The 2nd of June 2023 marks Italy’s 77th anniversary of its Republic Day, the theme of which this year is; “Italians, a heritage of values for the Republic” on this day, my attention can only go to the new Italians, and the values they represent every day and carry proudly .
According to Istat and Eurostat data, in 2022 a total of 133,236 people officially became Italian citizens. On average, of every 38 foreign residents in Italy one becomes Italian. Of these, 50.9% are women, with the main countries of origin being Albania, Morocco, Romania, Brasil, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Argentina, Moldova, and Egypt.
Despite Italy’s geographical position at the very centre of Mediterranean migratory routes, the number of citizenship acquisitions compared to other European Union countries – such as Sweden and the Netherlands – is still significantly, comparatively low.
The new Italians, about whom too little is said in the media in general, and particularly within news coverage and politics, proudly and silently contribute to the preservation of an Italy that takes pride in its roots and enriches itself with the addition of new cultures, new minds and new hands that have become vital towards maintaining our society.
The new Italians are those who, immediately after the recent climate disaster that struck Emilia Romagna, didn’t hesitate to risk their own safety to save people, animals, and their goods trapped in the mud. They are those who sometimes take care of our elderly, our fields, our family-run factories and maintain our small and precious local craftsmanship. There are also young immigrants or children of immigrants who, thanks to their education and background, go out and make their voices heard and are demanding fair representation among trade unions, educational institutions and within local, regional, and national politics. These new Italians are today active contributors to entrepreneurship forming start-ups and associations, with some becoming world class athletes proudly representing the Italian flag. Each of them, with their own talent, contributes to keeping our country alive.
The presence of the new generation of Italians in schools, sports teams, organisations, and volunteer work offer us a model of inclusion that needs no further explanation.
In a country where the number of new-borns is experiencing constant decline (births in 2022 amounted to 392,598, a staggering 7,651 less than the previous year), the contribution in population growth of new Italians and their children presents a positive signal of hope for the future. It is important that one here also mentions that acquiring citizenship does not always mean staying in Italy; the number of new Italians residing abroad actually exceeds that of foreign residents living in Italy.
My hope is that all Italians, “old” and “new,” both at home and worldwide, can understand the importance of our beloved Republic and that they truly represent the best of Italy wherever they may be. Because together, side by side, we can ensure that Italy continues to be a united and supportive country, deeply connected to the values of peace, brotherhood, solidarity, and democracy.
Happy June 2nd to us all!