Those tacky Italians

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    In my hometown, it was a commonly held stereotype that Italian-Americans had a preference for what most consider to be gaudy possessions. I found this stereotype to be true. Not all Italians have 'poor taste' when judged from a middle-American standard, but I knew a disproportionately large amount of Italian-American families with houses filled with rococo furniture, clear vinyl-covered carpets and furniture, loud wallpaper, yards covered in statuary and fountains, initials on the garage door, large Cadillacs with aftermarket vinyl roofs in the driveway, ornate wrought-iron fences surrounding the property, elaborate shrines to the Virgin Mary, and so on. Many Italian-American families also paved or bricked over much of the front lawn. Why are these tastes so prevalent among Italian-Americans?

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    Name : Dave26004, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, City : Denver, State : CO Country : United States, Social class : Upper middle class, 

    Most Italian immigrants came from poor backgrounds in southern Italy, where home ownership was not possible, and a fifth-grade education was the only legal education requirement. They worked hard in the United States and wanted to visibly express the joy of home ownership and its related possessions. Many had a flamboyant nature, and their homes expressed this trait. Thus their homes had fountains, brick walks, grottos, etc. as a way of imitating the estates of the wealthy landowners in their towns. They went through the flashy cars and clothes phase to show off; it was their way of keeping up with their compadres. Their homes were their sanctuary, generally very clean (the plastic covers to keep the furniture clean), where they welcomed family and friends. I'm second-generation, college grad, executive type, live in a beautiful house on a two-acre wooded setting, and have never owned a Caddy. I owe it all to a hardworking father with a fifth-grade education and a devoted mother who insisted I go to college. We descendants of those immigrants also joke about those gaudy things you mentioned. And now we watch others, newly arrived in this country, do similar things. It's part of this beautiful thing we have called America. By the way, you forgot to mention gold chains with horns and diamond pinky rings!

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    Name : Dave-E, Gender : M, Age : 47, City : Pittsburgh, State : PA Country : United States, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Upper middle class, 

    Laura O.
    Maybe the gaudiness comes from the American part of Italian/American. After all, the Italian side can boast of Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Bernini, Pierandello, etc. I'm Italian-American, and my taste runs to Post-Impressionism and Art Deco. Go figure.

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    Name : Laura O., Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Age : 38, City : Bel Air, State : MD Country : United States, Occupation : teacher/editor/writer, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 

    I'm sure some of the influence came over 'on the boat' with the early immigrants - especially the rococo furniture and religious shrines. In the Northeast United States, Italians tended to settle together in towns and neighborhoods (every city around here has a 'Little Italy' district). Our sense of style is based on what we're exposed to, so if this is what you're exposed to, then this often becomes your preferred style. The first thing that struck me upon moving to this part of the country was the abundance of lawn ornaments. A few years ago it seemed like every other house had a Dutch Girl/Dutch Boy pair on their lawn! Having moved here from the West Coast, it took some getting used to.

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    Name : Sheila, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Catholic, Age : 45, City : Syracuse, State : NY Country : United States, Occupation : Web Developer, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Upper middle class, 

    When people who were once poor get money they tend to buy things that show off their newfound status. As for the front lawn, a lot of homes in Italy are also bricked over. It cuts down on the amount of bugs and the need to mow the lawn each week.

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    Name : Ebony, Gender : F, Race : Black/African American, Age : 23, City : Utrecht, State : NA Country : The Netherlands, Occupation : Student, Social class : Middle class, 

    It's fascinating to read everyone's insights on the cultural expressions of Italian-Americans. The blend of heritage and new influences certainly shapes our tastes and preferences. I think the desire to showcase success through home aesthetics is a universal theme, not limited to any single culture. The Italian-American community's tendency towards elaborate decor could be seen as a celebration of their achievements and a reflection of their vibrant spirit. Interestingly, this conversation reminds me of how much our surroundings and exposure influence our preferences. When I moved from the East Coast to the Midwest, I noticed significant differences in how people decorated their homes and lawns. Its amazing how diverse our tastes can be, yet how certain themes like celebrating one's heritage and accomplishments persist across different cultures.  

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