Campanilismo Annulled for One Night

July 5, 2012 / Local Interest
Bolsena, Lazio
Italy lost the European Cup final to Spain this past weekend in a resounding defeat, 4 to 0. No doubt about it, Spain had control of the field, taking home una vittoria meritata as countless Italian newscasters and fans all over the country admitted in interviews.

But what a glorious show of Italian passione these weeks have been! One journalist wrote that for the final, Italians would be outdoors, everyone all together, in front of big screens set up all over Italy – whatever the outcome – to share un’abbraccio grande quanto una piazza. (A hug as big as a piazza.) And most wondrous: per noi italiani, almeno una volta, senza campanili, nel gioco piu’ bello. (..and for us Italians, for once at least, without belltowers*, in the most beautiful of games…)

After all, only at European Cup finals, World Cup finals – maybe at Olympic games – do Italians (excluding those abroad) feel Italiani. I write this from Lake Bolsena. Now that the European Cup is over, everyone is Bolsenese once again. Last night for the game, Italian flags were painted on faces, waved in the air, strung across streets. After the match, faces were scrubbed, the flags put away and campanilismo prevails once again… until 2014 and the next World Cup.

Facciamo le corna.

* – Belltowers?! Campanilismo is the sense of appartenenza (belonging, also loyalty) that Italians in Italy have historically extended only as far as their local belltower, i.e. town, or even just neighborhood if in a larger town or city. Italy as a nation-state, and hence nationalism, is still a relatively new concept that first began to enter the collective consciousness as of WWI. It has still not fully taken hold. Interestingly, the strong form of campanilismo almost completely disappears and is replaced with true nationalism among Italians, and their descendents, abroad. – Editor

Anne Robichaud

by Anne Robichaud

An authorized Umbrian tour guide, Anne and her husband Pino worked the land for many years in the 1970’s so rural life, rural people, rural cuisine are una passione for her. See Umbria from “the inside”: join her May 2017 ten-day tour centered on discovering Umbria, Anne’s Umbria.

See for more on her Umbria tours. Do see for news on the Assisi apartment – and Assisi countryside guest house – she and Pino now rent out.

Anne writes frequently on Umbria and other areas of Italy. Read about her annual U.S. Feb/Mar cooking classes and lectures, as well as her numerous Italy insights on her blog.

16 Responses to “Campanilismo Annulled for One Night”

  1. Kathy Weeks

    Forza, Anna!! Another great post with pictures that fully capture the sense of unity Anne describes. I have been in Italy several times to witness this amazing nationalism during and after Euro Cup and World Cup… in both the glory of winning and the agony of defeat…this time, in the tiny village of Varenna, (Lake Como), the crowd surprisingly applauded at the end of the resounding loss to Spain…still united.

  2. So true! Well written and moving, actually. I find it fascinating and even charming that Italians are more connected to their communities than to their nation. Perhaps there is something for us all to learn there? Usually we see nations & nation-building as so important, but what if we existed in a world of little campanillisimi all the time? Maybe that wouldn’t be so bad after all. Thanks for this wonderful post!

  3. Marco Chiusano

    You wrote ” Italy as a nation-state, and hence nationalism, is still a relatively new concept that first began to enter the collective consciousness as of WWI.” I wonder would Mazzini, Cavour, and Garibaldi agree with this comment, or do I misunderstand the Risorgimento? Markedly different from Italia irredenta, which culminated in the annexation of Trieste and Trento in the early 20th century!

    • GB

      Marco, you are right. Mazzini, Cavour and Garibaldi would be dismayed by the campanilismo still rampant today! While there were many luminaries and intellectuals and even common people who gave their life for the unification, what i meant by collective consciousness is that the sense of nationhood, of belonging to the nation, took a long time to take root among the general population.

      • Marco Chiusano

        Point taken – Linda’s quote is spot on, but things are changing, albeit slowly. My best friends are in “a mixed marriage”, according to the old way of thinking, i.e. he is from Puglia, she from the Veneto, with all the concomitant cultural, linguistic and gastronomic rivalries inherent in such a union. Their children, however, whilst fully aware of the differences in their respective heritages, consider themselves “more” Italian than perhaps did their parents – although still maintaining a sense of campanalismo – with the added benefit, one might say, of having it from two places! Fortunately, I see no evidence of a cultural schizophrenia.

  4. Hello, Anne-

    I enjoyed this essay, as always. I learn from every story and look forward to reading them. I look at our photos from our tours with you and so appreciate all I’ve seen – such wonderful remembrances! Thank you.

    Most sincerely,

  5. Someone sent me this site. I’m enjoying it. My parents came from Calabria. I was born in Iowa and still live here. Anyone who would like to talk, contact me…Buon Giorno

  6. I remember my first visit to Italy vividly. All four of my grandparents came from Italy in the early 1900s – two from the Province of Potenza and two from other parts of Italy. But when I stepped off the plane in Rome, I felt like I was home.

    My wife’s father was also born in Potenza while her grandparents on her mother’s side were Sicilians. She too had that same feeling.

    We had since visited Potenza twice to visit her Maschito and Rionero en vulture that are only about 30 kilometers apart. There is no family left in either community but I do have cousins from my grandmother’s side living in Rome whom we have met.

  7. Anne I am always thrilled to get any news about Bolsena. It is the town that my father was born in and lived in until he was 14 and immigrated to the US. He never had a chance to go back, but my husband and I visited that beautiful little town many years ago. I still plan to go back. I do have some distant relatives still living there. Thank you for the memory.

  8. I disagree with your last sentence. Sicilians in the USA call themselves Sicilians, not Italians. That aggravates my husband, un padovano, because isn’t Sicily part of Italy?

  9. My best friend is Sicilian, but she refers to herself as Italian.

  10. Sandi Spector

    Aother fun article by Annie. I am starting to recognize her articles even if the aren’t based in Umbria!

  11. Nancy


    Another great article. I love how you use common Italian expressions and then translate them for us. We were sorry to see Italy lose, but what an opportunity to bring a country together around a common cause.


  12. Anne Robichaud

    Thanks to all – so enjoyed your comments, feedback….and yes, Linda, corretto: still working here on “making the Italians”!

  13. Cindy Irish

    I was fortunate enough to be in Spello for the “football” finals. Heartbreak, but Italian spirit ever strong. Great article.


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