Saturday, September 27, 2008

East Lombard, West Veneto, or Orobia?

[Left: Flag of "Orobia" or East Lombardy]

Languages of Italy

I hate to sound overly judgmental or reactionary, but anyone who thinks that there is ONE Italian language is bananas. Italy was hastily put under one roof, just like Yugoslavia was, without any regard for local cultures. The Italian peninsula has numerous languages and cultures. Some developed on their own, stemmed from ancient peoples, and/or were influenced by migrating or invading peoples. "The official language of Italy is Standard Italian, a descendant of the Tuscan dialect..." (Wikipedia: Languages of Italy). For a lot more information and maps, see the Wikipedia web page for Languages of Italy.

Lombard language

From Wikipedia: Lombard language: "Lombard is a language spoken mainly in Northern Italy (most of Lombardy and some areas of neighbouring regions, notably the eastern side of Piedmont) and Southern Switzerland (Ticino and Graubünden). Lombard belongs to the Gallo-Italic group within the Romance languages.

The two main varieties (Western Lombard language and Eastern Lombard language) show remarkable differences and are not always mutually comprehensible even if Western Lombard is generally easier to understand for an Eastern Lombard speakers than the converse. The union of Western Lombard or Insubric, Eastern Lombard and intermediate varieties under the denomination of "Lombard" is a matter of debate, and it has been argued that the two might potentially form separate languages."

From Wikipedia: Lombard language: Usage: "Standard Italian is widely used in Lombard-speaking areas. However, the status of Lombard is quite different between the Swiss and Italian areas. This justifies the view that nowadays the Swiss areas (sometimes referred to as Swiss Lombardy (Lombardia svizzera) have become the real stronghold of Lombard."

From Wikipedia: Lombard language: In Switzerland: "In the Swiss areas, the local Lombard varieties are generally better preserved and more vital than in Italy. No negative feelings are associated with the use of Lombard in everyday life, even when interacting with complete strangers. Some radio and television programmes in Lombard, particularly comedies, are occasionally broadcast by the Swiss Italian-speaking broadcasting company. Moreover, it is not uncommon for people from the street to answer in Lombard in spontaneous interviews. Even some television ads in Lombard have been reported."

Apparently, the Lombard language developed, at least partially, from the ancient Lombardic language of the Langobardi. From Wikipedia: Lombardic language: "Lombardic or Langobardic is the extinct language of the Lombards (Langobardi), the Germanic speaking settlers in Italy in the 6th century. The language declined from the 7th century, but may have been in scattered use until as late as ca. AD 1000. The language is only preserved fragmentarily, the main evidence being individual words quoted in Latin texts."

For much more information and maps about the Lombard and Lombardic languages, see the Wikipedia page Lombard language and the Wikipedia page Lombardic language. I know I'm copying and pasting a lot of this but, there's a lot of information I'm covering and tying together, so bear with me. On the Lombard language page, don't miss the two example images on signs (a restaurant and town hall). It's amazing to see our language in living usage. The one "BAIT DAL CAMUN" looks very unique, needless to say. No vowels, but it's doesn't look German either. It could even have Celti roots.

Eastern Lombard language

From Wikipedia: Eastern Lombard language: "Eastern Lombard is a group of related dialects, spoken in the eastern side of Lombardy, mainly in the provinces of Bergamo, Brescia and Mantua, in the area around Crema and in a part of Trentino.

In Italian-speaking contexts, Eastern Lombard is often generically called a "dialect". This is often incorrectly understood as to mean a dialect of Italian, which actually is not the case. Eastern Lombard and Italian are different languages and are not mutually intelligible.

As per today, Eastern Lombard does not have any official status either in Lombardy or anywhere else: the only official language in Lombardy is Italian."

For more information on the Eastern Lombard language, see the Wikipedia web page Eastern Lombard language.


From Flags of the World: Padanian Flag of Orobia (Italy): "This flag on top is neither the actual flag of "Liga Veneta" (= Northern League Venetian section), nor the flag of the "Serenissimi" ("Serenisimi" in Venetian language), indipendentist movement from Veneto, who became famous in 1997 for having "conquered" for some hours the famous Bell-Tower of St. Mark in Venice.

