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Who arrived ... or was practically born in Umbertide, here are some of our stories:

Kamel e Kalida


(edited by Francesco Deplanu)

Dritan arrived in Italy at the age of 19, in March 1991; on that same date Albanian immigration to Italy resumed. Today in our Umbertide more than 500 citizens are of the first generation Albanian or already born Italian, a population attributable to this emigration wave. It was not the first in the centuries: “Piana degli Albanesi” in Sicily, several towns of the Pollino in Calabria, Campomarino in Molise are some of the areas that were populated by Albanians since the Middle Ages; migratory flows also connected with the crisis and then the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire, in addition to the death of Scanderbeg which marked the apex of Albanian independence from the Ottoman Empire (here the biography  of the Albanian identity hero in Italian, downloadable in .pdf ,  written by Fan S. Noli).

These arbëreshe communities remind us of the proximity of the Italian and Albanian coasts and the history that concerned them.


"Skanderbeg and his warriors" in National Museum " Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeu "

  By Avi1111 dr. avishai teicher - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

In the last months of 1989, however, the Berlin Wall collapsed. For the "popular democracies" of Eastern Europe, which had become dictatorial regimes, a period of instability began which quickly led to the implosion of these political systems. In Tirana in February 1991 there was the demolition of the statue of the dictator Enver Hoxha and there were numerous riots in the country. Immediately afterwards, emigration to Italy began. Dritan arrived on the coasts of the P uglia in Brindisi in early March : two large Albanian merchant ships, the “Tirana” and the “Liriya”, loaded with 6,500 people, arrived in the port on 6 March, followed by others.

The arrival in Brindisi lasted a few days, the immigrants were quickly brought back to Albania. But the unpreparedness for the arrival of a flow of thousands of people left the authorities and the population of Brindisi alone to manage the landing. Subsequently, the disembarked people were locked up in the stadium and chaotically supplied with bread and water under the control of the army. Dritan says: " I was among the last who did not want to return (accept the transfer to Albania proposed by the authorities ed), they called us the" non-surrendered ", we even went without eating, in the end they took us to Modena for a few days ". Meanwhile in Albania the social and political situation of what remained of the Hoxa regime was felt to be unbearable.

For some time not only had material life been difficult but respect for personal freedom had been severely limited in the country: in the documentary "Anija" by Roland Sejko the starting situation is described and it is recalled that already in 1978 three Albanian boys had been sentenced to death for having thought of emigrating to Italy. The Italian government, meanwhile, chose the forced repatriation of most of the people. Dritan recalls that on the same day (about a week after arrival ed) of a riot in Tirana against the Italian Embassy he was brought back: " the same day a bus arrives, they tell us that we have to go to Bologna to get the documents instead they board a plane for Albania. Once we got off with military vehicles they took us to prison, but two cousins and I understand the intention and as soon as the opportunity arises we jump out of the vehicle and take advantage of not being imprisoned ".

He returned in August with the Vlora, a ship for the transport of sugar that was diverted to Italy, was filled with people beyond belief, it is thought 20,000. This time Dritan stayed for a few weeks. The arrival of this cargo and the conditions of the emigrants are mentioned in another Italian documentary “La dolce Nave”. In the following years Dritan returned again to Italy and settled in Umbertide. For 25 years he has been working steadily in the most innovative development sectors in central Italy, linked to engineering which are a flagship of the Umbertidese production system. 

As soon as he was able to work he rented an apartment to marry his beloved girl who joined him; then he continued to build his family between new born and the arrival of his parents from Albania. Now he has long since acquired Italian citizenship and has forged strong bonds of friendship and esteem, even if he always thinks about the place where he was born. A similar fate for many young Albanians who have since settled in Umbertide and have given life to what can be defined as an "ethnic colony" in a land of emigration, where the first who integrated have acted as economic and moral support for the new you arrive through family channels.

