The Difference Between Northern and Southern Italy

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The main aim of this paper is to highlight the significant cultural differences between northern and southern Italy in various aspects including food, intelligence, fitness/health, and architecture. Italy is commonly associated with pleasant weather, beautiful sandy beaches, famous landmarks, delicious cuisine, stylish clothing, flavorful wine, unique architectural styles, among other things.

I didn’t perceive it as two distinct cultures. I was unaware of the contrast between Northern and Southern Italy. In reality, there is a notable difference, not just a subtle one. Southern Italy can be imagined as medieval times, with Kings, Queens, and Knights ruling the land. “Under the Normans, the South of Italy became the dominant medieval Italian realm. It was referred to as ‘Lo Regno’ in chronicles, meaning ‘The Kingdom’. ‘Regalisis’ is the Latin word for ‘regal’.”

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Regalis (04/2010) states that historically, Southern Italy was known for its royalty, but in recent times it has become synonymous with poverty. Southern Italy includes Rome and all regions below it geographically, such as Molise, Apulia, Sardinia, Abruzzo, Campania, Sicily, Basilicata, and Calabria. Together, these regions form the lower half of Italy shaped like a boot. Each city in this area is renowned for its distinct cuisine or renowned chefs who hail from there.

In Southern Italy, Italian dishes are typically made with inexpensive ingredients like peppers, olives, capers, garlic, and anchovies because this region is known for being poorer compared to the rest of the country. Southern pastas also differ from those in Northern Italy as they are typically made without eggs and with harder flours. Unlike rolled pasta dishes found in the north where there is more financial resources available. Instead, southern pastas are shaped. The cuisine of Southern Italy offers a wider variety of buffalo, lamb, fish, chicken, pigs, goats,and sheep due to cost constraints resulting in fewer cows in this region’s cuisine. Olive oil and eggplant are commonly used ingredients throughout Southern Italy.

Rome, despite their poverty, is renowned for its extravagant oven roasted lambs, chicken, soups, and pastas. Artichokes are a beloved vegetable among the Romans, often made into stuffed dishes with tomatoes, zucchini, and artichokes. The Roman cuisine also incorporates a variety of greens and has a notable tradition of frying foods. It is intriguing how they manage to fry such a range of dishes without acquiring the same reputation for obesity as America. Campania, on the other hand, is famous for its dishes that are abundant in vegetables, pastas, and seafood. Pizza is particularly associated with Campania, as it is one of the birthplaces of this beloved food.

In Campania, you will find a bustling scene with people filling the streets. Their livelihood depends on this vibrant atmosphere, resembling a vast farmers market like we have in America. Due to limited living space, some individuals may spend extended periods outdoors. The warm and pleasant weather encourages people to maximize their time outside without hesitation. Known as the Mediterranean island in the sun, Sicily is situated closer to North Africa and reflects Arabian and Greek influences. A popular culinary specialty in Sicily incorporates eggplant along with a variety of vegetables.

Sicily is famous for its production of tomatoes, pasta, and cheese. Additionally, the region stands out in Italy for its wide variety of sweets, fruits, and ice creams. Sicilian desserts and gelato are popularly enjoyed throughout the area, with the renowned Cassata being a prime example. This delightful confection consists of sponge cake filled with candied fruit, ricotta, and marzipan. Nonetheless, I was disappointed to learn that it contains cheese.

Although I have learned not to judge something without trying it, I must admit that it doesn’t appeal to my taste. Nevertheless, let’s move on to Apulia, a region known for its production of various wheat and vegetables like lettuce, tomatoes, artichokes, onions, peppers, figs, olives, and citrus fruits. Being located near the ocean allows Apulia to offer an abundance of seafood options including oysters, shrimp sea turtles fish crab lobster octopus and mussels. However, their most popular meat remains lamb which I have tried before and can say that it is an acquired taste.

In Greek and Italian cuisine, calzones are a popular dish. Italy 4 Calzone’s is the perfect place to find this delicious treat. Apulia offers unique dessert choices, including melons, cotognata, and grapes, setting it apart from other regions in Southern Italy. Famous chefs and hot spices are the highlights of Abruzzo and Molice, where strong flavors are emphasized. Red peppers are commonly used in seasoning their dishes to achieve the desired bold taste. Fish, pastas, and lamb are among the main dishes typically enjoyed in these regions.

This region is encompassed by both water and mountains. It includes two notable areas, Basilicata and Calabria. Basilicata is well-known for its spicy cuisine which often incorporates ginger. Traditional dishes from this region consist of sausage and mushroom, potato and pasta, as well as rabbit and pork – although not everyone may prefer rabbit. Some people might humorously find eating “Thumper” unappealing. Additionally, their pasta dishes are enhanced with vegetable-based sauces. On the other hand, Calabria is renowned for its distinct flat pizza that does not include tomatoes as a topping.