Northern League reused the flag with the sword as the "Flag of Orobia" (= Eastern Lombardy, Provinces of Bergamo and Brescia, which were once dominated by the "Serenisima") where people speak a "dialect" quite different from Western Lombardy (or "Insubria") and hardly understandable for other people: in Italian, when we hear a strange word or phrase, we may say "Che è, bergamasco?" (= What is this? Bergamo idiom?). You can see a small gif at . I daresay that's the top flag modified with blue background!)
Paolo Montanelli, 20 March 2003

It is not the flag of Liga Veneta, but the flag of Eastern Lombardy ("Orobia"): in a project by Lega Nord (even if it's not the official political line of the party) the present Lombardy should be divided in two parts: "Insubria" (Western Lombardy) and "Orobia" (Eastern Lombardy).
Paolo Montanelli, 1 May 2003

The military pattern old Venetian Republic flag (with dark red border) is used by the Serenisima Republic, and now adopted by the Orobico autonomist but with the border changed to gold, and its devices to blue, and the central rectangle changed from dark red to blue according to .
Jaume Olle', 2 May 2003

North League has a different flag for Eastern Lombardy (called Austrasia). So there is two movements claiming a region of Eastern Lombardy? (one Leghiste and other disident?). In my notes Orobia and Austrasia are two different entities: Orobia is Western Veneto, and Austrasia is Eastern Lombardy. Besides, it is not the flag of Liga Veneta, but the flag of Eastern Lombardy ("Orobia").
Jaume Olle', 13 May 2003

What's "Austrasia"? I know only a region called Austrasia about 1,500 years ago and it was not in Northern Italy but in present Central Germany (). Even if I never heard about it, I've found some websites referring to Eastern Lombardy as "Austrasia". But they are very few. Instead, a lot of pages refers to Bergamo/Bèrghem as "capoluogo orobico", Eastern Lombardy as "terra orobica" and so on. Has anyone a description of this flag of "Austrasia"? Is it different from the "bandiera orobica" I located on the web?
Paolo Montanelli, 1 July 2003

The term Orobia never existed, so it is only an invention by North League; the "Orobi" were a pre-roman people that lived in the region of Bergamo, and "Orobie" is the name of the Alps between Bergamo, Lecco and Sondrio.
Fabio Facoetti, 1 July 2003

The Kingdom of Austrasia existed from 511 to 751 in the north-east of Gaul. Its territory covered Rhineland (now in Germany), Luxembourg, a part of Belgium and Lorraine (now in France). Its capital city was Metz, now in Lorraine. I Austrasia was a Merovingian kingdom, in struggle with Neustria, located more westwards. Pepin de Herstal (635-714), from Austrasia, defeated King of Neustrie Thierry III in 687 and unified Austrasia and Neustrie. His son and successor was Charles Martel, father of Pepin le Bref and grand-father of Charlemagne. Charlemagne later invaded the so-called Padania when he suppressed the Lombard kingdom, but I am not aware of any Austrasia he might have created in northern Italy.
Ivan Sache, 1 July 2003

Surely Paolo is right refering with Eastern Lombardy as Orobico (even if is also called Austrasia sometimes). There are several autonomist sensibilities in North Italy. For some, Bergamo was part of the Republic of Venice and is in West Veneto; for others, Bergamo is yet in Lombardy. Who know what were the boundaries of the Celtic tribe that give name to the region? I dont know this and perhaps this is depending of the point of view. Italy has a lot of political parties, coalitions, minor movements, etc... and when is for autonomist groups the situation is complicate (very much complicate!).

I asked Matte Colaone for a clasification of the autonomist movements: Leghiste, League allieds, autonomist out of League, regional italianist, etc... Dozens of flags were published in Flag Report, in several issues. He answered that the clasification will be issued in the next Flag Report, and it seems that this will shed some light on the panorama, but some specifics questions, like this one of Orobia, will remain pending.
Jaume Olle', 1 July 2003

In my opinion, the term "Orobia" never existed. I live 10 kms far from Bergamo, in the land that 2.000 years ago was inhabited by the "Orobi". This people was established in the actual Lombard provinces of Bergamo, Lecco, Como and Sondrio (in fact, the Alps of this region are called "Alpi Orobie"). The origin of Orobi is uncertain (it is not known if they were Celtic or Ligures), and we don't have many documents of their existence, like buildings or objects, because of their backwardness: their region were first occupied by the Etruscan, and then conquered by the Romans, about in 200 B.C., becoming part of the "Gallia Cisalpina" (Cisalpine Gaul).

