This probably going to paint with a ridiculously broad brush, but it’s a question that’s always fascinated me.
Being a native French speaker, I’ve had a passing familiarity with Italian and Spanish cultures relatively early. Both countries are not that far from mine, they’re both popular tourist destinations, there were significant numbers migrants who settled here before and after World War II, and our languages are clearly related.
Culturally, I remember Italian pop music being relatively fashionable when I was a kid. From the late 70s to the mid 80s, a couple of Italian songs would become hits here almost every year. Spanish songs seemed less popular but that trend has reversed, starting in the 90s. As far as actors are concerned, it wasn’t unusual (and still isn’t) to see Italian (Marcello Mastroianni, Ornella Muti, Monica Bellucci, Valeria Golino) or Spanish (Victoria Abril, Sergi López) stars in French movies. Similarly, there were a number Italian singers who also sang in French, usually adaptations of their own songs (Riccardo Cocciante, Angelo Branduardi). There must have been Spanish singers who did likewise, but I’m drawing a blank at the moment.
Back when I was in primary school, I remember being surprised, and intrigued when my teacher mentioned that parts of Italy had belonged to Spain for a while. Later, when I lived in London, I once saw an Italian student speaking Italian to a couple of Spanish girls, who answered in Spanish, and being fascinated that they could communicate farily well (although the Italian guy had a harder time understanding them than the other way around). For the record, when I asked them “Would you be able to that with French in the mix ?”, the three of them looked at me with shock and answered “No way !” :D.
Finally, there’s the famous rivalry in football, where it seems that there’s no such thing as a “friendly” match between the two nations, or so I’ve been told.
So, any anecdotes on that subject ? How do they see each other ? Are there any Italian or Spanish artists who had a career in the other country ?