Before I Voyaged to Italy I read a book called Pan' e Pomodor that talked about life in Puglia where my Dad was from. It was interesting to learn how local some dialects really were... words and expressions totally changed often from one village to another or from one hilltop to another. But when I stumbled across this map of the dialects in Italy I was dumbfounded.
Dialects are used by a majority of Italians and spoken as a primary language by 15% of the population. The strange fact is that many Italians speak their local or regional dialect at home, but speak the Italiano language when outside their home area. For instance, I read in Pan' e Pomodor that parents teach their children never to speak dialect outside of their village, especially when trying to find work in Rome or Milan, because they will be looked down upon. It's a shame because the various dialects and regional differences is exactly what makes Italy such an interesting, rich country. I remember when taking the train from Bari to Rome the conductor made announcements in three languages: English, Italian and Dialetto.
So if you're Voyaging in a remote part of Italy and find it difficult to get the locals to understand you--even when speaking your best Italiano, be patient and remember they might only speak their dialect. Enjoy their uniqueness and speak a more universal language... a smile.
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