Roman occupation civilized these regions, with the building of roads and towns. As already said, we people of Bergamo don't have any cultural heritage of these tribes, because many people crossed our territories in the past (Longobard, Ostrogoth, German, Venetian...).
Austrasia is a historical region, completely unreleated to Bergamo and to Italy.
Fabio Facoetti, 2 July 2003

Austrasia was the name of the east lands of Frankish empire (opposite to Neustria). I believe that Austrasia mean "Eastern land" (from germanic ost, derived aust, like Austria) or so, and this is Eastern Lombardy.
Jaume Olle', 3 July 2003

I'm a linguistics student and I only used the term "Orobico" to describe the Eastern Lombardy dialect, which is quite different form that spoken in the western part of Lombardy. I found "Orobico" a much better term than "Bergamasco" (and much more better than "Austrasiano"... ), which is still the most frequent term in dialectology, because that linguistic area also includes Bresciano and Camuno. It's just a question of conventional names.

For example, referring to Northern Italy dialects I use indifferently the words "dialetti gallo-italici" or "dialetti padani" (which do not comprehend neither Venetian nor, of course, Friulian and Ladin) without giving political support to any political party or secessionist project. I'm quite sure the word "Austrasia" has been never used referring to Bergamo and Brescia, either in past times or in recent times, either by sovereigns or by common people...
Paolo Montanelli, 4 July 2003

Austrasia mean the easter lands of any region. To relate current Austrasia with the Frankish kingdom that was known under this name is not the issue. Even if the genesis of the name is the same there is no relation neither simbolic or reivindicative.
Jaume Olle', 4 July 2003

Austrasia is the name of a kingdom whose existence is documented from 511 to 751. At the same time, there was a kingdom of Lombardia, whose eastern part has nothing to do with Austrasia. Wether Austrasia refers to the east or not is absolutely irrelevant in this case. Austrasia cannot be eastern Lombardia.
Ivan Sache, 4 July 2003

[Right: Flag of "Insubria" or West Lombardy]

Western Lombard language

From Wikipedia: Western Lombard language: "Western Lombard is a Romance language spoken in Italy, in the Lombard provinces of Milan, Monza, Varese, Como, Lecco, Sondrio, a little part of Cremona (except Crema and its neighbours), Lodi and Pavia, and the Piedmont provinces of Novara, Verbano-Cusio-Ossola and a small part of Vercelli (Valsesia), and Switzerland (Canton Ticino and part of Grischun). After the name of the region involved, land of the former Duchy of Milan, this language is often referred to as Insubric (see Insubria and Insubres) or Milanese, or, after Clemente Merlo, Cisabduano (literally "of this side of Adda River").

In Italian-speaking contexts, Western Lombard is often incorrectly called a dialect of Italian language, but actually it is a separate language. It has more than a few similarities to French. Insubric and Italian are different languages and are not mutually intelligible, because of lexical, phonetic, and grammatical differences. Western Lombard, more than many other languages spoken in Italy, has many varieties, because of the mountain geography and history of various political divisions.

Western Lombard is divided into four main classes, called by many Italian linguists lombardo alpino (provinces of Sondrio and of Verbania, Sopraceneri of Canton Ticino and Grigioni in Switzerland), lombardo-prealpino occidentale (provinces of Como, Varese and Lecco, Lugano and its neighbors in Canton Ticino), basso-lombardo occidentale (Pavia and Lodi), and macromilanese (provinces of Milan, Monza, Novara and Valsesia of Vercelli). The boundaries are obviously schematic, since the political division in provinces and municipalities are usually independent from languages spoken.

For more information about the Western Lombard language, see the Wikipedia web page Western Lombard language. Roughly, the Western Lombard language is the majority of Lombardy, Ticino (Switzerland), and the southernmost areas of Graubünden (Switzerland, east of Ticino; Grigioni in Italian); and the Eastern Lombard language is in the provinces of Brescia, Bergamo, Mantua, and Cremona.


