are Mine)

My name is Emily and I am 24. I live in a small village near Vicenza, in Veneto, in the North-East of Italy. Actually, I am working in a McDonald's restaurant. In my free time I am a musician, I play violin and piano and I cannot stay without listening to music for long. I love computer games, board games, and roleplaying games (D&D, Pathfinder, and World of Darkness in particular). Yes, I am a little bit of a gamer, and I am an Otaku, I love anime and manga. I love also writing and cosplay.

What do you feel is unique to your country? Landmarks? Celebrations?
I will be frank. Italy has beautiful landmarks: the mountains of the North, the Po valley and the sea of the South, but what I think is unique in my country is historical art. Italy is full of wonderful monuments, sculptures, and classical music. I have often heard that Italy is an old country (with negative spirit) but I am sure that this is its beauty instead. 

The Dolomites

Po Valley
My favorite sculptor is Canova. I love his sculpture “Love and Psyche”, it gives me a beautiful sense of harmony between the two characters and especially a beautiful feeling of love. Unfortunately, it is in the museum of Louvre, in Paris (bad Napoleon!) but I had the possibility to see it once at least. As a musician, I cannot forget to tell you my favorite composer: the violinist Giuseppe Tartini. I really love “Devil’s trill”, his most famous sonata. In Italy, only who play violin knows him but it is a pity! 

 Tell me about your country's environment. What are some of your favorite places?
Living in the Northern Italy I see every day mountains and woods and I like them especially the woods. Near my house, I have a little wood where sometimes I go walking. I like stay there it is tranquil and at the same time rowdy because of the birds, in particular when it is spring. However, I love also the sea of the South. So clear and so magic I really love it.

Tell me about your country's food. What are some of your favorite dishes?
This is, for me, a very difficult question…I think Italian cooking is the best of the world. I love cooking, and I am always discovering new recipes to cook. One of my favorite dishes is Lasagna. Here in Italy, when we say, “Come my home, we will eat a good slice of lasagna,” we mean, “You are part of my family”. Another dish is pasta pasticciata, a sort of lasagna, but made with any kind of pasta (fusilli, penne, conchiglioni, tortiglioni, etc.). I love also vegetables, especially in soups or grilled. 

 Tell me about any different speech patterns in your country. Slang? Idioms? Words for things such as “biscuits” instead of “cookies”?
Here in Italy, we have many dialects, at least one per region and often we have different dialects into the same region. It makes me smile when I listen to the radio or to the TV news Italian people speaking with their particular accent and quickly recognize from where they come from.

In any part of the country, we study English starting from the primary school. Teachers usually use the United Kingdom idioms for the beginning, and then during the high school they try to teach us some differences between the UK idioms and the US ones. 

Describe briefly a regular day in your country.
A regular day in my country starts with a cup of coffee (not for me, I do not like coffee (*smile*) and then people go work for the first part of the day. After lunch, they starts the second part of the day. When people finish work, they usually come back home, have dinner and spend the rest of the evening watching TV and doing housework. Sometimes, after work and before go home, people meet each other in bars having a small aperitif. During weekends, people stay with family or friends going here and there, having trips out somewhere or staying home, searching funny and relaxing things to do together. 

How does your country compare to others, especially the States since my audience is primarily American? Environmentally? Politically? Culturally?
From one point of view, Italian politic works almost like in the States. We have 20 local areas, some of them having their own laws but that account all to Rome. From another point of view, it does not work so well. We try to be cosmopolitan, often copying the States, but we always fail. We accept waves upon waves of strangers without knowing how to manage them well unfortunately.

Environmentally, I think Italy is doing its best. I mean towns practices recycling and applies penalties for ones do not. Everyone should do it; it is a pity that someone wrecks the good job of the others with their stupidity.

I said in the first answer that Italy has a big cultural heritage, we have only one little problem: we have too little structures that could take care of it, so the most of the cultural heritage cannot receive right attentions. We have a university faculty called “conservation of cultural heritage” but not much people think it is good. Culture is underestimate, but fortunately there are people that do not think so and fight to take care of culture.

Briefly describe three of your country’s historical events that you feel are important.
  • The first event I would list is the Roman Empire. Romans have been very important even if their successors completely forgot all of the wonderful things they did. Romans were courageous fighters, fantastic politicians, and great builders. They always won their battle with minimum deaths until the coming of the Lombard. 
  • The second event is the Risorgimento. After the invasion of the Lombard and of the other barbaric populations, at the end of the 1800 Italy went back to the origins and became a single state. During this period were strong the romanticism, the nationalism and the patriotism. 
  • The third event is the First World War. Especially here in the Northern Italy, the First World War had a strong impact. The front started from the eastern Alps and ended on the Adriatic Sea but the most difficult battle was in the territory around the Dolomites, the Asiago plateau and long the shores of the river Isonzo.

What are some stereotypes about your country that irk you? What media portrays your country badly be it a movie, a book, or a TV show?
Someone snubbed Italian music because of modern composer. Modern Italian music is more than quite monotonous, it is all talking about love, love, and love again. I could agree with stereotypes but I absolutely cannot agree when talking about classical music. Lots of Italian composer were very sought-after in most of the European palaces or copied for their great ability.

Giuseppe Verdi
What media portrays your country well be it a movie, a book, or a TV show?
Unfortunately, media that talk about Italian Mafia are real. I am not happy to say this, but it is the truth. More in the South than in the North, mafia is a nightmare and I often wonder how people have a similar power and how other people let them do all. 

Al Capone

Who are your top three favorite characters native to your country in books, movies, or shows?
I really love Lercio in Sinbad: the Legend of the Seven Seas he is so nice! Also, I like Vinnie in Atlantis: the Lost Empire. He says that he was a florist and then he discovered he liked more explosions. His story reminds me of many teenagers that start studying something and then they completely change. Italy forces us to choose what we want to do what we will be adults at the age of 11, without any sort of test and then people are surprised if at twenty years we do not know yet what to do.


Thank you, Emily, for this very informative post! I hope everyone enjoyed reading it. Come back next week for So Your Character is from Portugal ...!

Are you interested in participating in this project? Check out the tips archive to see which countries have been filled and if you're from a different country, shoot me an email at howellvictoriagrace(a)gmail(dot)com. I'm especially looking for Spain, Denmark, Kenya, Brazil, Iraq, and Egypt.

Do you have any characters from Italy? Did this inspire you to write an Italian character or set a book in Italy? Are from this or been to this country and you have further input? Feel free to share! Do you have any questions for Emily? Be sure to thank her!

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