Clinal Differences in Pigmentation

December 31, 2019

People often mention the fact that Southern Italians are darker than Northern Italians like it proves something about "racial differences" in Italy, but clinal north-south or east-west differences in pigmentation (and other traits) are normal and can be seen in other European countries too, like Germany, France and the British Isles:


British Isles

Looking at Europe as a whole, the differences within Italy are small compared to differences between Italy and North-Central Europe:

This can also be seen within the border nation of Switzerland, between the Italian-speaking south and the German-speaking parts in the north:

Despite stereotypes of Northern Italians looking "Germanic" or "Celtic" compared to "dark" Southerners, and dumb movies claiming that they all have blond hair and blue eyes, people with that combination are only ~3-6% of the population in the North, compared to ~1-3% in the South, and red hair is <1% (~0.3-0.9) everywhere:

Blond Hair and Blue Eyes
Red Hair (per 1000 people)

You can see in the large random samples from all regions here and here that most Italians are in the medium pigmentation range. And you can see how similar they all are on average in these facial composites.

Myth of North-South Racial Differences

December 18, 2019

Many people today think that Northern and Southern Italians are racially different, but that isn't based on reality or any kind of evidence, which all shows that they're genetically and phenotypically similar. It's a myth that was shaped within Italy itself by some very ignorant people with inferiority complexes, who brought it wherever they immigrated, where it was copied by even dumber Nordicists and Afrocentrists.

From the 17th c. Northern and Western European "barbarians" started surpassing Southern Europe and denigrating Italy as backwards, so insecure Northern Italians tried to win their acceptance by separating from the Mediterranean and making Southern Italians the new barbarians:

Over the course of the seventeenth century, a radical inversion in the relations of force and cultural prestige between Italy and western Europe took place. Model to and "master" of Europe since the fourteenth century (Le Goff 2074), during the 1600s Italy was dramatically upstaged by countries to the north and west of the Alps: Holland, England, and France. What was taking place in fact was a massive shift of geopolitical and economic power away from the Mediterranean world as a whole. [...] The Italians had lorded their economic power and cultural supremacy over the rest of Europe since the fourteenth century. Italian intellectuals referred to those beyond the Alps as barbarians, using a conceit dating back to the days of Petrarch and central to the consciousness of Italian elites right through the Risorgimento. Now the tables were turning.


The tendency to denigrate contemporary Italy and the Italians had thus become commonplace in the culture of western Europe by the mid-1700s and would continue well through the next century. These accusations, repeatedly voiced by the English, French, and increasingly by the Germans as well, would have a significant impact on Italian representations of Italy in the Risorgimento. [...] One of the key aspects of the national consciousness that developed in Italy in the century before unification was the necessity of confronting its inferiority vis-à-vis western Europe, both as it was expressed in foreign denunciations and as it manifested itself in the political, economic, and cultural domains more generally.


But throughout the century before unification, and especially in the decades leading up to 1860, the dominant emphasis was nevertheless on Italy's need to rise to the economic and cultural levels attained by western Europe. The problem of political independence could itself be posed in comparative terms. [...] Notwithstanding Italian claims to parity, if not primacy, it would not be the Mediterranean models that prevailed in the making of modern Italy but rather those of western Europe. As we shall see later in this study, this pressure to conform mounted in the middle of the nineteenth century, helping to split Italy into two parts, a European north and a south that deviated from the European model. [1]

The idea of the South as "not European" came from the ignorance of Northerners — including the unified country's first Prime Minister — who had made assumptions or heard rumors about the South but never traveled there or even bothered to learn about it honestly:

There was remarkably little travel and commerce between northern and southern portions of the peninsula and almost no effort to bridge the gulf of mutual ignorance between the two. [...] Prime Minister Cavour was a great admirer of Britain, France, and northern Europe. He had never been south of Florence, where he once spent a few restless days. His ignorance of what northerners called "Lower Italy" was astonishing. He believed, for example, that the people of Naples spoke Arabic as a legacy of African invasions. No wonder Cavour was horrified to learn in May 1860 that Garibaldi and a volunteer army of one thousand Italians, mostly from the North, were planning to carry the Risorgimento south. They planned to invade Sicily, ally with peasant uprisings there, and liberate the South from the rule of Ferdinand II, the Bourbon king. [2]

