President of the Republic Giorgio Napolitano and President of the Lower House Gianfranco Fini, accompanied by Culture Minister Sandro Bondi and Secretary for Foreign Affairs Alfredo Mantica, opened the National Museum of Italian Emigration today at Rome’s Complesso Vittoriano. The museum, created also thanks to Secretary Mantica’s efforts, who is in charge of policies concerning Italians abroad and of the authorised general directorates of the ministry, illustrates the birth and development of Italian emigration from the late 19th century to the present day. “Today we welcome immigrants and have become a country of massive immigration”, the president of the Respublic said, “but we must never forget that we are a country of emigrants”. Italians, the Head of State reminded, went abroad “under extremely hard conditions that they should never forget”.
“We Italians have left our mark all over the world”, the president underscored, “What is today a legacy of affection and friendship for Italy everywhere I go is also a sign of what our emigrants did when they went abroad”. The National Museum of Italian Emigration, according to Mantica “is an attempt to reinsert emigration into Italy’s history”, a history that “many Italians do not know or that is considered second-string. Many of these Italians who left as “Sicilians, Lombards, Veneti or Abruzzesi, only realised they were Italians when they reached their destinations”, added Mantica, stressing that “there are 50 million people today in the world with at least one-eighth Italian blood, and it is right to consider them part of the community”.