As East Lombardy is called "Orobia," West Lombardy is referred to as "Insubria." The Insubres were a Celti tribe who lived in the region before it was Romanized by conquest. Our Lombardian friend in Italy, Alessio Mezzenzana, stated "The UNESCO classifies Lombardic (Insüber and Orobech) as own Languages, within the Gallo-Romance family." Now these names sound very German. It can be confusing. Also, the West is usually identified with Milano, while the East is usually identified with Brescia or Brescia-Bergamo.

Further strengthening the differences between the two regions, is the fact that the East was an important part of the Venetian Republic for a number of centuries. There's one street in Brescia named "San Marco di Brescia," which always symbolizes this nexus for me. The Brescian Council purposely broke away from dictatorial Visconti rule (Milanese) in order to join with the more progressive statecraft (regarding internal matters) of the Venetians, which became official after the "Treaty of Lodi," in the fifteenth century. Therefore, East Lombardia is almost like the "West Veneto" in some people's minds.

From Wikipedia: Flags of the World: Padanian Flag of Insubria: "That is the historical region where I live [=Lumbardia Ucidental/Western Lombardy(I) + Cantun Tisin/Canton Ticino (CH)]. Insubria flag was born on tne 5th september 1395, created by Emperor Venceslao of Holy Roman Empire for Duca Gian Galeazzo Visconti of Milan
Matteo Colaone, 21 August 2000

I see a connection with Ticino by the II and III quarters, showing a charge quite similar to the arms of Bellinzona. What about the other quarters, what does the black eagle on gold stand for? Roman Empire, in any of it's incarnations?...
Antonio Martins, 30 August 2000

Antonio is absolutely right here, the serpent (in italian "biscione") appearing on this flag is the same as the one appearing on the arms and on the flag of Bellinzona (Ticino).
Pascal Gross, 30 August 2000

Insubria is another term to refer to Western Lombardy. It is taken from the celtic tribe (Insubrae) which settled between the Tessin and the Adda rivers in ancient times. The heraldic flag is the historical banner of the Dukedom of Milan. It was granted by the emperor Wenceslaw in 1395 to Gian Galeazzo Visconti first duke of Milan, being the dukedom part of the Holy Roman Empire. That is why the black eagle appears in the first and fourth quarter. The figure in the second and third quarter is the traditional heraldic simbol of the possessions of Milan first and the Dukedom after. Possession which included the whole of nowdays Western Lombardy, parts of Piedmond and the whole of Canton Tessin in Switzerland.

That is also why the City of Bellinzona still bears the same arms today (in different colours though and without the moor in the mouth of the snake. Bellinzona was always one of the most faithfull cities of the dukedom) and why the people on both side of t! he border speak the same language (that is western lombard). The origin of the use of the snake, apart from the legends, dates back to the first crusade when it was granted by the municipality of Milan to Ottone Visconti one of the leaders of the lombard contingent. Since then it has rappresented the arms of the State of Milan.

The flag has been the official emblem of the Dukedom from 1395 till 1796 when Napoleon dismantled it (together with the Holy Roman Empire) and it appears also in the arms of every emperor of the house of Hapsburg from Carl the fifth onwards (having carried the emperors themselves the title of Duke of Milan after the death of the last Sforza). When the Hapsburgs will re-enter their possessions in 1815 after Napoleon's fall the dukedom will be unified with the former Republic of Venice and Dukedom of Mantua to form the Lombardo -Veneto kingdom.
GianPietro Gallinelli, 29 September 2000

The Padan's Insubria flag was first presented on 4th of June 2000 at Pontida (Bg), Lombardia by Cultural Association "Terra Insubre". See
Matteo Colaone, 4 October 2000

In Milan (Lombardy, Italy) page, Jaume Olle said: "Visconti flag 1277-1397. Reconstructed from writen descriptions. In 1397 the use of imperial eagle was granted by Empeor" . Above GianPietro Gallinelli said: "It was granted by the emperor Wenceslaw in 1395 to Gian Galeazzo Visconti first duke of Milan, being the dukedom part of the Holy Roman Empire. That is why the black eagle appears in the first and fourth quarter."

In conclusion the image at Milan's page is, chronologically, the first flag of the Dukedom, and the above flag was the evolution after 1395 of the previous flag , so it should be considered as a political flag in its modern use (autonomist of Insubria), but it is also an historical flag of Milano and Western Lombardy.
Matteo Colaone, 11 November 2000"

Another webpage, which sheds some light on this issue is the Bandiere del Popoli (flags of the people) page for Lombardia.