Italy: Southern region embraces descendants of those who migrated

Rome: The region of Campania in southern Italy launched an initiative, together with other partners, for people from the same region who migrated with the aim of improving contact among descendants of those migrants.

Italy is not only a country of destination for migrants, it was historically also a country which provided migrants to the rest of the world. Over the centuries millions of Italians have made their way across Europe and the world, including to the US, Germany and the UK.

Now, one southern region, Campania, and its regional capital Naples is preparing to try and forge new links with descendants of those migrants. In a new campaign launched on November 6, entitled “Naples and the region of Campania in the world” the regional authorities are looking to make contact with migrants abroad and their descendants.

“There are five and a half million people who migrated from the region of Campania worldwide and who took with them the cultural roots, the beauty, and the history of our land,”, underscored Francesco Campana (who presides over the cultural association Ateneum-Accademi of Fair Play) when presenting the initiative.

“For this reason, each migrant represents an emotion and it is to them that the migration policies must be dedicated, to promote cultural exchanges and relations between the countries of origin and their destination. With this in mind, we will present among our initiatives a Wall of Honor dedicated to all Neapolitans and people from the region of Campania worldwide”, he added.

Giuseppe Serroni, part of the association “I Sedili di Napoli,” also present at the launch, commented: “This is an initiative we now carry out together with the region of Campania to reopen the door, hoping that the wall of honor project for migrants across the world may become reality as soon as possible.”

The project foresees a multimedia artistic composition that will “compile the stories of migrants told by today’s Neapolitans. We wish to place it at the entrance for the third class at the maritime station of Naples, the place from where migrants left,” he continued to explain.

“We are working on the feeling of identity that always accompanies our fellow citizens who migrated worldwide and that is strongly present in the historic center of Naples where, together with the Association for the Artisan Shops of San Gregorio Armeno, led by Vincenzo Capuano, we are busy enhancing our great historical and cultural heritage.

From November 27 to November 29, Naples will hold the UNESCO conference, an important occasion to draw attention to the historic center which received this important recognition,” he underlined.

‘We will revise the regional law for residents abroad’

The project “Naples and Campania across the world” focuses on “a vast generation of Italians who migrated. A figure which is equal to those who reside in the region of Campania today”, noted Gennaro Oliviero, President of the Regional Council of Campania who participated in the launching of the projects, alongside the associations that work hard keeping in contact with the descendants of these migrants.

“What we receive from them are important witness accounts and memories. Just one small example, San Pietro, a small village outside Caserta that was hit during World War II, which later became a movie set for the film Director Monicelli. Today it counts approximately 1,000 inhabitants but nearly 3,000 who originate from that town are spread across Canada and the United States”, he recounted.

“Today we look at the many descendants of the migrants, who don’t speak Italian but think back to their country of origin, often only through some postcard. On the contrary, we believe there is a need to make this cultural heritage of our region known and to stimulate them to come to Italy. We drafted a regional law in 1996, law number 2 concerning “regional initiatives for citizens of the region of Campania who reside abroad” that has been put on ice, and we shall revise it in the coming months. In the hope that it will provide a bridge for the region of Campania with its own fellow citizens who are spread across all continents,” he concluded.