I'd always heard that these enclaves were remnants of ethnic Greek expansion and colonization throughout the Mediterranean and Black Seas back in the 1st millennium BCE. The Byzantines occupied southern Italy as they did many other places but didn't leave their language or culture.
It's worth noting that there were once Greek-speaking communities along the northern shores of the Black Sea dating from roughly the same period, but unfortunately they were deported en masse by Stalin during WW II.
Some of my "Italian" family actually speaks a Greek dialect. Apparently in Calabria it is somewhat common.
Europe used to be full of little enclaves like this. There were Italian communities all along the eastern side of the Adriatic, some of which had been there since time immemorial. Then came nationalism, and suddenly your Italian neighbor was a foreign interloper and your Croat neighbor was an inferior dog, and things got a lot less nice.
The Byzantine empire isn't gone, its still alive in our hearts.
History lesson mate. The Byzantine Empire was not greek in origin, its what remained of the Eastern Roman Empire after the Fall of the Western Empire and the sack of Rome.
The reason Greek is spoken in parts of southern Italy is because Greece had their golden age before Rome, and actually had Greek settlements throughout the Mediterranean as they were exceptional traders. Rome embraced many parts of Greek philosophy and culture as did all civilizations in the "Hellenistic" age.
These were Greek settlements, and they retained their cultural origins. Furthermore, Greek was spoken throughout the Mediterranean long before Roman was.
In the BC, Greek city states used to colonize southern Italy
Hopefully it will survive! It sounds close to Cypriot but with distinctive Italian influences! I really love listening to it. They also have really nice songs!
I remember seeing a documentary about people in villages in northern Turkey that were still speaking a form of ancient Greek. It was mostly older people that were interviewed though.
My father and his side of the family are from the Bari region. We have a Greek derived last name that uses the Greek spelling, despite an Italian spelling existing. Their dialect of Italian is quite different than other regions and does sound a bit more Greek than Italian used in the rest of the country. Makes sense, since this region of Italy is very close to Greece.
Reminds me of Tangier Island in the Chesapeake. It's an island of Boomhauers but they sound so back in time. They speak a dialect from around the early 1600's.
This TIL is wrong. The Greek off southern Italy has nothing to do with the Byzantine empire and was there even before the rise of the Roman empire.
It’s all Greek to them. Ha
This isn’t surprising. Even with Italian there are a ton of different dialects. I saw something recently that said dialects vary even across cities in the Cinque Terre area.
Not only that, a form of Latin (Romansh) is still spoken in Switzerland, alongside French and German.