Like Dritan, the Albanian community has integrated with the desire to establish itself above all in work: in the construction sector, for example, there are already about 20 companies and  Registered "self-employed workers"  and present in Umbertide. The desire to integrate with stability is also evidenced by the gender ratio of the resident emigrant population: the Albanian is the only ethnic group with an equal ratio between "males" and "females", 280 to 281 in the last census. Willingness to settle in Umbertide in a stable manner confirmed by the comparison with the census of December 2005 which counted 394 Albanian residents: then the "males" were 210, while the "females" were only 184.


Shijak photo in 1964:

Dritan came from Shijak, 11 km from Durres (Dures) and 31 km from Tirana. In the English Wikipedia entry you can read “ reported population of around 12,853 people as of 2007. In reality the population is smaller as many people who claim residency in Shijak actually reside permanently elsewhere. ". In short, emigration continued in its area of origin and mainly concerned young people. This is also confirmed by the fact that the natural demographic growth of the Shijak population decreased from 2003 to 2007 by almost 60%.

Many Albanian children who arrived in the 1990s are now adults and live in Umbertide with their children ... and now someone with their first grandchildren. Children and grandchildren who are and will be bearers of a double identity: Umbertidesi and linked to the land of origin of their fathers. We thank Dritan for telling us his story and allowing us to enrich us.

 Kamel and Kalida

(edited by Francesco Deplanu)


Among those who have chosen Umbertide to live there is Kamel who formed here  his family. Very young Kamel, born in Algiers, sought  to know the ways of life in other countries. He came to us for the first time in 1991, he settled there in 1995 but this year, about a month ago, he felt forced to leave Umbertide, now an Italian citizen, to seek a better life in Manchester in England.



Fig. 1: Algiers from Wikipedia.

The user who originally uploaded the file was Dolphin Jedi from English Wikipedia Dolphin Jedi - English Wikipedia (Original text: Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons.), CC BY-SA 3.0, https: // commons.

 His wife Kalida, says that " Kamel was a young 20-year-old boy, smart, full of dreams with a great desire to travel and discover the other side of the horizon, being convinced that there would be a better future awaiting him, despite that in Algeria he was well off, there was neither war nor economic crisis, but he was looking for something different, so he launched a small tour visiting many countries, Switzerland, Spain, Libya, Austria, Hungary, Morocco, and then Italy. the first time he came to Italy was in 1991 but only with a tourist visa, and something snapped that on his return to Algeria made him think of returning there to live there, he returned another time to Italy, to Umbertide, but to  looking for work, it was not so easy to find it when you do not speak the language and when there is a great distrust from people towards everything that is different. Kamel, however, did not give up and got busy and did  all  the possible trade, bricklayer, gardener, worked in the tobacco fields and over time in the mechanical industry. ". For 20 years Kamel worked in various medium-sized companies in the mechanical field of Umbria but never managed to get a permanent contract.


Kalida continues: “ For Kamel it was not always fun, life got very hard with that young boy, it was more and more difficult to find houses for rent because people did not trust him, but he dreamed of stability. After so much suffering he always managed to find a good soul who granted him the  benefit of the doubt, so in 1995 he managed to obtain his first residence permit thanks to a stable employment contract and a house. ". Like many emigrants, after a few years Kamel felt the need to settle down, get married and start a family. He will marry Kalida, a cultured young man who already knows the local Algerian variant in addition to Arabic, the Berber which is  the language of his parents, English and French. 


Fig. 2: Algiers.

  The neighborhood where Kalida was born.

Fig. 3-4: Traditional Algerian Cous Cous and Mint Tea prepared by  Kalida.

