Blog · February 17, 2016

My Amusing Italian Girl Problem

quotescover-JPG-31I am always looking for ways to take my mind off things, so coming across the many “Italian Girl Problems” memes is always a hoot for me. These are not exactly problems, are they? Just some fun stuff to put a smile on my face.

While I can’t relate to all of them, of course, I can relate to many… such as nonna feeding us all the time, how we speak with our hands, or how we live for carbs etc, yep, yep, yep, all me.

There are also some misconceptions though among these funny problems.
The one misconception that has followed me since I came here in 1982 is that nobody ever guesses where I am from. Everyone guesses Northern Europe mostly, such as Germany, Russia or any of the Scandinavian countries and when I tell them Italy they gasp. What? I suppose there is this preconceived notion that Italians are supposed to be “darker”.

Is this a problem? Not really. I smile.

The truth is, Europeans are varied, and you can find people with fair skin and light eyes just about anywhere. Of course they are more common in the North, but they are not exclusively there. Growing up in Northern Italy I had girlfriends that had red hair (something associated with Scotland), were covered in freckles (something associated with Ireland), or, like me, had very fair skin and light eyes. This is because the European populations did move around to fight famine, disease or even cruel rulers.

When I did my DNA at Ancestry, for example, I wasn’t surprised by the results. I inherited my dad’s fair skin and blue eyes, and he was from a part of Italy in the NorthEast that had been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire before it became part of Italy after WW1. I could trace his ancestors there for hundreds of years, in the same tiny village. 50% of my DNA, which I inherited from him, shows germanic/french origins. My mom’s DNA has a little mix. While 46% of my DNA that I inherited from her is indeed Italian, there is a 4% Hispanic trace and less than 1% Eastern European trace. Since my mom’s last name is vaguely of Spanish Origin and they knew of an ancestor that came from MonteNegro, it all fits like a glove.

When I did my DNA at 23andme it showed me an even more detailed view of my origins… It showed that while I am indeed mostly Italian and Germanic/French, the traces of other countries were more varied: 4.5% Balkan (Eastern European), 1.4% Iberian (Spain),  1.1% British/Irish and 0.5% Scandinavian. The most surprising trace though is the 0.1% East Asia/Native America. While that is an extremely small amount, it was still a surprise, even though one would have to go back… how many generations to find this elusive Asian/Native American ancestor? By my calculations about 10 at least. Ten generations is roughly 400-500 years ago. It’s a cool mystery I would love to solve someday.

Love & Light,