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If your family migrated from Italy to America - it is likely that you have been to Ellis Island. There is now an extraordinary exhibit in Rome which I think of as the Sister to Ellis Island - The National Museum of Italian Emigration in the Vittoriano Complex, Gipsoteca Room on the first floor at Piazza dell'Ara Coeli - right at Piazza Venezia.
29 million Italian migrants were able to forge the hope of a better life in many other countries from the bitter experience of the tough living conditions that they left behind. They created a shared identity as "Italians abroad" from the many different regions of their homeland.
A region-by-region breakdown of migration reveals significant variations over time. From 1876 to the end of the 19th Century, the Italian regions that provided the greatest number of emigrants were: Veneto 876 thousand - Friuli 803 thousand - Piedmont 685 thousand - and Lombardy 497 thousand. The only souther region that came close was Campania with 470 thousand.
Italy's biggest wave of emigration took place during the first 15 years of the 20th century, when my family left Verona for the U.S. All told, the Veneto region provided the highest number - 3.2 million emigrants.
Despite this, the public perception remains hat the term "emigrant" and "Southern Italian" are practically synonymous - a grand falacy.
Updated Nov 4, 2009
Make sure you take the walk outside. The view outside is so beautiful and a place to take and to get away from the crowds. This place does get crowded during the summer months. It was refreshing and inviting to walk along the path to get away from the feelings I was sensing so deeply. It echos so many conflictings emotions. So being able to walk in the sunlight and to see the awesome views from this island was wonderful!
National Park Service
Statue of Liberty National Monument
Liberty Island, NY, NY 10004
Written Jan 18, 2009
Phone: 212 363-3200
Since its restoration, the original walls of the building have been plastered over. If you look carefully as you walk around, you will come across purposely exposed brickwork, original to the old building, as well as graffiti left by the immigrants. In several areas you are walking on original tile and you see all the old radiators.
Updated Aug 1, 2003