Kalida says: “ in 2004 he and I get married, I am a young graduate in finance full of life plans. My departure for Italy provoked in me a feeling of great enthusiasm and great sadness, I was leaving my land for another stranger, I was leaving my loved ones ignoring what was waiting for me. I am a woman who traveled a lot as a child, France, Spain, Portugal, Tunisia, UK, in short, for me living in Italy would have been a long vacation, but it wasn't at all. My arrival in Umbertide was a big change in my life, I, a girl born in Algiers, capital of Algeria, was used to the big city I find myself in a small town, the rhythms of life were completely different, but this was not the biggest problem. So I faced the obstacle of the language, but I challenged myself to study it and I did it, then taking the middle school certificate with top marks. The thing that made me suffer the most, however, was the gaze of the people, it was something that killed me more and more, I was not seen as a woman but as a "Moroccan" with a veil! I must say that I have faced many very unpleasant situations, luckily I was strong in character and I have always tried to  moving forward, studying, playing sports, after the birth of my 3 children I became more and more involved in their school career, trying to participate in all school activities; without ever losing sight of my dream of working but I soon realized that with my veil I will never be given the chance to work, I was like "an alien".  it was so scary, finally I surrendered to the harsh reality, I was always there to justify myself for that  that I was, I wanted to shout loud and loud to the whole world that the veil was covering my hair and not my brain! For 15 years I haven't been able to get a  I work in Umbertide, and it was not easy for us to resist with a salary paying everything (rent, bills, expenses ...) but we have always made sure with great sacrifices, the relationship I had with Umbertide has always been love and hate, of course I have not only had bad things in my life in this city, on the contrary, it has given me the opportunity to meet some fantastic people who have accompanied me along my life path. "


" Thanks to these people I was able to face the nostalgia of my country and my family, I love Italy, my children were born there and they have an unconditional love for Umbertide, with them I have always spoken the 3 languages, Arabic, French and Italian but mostly ľItalian and they almost always speak Italian between them but unfortunately  for economic and social reasons we had to leave this land, looking for economic and mental well-being elsewhere. It was not an easy choice at all but in life you have to  risk and therefore, for a second time in our life, we were forced to leave land and loved ones in search of a country that offers us a chance to work both, without any prejudice, my dream was to be judged for what I was and for my abilities  and not for what I was wearing. " 

utopia grattacielo.jpg

Fig. 5: The "Skyscraper" seen from the Piazzetta .

I would never have left ľItaly if I had been given ľopportunity to work. " When asked for  which country she misses most now that she is in England Kalida replies "Italy", even if from Algeria she stresses "I miss my mother" and then continues to tell us that "there are many things I miss about Umbertide, first of all my friends and friends, the small pleasant moments we shared together such as having breakfast, going shopping, sitting in the Piazzetta to see the children playing together while eating a good ice cream. "The Piazzetta, or rather the square of the" skyscraper "which replaced the" gardens "of previous generations as a summer meeting point, was the main place where children and young people of different cultures met especially in the summer. those relationships that have allowed us to get to know each other more in depth, starting with eating the tastiest dishes together and thus consolidating friendships.  

Kalida concludes “ from Umbertide I miss the sun and good food, take a stroll to the market on Wednesdays, take a long walk in the evening after dinner, here in Manchester, on the other hand, I don't feel safe in the evening. ".

Fig. 6-7-8: Manchester in England


- Texts written directly in Italian by Kalida S.  

- Photo by Kalida S. and Francesco Deplanu


Adil's family moved to Umbertide a few months after he was born from a mining town in central Morocco: Khouribga. Adil lives  and it's  always lived in Umbertide.


Image of Adil's parents' hometown clock.

Khouribga's clock: Energievision [CC BY-SA 3.0 (]. 

From Wikipedia: ساعة_خريبكة_ l% 27horloge_de_khouribga_1.jpg

(edited by Adil BA)



“After 2 years of visits the doctor told my mom that she couldn't help my brother in any way. His problems were irreversible, but with specific surgery and medications he could live a few more years.  


<< You have to move to Europe, lady >>


And so it was that my family moved to Italy at the dawn of 1982. A casual and dramatic event changed the course of events, forever.  


My brother lived until March 3, 2000 and found fantastic doctors, nurses who still greet me today and tell about when they held me in their arms, people who cared about his and our health.



I have lived in Umbertide since I was aware of myself, when my parents moved I was 3 months old, so I did not experience the change, the emigration. Just thinking about leaving my home, whatever the reason, makes me very sad.


