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Marco: All About Italian Lesson 8 – The Top Five Things You Need to Know about Italian Society
Marco: Hi, and welcome back to ItalianPod101.com's All About Italian lessons! I'm Marco, and I'm here in the studio with…
Laura: "Ciao," I'm Laura.
Marco: In this lesson, we're going to tell you more about life in Italy.
Laura: There are so many aspects to Italian society, it's hard to know where to begin!
Marco: Well, since the title of this lesson is "The Top Five Things You Need to Know about Italian Society," I picked five topics.
Laura: Which are….?
Marco: Italy's major cities, Italian family life, the Italian economy and work culture, Italian politics, and finally, the Italian lifestyle.
Major Cities and How They Work
Laura: Let's begin with Italian cities. Italy's charming ancient capital is "Roma."
Marco: "Rome!" It is the country's largest and most populated city with over 2.7 million people.
Laura: Rome is the center of politics. Here sits the Italian government, the Italian Parliament, the Prime Minister, and the President of the Italian Republic.
Marco: As we already discussed in previous lessons, Rome's history goes back over two and a half thousand years…
(sound for Roman Empire)
Marco: But Roma has maintained in a good condition its very ancient ruins, such as "the Colosseum"
Laura: "il Colosseo"
Marco: and the Roman Forum, "Foro Romano," which gives this old capital a unique atmosphere.
Laura: Yes, that's true! "Roma" evokes ancient ages…
Marco: Strolling through the streets of Rome, we can hear many different languages, can't we?
Laura: Sure. This is due to the great number of tourists and immigrants, and this gives the city a very cosmopolitan atmosphere.
Marco: Okay, the next city is "Milan."
Laura: "Milano!" People from Milan like to call their city the "Moral Capital." Did you know that?
Marco: Oh, no, why?
Laura: For its importance to the Italian economy and culture! "Milano" is recognized as the second major city of Italy after Rome.
Marco: It is the center of fashion and Italian design and also provides a strong influence on commerce, industry,
music, sport, literature, art, and media.
Laura: Oh yes, but Milan is also one of the world's major financial and business centers, and "Teatro della Scala" is known throughout the world!
Marco: Yes, so many great musicians play there!
Laura: Let's now move on to my favorite cities, "Firenze" and "Venezia."
Marco: "Florence" and "Venice!"
Laura: "Firenze" and "Venezia" are both small cities and are considered the center of Italian arts.
Marco: Every year, Florence and the Uffizi Gallery bring thousands of tourists from all over the world to admire the major masterpieces of the Renaissance period.
Laura: And the lagoon of Venice, on the northeastern coast, is one of the most popular cities in the world.
Marco: San Marco is the most famous square of the city because it hosts the famous carnival festival!
Laura: "Il carnevale!" "Carnival" in Venice really evokes the lifestyle of the eighteenth century, with those clothes and masks….
Marco: But I know that Venice is also often chosen as destination for romantic honeymoons, right?
Laura: Sure! Even Italian people go to Venice for their honeymoons!
Marco: Now, let's talk about Naples.
Laura: "Napoli!" Or "Napule" in the Neapolitan dialect!
Marco: Naples plays an important role among Italian major cities for its rich history, art, culture, architecture, music, and gastronomy.
Laura: And also because it's the largest city in the south of Italy. Its population is estimated around 2.25 million people. Marco, do you know where it is?
Marco: Naples is located in the region of Campania, very close to Mount Vesuvius and the ruins of Pompeii.
Laura: This city had a great influence on Italian culture, starting with the pizza that originated here!
Marco: Oh yes, pizza is from "Napoli!" But Neapolitans don't have just pizza. Naples' traditions also feature
music. "La canzone napoletana!"
Laura: Yes! Neapolitans also invented the
romantic guitar and the mandolin.
Marco: And not only that, but "Napoli" also contributed with opera and folk songs to music.
(Sound effect "Funiculì Funiculà" song)
Laura: These were the major Italian cities. Let's move to the next topic…
Marco: It is an important aspect of Italian society…the family.
Laura: The typical image of an Italian family could be probably one with six or eight people seated at the table eating their dinner all together…
Marco: But in the last decades, the situation of Italian families has changed a lot.
Laura: The elders are becoming the larger proportion of the population because the birthrate has dropped to 1.2 children per woman.
Marco: Each family is having only one baby because of the economic crisis and the continuing increase in the unemployment level in the country.