This false picture of the South led to the people there being "racialized" by Northerners, but also by an elite Southerner who threw his own under the bus. Their pseudo-scientific theories, and the stereotypes and prejudices that grew out of them, then spread through the culture and around the world, lasting to this day:

The cultural and political discourses that, post-unification, proceeded to represent a binarized relation between North and South would increasingly assume racializing and racist dimensions. An entire school of intellectuals devoted to the study of the South, as a "question" or "problem" to be analyzed and solved, was launched with the publication of Pasquale Villari's Lettere Meridionali (1875) (see Teti; Schneider; Petrusewicz; and Dickie). In 1876, Constantino Nigra, in his study of glottology and dialects in the context of popular Italian poetry, claimed to have identified an "ethnic substratum" which he believed explained the difference between "superior" and "inferior" Italy (Teti 15). This "ethnic substratum" was, argued Nigra, constituted by two "distinct races": the "Italici and the Arians, the Mediterraneans and the Celts" (qtd. in Teti 16). By the 1890s, Nigra's linguistic theory was elaborated and consolidated in the writings of the influential school of positivist anthropologists known as the Meridionalisti (Southernists). The important point to note was that the Meridionalisti, who were to exert an inordinate influence in the consolidation of negative Southern stereotypes in Northern Italian politics and culture, were not exclusively Northerners. One of the most influential, and racist, Meridionalisti was in fact a Sicilian, Alfredo Niceforo. Niceforo can be seen as a super-assimilated Southerner who exemplifies the paradoxical and convoluted logic of assimilation. In writing the most vilifying and condemnatory "scientific" and "rational" accounts of Southern barbarism, savagery and backwardness, Niceforo strove to efface his own Southern status and to secure a Northern identity coextensive with civility and reason.

Drawing on the work of the positivist anthropologist and craniologist Giuseppe Sergi, who argued that the difference between Southerners and Northerners lay in the existence of two distinct races, Niceforo proceeds to name these two distinct races and to articulate their respective attributes: "Today Italy is divided into two zones, inhabited by two different races, the Arians in the North, delimited by the Tuscan border (Celts and Slavs), and the Mediterraneans in the South" (78). Niceforo invokes another racial theorist, A. Mosso, in order further to differentiate Northerners from Southerners: "The population of Northern Italy is little different from the Anglo-Saxon race" (79). As the contemporary Calabrian historian, Vito Teti, illustrates in his The Damned Race: The Origins of Anti-Southern Prejudice, the racist theories of Niceforo and fellow Meridionalisti were quickly taken up and reproduced at the levels of both popular and high culture. They continue to shape contemporary perceptions of the South.

The racial theories of the Meridionalisti supply the foundations for the anti-Southern xenophobia of such contemporary political parties as the Northern League. One of the pamphlets circulated by the Northern League in the early 1990s consisted of a map of Italy titled "The Integral Solution to All Our Problems" (see Dickie 136 for a reproduction of this map). The map shows an Italy divided by a "Liberation Canal" that neatly divides the Italian peninsula into two parts: Northern Italy is constituted by the Northern provinces of Lombardy, Piedmont and Veneto; adjacent to Northern Italy is "Southern Italy," constituted by the (Northern) provinces of Liguria, Tuscany, Umbria and Emilia-Romagna. All the provinces south of Florence are gathered under the title of the "Island of New Africa." The Island of New Africa is separated from "New Italy" by a sea-channel termed the "Liberation Canal," which effectively splits the country in half. The "Liberation Canal" is bordered by a "2 km. high protective laser barrier." This map graphically illustrates the vigor and resilience of the racist theories that have shaped the political and cultural landscape of Italy since so-called "unification." The imagining of Southern Italy as Northern Italy's "Africa," first enunciated in the nineteenth-century, finds its logical culmination in a type of spatial apartheid that finally severs the peninsula into two different nations: "New Italy" and "New Africa."

