The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has launched an project called I Diari Raccontano- Italiani all’estero which translates to “Diaries Recount – Italians Abroad.” The dense archive holds immigrants’ tales about leaving their beloved Italy behind. The website is based on an interactive map on which users can click on different orbs and delve into a thousand stories of immigrants’ experiences all around the globe. In addition to being geographically grouped, you can explore immigrants’ stories based on time of emigration, themes of the submission such as “love” or “food” or “discrimination,”and by the authors of the submissions.
Many of the stories have the common theme of Italian immigrants searching for a better life outside of the Italian peninsula when they found zero opportunities in their native land. Some of the stories tell of exciting adventures, serendipitous meetings or missed connections. The stories span two centuries of family histories, each more interesting than the last. While the stories are in Italian, it’s possible to use plug-ins on your web browser or sites such as Google Translate to read the stories in English.
Thanks to 9,000 Italians around the world donating their diaries and letters and telling their stories, the archive is rich and full of emotional, personal tales. Original pages from diaries and letters have been digitized and are visible in their original form online. Seeing the stories told in the handwriting of people longing for family and their home far away gives a deep sense of human emotion to the archive and moves readers. (Find out more about Italian Ancestry & Citizenship)
It’s even possible to add your own families story to the project. By clicking on “La Tua Storia” or “Your Story,” you can submit images of journals, diaries, letters and photographs that are a part of your family’s treasure chest and add to the magic of the archive.
According to Italy’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this project is intended to protect, promote and appreciate italianità or “Italianness” abroad.
Photo by Virginia State Parks on flickr