Social life

The emigrants’ social life was conducted almost entirely within Little Italy enclaves. The Italian districts were always densely populated and recreated the same energy and confusion typical of Italy, surrounded by street and itinerant food sellers. Community life was very strong among Italian emigrants who felt at home in their district which was often closed in various ways to the outside world, due also to language difficulties particularly in English-speaking countries. This considerably slowed any form of integration, which happened much more rapidly in the Latin American countries given the linguistic and cultural proximity.

The Little Italies often took on a regional character, fed by the migration chain. The reference points were the district church, at the heart of the patron saint festivities, and all those businesses where it was possible to socialise with compatriots, such as restaurants, bars, shops, which often sold foods from their home region.

Compatriot associations were established in the Little Italies: the first of these associations provided mutual support and were fundamental in overcoming any problems their members encountered in a foreign country.