Many Italians moved to the USA during the high flux of emigration that took place between 1860 and 1985.

Italian Emigrants on the deck of a ship bound for the US
Ph. wikimedia.org

Some of them left to make a fortune and come back to their country, others went to start a new life and some others wanted to go back to Italy but they ended up having such a good lifestyle that they decided to stay and live in the USA without making return.

Despite the distance a lot of them have kept close relationships with their Italian family and relatives, together with some rooted traditions that not even Italians themselves go on keeping.

There are some widespread images Italians usually have about those who emigrated to the USA and settled their families there. Here are some of the most common.

Italian traditional food following nonna’s recipes

There are some traditional recipes that you rarely find in Italian restaurants. They are deeply based on old cooking and recipes traditionally made at home like pasta with meat balls. Pasta con le polpette is a dish you rarely find in many restaurants where a modern style cookery has been prevailing in the last few years.

A mixed language style

What amuses Italians the most is the way Italian-Americans speak. Italians who emigrated to the USA during the old waves of emigration were people who spoke more dialect than Italian and they used their own ones. After learning English they still went on speaking dialect when talking in Italian and they taught it to their sons. Hearing people mixing some of Italian language, dialect and some English words when communicating with Italians sounds a little awkward.

The Italian idea of famiglia

One of the most traditional Italian values American Italians seem to have kept is the traditional view of famiglia. Family union is very important and spending a lot of time with their relatives is something taken from Italian inheritance. Moreover, what impresses the most is the hospitality with which they often welcome their Italian relatives or also relatives’ friends visiting them. They seem to have known them for a long time and they are as the most willing as they can.

Italians and their italian-american relatives
The Bombardelli Family arriving in Ellis Island in 1902Ph. wikimedia from the Library of Congress

Keeping a link with old traditions and customs

Another common idea Italians have about Italians emigrated to the USA is their close link to tradition in order to keep a sort of union with their Italian origins. The creation of Italian American communities, the celebration of some events like San Gennaro in New York are only some of the things proving the presence of some links with Italy. Italians are often impressed by this and they wonder whether it is to keep the origins and boast them or to still feel part of their mother country.

These are only some images which are often widespread among the Italian collective imagery and mainly affect only old generations, those who left Italy a long time ago and probably have never come back to Italy for a long time or never again. They can be true or not and maybe some of them are only TV and movie stereotypes but Italians really appreciate and feel proud of having relatives and people sharing the same origins and culture abroad and like meeting them when visiting the USA.

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