10 Surprising Ways Italian Culture Has Influenced Argentina
Argentina is a seamless mixture of Italian influence and Spanish culture.
Although Argentina is a Spanish-speaking country, Italy is actually the country from which Argentina received most of its current population.
While Italians sought to escape from Europe’s harsh political and economic climate, Argentina looked for more hands to cultivate its soil and expand its businesses.
Italian immigrants quickly became the workforce that Argentina needed. Meanwhile, this South American country provided the growth and possibilities that Italians craved.
These European immigrants poured into Argentina in the millions. The country’s new Italian population influenced every aspect of Argentinean life.
The Spanish and Italian languages collided to create new dialects like Argentinian Italian. Italy’s famous gastronomy shaped Argentina’s budding cuisine into a delicious mixture of pastas and meats.
Stay tuned to discover 10 more amazing ways that Italian culture shaped Argentina!
Italian Immigration to Argentina
Argentina has a strong Italian heritage. In fact, it has the largest Italian population outside of Italy! Let’s explore how these European wanderers ended up 7,000 miles from home.
When Did Italians Start to Immigrate to Argentina?
From 1870 to 1960, nearly two million Italians arrived in Argentina in search of economic opportunities. Italians themselves made up 40% of the immigrants coming to this country. There are thousands of Italian immigrants to Argentina records from this time.
The second wave of Italian immigrants came after World War I, when a massive number of immigrants from both Spain and Italy arrived in Argentina. With so many new immigrants of Italian origin, Argentina’s cities had the largest Italian population outside Italy.
To answer the question, “why did Italians migrate to Argentina?”, you have to look at the major economic and political events of these time periods in history.
Most Italians sought Argentine citizenship so that they could pursue better economic opportunities. Others tried to avoid the devastation that the war brought to Europe. No matter their reason for immigrating, Italians brought their hard-working nature and delicious recipes with them.
Argentina Ethnic Makeup
Over 60% of Argentina’s population has Italian heritage! With such a large Italian population in Argentina, it’s no surprise that many Argentine surnames or last names sound Italian.
Since there are so many Italians in South America, you might be wondering, “are Italians Latino?”. The short answer is no. The “Latino” label is for people born in, or with ancestors from, Latin America. However, since so many Argentineans now have Italian ancestry mixed with their Argentinean heritage, the answer becomes a little bit fuzzier!
What Are The People of Argentina Called?
There are several names for the people of Argentina. Argentines, Argentinians, and Argentinos are all ways to refer to people from this country.
Residents of Buenos Aires, Argentina’s capital, are called porteños, or “people of the port.”
Italian Language in Argentina
More than 1.5 million people speak Italian in Argentina!
Italian is even the second most spoken native language in the nation.
How Did the Language Influence Argentina?
There is a clear answer to the question: “Spanish in Argentina is mostly influenced by what country?” Italy!
Argentinian Spanish borrows many words and styles from Italian. Due to this immersion, Spanish in Argentina is distinctive and has many words that do not exist in the standard form of Spanish.
The language combination between Spanish and Italian was a way for both speakers to more easily communicate with each other. Although the two languages already share many similarities, they are also distinct in important ways.
If you’re interested in studying one of these useful romance languages, check out our guide: Spanish vs Italian: Which One Should You Learn?
Do Special Dialects or Slang Come From Italian?
As the Italian immigrants and Spanish-speaking locals mixed their languages together, a new Argentinian Italian slang, called Lunfardo, came to exist.
Here are some examples of Argentinian Italian:
- job – “laburo” (from the Italian word for work: “lavoro”)
- to eat – “morfar” (comes from the Italian word for mouth: “morfa”)
- young man – “pibe” (from the Italian word for child: “pivetto”)
Italian Dishes That Influenced Argentine Cuisine
Let’s dive into the question, “What kinds of Italian dishes influenced Argentine cuisine?”.
Hint: it’s not just pasta!
How Did Italian Food Influence Argentina?
When Italians arrived in Argentina, they brought their art, language, and recipes!
With so many Italians in Argentina, their plates quickly gained popularity among the Argentine population. These two cooking styles merged to create the tasty Argentine cuisine style that exists today!
What Dishes Do Both Cultures Share?
Here are the most popular dishes that Italy and Argentina share!
