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From North to South. How Many Italies?


150 years have passed since Italy’s unification, but the positive image of the unity is certainly not without its darker corners. The country faces several challenges and opportunities. Moreover, many of these challenges and opportunities are both framed and manifested geographically. From the persistence of ‘la questione Meridionale‘ to a politics ‘dopo Berlusconi’ (after Berlusconi), geography figures prominently in the past, present and future of Italy. Through a tour of Italy’s social, economic and political geographies, the realities and myths behind Italian “unification” are explored and framed as ongoing, if not necessary, tensions between local, regional, national and global interests and processes. Whether or not and how such forces are unique to Italy is open to debate, as is the notion of a truly unified Italy, or any other country for that matter. What is clear is that the ways in which Italy and Italians respond to and mediate contemporary social, economic and political forces will serve to reshape and re-unify the country in new and important ways that are quite distinct from the past.

What does it mean?

  • Terroni

“The word ‘terrone’ is an offensive term used by people in northern Italy in order to describe those from southern Italy… etymologically it is tied to the term ‘terra (dirt, land)…[thus] it is often associated with that type of person who is ignorant, uneducated, lazy, unwilling to work, rude, and of poor hygiene… [indeed] an Italian court judged that it is a derogatory an offensive term [which carries legal consequences when used to insult a person]” 

  • Polentoni

“Polentone’ is an offensive term used by people in southern Italy in order to describe those from northern Italy. With an etymology tied to the term ‘polenta (cornmeal). Not dissimilar to terrone, polentone is often associate with that type of person who is ignorant, uneducated, and of poor hygiene usually suffering of pellagra, a vitamin B3 deficiency.”


Pino Aprile, Terroni. All That Has Been Done To Ensure That The Italians of The South Became “Southerners”*

This book  is a well-documented, courageous description of what the Italians did to themselves and why 150 years after the Unification of Italy the differences between the North and the South are even more accentuated. This inequality has left an indelible mark. Those of us who believe that this was due to a purely geographical factor must now reconsider this notion, along with those who hold the incorrect belief that the South of Italy is the poorer and more backward part of our country. What were the real factors that created this diversity? With what awareness did they perpetrate their own ideals in order to gain more profit? Who rendered a part of our society so submissive and often fearful?

This is a work that analyzes the sociopolitical changes of a nation, and that is not afraid to unveil all of those uncomfortable truths that even the history books have so often refused to print.

Lorenzo Del Boca, Polentoni. How And Why The North Was Betrayed

“Italy today is paying the price for the accepted terms of payment in the hasty construction of the unified state. The result was a nation put together hurriedly and with an imposed institutional framework that it borrowed from France, which had to its credit however, centuries worth of historical background as a unified state.”

Lorenzo Del Boca makes his contribution to the copious amount of literature which flood the shelves of our book stores on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Unity of Italy.

After Indietro Savoia! and Maledetti Savoia, which are the foundation of his personal historical reconstruction of the Risorgimento, the journalist has released Polentoni in which he concentrates his research on that part of Italy that – according to him – benefited the least from the Unification: the North.

*The book Terroni. All That Has Been Done To Ensure That The Italians of The South Became “Southerners” has recently been translated into English thanks to funding provided by ILICA.


From North to South, with Beauty








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