North, South, Traditions And Laughs: Italy As Seen By Casa Surace

How Casa Surace's funny videos perfectly describe Italians from North to South.

The founders of Casa Surace with Grandma Rosetta

How Casa Surace’s funny videos perfectly describe Italians from North to South

Casa Surace was founded in 2015 by a group of friends from Naples who, since then, produce witty videos for fun. Five years later, they have won the heart of more than three million social media fans. Of course, I’m one of them. Then, you’ll understand why I was particularly excited when they agreed to be interviewed by me.

The secret of their success lies in the spontaneity of their videos, which are always clever, amusing, and never gross. When you watch them, you feel like Casa Surace are lifelong friends. So, get ready for a hilarious chat on their project which perfectly describes Italians from North to South. I guess that you have already heard that we enjoy making fun of each other, but we all happily come together in their work — as in real life, after all.

Millions of Italians already know and follow you on social media. How would you describe yourselves to our international readers?

We are an extended family. Yes, this is probably the most exhaustive answer we can give you. We started as a group of friends. We all had different occupations: engineering, theater, university — and we used to meet to party and shoot home videos for fun. One day we decided to post one on Facebook and, unexpectedly, it had millions of views and shares. We looked at each other and we thought: “Why not give it a go and see what happens?”

So we set up our channel. We started with videos about Italy’s classic stereotype of North versus South, about the life of those students who move to another region for study, and then we added other themes such as family, mums, southerner girls, il pacco da giù, Italians abroad, and everything related to traditions and local customs and practices. To date, we’ve shot more than 300 videos and we consider our fans as part of our family: we are so happy to have such a loving community supporting us.

In the past few months, I worked at a school in Melbourne: one of the Italian teachers chose some of your videos to explore the North versus South of Italy topic. How would you explain this typically Italian “rivalry” which, nonetheless, exists in different forms in other countries as well? Don’t worry, I’m neutral and from the Center, so I won’t take anything personally!

To be honest, we wouldn’t talk about rivalry: we simply try to tell some differences in the way we Italians approach everyday life. We exploited the stereotype of the precise, fussy and cautious northerner as opposed to the more spontaneous and warmer southerner. Our idea was to use these stereotypes in order to break them, and show that we live in a state of harmony that goes beyond the differences. Of course, we put the South first, but only to redeem it from the general view that sees it as the “weakest.” And you people of the Center can’t be neutral forever: take a stand, so we can start making fun of you too!

What’s the main difference between northern and southern Italy?

That the South is always sunny, while the North is always foggy? No, seriously, in the end we don’t feel like there’s such a big difference between the North and the South. Sure, a lot more southerners are in the North, compared to the number of northerners living in the South: they move because they can’t find a job in the South. This makes us a bit sad, but we hope things will change. We are lucky and proud to have been able to create a business for us, in the South.

You use the stereotype that we Italians bestow on ourselves with irony, and this allows you to deconstruct them. Why don’t you guys pick three and explain how, according to you, they describe best the “Italian character?”

Of course! Actually, three are not enough. We’re going to tell you the first three that come to our mind:

  1. An Italian is one that you recognize on the street from the hand gestures, but who doesn’t admit they use their hands constantly. Try and point it out: they’ll reply that it’s not true at all. When we Italians speak about something, we do it passionately.
  2. When we meet someone that we like, there’s no need to think twice, an invitation is the rule: “let’s have a coffee at my place sometime” or “let’s have lunch/dinner/a parmigiana together! I’ll use my nonna‘s recipe!” We like to share and be in good company.
  3. We constantly complain about our country, but we always miss it when we’re far away. This is because, despite all the difficulties, Italy remains sacred and we love it so much.

Many of your videos feature food, which in Italy is a must to socialize. You’ve also visited many people with different backgrounds, bringing your pacco da giù — literally, the “box from down South” containing food and goods. Can you explain us better what the pacco da giù is?

Il pacco da giù is an emotion. It’s the representation of family love. We went to college far from home and we remember well the happiness we felt every time the courier rang our door, or when a friend from the South came to bring us that box. We must admit that most of the time what was contained in the box could be easily found in the North too. However, it’s different: you can find good products everywhere, but inside that box from home you can feel the love from whoever sends it to you — for example your mum who choose your favorite cookies, mozzarella from the trusted cheese factory, or bread from Franco the baker. Excuse us for a second, we’ll be right back with the interview… We got emotional!

Italian cuisine is famous worldwide, but often foreigners only know its imitations. So, I find the videos where you compare how we prepare our dishes to how they prepare them around the world, it’s very entertaining. The ones in which you make people from different nationalities try our food are really funny too. Why do you think we Italians consider our culinary tradition so important?

Because we love eating! For us, food is a ritual, we don’t just eat to live. Italians don’t see the table only as a piece of furniture: it’s somewhere you meet people and enjoy yourself. This is probably why it means so much to us. And we’re also very attached to traditions in general: food, like other things, is a way to carry them on, and it unites us even when we’re parted. Thus, a carbonara cooked with cream is a tragedy, as it is breaking a coffee cup from the good china your grandma left you.

Many people from all over the world decide to move to Italy for study or work. But lots of Italians move around as well. Can you name three things that (almost) every Italian does when abroad?

One is definitely bringing your coffee and coffee pot from Italy! That’s essential, especially because, let’s face it, we all have tried coffee abroad at least once… And regretted it.

Another thing is finding other Italians in that country: our people has a strong sense of identity, there’s no use in denying it. Also, when you have an Italian friend abroad, if you run out of coffee you can always ask them to give you some — or you could get yourself invited to their place!

The third thing that Italians do when they move abroad, is to give their new address to their relatives in Italy. Otherwise, how do you think they can get their pacco da giù?

How about concluding with a little game? Deep down we are all different and all the same. However, I would like you to think about what distinguishes us Italians from the others. Always keep in mind that most of our readers are foreigners and complete this sentence: “An Italian is someone who…”

An Italian is someone who talks to you about Italy and then says “you must come to visit me, it’s so beautiful!”

In case you haven’t watched their videos yet, here’s an antipasto for you!

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