Il filo del ricordo

For The Homeland

A pen is never an easy instrument in the hands of those who do not know how to use it, and the letters of emigrants often tell us all too little. By contrast, remittances provide clear evidence that there was no lack of work, that emigrants were in good health and that emigration was bearing its fruits. Those hard-earned savings, which improved the lives of so many families, also played a fundamental part in the industrial development in our country.

According to a study by Francesco Balletta, in the first fifteen years of the 20th century remittances from abroad were consistently higher than direct taxation paid to the Italian government.

The study actually provides a conservative estimate, as it refers only to remittances paid through the Banco di Napoli (Bank of Naples), the only bank which officially handled these payments in 1901. Remittances were actually sent through a large number of “banchisti” (or small bankers), or simply taken back to Italy in person. Obviously, remittances served first and foremost to pay off the family’s debts, including those contracted to provide funds for the emigrant.

The relationship with Italy was obviously not limited to sending remittances to the family. In the event of natural calamities, such as earthquakes or floods, communities all over the world sent money to their homeland.

Equally generous support was received from emigrant communities during both World Wars, when money was sent and men returned to enrol in the Army.

Even in the thirties, when Italy was sanctioned for the war in Ethiopia, emigrant communities provided their contribution.

Remittances from emigrants in 1903
Remittances from emigrants in 1903
The “Silver Bridge”, organised by Italians living in the United States of America, involved sending cards to Italy with little strips of silver attached. The silver was donated to the fascist government to help create a bank and give grants to ex-combatants’ families who wanted to settle in Ethiopia as colonists
The “Silver Bridge”, organised by Italians living in the United States of America, involved sending cards to Italy with little strips of silver attached. The silver was donated to the fascist government to help create a bank and give grants to ex-combatants’ families who wanted to settle in Ethiopia as colonists
In 1936 and subsequent years, in order to help pay sanctions imposed on Italy by the international community after the war in Ethiopia, Italians in the United States sent copper postcards which were intended to provide an albeit small contribution to offset the lack of raw materials
In 1936 and subsequent years, in order to help pay sanctions imposed on Italy by the international community after the war in Ethiopia, Italians in the United States sent copper postcards which were intended to provide an albeit small contribution to offset the lack of raw materials

The Whole Of Life

In the albums of emigrant families, in Italy as all over the world, the pictures portraying the crucial phases of each life play a very important role: births, parties, weddings, and, occasionally, deaths too. Sometimes, those who have left want to show their loved ones far away how strong is the emotional bond between them. To do so, they are pictured holding a photo of the relatives they wished to have near them.

Giuseppe Piagentini pictured holding a photograph of his far-away fiancée
Giuseppe Piagentini pictured holding a photograph of his far-away fiancée
U.S.A., New York, 1945. Bridesmaids and their beaux
U.S.A., New York, 1945. Bridesmaids and their beaux
Brazil, São Paulo, Villa Caracol, 1907. Christening of Luigi Puliti
Brazil, São Paulo, Villa Caracol, 1907. Christening of Luigi Puliti
Argentina, Buenos Aires. Wedding couple from the Piagentini and Bechelli families
Argentina, Buenos Aires. Wedding couple from the Piagentini and Bechelli families
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