What I have offered so far is really only a synoptic mapping of the complex and entrenched history of anti-Southern racism in the Italian context. The important point that the historian Vito Teti makes in his history of anti-Southern racism is that these racist theories and prejudices were exported outside Italy and proceeded to inform the attitudes towards Southern Italians in other parts of the world, including Europe, the UK, the USA and Australia (all destinations for Southern Italian immigrants). [3]

Niceforo was an immature idiot who attempted to use things like poverty, crime, illiteracy etc. to support his racial theories — a lot like what happened with the Irish and what modern idiots like Richard Lynn are bringing back:

Alfredo Niceforo published L'Italia barbara contemporanea at the age of only twenty-two; it was to be the beginning of a distinguished academic career. Niceforo's hypothesis is that Sicily, Sardinia, and the southern mainland are stagnating at an inferior level of social evolution to the northern and central provinces. In support of his case, Niceforo invokes what he calls the "magical power" of statistical evidence in those fields (crime, education, birth rates, mortality, suicide, and the economy), which for the Italian school of positivist social anthropology were the key measures of the state of civilization of a society (Niceforo 15). For example, whereas the North is characterized by crimes of fraud, southern crime is predominantly violent, like brigandage; or, like the mafia, it is the result of an Arabic or medieval spirit of independence and rebellion against the principle of authority (Niceforo 45). Low literacy rates and the prevalence of superstitious practices, such as those surrounding the lottery, betray the "state of crass and primitive ignorance" in the population of Naples in particular (Niceforo 80).

Having set out the statistical basis of his contention, Niceforo proceeds to give a more detailed portrait of the "collective psyche" of the populations of Sardinia, Sicily, and the mainland Mezzogiorno (Niceforo 179, 184). In the Sicilian countryside, for example, he observes a "hatred for the spread of culture of a kind characteristic of societies that are not just inferior, but truly barbaric" (Niceforo 197). Outside of the cities, the Sicilian character "reminds one of the Orient and of out-and-out feudalism." In their "morbid conception of their own dignity" and their overbearing pride and love of pomp, the Sicilian aristocracy in particular present the scientific onlooker with "a stratification of the past which is still tenacious" (Niceforo 203–209). The wild lower orders of Sicily's urban population are capable of acts of "cannibalistic ferocity" and of scenes "that an African tribe would hardly have committed" (Niceforo 210–211). Sicilians in general display a love of weapons and aggression—"an essential characteristic of primitive and almost savage peoples," according to Niceforo (Niceforo 212).

L'Italia barbara contemporanea concludes that the backwardness of the South is in part determined by the fact that its population of "Mediterraneans" is a different race to the "Aryans" of the North (Niceforo 288ff). Niceforo follows Giuseppe Sergi in seeing the supposedly distinctive cranial form of Southern Italians as proof of this difference, which is the root cause of the greater individualism of the South and superior sense of social organization of the North. Niceforo maintains that Italy's hopes for the future rest on its becoming a federal state, since specific forms of government are necessary to deal with the distinct characteristics of each region. Government must be authoritarian in the South and liberal in the North (Niceforo 297). [4]

Another influential but surprising anti-Southerner was Cesare Lombroso. He was from Northern Italy, but he was Jewish, and he projected anti-Semitic racial prejudices against Jews onto Southern Italians to make himself accepted by Northerners and other Europeans:

When Lombroso discussed the relation of race to current issues of his day, he seemed less concerned with inhabitants of non-Western lands than with those of the Italian south. Like other northern Italians, Lombroso was perplexed by the so-called Southern Question, the debate about the supposed backwardness of southern Italy, including the islands of Sicily and Sardinia. Home to brigandage and criminal organizations like the Mafia and Camorra, the south seemed violent and lawless to northern observers. Lombroso offered a complex answer to the Southern Question, one that included a social critique of southern elites for monopolizing landownership and a political condemnation of the national government for failing to alleviate southern poverty, disease, and illiteracy. Despite his recognition of these environmental barriers to prosperity in the south, Lombroso nevertheless emphasized the importance of race for explaining high rates of violent crime. Having been conquered over the centuries by a number of foreign peoples — including North African Arabs — the south was inhabited by a racially mixed people, who, in Lombroso's view, shared a propensity for murder with their nonwhite ancestors.