I lived 2 cultures, one at home and one outside, at school, at the camp, at Garibaldi with friends.

I have always had the possibility to choose my thought and I have always formed it with more interpretations. I knew what it was like here, I saw what it was like there, and it was a fortune that I can never thank enough for. 

At school I was the only one, not in the classroom, but in the whole school to come from another country. They were certainly different times, but when you are a child there are no differences. However, I learned early enough that I was "other than", only that in some areas I was a little more different ... it always depended on the interlocutor.  


This was an important lesson, as not everyone generalized with me I didn't generalize and I still don't do it with others. Growing up and coming out of the glass bubble of the school I had a few more problems, I had to deal with some aspects of life that made me suffer but undoubtedly also grow.


I found myself being neither meat nor fish. Too black for someone, too white for someone else.


I went through a period in which you ultimately have to choose whether to play the victim and mourn yourself or to treasure what happened to you and still continue to have faith in humanity.


Trust that then pays off because a person's qualities go beyond prejudices.


I had job opportunities, I met people who initially looked at me with doubt and with whom I built thirty-year friendships. Transversal friendships, regardless of political, religious, football, or social background.


I have had and have disagreements, especially when the topic of discussion is religion, but I have also learned not to always put it on a personal level.  


I learned to measure myself with others serenely not to “feel myself in the crosshairs.” There will always be those who think differently regardless, it is the founding aspect of a multiracial society.


Basically, I had to move to find my home. ".


- Written texts  by Adil BA   

- Photo by Energievision [CC BY-SA 3.0 (].  From Wikipedia: ساعة_خريبكة_ l% 27horloge_de_khouribga_1.jpg


(edited by Francesco Deplanu)

Tiziana arrived from Colombia, a journey back across the ocean to get to Italy. Tiziana has blue eyes that come from afar.


Barbara began a long journey from Maratea to Colombia, after three generations Tiziana landed, on a reverse journey, in the hills above Pierantonio. 

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Emigration moves away from the original nucleus, breaks roles and power relations, allowed and allows women to assert themselves beyond socially prepared screens and “destinies”. On trips across the border, luck, skills and, often, choices of love mix places and possibilities. Barbara Iannini left Italy and left to reach Colombia. He chose who to love and his career destiny. He had three children in a new "foreign" land. One of these, Elisa, married Pierluigi a young man who emigrated to Colombia from Foligno. Tiziana, their daughter, retraced her grandmother's journey backwards, from Bogota to Maratea, where she fell in love and then married a local boy. Today his is a large family with 4 children who are in the hills of our area. His children studied and studied in Pierantonio and Umbertide.

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Tiziana at her wedding in Italy

 Tiziana states that " Umbrian people are kind, cordial, sincere and Umbria, both in my husband and in me, has always exercised a certain fascination for the green of its woods, for the history of centuries that it has left traces in every city and its castles that dominate the narrow valleys from the heights . ".


Listening to Tiziana's family story, one enters a female narrative perspective, where choices of life and affections characterize the “minor” story of emigration. Because Barbara, Elisa and Tiziana have come to terms not only with the need for economic affirmation or cultural training, but they have done so with their multiple role as mothers, workers, sisters. They have worked and lived by taking care of the growth of children with double identity, both "going" and "returning".

In 1979 a work by a third generation Italian-American writer, “Umbertine” by Helen Barolini, appeared in North American literature. The need for a female narrative revealed for the first time the “minor” aspect of the female perspective in living in a new world and dealing with one's own identity. Tiziana's stories have the same tenor, but they end in a more complex way: the identity from a female perspective formed in the country of arrival is broken and recomposed again in the "old" country.


Barbara, known as Barbarina, in the 30s of the last century, followed the brothers overseas and worked in their porcelain shop, then married Carlo Rovida and with him she began a career as an entrepreneur. Today his work is more than visible, his company founded in 1943, San Marcos , a confectionery industry with restaurant and bakery, is an excellence in Colombia. His role, all the more difficult to achieve given his "gender", is mentioned in a dedicated page on the same site of the company in the page dedicated to " Women's Day " ... with its own title in Italian, written by Valentina sister of Tiziana.