Calabria is renowned for its tasty stew made with tomatoes, onions, potatoes, and eggplants. Additionally, they offer a breakfast menu that incorporates pork; nevertheless, I personally refrain from consuming pork in the morning. It is fascinating to consider residing in a region with such diverse culinary options; however, it would likely leave me quite famished. Southern Italy boasts various languages spoken, with Italian serving as the primary one. In Molise, an official language comprised of a Slavic or Croatian dialect is utilized. Similarly, other areas such as Rome, Apulia, Abruzzo, Campania, Calabria,and Basilicata possess their own distinct dialects. In Sardinia both Italian and Sardinian are commonly employed.

Sicily uses Latin as its primary language and Greek as its secondary language. The language diversity in just the southern part of Italy is evident. In contrast, the United States has English as its primary language throughout the entire country. The main distinction between us and southern Italy is that we have regional accents, while they have completely different languages. Living in such a linguistically diverse place would be quite challenging. I would personally struggle to learn so many languages. However, for those who actually live in Italy, it probably comes naturally. Additionally, when it comes to obesity, southern Italy is not included in that category.

According to the International Journal of Obesity, the Mediterranean population has a reduced occurrence of premature cardiovascular disease due to their customary eating habits. The Seven Countries Study found that following the Mediterranean diet, which includes consuming low levels of saturated fat and high amounts of complex carbohydrates and fiber, has beneficial effects on health. It is noteworthy that even though the Mediterranean population consumes a similar amount of energy as populations with a high risk for cardiovascular disease, they still have fewer instances of these diseases (National Journal of Obesity, Volume 25, Number 2, February 2001).

Why can’t America adopt a diet like Southern Italy’s? This diet helps to lower the risk of heart attacks, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease. While mortality rates are similar across countries, Southern Italy has lower mortality rates for reasons not related to obesity. In terms of industrial development, Southern Italy is hindered by its historical lack of importance as an industrial region. It is geographically isolated from the rest of Europe and lacks efficient transportation connections. Additionally, the area faces constraints in natural resources, financial resources, and skills.

Efforts are being made to make progress in the South of Italy despite the high birth rate and surplus of job-seekers. These efforts include draining marshy areas, planting trees, constructing dams, implementing irrigation schemes, and building motorways. Furthermore, the South’s hot and dry summers and sandy beaches are becoming more attractive to tourists. In addition, some individuals who had previously migrated to the North have returned with their earnings. However, the gap between Northern and Southern Italy remains and continues to grow. It is worth noting that Northern Italy is widely recognized as the country’s most affluent region.

The upper half of Italy consists of several regions: Aosta Valley, Piedmont, Liguria, Lombardy, Veneto, Trentino-Alto Ridge, Friuli-Venezia Guilia, Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany, Umbria, Marches and Latium. This region is renowned for its affluence and offers a wide range of opulent cuisine. In Aosta Valley alone, they produce olive oil and prepare pasta dishes with different types of cheese. They also cultivate potatoes and rear various meats. Their financial resources allow them to provide high-quality beef through the use of fertilizers for their cows. Moreover, they serve dishes featuring a variety of birds and fish.

The Valle d’Aosta (Vallee d’Aoste in French) regional DOC includes 23 types of wine and variations such as the red Torrette and Enfer d’Arvier and the white Muscat de Chambave and Blanc de Morgex. These unique wines should be tasted while in the region. For dessert, fruits like berries, pears, and apples are commonly enjoyed. Finally, meals traditionally end with the grolla, a pot filled with caffe valdostana (a mixture of coffee, red wine, grappa, and lemon peel), which is sipped from multiple spouts. (Italian Trade Commission, “The Foods of Aosta Valley, 2010).

In Piedmont, a region known for its wide variety of antipasti and love for different types of meats including game, fish, pork, lamb, beef, and donkey meat. Although it is interesting to encounter donkey meat while traveling to other countries, personally I find it unappealing. On the other hand, in Liguria there are numerous traditional dishes that the region is famous for such as Snails Ligurian Style, Chickpea Polenta, and Sun Dried Tomatoes. They also incorporate fish, rabbit mushrooms nuts and beans into their cuisine. Lombardy is renowned for its excellent dishes featuring meats like beef fish poultry veal and pork.

They are renowned for their cheeses. They incorporate frogs, snails, and crayfish into their meals. Did you know that Lombardy is officially the birthplace of Ravioli? They are a small olive oil producer. Veneto specializes in rice, corn, fish, and livestock. Gardens are prominent throughout Veneto. In terms of desserts, they enjoy cakes, candied fruits, custards, and nuts. Moving on to Trentino-Alto Adige, it is famous for polento and soups made with meat and vegetables. They are particularly known for their Speck. Italy also boasts a significant apple production, which is used to make apple fritters and strudels.

