Rome, Emigration Museum
This was probably the most interesting thing that I saw in Rome. Cousin Bonnie, Pete and I peeked in there briefly and I knew that I wanted to come back.
First the location. If you are standing in Piazza Venezia looking at the big, white, wedding cake looking building this museum is on the right side at ground level, around from all the steps. Sort of near a bus stop. It shares space with another museum so don’t get distracted by the other one and make the mistake of going up stairs. This is on the ground floor to the left as you walk through the door. Opening times: Monday-Thursday 9:30 to 6:30, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 9:30 to 7:30. Admission is free. It is a beautiful, small, new museum. There is also a small library. I don’t know how much help it would be to someone searching for information. And it turns out that many of the pictures donated came from The Catholic University in Washington DC.
It is completely in Italian. It would be interesting for a quick walk through if you don’t know Italian but knowing the language helps a lot. And this is what I learned on my second visit.
There were a lot of immigrants from Italy to all parts of the world. Many of these parts of the world sent propaganda to try to entice the immigrants to their country. People were needed to build and labor and help develop many countries. And America printed up it’s fair share of propaganda. Could it be that the idea of everything is bigger in America might have come from cards like these?
I mistakenly thought that since communication was not as advanced as it is today that many of the immigrants did not have much information about where they were going to. Wrong! The Italian government printed up books to help them. Titles like “Moving to Argentina”, “Moving to Canada” . There were planning calendars for immigration. And all this was in the early 1900s.
There were hostels/dorms near the ports for people to stay in before boarding their ship.
Once on board the menus were not bad. This is for third class.
The best was this wallet. I have this same wallet that was my grandfather’s.
Seeing all of this reminded me that I am only here today because my grandparents choose to leave Italy. For my grandfather, growing up and living in the southern part of Italy was not an easy life. He made his choice (or it was made for him) at the age of 12 when he went to sea as a merchant marine. He worked hard all his life. My grandmother did too, sacrificing her family ties and her opera career to follow her heart and husband to America. I am so lucky to benefit from their choices, their hard work and their sacrifices. And I am very proud that I chose to come back to Italy to live. My contribution is to share this country that I love with all my family and friends who come to visit. And we are doing our best to support the Italian economy.
August, 2015 Please make sure to read the helpful comment (below) that a reader has posted about his visit to the museum in 2015.
A link to the museum www.museonationaleemigratione.it