+27 (0)21 487 3900 consolato.capetown@esteri.it

50 Years of Migrations

Italians in South Africa in the late 1800s and early 1900s.


Cape Town – 6 December at 17:30


In the mid-nineteenth century, thousands of Italians left their country of origin and chose to go abroad.

They were driven by unemployment or by the search for good job opportunities. They moved to European countries or crossed the Ocean to reach the Americas.

But some of them chose the southern African region in a time of change. The discovery of great mineral resources, the increase of colonial trades and the need for public works recalled South African workers from Europe, America and Asia.

However, political issues, colonial rules, immigration acts and stereotypes made immigration practice very difficult. Despite that, some Italians managed to find their spot in a rough labour market in which the skin colour played already a great role, giving their contribution to the building of modern South Africa.

This history gives an insight to retrace the origin of communities well-rooted in South Africa. As the history of South Africa is also a history of immigration.


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Interactive Maps

Drag the handle to compare the old maps of South Africa and Cape Town with the current ones.


Dr Valentina Iacoponi

Ph.D. in Contemporary History

Valentina Iacoponi is an Italian independent researcher and public officer with a PhD in Contemporary History obtained at the University of Cassino (FR).

Her fields of interest concern rural and environmental history and migration studies. She worked in eastern Liguria, Lazio, Toscana and South Africa. She cooperated with private and public academic institutions such as the University La Sapienza of Rome, The University of Cape Town, the Alcide Cervi Institute, the Historic Museum of the Liberation of Rome, the Centro Studi Emigrazione (CSER).

As an expert in agricultural history at the Regional Agency for Agricultural Development and Innovation in Lazio, she is in charge of the historical and bibliographical research related to endangered indigenous animal and plant resources of agricultural interest.