Argentinian-style pizza is different from Italy’s famous thin-crust creation. Pizzerias in Argentina prefer a thick crust with airy dough and lots of toppings!
Milanesa is a meat schnitzel that Italian immigrants brought to Argentina. These delicious schnitzels are topped with everything from fried egg and guacamole to barbecue sauce and ham.
Gnocchi is cheap but filling food that families would eat to help make ends meet. These little potato dumplings were extremely popular during the Second World War when pockets were tight.
For more delicious Argentinian dishes, check out:
- All About Yerba Mate: The Argentina National Drink
- Top 12 Must-Try Panaderías and Confiterías of Argentina
10 Examples of Italian Influence in Argentina
From soccer players (footballers) to Gauchos and estancias, Argentinian culture is bursting with life. Of course, one of the most important aspects of Argentinean culture is its strong Italian roots. It’s time to visit some of Italy’s greatest influences on Argentine culture!
1. Pizzería Güerrin
It’s impossible to think about Italian food without picturing pizza!
Thankfully, Italians brought this cheesy dish with them to Argentina. One of the greatest places to taste an authentic Italian meal is at Buenos Aires’ Pizzería Güerrin.
When you eat at Pizzería Güerrin, you know that you’re getting true Italian pizza. Back in 1932, Italian immigrants founded this famous restaurant with an Argentinean twist. The pizzeria combines the classic Italian pizza’s freshness with Argentineans’ love for cheese.
The result is a mouth-watering pizza!
The Olivotti family founded the ice cream parlor Cadore, named after the Italian region they lived in.
Three generations later, the family packed up their treasured recipes and set off for Argentina. In the 1950s, they opened up a new Cadore shop with the same fresh ingredients and delicious flavors.
Asado is a South American tradition where family and friends gather together for an endless meal of barbecued meat!
The Argentinean version has an Italian twist. Rather than limiting themselves to meats, Argentineans also enjoy a diverse array of pasta. It’s the perfect combination of friends, food, and festivities!
4. Palacio Barolo
Italians influenced every aspect of Argentinian life, and architecture is no exception!
Italian architect Mario Palanti brought a poem to life by designing Palacio Barolo. Palanti created this palace to serve as a tribute to the famous Italian poet Dante Alighieri. He carefully constructed each of the building’s 22 floors to represent one stanza from Dante’s Divine Comedy.
Take a stroll through this neo-romantic landmark to uncover some of Argentina’s best-kept architecture!
All throughout Buenos Aires, stunning Fileteado art covers the city signs and windows.
This beautiful art style actually originated on wagons. Many Argentinian Italian worked in wagon factories and were the first to create this artistic style. Over time, the irresistible art form spread throughout the city!
6. Hand Gestures
Italians don’t only speak with their mouths, they talk with their hands too!
From making the signature finger pinch with their fingers to show annoyance to creating a “c” sign with their fingers to order a coffee, Italian hands have a language all of their own!
These hand gestures flourished in Argentina and are now a routine way of communicating.
7. Helados Ferruccio Soppelsa
While there are hundreds of gelaterias in Argentina, Helados Ferruccio Soppelsa stands out as one of the best.
Italian immigrant Güerino Soppelsa got busy right after arriving in Argentina by creating his own ice cream parlor. The business quickly took off and did so well that the Italian government even awarded it the “Cavalieri del Lavaro”!
8. La Marchigiana
Hungry for some rich tiramisu or creamy lasagna?
Stop by La Marchigiana, one of the best-known restaurants in Mendoza, for an Italo-Argentinian cuisine experience!
Teresa Barbera left post-war Italy to pursue her love for cooking. She founded the restaurant in Mendoza in 1950 and her descendants continue to keep it flourishing four generations later!
9. Plaza Italia
Nothing symbolizes the close bond between Argentina and Italy like the Plaza Italia!
Mendoza put up a historic monument in the center of this plaza to honor the Italian immigrants who left Argentina to fight for Italy during World War I. It stands tall as a remembrance of their sacrifice.
10. National Congress Building
Argentina’s National Congress Building doubles as an architectural work of art.
This building combines Italian and Argentinian designs in a stunning composition of walnut wood and hand-carved panels.
Prepare For Your Visit to Argentina
It’s time to practice your Argentinian Italian and Spanish!
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