Ciao Italia! brings on display the stories of Italians emigrated to France between 1860 and 1960. At the Immigration Museum in Paris until September 10th.
The Musée de l’Histoire de l’Immigration paid tribute for the first time to Italian immigration in France, the most important in French history. Throughout the exhibition path, leading between prejudices and hospitality, violence and passions, refusal and integration, the show exemplifies the typical contradictions of migrations and highlights the contribution of Italians to French society and culture. France and Italy, a common and inextricable story.
Saints, poets, sailors. But also workers, miners, peasants, artisans, merchants, entrepreneurs, artists, designers. Over 400 pieces on display document a century of history, not the easiest, of our fellow immigrants on the other side of the Alps. Today, visitors at the MOMA in New York can admire the legendary Fiat 500, a symbol of good taste and sophistication, worldwide associated with Italians; but it was not so smooth for our ancestors in France.
Between the end of the Risorgimento (Italy officially became a nation in 1861) and the First World War, around two million Italians flew across the Alps as a result of the shortage of French manpower. The reception they got was not the best. Discrimination was an ordinary presence and many were massacred during xenophobic movements at the end of the nineteenth century. With the advent of Fascism and the thousands of exiles it caused, the atmosphere began to change. After World War Two, finally, Italians became those with “that little bit extra”: art, sympathy and good food ambassadors.