HBC has collected information on a variety of activities in which Italian boys have participated in over time. Many of these activiities involve a wide range of specialized costumes. Other images show trends in German boys' clothing over time. Some of the activities include choir, choir, dance, games, religious observation, school, sport, and many other activities. Italy until after World War II, was the poorest of the major European countries. Given the poverty, especially in southern Italy, many Italian boys had to work often invoved in agricultural labor.
We have some limited historical information about summer camps in Italy. The Scouts before World War I began organizing summer camps, but camp became an activity organized by the Balial after the Scouts were banned in the 1920s. Italian Fascism was not as absolute as the NAZIs. Thus although Scouting was banned, groups such as companies were allowed to organize summer camps for the children of their workers. An Italian reader writes, "Summer camps in mountain or countrysides were and are organized by Boy Scout groups. These camps usually are with tents, but for younger children, the "lupetti" (little wolves), they use organized camps. During the Fascist era were the party organizations that organized summer camps: the "Balilla" (younger) and the "Avanguardisti" (older) for the boys and the "Figlie della Lupa" (younger) and the "Giovani Italiane" (older) for the girls. The Italian term for summer camp is "campo estivo". Since the 1970s there are many summer camps organized from parishes and religious movements called "campo scuola" (school camp), because they have also an educational goal. There is an other traditional summer camp in seaside resorts, called "colonia estiva". This sort of summer camp is the more common in Italy. Italy is of course virtually surrounded by the sea. There are numerous organizations that organize "colonie estive": for example the big companies organize these summer camps for their laborers' children. I attended my father's company sea summer camp between the late 60s and early 70s. We had a simple uniform: blue shorts, white t-shirt and cap, open-toe sandals without socks; for the seaside: blue trunks." One interesting note is that even though Italy after World War II had a very large and active Communist Party, the Young Pioneers were never organized in Italy. There were thus no Young Pioneer camps, the Party did, however, sponsor some summer camps.
HBC has little information on Italy. Curiosly in a country with a rich musical tradition, including choral music, there appear to be no well known boy choirs. HBC has attempted to reserch the subject of Italian choirs. Apparently in Italy the notion of boys' choirs is now unknown. There are, however, children's choirs made up of both boys and girls. HBC would be very interested for any insights that Italian readers can offer.
Every Italian town and village has their own destinctive festivals. A range of cultural elements are involved, including often destinctive clothing. Many are religious in character and are commonly associated with the patron saint of the village. One example is the Festival of Saint Salvatore at Cabras on Sardinia. An Italian reader tells us about the festival of Saint Paulís in Palazzolo Acreide, a large village in Sicily. It is in the south-western part of the island. The most important aspect of the festival is the procession. At 1:00 p.m. of June 29, the statue of the saint (made by a local sculptor in 1507) is brought out of the church through the main door. The statue is carried on the shoulder by many people along the village streets. Some barefoot women follow the statue. During the procession many mothers undress their little children. The children are then brought as near as possible to the saintís statue. It is a sign of instance of protection by the saint that probably has a pre-Christian origin. We find this rite in some other Sicilian festivities."
We have only limited information on outings at this time. With children this often means family outfings, but older children can go on limited outings on their own or with groups of friends. We suspect that there were many similarities to other European countries. City families had parks to visit, although we have little information on Italian city parks at this time. A major difference with America is that few Italians families had cars. This restructed family mobility. This of course was a factor throughout Europe. Thus ecursions into the country were limited. This made picnics into the country difficult. Bicycles provided some mobility for older boys. But here again, poverty was a factor. Many Italian fanilies could not even afford bicycles. Italy is a large peminsiula extending into the Meditteranean. Thus most Italiand live close to beaches. Thus seaside outings became an important part of Italian life. We see Italian families at the seaside in the early 20th century, but have only limited information at this time.
Religion is a very important part of Italian life. Most Italians describe themselves as Catholic, although many are non practicing. Religion has played an important role in Italian history. Christianity was a creature of the Toman Empire. It developed within the Empire although it was at times severely repressed. It became the stsate religion of the Empire. Christianity not only survived the fall of the Empire, but was adopted by the Germanic Tribes who conquered the Empire. Italy became the center of Catholcism in Europe because of the growing primacy of the Papacy. The Papacy also controlled a secular state in central Italy around Rome and was influential even in the other Italian states outside its secular control. Both Byzabtium and the Arabs at times controlled parts of Italy and Sicily, but the Catholic Church emerged as the sole religion of Italy with the exception of small Jewish communities. The Papacy achieved such strength by the the turn of the second millenium that they vied with the secular power of the Holy Roman (German) emperors. It was at this time that the Papacy conceived of the Crusades to liberate the Holy Land, inspiring an outpouring of religious devotion throughout Europe. The Renaissance first appeared in Italy, profoundly affecting intelectual thought. Italy never, however, experienced the Reformation. Rather the Inquisition and Counter Reformation kept Italy thoroughly Catholic. The Napoleonic Wars introduced liberal ideas to Italy, but the Napoleon's defeat and the Congress of Vienna reimposed conservative regimes the and Catholic Church. The liberal movement for religious freedom was less intense in Italy than the rest of Europe. Conflict developed between the Papacy and the new kingdom of Italy, but the Catholic Church remained influential as it did even during Mussolini's Fascist regime. The Church signed a Concordont with Mussolini's Government. The position of the Church changed after World War II with a new Consitution. The Church remained a central part of the life of most Italians. The Communist Party after the War became a major force in Italy. Even so, most Italians even Communists had their children do their First Communion and were married in churches.
Sport is very popular in Italy. It is not as centered on the schools as in the case of America. This tends to be true through much of Europe. Football dominates Italian sport as is the case throughout most of Europe. Sport is not nearly as seasonal as in America. Boys want to play footbll year round. We do not have an Italian sports page yet. We do have a page on rugby. It is a minor sport, but growing in popularity. We also have a page on Italian swimwear.
Italy until after World War II, was the poorest of the major European countries. The poverty was especially severe in southern Italy which well into the 20th century was almost feudal with large agricultural estates. Given the poverty, especially in southern Italy, many Italian boys had to leave school at an early age and work. Italy was not as heavily industrialized as many countries to the north. Thus boys were often involved in low paying agricultural labor. The overty in Italy was the major reason that large numbers of Italians emmigrated to Amrica in the late-19th and early-20th century. We note Italian boys involved in agricultural work well into the 20th century, even after World war II.
Italian boys were earger particupants in the spreading Boy Scout movement during the 1910s. We have only limited information on early Italian Scout uniforms. After World War I, however, the Fascists seized control of Italy in the 1920s and Scouting was abolished. Most Italian boys participated in the Fascist youth organization the Baliall, which like the Scouts was a uniformed group. We have collectecd some information on the Baliall. Scouting did not reappear in Italy until the 1940s and the defeat of Italian Fascism.
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