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Image by Barbara and text from:

Here you can read: “ El día de la mujer es muy important para la panadería San Marcos: nuestra fundadora Barbara Iannini was a powerful y valiente mujer. Su labor como mujer de negocios fue todo un ejemplo para la comunidad italiano de Bogotá que siempre vio en her a figure admirable, but sobretodo, su presencia fue una gran inspiración para muchas de las empleadas más antiguas del establecimiento. If it happened to the 28 years of edad (tarde para la época) and gracias a on impulse logro that at the moment the panadería San Marcos was the principal productora de pan in the city of Bogotá. He was looking for a muchas de las empleadas de la empresa que la recuerdan con cariño por haberlas aconsejado de manera correcta en muchos problemas domésticos: siempre las alentó en las dificultades y las incentivó a ser mujeres independientes en todo sentido. ".

Tiziana grew up in the large family connected to the community of second generation "Italians" or to those who subsequently reached Colombia from our country. The grandfather founded, among others, the " Leonardo da Vinci " school in Bogotà, a private school where, in addition to Spanish, the language of one's own tradition was studied; norm that concerned in Colombia a multitude of languages brought by the emigratory and indigenous mix.  

However, Tiziana completed her university studies, already engaged to Antonio, in Milan in Mechanical Engineering with a biomedical address.


But adjusting to life in the city proved difficult. Not so much for the difference between an Italian language studied in Colombia compared to the real one with which she was confronted, but for the limitation in human relationships: the detachment from others, a frenetic life based on the activities to be carried out turned out to be opposed to the way of life for Tiziana Colombian; a life full of joy, of value to friendship and open to relationships with others. These aspects linked to human relationships now Tiziana feels she has rediscovered them starting with the meetings she had with small children and other mothers in the square of Pierantonio.

What certainly differentiates the life structure in Colombia from the Italian one is the minor social division; a division that seems insurmountable in Colombia. The division between rich and poor, in a country of extreme poverty, is clear, even among young people, to which is added a difference between those who descend from an American or Spanish "stock" and other ethnic groups. Some time ago Tiziana recalled how Bogota had "six million inhabitants, of which four are poor and of these one million are destitute". Among the poor who have an even worse situation is the female gender, underpaid and exploited.

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Tiziana remembers how the values of her family have always been opposed to this triple division, economic, ethnic and gender: " Since I was a child I felt close to those who were marginalized by my classmates due to their economic condition or the color of their skin " . These beliefs depended on the upbringing and example of her family, especially her grandmother Barbara and her mother Elisa: " Just tell you one of the many wonderful things that my mother and grandmother did to make you happy, at least for one day, of orphaned and abandoned girls: on the occasion of my sister's first communion she organized the party at the orphanage run by Italian nuns, who were customers of the shop. He also called one of the best entertainers in the square and he worked all afternoon and did not want to be paid, he offered his work for free because he understood the purpose for which the party was dedicated. I still have before my eyes the enchanted and joyful gazes of those little girls who had never witnessed games like this, had never known the warmth of a family and never caressed their mother's face ".

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In the center, at the wedding of her niece, Barbarina Iannini, surrounded by her family.

Today Umbertide is home to about 80 people from South America. Those who leave their country bring with them their habits, sounds and music, pride in their culture or religion and, as in the case of Tiziana's grandmother, culinary traditions. From any country you leave and in any country you arrive. Identity is not lost but readapts and changes, it becomes double. Pierluigi, Tiziana's father strengthened in his family both the "nostalgia" of Italy and the use of the language also carried out for his love for Italian music and opera. All this contributed to the choice of Tiziana who left Colombia, a big city and came to live in a small rural nucleus of our hills.




- Oral source

- Photo: Tiziana's family archive.


Help us remember

Fernand Braudel

"History is nothing more than a constant questioning of past times in the name of the problems, curiosities and even anxieties and anxieties of the present time that surround us and besiege us"

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