Lombroso offered a more subtle analysis of the behavior of Jews, another group included in his chapter on race. His own Jewish ancestry partially accounts for his refusal to characterize Jewish behavior in simple biological rather than more complex sociological terms. Aware of the frightening rise during the last decades of the nineteenth century of racial anti-Semitism in northern Europe, Lombroso argued that Jewish patterns of behavior derived from the historical legacy of persecution rather than from innate racial characteristics. He contended that Jews have high arrest rates for property crimes like fraud and receiving stolen goods because legislation in most European nations traditionally forbade them to follow any professions besides peddling or commerce. As proof that atavism is not intrinsic to the Jewish character, Lombroso cites the rapid movement of Jews into important positions in politics, the army, and academia once they gained the same civil rights as their Christian compatriots. [5]

Lombroso was so self-hating and delusional that while he was claiming that Southern Italians were mostly Semitic and alien to Europe, he believed that Jews were mostly Aryan and could easily assimilate:

Though Lombroso considered the Jews to be more Aryan than Semitic, he was highly critical of some Jewish religious rites, including circumcision. While Lombroso invoked notions of racial science in his research, he ultimately held that the so-called Jewish Problem would disappear as Jews modernized and became more assimilated into European society. [6]

Lombroso and Niceforo were both motivated by embarrassment over Italy's recent military loss to an Ethiopian army, and they tried to blame it on Southern Italians:

Both Lombroso's In Calabria, 1862-1897 and Niceforo's L'Italia barbara contemporanea drew upon the new science of race to explain Italy's economic and military problems, which they attributed to the backwardness of southern Italy. Not surprisingly, Lombroso's and Niceforo's books appeared in the aftermath of Italy's startling military defeat at the hands of Abyssinian forces at Adowa. [6]

Like in the early days, today the idea of "the South" is an exaggeration needed by the North to deal with its insecurities and make it feel more Northwestern European:

The early impressions of this "other Italy" exaggerated the alien qualities of the South and reassured northern Italians of their own European affinities. Africa began below Rome. "Christ stopped at Eboli," according to one local expression. Above "lower Italy" was a Christian, European civilization; below it existed something else indeed. [...] One Italian cartoon [made by northern separatists] that circulated clandestinely in the 1990s illustrates "the complete solution to all our problems" with a map showing Italy cut in two by a wide "liberation channel" that divides the peninsula just below Florence. To the south the map shows the "Island of New Africa" and "Mafioso Realm." Each side of the channel has protective barriers two kilometers high, one side electrified, the other armed with laser sensors to keep southern migrants out of the North. The channel is filled with "terrone-eating" sharks and piranhas. North of the channel is Northern Italy and, significantly, a new "Southern Italy" below the Po Valley. Even a separate Northern Italy might need its South. [2]


  1. Nelson Moe. The View from Vesuvius: Italian Culture and the Southern Question. Berkeley, Los Angeles & London: The University of California Press, 2002.
  2. Don H. Doyle. Nations Divided: America, Italy, and the Southern Question. Athens & London: The University of Georgia Press, 2002.
  3. Joseph Pugliese. "Diasporic Architecture, Whiteness and the Cultural Politics of Space: In the Footsteps of the Italian Forum". Thamyris/Intersecting, No. 14, 23-50, 2007.
  4. John Dickie. Darkest Italy: The Nation and Stereotypes of the Mezzogiorno, 1860-1900. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999.
  5. Mary Gibson and Nicole Hahn Rafter. "Editors' Introduction" to Cesare Lombroso's Criminal Man. Durham & London: Duke University Press, 2006.
  6. William Brustein. Roots of Hate: Anti-Semitism in Europe before the Holocaust. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003

Pigmentation Through Roman History

December 6, 2019

The recent study on Ancient Roman DNA gives frequencies over time for some alleles of functional importance (eye and skin color). We know that Mesolithic hunters had blue eyes and dark skin while Neolithic farmers had brown eyes and light skin, which combined and adapted to make the European phenotypes of today.

