|(Chile’s population (about 150,000) )|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Valparaíso, Santiago, Concepción|
|Chilean Spanish · Italian|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Italian people, Swiss diaspora, Italian Brazilians, Italian Uruguayans and Italian Argentines|
Italian Chileans (in Spanish: Italochilenos, Italian: Italo-cileni) are Chileans of full or partly Italian descent. It is estimated that 150,000 people could have Italian ancestors. In Southern Chile, there were state-conducted Italian immigrants programs, though they were not as massive as the German and Croats immigrants programs. These families settled especially in Capitán Pastene, Angol, Lumaco, and Temuco, but also in Valparaiso, Concepción, Chillán, Valdivia, and Osorno. One of the notable Italian influences in Chile is, for example, the sizable number of Italian surnames of a proportion of Chilean politicians, businessmen and intellectuals, of whom a good number intermarried into the "Castilian-Basque" elites.
Italian Chileans, along with French Chileans, contributed to the development, cultivation and ownership of the world-famous Chilean wines from haciendas in the Central Valley, since the first wave of Italians arrived in colonial Chile in the early 19th century.
Although being just a fraction of the size of the migration to Argentina, Italians in immigration to Chile have been present since the arrival of the first Spaniards into the country, such as Captain Giovanni Battista Pastene who helped Pedro de Valdivia's expedition. Thence, with akin Latin culture, Italians have helped forge the nation, with architects (Gioacchino Toesca), painters (Camilo Mori), businessmen (Anacleto Angelini), economists (Vittorio Corbo) and statesmen (Arturo Alessandri).
In an unusual manner, since Italian immigration was never massive or organized, the only case of concerted immigration appeared in the town of Capitán Pastene, in the Araucanía Region of southern Chile, where in 1904, 23 families from Emilia-Romagna were left at their own device after being wrongfully enticed to the "riches" of Chile. Today, this small town celebrates a renaissance of their Italic heritage.
However, there was a substantial flow of migration from Liguria to the area of Valparaíso, which came to control 70% of the city. These immigrants founded the "Body of Fire" (called "Cristobal Colon") of the city and its "Italian School", whose building the Government of Chile has declared a National Historic Monument (Spanish: "Monumento Histórico Nacional").
At the end of the 19th century, many Italian merchants were rooted in the northern part of Arica, where they began exploiting the rich mines of saltpetre. Meanwhile, many Italian families settled in the capital Santiago, Concepción and Punta Arenas.
Some Italian-Chileans voluntarily returned to Italy, like the aviator Arturo Dell'Oro, who died in the skies of Belluno in 1917, which was head to Valparaíso one of the main Italian schools in Chile. Giulio Ravazzano (medal of honor) went back to Italy to defend his country during the Great War, to return later on where he married.
After World War I, it had exhausted major migration from Italy, and in Chile currently there are only 39,650 Italian citizens (including those with dual passports).
Many Italian Chileans, have reached positions of leadership in the society of Chile, like the president Jorge Alessandri.
Since then, Italians have always occupied positions of great importance and married with members of high society Chilean of Spanish origin who ruled Chile, for example, the wife of Salvador Allende, the Italian Chilean Hortensia Bussi.
An anecdote demonstrates the importance of Italian culture in the people of Chile: the influence of a Genovese shoemaker, named Giovanni De Marchi on Salvador Allende. Indeed, the President Allende told the journalist Régis Debray that De Marchi had a strong influence on its policy of training adolescents:
Just finished classes went to speak to this anarchist who had a great deal of influence on my life as a boy. He was sixty, or perhaps sixty years, and would chat with me. I was taught to play chess, I spoke of things of political life, and I lent books.
Undoubtedly, the Italian family that has distinguished itself more in Chile is that of Alessandri. In the start of the 19th century, the parent, Giuseppe Pietro Alessandri Tarzo, came from Tuscany and worked as Consul of the Kingdom of Sardinia in Santiago. Among his descendants there are two presidents of Chile, Arturo Alessandri (1920–1925 and 1932–1938) and Jorge Alessandri (1958–1964).
Among the Italian-Chileans are the most illustrious architects (as Gioacchino Toeschi), painters (as Camilo Mori), industrial (as Anacleto Angelini), actresses (like Claudia Conserva), economists (as Vittorio Corbo) and statesmen (as the President Arturo Alessandri and his son).
The Italian language is promoted by the Chilean section of Dante Alighieri, while the Italian press has with:
- La Gazzetta Italiana nel Cile, bimonthly (Santiago), director Nadir Moroso.
- Presenza, fortnightly (Providencia, 1969), publisher and editorial director Giuseppe Tommasi (Scalabrini Fathers).
There are some Italian schools in Chile (the most important are located in Santiago, the "Vittorio Montiglio" and Valparaíso, the "Arturo Dell'Oro" ) and some organizations protect and serve the Italian community.
In the southern Chilean town named Capitán Pastene, there is currently a small concentration of 2,200 Italo-Chilean, who constitute almost all of the local population and maintain a few words of Italian dialect of their ancestors emigrated.
Indeed, in 1904 about 100 families from the province of Modena moved there, as organized by the Chilean Government, to populate an area newly conquered by Chilean troops in their war against Mapuche tribes.
These families founded the "Urban Pinhead", which currently is called Capitán Pastene and that is experiencing a revival of tourism based on the culture still present in the town.
Famous Italian Chileans
- Arturo Alessandri, President of Chile (1920-1925 e 1932-1938).
- Jorge Alessandri, President of Chile (1958-1964).
- Anacleto Angelini, businessman.
- Andrés Bianchi, economist, PhD Yale University, former President of the Central Bank of Chile.
- Cecilia Bolocco, TV host and Miss Universe 1987.
- Diana Bolocco, journalist.
- Hortensia Bussi, wife of President Salvador Allende.
- Pedro Carcuro, sport journalist.
- Claudia Conserva, actress and TV host.
- Fernando González, tennis player and olimpic medalist.
- Soledad Onetto, journalist and TV host.
- Manuel Pellegrini, football manager and former footballer.
- Cristopher Toselli, soccer player.
- Humberto Trucco, President of the Supreme Court of Chile (1934-1937 e 1944-1950).
- Manuel Trucco, politician and Vicepresident of Chile (1931).
- Thayer Ojeda, Luis (1989). Orígenes de Chile: Elementos Étnicos, Apellidos, Familias. Santiago de Chile: Editorial Andrés Bello. p. 161.
- "Italian immigration" (in Spanish).
- "Statistics on European migration in Chile of 1901" (in Spanish).
- "Italian official statistics" (in Italian).
- Debray, Régis (1971). La via cilena: intervista con Salvador Allende, presidente del Cile, con una prefazione, e un documento inedito del MIR. (in Italian) (2nd ed.). Feltrinelli.
- (Spanish) Scuola Italiana Vittorio Montiglio
- (Spanish) Scuola Italiana Arturo Dell'Oro
- (Spanish) "Italian associations in Chile", italiansonline.net.
- (Italian) Story with detailed information on the "Nuova Italia" colony