Unlike many other European languages like English, French, Spanish or German, Italian is not that kind of highly demanded language like the above mentioned, especially in the current job market.
Then why do so many people want to learn and love it?
Because Italy can be considered the cradle of Western civilization, just imagine that UNESCO stated that over 60% of World’s art treasure is currently held in Italy.
Most people would also argue that Italian is the language of passion and love and its musicality gives Italian that kind of sound that is impossible not to fall for.
Let’s be honest though: we love watching Italian using hand gestures!
The Divine Comedy – Dante Alighieri
Written by the father of Italian language and literature, Dante Alighieri, considered worldwide a masterpiece and among the greatest works of world literature. The poem shows to its readers where do people go in the afterlife depending on their behavior on Earth: Hell, Purgatory, Heaven.
There are a thousand reasons why the Divine Comedy is considered one of the most relevant poems in history, but for Italian culture it’s somehow a tipping point. Back then Italy was fractured into different Kingdoms and Republics, where the Catholic Church, mostly speaking Latin, was way more powerful than it is now.
Different smaller Countries also mean different languages and dialects: here the poem plays a strategic role, as it was the first meaningful and prominent poem that didn’t adopt Latin, but vulgar Italian dialect. Eventually this helped the rise of the Italian language and the sunset of Latin.
Why should you read Dante’s “Divine Comedy”? – Sheila Marie Orfano
The Prince – Niccolò Machiavelli
Often the term “machiavellian” is used to describe someone ruthless, kind of corrupted, unscrupulous, named after the Renaissance writer Niccolò Machiavelli, whose masterpiece and most known opera is Il Principe, The Prince.
In this political themed book Machiavelli describes the features that a ruler, the prince, needs to have in order to be glorious and survive adversities. Accepting that an immoral and edgy behavior is necessary to achieve those ends.
In short, in this book Machiavelli wants to justify the prince’s actions by saying that the ends justify the means, if what someone is about to do to achieve a certain goal has to go through something morally debatable is acceptable.
If this is a Man – Primo Levi
Primo Levi was a Chemist, Partisan and Writer, but most importantly he was a Holocaust Survivor.
In this book the writer describes in detail his deportation to the concentration camp of Auschwitz, in Poland, and its liberation that took place in 1945.
The title is due to the fact that Levi asked himself several times if the way that Nazis were treating Jewish during Second World War was human or not. If Jewish were humans or not.
By the end of the book, in its final chapter, the author asks his readers to meditate, to think, to ponder his words and the experiences he lived through, so that in the future this will never happen again.
Il Commissario Montalbano – Andrea Camilleri
Salvatore Montalbano, a fictional Sicilian Inspector, written by the brilliant pen of Andrea Camilleri and portrayed to television by Luca Zingaretti. Gained popularity by the end of 90’s with the tv show broadcasted by Rai1 (Italian national television provider) to the point that every single story written by Camilleri got a tv adaptation.
Its popularity is due to a mix of Italian and Sicilian language, the amazing description he gives about Sicilian hidden natural beauties, a deep dive into Sicilian culture (mostly food-related) and the intricate plots that involve mafia, corruption, media and crime. Making the plot very user-friendly, but also with several levels of interpretation.
A funny fact about Montalbano is that his author cares a lot about describing in detail nearly everything, from characters to scenarios, from food to situations. The only feature that has no description, making the readers not know how it looks like, is the main character himself. As it was portrayed by Luca Zingaretti Italians picture it as a 50 years old bald man, sharp eyes and robust physique, but as matter of fact not a single time in nearly 30 books and short stories the author ever describes him.
Even though it shouldn’t be considered strictly literature, Italy has a quite big comic tradition that can be compared to the American and the Japanese one. That shares with both of them iconic and long lasting characters, strong and impactful stories, but most importantly it helped to share Italian culture via new media, beyond the classic ones. Here’s a few honorable mentions.
Detective Montalbano 2013 (Trailer)
Tex – Sergio Bonelli Editore
Tex has been, for over 70 years, the most influent and well-known Italian comic book in history, so relevant and impactful that has shaped the early Italian cinematography. Contributing to define the style and technique of filmmakers like Sergio Leone.
Tex Willer is the name of the main character, a cowboy that fights for what’s right, siding often with Native Americans, but also protecting White or Black Americans from bandits and outlaws.
Even though he doesn’t have any super power he’s popular for his accuracy, both with his Colt 45 – Peacemaker and his Winchester rifle, making him the perfect stereotype of Texas cowboy, just like Clint Eastwood in Sergio Leone’s movies.
What has made Tex so popular and iconic for all this time is his aspect, simple yet recognizable: a Stetson-type hat, a yellow shirt, a black kerchief tied around the neck, jeans-style trousers, a pair of boots with attached spurs and, at the waist, a belt.
Zerocalcare, stage name of Michele Rech, is one of the most popular comic book writers of this generation. Reached popularity with his first graphic novel, The Armadillo Prophecy that he describes as “an optimistic prediction based on subjective and irrational elements passed off as logical and objective, destined to fuel disappointment, frustration and regret for centuries to come. Amen.” or Forget my Name, that instead is about growing up, through loss, fear and pain, unraveling remorse and regret, managing to live with melancholy and learning, little by little, to perceive the outside world differently, understanding the vital importance of small yet meaningful things.
Besides the incredible amount of sales of every comic book he wrote, Zerocalcare has recently landed on Netflix, with Tear Along the Dotted Line, a biopic that has redefined the new standards of Italian animation, not only because it’s spoken nearly entirely in Romanesco (Roman dialect), but also because it puts on screen the anxiety, fear and insecurities of our generation, especially in time of crisis like Covid.
Tear Along The Dotted Line | Official Trailer | Netflix