Italian identity

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The Italian identity is one of the main debated issues in Italy at present. Created by the historians Gian Enrico Rusconi and Ernesto Galli Della Loggia in the 1990s, the problem is still very discussed nowadays.

Political identity[edit]

Italy is a relatively recent country in the Western world. It was born only in 1861. After having been the Kingdom of Italy for nearly one century (1861–1946), it became the Italian Republic in 1946. This very recent development of the Italian democracy (only a bit more than half a century) has been regarded[by whom?] as a sign of backwardness. The Italian political identity is therefore very weak and there is not a political system generally accepted. The polemics between monarchists and republicans, fascists and antifascists, Christian democrats and communists reveal a very divided country, with strong political feelings, but without a common background.

Ethnic identity[edit]

The Italians come all from the same ethnic group,[citation needed] but they do not really feel like brothers. History has developed the sense of municipality rather than that of nationality. Each Italian uses to feel citizen of his city rather than Italian citizen. Conflicts among the different cities are still very strong, as proved by the strong football rivalries. This comes from the Medieval city-states.

Religious identity[edit]

One of the main principles of national unity has often been considered the Christian religion, because Italy has been Christian since the settlement of the Papal States in Rome. Many Italians, however, would not recognize themselves as Christian. Especially during the Risorgimento, in the 19th Century, the birth of the nation was linked to popular revolutions, such as the American revolution and the French revolution.

See also[edit]



  • Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger (ed.), The invention of tradition, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984
  • Aldo Schiavone, Italiani senza Italia, Torino: Einaudi, 1998
  • Remo Bodei, Il Noi diviso, Torino: Einaudi, 1998
  • Ernesto Galli della Loggia, L'identità italiana, Bologna: il Mulino, 1998
  • Guido Crainz, Il paese mancato : dal miracolo economico agli anni Ottanta, Roma: Donzelli, 2003
  • Stefano Jossa, L'Italia letteraria, Bologna: il Mulino, 2006