La Radice della Cultura è Amare


Andrew Rodriguez

Above is Giorgia Paschino, our Italian foreign exchange student.

Andrew Rodriguez, Reporter/Photo Editor

Giorgia Paschino is one of our foreign exchange students at Selma High. She is originally from Rapallo, Italy, which is located in the region of Ligury. Rapallo is about 17 miles away (about a 30 minute drive) from Genova, one of Italy’s most populous cities.

“I really love living in Italy,” says Giorgia. The food is good, and I love our architecture because it is very old, but, at the same time, breathtaking. The weather is almost perfect because it’s neither too cold nor too hot. The thing I love the most is the people’s warmth and hospitality,”

Giorgia has been living here in Selma since August and has been able to get a taste of American culture. There aren’t many differences between American and Italian culture.

“Food, of course, is something really different from my culture. I am used to homemade meals, and we rarely eat fast food. That’s because we don’t have that many fast food restaurants nearby” expresses  Giorgia.

Giorgia also finds it odd that Americans eat dinner earlier than her native Italians. She explains how, in Italy, people usually don’t eat dinner until about 8:30 PM, whereas in America, a common time to “ciao” down is about 5 PM.

A common thing between Italy and America is that we celebrate the same holidays. Most Italians are Roman Catholics, and Catholicism is one of the main branches of Christianity in America, which means Italians celebrate Christmas and Easter just like most Americans!

Italy has lots of unique and historical holidays,

“August 15 is a day we call Ferragosto. On this day, families go to the beach or go to the mountains, and they have picnics, or barbecues. At night there are fireworks and we usually light a big bonfire on the beach,” describes Giorgia. 

Ferragosto  translates to Mid-August. Emperor Augustus made the holiday to rest after weeks of hard work on the Roman agricultural sector. It is customary for workers to wish their employers “Buon Ferragosto”, and in return, receive a work bonus. Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini also acknowledged the holiday. He used the holiday to give lower income families the opportunity to travel to the beach or to the mountains for extremely low train ticket prices.

Another Italian holiday is Republic Day or Festa della Repubblica.

“June 2nd is Republic Day. We celebrate this day because in 1946, there was a referendum where Italian citizens had to vote between monarchy or republic. Republic won the referendum, which meant that our monarchy had fallen. It’s a really important day because World War II and fascism had just ended, and Italian people couldn’t wait to see freedom again,” conveys Giorgia.

Festa della Repubblica is one of Italy’s national symbols and the main celebration takes place in Italy’s capital, Rome. Italy celebrates with parades, concerts, picnics, and fireworks.

“April 25th is Liberation Day. We celebrate the end of fascism and remember Italians who fought against the Nazis and Mussolini’s troops during World War II. The day honors those who served in the Italian Resistance. We usually have marching bands, music concerts, and food festivals,” states Giorgia.

Just like D-Day in France, after  being controlled by Hitler and Mussolini, Italians were saved by American and British forces who helped liberate Italy from the fascist regime.

Back home, some of Giorgia’s favorite meals include Focaccia, “which is a typical food of the region where I live (Ligury). It’s a flatbread and we usually eat it as a snack. I like to eat it because it reminds me of my childhood since I always ate it in kindergarten,” and Lasagne, “because it strongly reminds me of my grandmother,” she further expresses .

Giorgia finds her culture special because it tells a story.

“Every Italian city is full of old architecture that is either from the Roman Empire or the Renaissance. Every time I look at the architecture, I like to imagine how people used to live. I find that special because we think that our typical meals can strongly connect people, for example family and friends, but also Italy as a whole” she further communicates .

Giorgia also says that soccer, Italy’s national sport, brings Italians together. 

“When our national soccer team plays, I love how it makes us feel close to each other.”

A common misconception people have about Italy is that most people view Italians as “rude”.

“I think most people see Italians as rude people. I don’t think that’s completely true because, as far as I’ve seen, people are often polite and willing to help.”

Italy is rich in history: from the Roman Empire, to the Renaissance, to World War I and the birth of the Fascist Party, to World War II and the fall and rebirth of governments. The successes and the struggles are what make Italy the country it is today. A famous saying in Italian culture is,

“la radice della cultura è amare,” which means, “the root of culture is to love.” 

Love is what drives Italian culture. The love for friends and family is strong in Italy, which drives Italian culture to the max. Culture is what makes Italians so accepting and loving, and without love, what is culture?