Laura: Children in Italy usually live with their parents until they get married, and Italians in general are really attached to their towns, homes, and neighborhoods.
Marco: Italian cuisine is an important aspect of Italian culture because every dish can be identified with a town and also because mealtime is family time in Italy.
Laura: That's true. Family members expect to eat together around the table. I remember my parents waiting for me at nine-thirty in the evening to have dinner together after my volleyball training.
Marco: Hey, Laura, in Italy I noticed that families go out after dinner for a "passeggiata," an "evening stroll."
Laura: Ah, ah, we do that! This is the occasion for family members to relax and chat with neighbors and friends and to see and be seen.
Marco: Be seen? Oh that's why everyone dresses to look their best!
Laura: Yep!
Marco: That's interesting. Now we are going to talk about another aspect of Italian society…
Laura: The Italian economy and work culture.
Marco: Italy's economy is ranked seventh in the world and is the fourth largest in Europe. Italy belongs to the
Group of Eight industrialized nations and is a member of the
European Union.
Laura: The Italian economy is well developed in the northern area thanks to the presence of many factories and industrial companies, including those in the area between Turin, Milan, and Genoa.
Marco: Economically speaking, southern Italy is strongly divided from the north. In the southern area, the economy is based basically on agriculture and tourism, clearly in contrast with the more dynamic and industrialized northern part of the country.
Laura: Yes, Marco, and this brought a massive emigration of Italian people from the south to the north.
Marco: Despite this phenomenon, every year Italy exports food and fashion throughout the world!
Laura: This is thanks to the work of thousands of farms spread around the territory and to the world's most famous brand companies and fashion designers.
Marco: And tourism is very profitable for the national economy considering that Italy is the fifth most-visited country in the world.
Laura: We have tourists everywhere! From small countryside towns to big cities!
Marco: Topic number four is politics. Listeners, what do you know about that?
Laura: Marco, do you know why the second day of June is a national holiday in Italy?
Marco: Oh, because that is the day when monarchy was abolished by popular referendum.
Laura: Exactly! Since June 2 1946, Italy has been a democratic republic.
Marco: Italy is a parliamentary republic based on a multi-party system.
Laura: The current President of the Italian Republic in 2010 is Giorgio Napolitano, and the Prime Minister is Silvio Berlusconi, who leads the cabinet of the executive power, the so-called "consiglio dei ministry," the "Council of Ministers."
Marco: His party, the PDL, is leading the right wing. On the other hand, the center-left political party is the Democratic Party of Italy, led by Pier Luigi Bersani.
Laura: The Italian parliament is based on a bicameral legislature.
Marco: Laura, the government in Italy is always changing, isn'it?
Laura: Sadly true…
Marco: Unfortunately, corruption is still a dramatic part of the Italian political landscape.
Laura: Over the years, there have been many investigations into scandals involving politicians, administrators, and businessmen.
Marco: Okay, let's finish with our topics for Italian society!
Laura: The last aspect we are going to cover is the Italian lifestyle.
Marco: Italians have a passion for the arts, fashion, and eating but also for talking.
Laura: We do really like talking and chatting! If you watch Italian TV, you can see how many talk shows we have.
Marco: Italians like to discuss everything!
Laura: I think this happens because the Italian educational system is oriented to give children the ability to create their own opinions on every kind of topic.
Marco: And growing up, this skill is used in conversations at the most common meeting places such as bars and the "piazza," which is the "square."
Laura: It is very common to see Italian people having conversations for hours sitting in squares, probably accompanied by a glass of wine, shouting, laughing, and gesticulating.
Marco: Italian gestures are another important aspect of conversation! Why?
Laura: That's easy. They help better express what you are saying. The will to be understood is so strong! And I can communicate without talking if I want to!
Marco: Really? Let me see…Oh no, our listeners can't see anything but I can say it's very amusing!
Laura: You know, Marco, Italian people like to express what they think, even about their personal feelings.
Marco: "L'amore"…
Laura: "Sì, sì, l'amore," which means "love…"
Marco: For those and many other reasons, Italians are said to be warm people.
Laura: We are generally friendly. If you go to live in Italy, you'll be surprised at how many friends you can make!
Marco: That's true! Even in a short period of time.
Laura: That does it for today!
Marco: Do you have any comments for this lesson about Italian society? You can leave them at ItalianPod101.com!
Laura: "Ciao!" We'll be waiting for you in our next All About Italy lesson!
Marco: "Ciao a tutti!"