As a nation state, Italy has emerged only in 1871. Until then the country was politically divided into a large number of independant cities, provinces and islands. The currently available evidences point out to a dominant Etruscan, Greek and Roman cultural influence on today's Italians.
Something interesting - I have a photo taken in Italy, 1912 and the single ladies in the photo have their right arms raised with their right hands placed to the side of their heads. Now I am assuming that they were wanting to make it obvious to those in America (where the photo would be sent) that they were eligible and looking for a partner. Is this right? It seems quite flirtatious given it was taken in the early 1900s, and that they were living in the very conservative southern Italy. Was it just their desperation to leave their homeland and escape the poverty? Nick
That's quite an assumption; how did you arrive at that?
It does seem a bit odd, though. Were they saluting? Trying to hear what the photographer was saying over the din of the crying children?
Perhaps it was a regional thing - was this photo from the rural, agrarian south, the fishing locales like Sicily, or from the relatively well-to-do north?
Here are a couple of women at the other end of the age spectrum.
The groom is my father's elder brother. My father first met my mother at the wedding ceremony; my mother is the bride's youngest sister. The couple on the left are the groom's (and thus my father's) parents; the couple on the right are the bride's (and my mother's) parents.
Click to enlarge.
My hobby is finding things. Having found most of my own, I am happy to help others find theirs. PM me!
johnnyonthespot, the photo was taken in the town of Rapone (Potenza) in the Basilicata region. I am definate that they were not trying to hear the photographer, but I do think that it may have been a regional thing / custom. I have attached a photo of a relative posing in exactly the same manner (she is actually seen in the first photo holding the baby). So she posed like that and she was married at the time, so now I am confused. It may indicate their youth, or just the way young ladies posed in the 'new' photograph era. So it amy have been totally innocent. Nick
This is not a pose, the ladies in the first picture are leaning with their arms on the shoulders of the ones next to them; in the second picture the lady is leaning against the back of the chair. In those days the photographers used to tell the people how to pose, so if you want to call it a pose, go ahead, but it has nothing to do with being single, nor desperate. I also want to add that a lot of people seem to think that desperation was a way of life in 19th century Italy, it's true that life was not a bed of roses but the real DESPERATION was experienced by millions when they got the Americas and found out that money was not dropped at the side of the roads to be picked but instead they were exploited, abused, bullied and in many instances killed by the people they worked for.
Julo wrote:but the real DESPERATION was experienced by millions when they got the Americas and found out that money was not dropped at the side of the roads to be picked but instead they were exploited, abused, bullied and in many instances killed by the people they worked for.
Definitely! They came here for a better life, but their circumstances weren't improved until the next generation. There's a saying I'm sure many of you have heard "We were told that the streets of America were paved with gold. When I got here, I found out three things: first, the streets weren't paved with gold; second, they weren't paved at all; and third, I was expected to pave them"
Even these days in Italy many people (men and women) make a gesture by pressing the index finger into the hollow of the cheek and turning the finger clockwise and back again. It means they approve of something, such as good food or a nice dress and can also convey a compliment to a host. In addition, young women in a playful mood may make this gesture when they feel they are looking especially attractive. I think the ladies in the foto are simply flirting with the camera. I don't recall any of my Italian relatives in the USA ever making this gesture. It seems to be a gesture that never left Italy because I've seen it used repeatedly over there.
Correct Carmine. Definitely not a flapper thing. My cousin's wife, age 40, born and raised and living in Abruzzo makes this very same pose every time she appears to her husband and friends for the first time wearing a new outfit, of which there are many, by the way. It means, "Don't I look good"?