In Friuli-Venezia Giulia, the dessert options consist of honey, cakes, nuts, and candied fruits. This region is renowned for its vineyards and is located near mountains and valleys. Their cuisine commonly includes poultry, beef, lamb, sausage, cheese, fruits, breads, pastas, oils,and white wine. Moving on to Emilia-Romagna in Italy’s culinary scene: it is primarily known for its pasta dishes but also enjoys polenta alongside vegetables rolls soups and pastas. In terms of desserts fritters fruits nuts tarts and cakes are popular choices.Additionally aged vinegar and wines hold high value in Emilia-Romagna.Lastly Tuscany stands out for its delicious breads.

The Umbrians have a diverse culinary palette, indulging in various dishes like pastas, soups, seafood, and roasts made with beef, poultry, fish, pork, and game. Truffles hold a special place in their cuisine and they commonly enjoy pastas, eggs, and meats such as pork, beef, rabbit, and lamb. Salads and vegetables are also popular among them. They serve cakes, crepes fruits as well as breads and buns for desserts. The Marches region is renowned for its expertly cooked meats including beef,pork ,game ,veal,and poultry .They also appreciate olives,breads ,peas cheeses ,and pizzas. For dessert,the Marches residents savor breads topped with nuts raisins,and fruits.Latium’s antipasto is what makes it famous.

They have numerous feasts with various types of antipastos. They also cultivate vegetables, beans, and olive oils. Additionally, they are renowned for the multitude of cheeses they produce. Latium’s desserts consist of cakes, buns, coffee, and gelato. Northern Italy, including Tuscany, Umbria, Marches, and Latium, predominantly speaks Italian. Some regions also use Bavarian in Northern Italy, Cimbrian in Veneto, Occitan in Piedmont, Ligurian in Liguria, and Lombard in Lombardy.

In Trentino-Alto Adige, German and Venetian are spoken, while Emilio-Romagnolo is the language of Emilio-Romagna. Franco-Provençal is spoken in NW Aosta Valley. Friuli and Venetian are the languages of Friuli-Venezia-Giulia. Similar to Southern Italy, Northern Italy also has a wide variety of languages.

When it comes to obesity, Northern Italy does face certain issues. It experiences higher rates compared to Southern Italy due to its wealthier status. Upon analyzing the chart, it becomes apparent that there isn’t much disparity between the two regions; however, obesity rates tend to be higher in Northern Italy than in Southern Italy.

The prosperous region in Italy known as the industrial triangle, which includes Genoa, Milan, and Turin, is located in the lowlands of the Northern Italian Plains. Despite its prosperity, this area experiences rapid industrial growth due to its close proximity to lucrative markets in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. This advantageous location enables convenient import and export operations through boats, air travel, rail transportation, and vehicles. The presence of numerous factories occupies a significant amount of land in Northern Italy while also creating job opportunities for a large workforce. As a result, there are noticeable differences between Southern Italy and Northern Italy.

Despite the fact that Southern Italy has a greater demand for sweets, its obesity rates are lower than those in Northern Italy. Moreover, there is a notable economic disparity between these two regions, with the wealthier North. Additionally, Northern Italy exhibits greater linguistic diversity compared to the South and offers more job opportunities. Furthermore, Northern Italy has a higher number of cows available for meat production due to their financial capacity to feed livestock. To summarize, there are significant differences among various parts of the country.

Both Northern and Southern Italy share certain aspects. In Italy, your appearance plays a crucial role and can have a significant impact on your social standing. A luxurious appearance indicates your family background, social circle, and level of education, making it a determining factor in how you are perceived. Clothing holds great significance in distinguishing oneself. Similarly, both regions of the country are involved in the production and sale of wines, which is considered a popular pursuit. Grape vineyards and wine tasting hold considerable importance throughout Italy, regardless of the region.

Italy has a variety of religions represented in its population, with the majority adhering to Roman Catholicism. However, there are also Protestant and Jewish communities in Italy, as well as an growing number of Muslim immigrants. It is important to mention that Italy houses the Vatican, which acts as the main center of the Roman Catholic Church.

Works Cited

  1. Regalis, (2010, April). “History, heraldry, royalty, nobility, biography. Retrieved from http://www. regalis. com/
  2. (2001). National Journal of Obesity , 25(2), Retrieved from http://www. nature. com/ijo/journal/v25/n2/full/0801321a. html
  3. Anderson, B. (2010). The Foods of Aosta valley. Retrieved from http://www. italianmade. com/regions/foods1. cfm

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The Difference Between Northern and Southern Italy. (2018, May 01). Retrieved from

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