But contrary to what Nordicists claim about Romans going from "Northern European" to "Middle Eastern", blue eyes and light skin (and also lactase persistence) have increased steadily since at least the Iron Age, and today they show the same levels as other Modern Europeans (Spanish, British or Finnish).

Ancient Roman DNA

November 28, 2019

We've already seen that modern Italians are genetically close to ancient Mycenaean Greeks, and now we finally have Ancient Roman DNA, which shows the same genetic closeness, refuting Nordicist fantasies about an original "Northern European" stock becoming "orientalized". The Romans (Latin and Etruscan) were all Southern European, similar to modern Italians from North to South. There were foreigners during the empire, but they weren't very exotic and didn't have much of an impact.

Most of the samples are from cemeteries in and around the city of Rome, so on one hand they're not representative of the whole country, but on the other, Rome was the biggest, most traveled-to city in all of Italy, so if there wasn't much diversity or mixing going on there, that means there would have been even less in other cities and (especially) in the small towns and rural areas that made up most of the country.

As in all of Europe, there were major changes between the Mesolithic and Iron Age, but from then on, the samples all have the same 4 main components: Western Hunter-Gatherer, Anatolian Neolithic (farmers), Iran Neolithic and Steppe Eneolithic (the last two arriving mostly with Indo-Europeans), plus very low levels of Morocco Hunter-Gatherer. Even the "diverse" imperial samples have those same components, just in slightly different proportions, so the foreigners were not that foreign.

Iron Age & Republic (dark blue)

Most of these early Latin and Etruscan samples cluster between Northern Italians and Spaniards, and a few others cluster with Northern Italians, Central Italians, Southern Italians and off toward Sardinians. So the original, pre-empire Romans were heterogeneous but fully Southern European, just like modern Italians.

By 900 BCE at the latest [before the founding of Rome], the inhabitants of central Italy had begun to approximate the genetics of modern Mediterranean populations. [...] The Iron Age individuals exhibit highly variable ancestries, hinting at multiple sources of migration into the region during this period (Figs. 2A and 3B). [...] Together these results suggest substantial genetic heterogeneity within the Etruscan (n = 3 individuals) and Latin (n = 6) groups. [...] In contrast to prehistoric individuals, the Iron Age individuals genetically resemble modern European and Mediterranean individuals, and display diverse ancestries....

Imperial Rome (teal)

At this time there appears a "tail" toward the Near East, reflecting migrants to Rome from the Eastern Mediterranean. However, most of them cluster no farther than Cyprus, which seems to confirm that "Middle Eastern" migrants to Rome were of predominantly Greek ancestry.

During the Imperial period (n = 48 individuals), the most prominent trend is an ancestry shift toward the eastern Mediterranean and with very few individuals of primarily western European ancestry (Fig. 3C). The distribution of Imperial Romans in PCA largely overlaps with modern Mediterranean and Near Eastern populations, such as Greek, Maltese, Cypriot, and Syrian (Figs. 2A and 3C).

Late Antiquity (green)

Here the "tail" to the Middle East disappears and the samples shift back westward. After the capital of the empire moved east and Rome was sacked, the population declined to almost nothing, and the city would have been repopulated by Italians from other parts of the country, and possibly other Europeans too.

The average ancestry of the Late Antique individuals (n = 24) shifts away from the Near East and toward modern central European populations in PCA (Fig. 3D). [...] This ancestry shift is also reflected in ChromoPainter results by the drastic shrinkage of the Near Eastern cluster (C4), maintenance of the two Mediterranean clusters (C5 and C6), and marked expansion of the European cluster (C7) (Fig. 4C).

This shift may have arisen from reduced contacts with the eastern Mediterranean, increased gene flow from Europe, or both, facilitated by a drastic reduction in Rome's population in this period to less than 100,000 individuals, due to conflicts and epidemics (1, 3).

