Did you know that Italian immigrants have also had a huge effect on the population of Brazil? There are actually an estimated 31 million Brazilians who are of Italian descent. With such numbers, it’s no surprise that many Brazilian politicians, models, artists, footballers, and celebrities have Italian ancestry. Their ancestors originally travelled from Italy to settle in Brazil when Brazil had large tracts of land in the Southern half of the country, but no one to settle them. Wanting to encourage more European immigration, they advertised in Italy for workers. Between 1880 and 1900, one million Italian immigrants had arrived. The Italians mixed with the unique culture of South America and has made a large impact on Brazil ever since.
While almost all of the original Italian immigrants that traveled to Brazil spoke in their mother tongue, most Brazilians today with Italian ancestry speak Portuguese, the national language of Brazil. In fact, during the Second World War, it was deemed Illegal to speak German, italian, or Japanese in public. However, that didn’t stop some interesting Italian dialects from being spoken in Brazil. If you listen closely to a native of Sao Paulo or Southern Brazil, you can still hear an Italian accent through their Portuguese. Many Brazilians also say “Ciao” as a greeting.
The language wasn’t the only thing Italians left their mark on. Traditional Italian songs merged with different styles of Brazilian music. Perhaps the most popular sign of this is the well-known Samba Paulista, written by famous musician Adoniran Barbosa, who was the son of two Italian immigrants. The Samba Paulista talked about life in Italian neighborhoods in Sao Paulo and featured a unique dialect.
One thing that Italians are most widely known for is their delicious food that showcases stunning preparations of fresh ingredients. You better bet that Italians left their mark on Brazilian food. Aside from pizza and pasta, Brazil has Italy to thank for mouth watering dishes like chicken with fried polenta, steak parmigiana, Calabrian and Tuscan sausage, galeto (young chicken dish), and chocotone (panettone with chocolate chips). Italian immigrants also brought their grape vines with them and cultivated them in the southern regions of Brazil, producing beautiful wines to enjoy.
The St. Vito Festival is celebrated in Sao Paulo every year to honor Polignano a Mare, the patron saint of Puglia, Italy. The festival is one of the biggest in Sao Paulo because of the large amount of immigrants that originally came from Puglia. Italian immigrants and their descendents all gather for the St. Vito Festival to eat traditional foods each year. Other religious festivals celebrate Our Lady of Casaluce, Our Lady of Achiropita, and St. Gennaro. The non-religious Festa da Uva (Grape Fest) celebrates Italian heritage and wine in Rio Grande do Sul that occurs every two years. During Festa da Uva, visitors eat cheese, grapes, and drink wine while touring vendor booths or watching parades. There is even a beauty pageant in which one Rainha (queen) and two Princesas are chosen.