Monday, November 3, 2008
Nizza and Nizzardo Italians
Like the canton of Ticino in Switzerland, the county of Nice, France, had belonged to the Italian speaking world. They were Ligurians in culture and dialect. Unlike Ticino, however, they were not allowed to maintain their language and culture. What is particularly amazing about this, is that one of the three founders of the modern Italian state, Giuseppe Garibaldi, was a Nizzardo! Yet still, the region was lost after the Risorgimento.
As mentioned previously, there is a local connection to the Nizzardi. While a large proportion of local Italians were/are Ligurians, there were also others from what we have coined "the Italian Riviera circle," which includes Ligurians, northern Tucans (Lucchesi), Corsicans, Nizzardians, and even once I met someone whose family had originated in Monte Carlo in Monaco. The term is an obvious play on "the Italian Riviera" coast.
Nice is a city in the county of Nice, which is one of six counties in the French province of Alpes-Côte d'Azur. From the Wikipedia entry for Nizzardo Italians: "Nizzardo Italians were the Italian- and Ligurian-speaking populations of the County of Nice (Nizza), who formed the majority of the county's population until the mid-19th century. The term was coined by Italian Irredentists who sought the unification of all Italian peoples within the Kingdom of Italy. During the Risorgimento, in 1860, the Savoy government allowed France to annexe the region of Nice from the Kingdom of Sardinia in exchange for French support of its quest to unify Italy. Consequently, the Nizzardo Italians were shunned from the Italian unification movement and the region has since become primarily French-speaking."
Nice may have originated when it was a Greek colony. It later became a Roman possession, and later was under Frankish rule. All throughout, it's soul seems to have remained, as it had always been, from the early Ligurian tribes. While we are on the subject, what is most facinating, is that the neighboring Languedoc region, along the the south French coast, until the latter nineteenth century, was mostly Greek speaking! Just like England, Germany, Italy, and even America; France had loved to stamp out any strong local culture within their boundaries. Any sovereignty or autonomy, apparently, was against their creed. Although Nizza should have remained part of Liguria, the Languedoc should have remained as a cherished local Greek speaking culture.
The following are related links from Wikipedia:
County of Nice
County of Languedoc