Medieval & Early Modern (yellow)

Here the samples are back to being similar to the Iron Age samples, and they're identical to modern Italians from North to South, except for a few outliers tending toward Spain and France. The latter may be related to the Holy Roman Empire and Norman conquests.

In the Medieval and early modern periods (n = 28 individuals), we observe an ancestry shift toward central and northern Europe in PCA (Fig. 3E), as well as a further increase in the European cluster (C7) and loss of the Near Eastern and eastern Mediterranean clusters (C4 and C5) in ChromoPainter (Fig. 4C). The Medieval population is roughly centered on modern-day central Italians (Fig. 3F).


This shift is consistent with the growing ties between Medieval Rome and mainland Europe. Rome was incorporated into the Holy Roman Empire (3), which spanned much of central and western Europe. The Normans expanded from northern France to a number of regions, including Sicily and the southern portion of the Italian Peninsula (and even sacked the city of Rome in 1084), where they established the Kingdom of Sicily (3, 36).


  • By the time Rome was founded, its people (Latins and Etruscans) were already genetically Mediterranean, overlapping with modern Southern Europeans from Spain to Sicily.
  • The empire brought migrants to Rome from the Eastern Mediterranean, but they were mostly of Greek ancestry and not that different than the Romans.
  • When the western half of the empire fell, the migrants disappeared as Rome's population declined drastically. The city was later repopulated by Italians and other Europeans.
  • By the Middle Ages, the inhabitants of Rome were back to resembling Iron Age people and identical to modern Italians from North to South, with a few outliers tending toward Western and Central Europe.

Antonio et al. "Ancient Rome: A genetic crossroads of Europe and the Mediterranean". Science, 2019.

Related: Pigmentation Through Roman History, Ancient-to-Modern Genetic Distances

Olive Skin and Other Undertones

June 9, 2019

Many people think "olive" is a skin color like white, black or brown and refers to a separate or "mixed" ethnicity with some kind of "tan" complexion, usually in the Mediterranean region. But it's actually just one of several skin undertones that are found in all races, light and dark. The 4 undertones are: Cool (blue/pink), Neutral (yellow/beige), Olive (green/gray) and Warm (red/gold). And Southern Europe, including Italy, has the same variation as anywhere else in Europe or the world.

Here's what an untanned Italian woman would look like with each undertone:

And here are some other examples of Italians with different undertones:

You can see more, including some very tanned individuals, in these random samples of Big Brother and talent show contestants.

Italian Beauty: Anita Caprioli

April 19, 2019

Curly Hair Distribution

April 4, 2019

Like all Europeans, most Italians have straight or wavy hair. Curly hair in Caucasoids is a western trait that decreases as you move east toward Asia. It's most common along the Mediterranean and Atlantic shores, with an average rate of ~17% in Italy, which is a little higher in the South than in the North, but not by much.

Hair of little use in distinguishing white sub-groups. Most European hair is straight or slightly wavy, although exceptional individuals in the straightest-haired groups have ringlet forms. Curly hair of this description is quite common in western Ireland and in Wales; it is also frequent in the whole of North Africa and in the western Mediterranean shorelands of Europe. Eastern Europe is predominantly straight haired, and as one approaches mongoloid territory this condition of course becomes more pronounced.

Carleton S. Coon. The Races of Europe. New York: MacMillan, 1939.

Frequency of Curly Hair in Italy
(Darker Shading = More)

Ridolfo Livi. Antropometria Militare. Roma, 1896-1905.

Convex and Concave Noses

March 24, 2019

Thin, high-rooted convex noses, which are common in Dinaric and Mediterranean types, exist at a frequency of ~15% in Italy. Wide, low-rooted concave noses, which are common in Alpine types, exist at a frequency of ~19%. The former are slightly more frequent in the North, and the latter slightly more in the South, which matches the distribution of sub-racial types throughout the country. The remaining ~66% of noses are straight or almost straight.

Frequency of Nasal Convexity
(Lighter Shading = More)
Frequency of Nasal Concavity
(Darker Shading = More)

Ridolfo Livi. Antropometria Militare. Roma, 1896-1905.