Italian American

An IMPORTANT MESSAGE from the U.S Department of Justice
Wartime Violation of Italian American Civil Liberties Act

These pages are dedicated to the descendants of those Italians who crossed the ocean and emigrated to an unknown land leaving their town and their loved ones to look for a better future for themselves and their family.

As an Italian-American who was born in Italy and has traveled and worked there, I am often surprised by the misconceptions that the descendants of Italian immigrants have about Italy. Few speak the Italian language, some may recall a few words spoken in their families that may very well have been from a dialect of the region their ancestors came from; most are ignorant of modern Italian history and what little they know has been colored by the not-too-flattering perceptions of fellow Americans of other backgrounds. One thing, however, is readily apparent after briefly talking with any of them: their pride about their ancestry tempered by the tales of bigotry and prejudice that their immigrant ancestors had to endure in the United States; shame for that treatment; and an avid interest in Italy and the Italians as evidenced by their assiduous search for their roots. They may or may not know the reasons their families migrated to the United States but they do know that in spite of the adversities, through hard work and thriftiness, these families carved a good life for themselves and their children.

No one can claim to fully understand Italy or the Italians. Indeed Metternich, the Austrian foreign minister in the early 19th Century stated, and perhaps rightly so, that Italy is "only a geographic expression". Understanding Italy is not an easy thing to do, some would say an impossible thing to do given the diversity of the country and the character of its population shaped by Italy's mountainous topography which has made travel and communications between regions almost impossible, the government of these regions by various foreign nationalities, and the State of the Church which for all practical purposes served as a wedge between the North and South of Italy.

With these pages, I hope to contribute to a better understanding of Italy and Italians to the Italian-American Community and provide some insight as to what is happening in Italy today and why.

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Last update:December 2000

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