Journey and destinations

The journey

The journey, that is the time it took to reach the country of destination, is the key symbol of the whole migration process, the detachment from a “before”, i.e. the land each migrant knew and loved (though it often did not satisfy him/her) to reach an “after” which at the same time was both appealing and completely unknown. It is a difficult time to live in, just like the major turning point in everyone’s life. Migrants left on foot, by train, with slow small ships or large transatlantic liners, or even by plane. Most of the Italians left from a handful of ports: Genoa, in the days before the Unification of Italy handled most of the migration traffic while Naples became the most popular port later on as the amount of Southern Italy migrants grew. Palermo and Trieste (the latter after World War I) featured a much smaller traffic. Le Havre was the most popular port for people departing from a foreign country.

Cover of a leaflet published by the Navigazione Generale Italiana (Italian General Navigation Company) in 1901, featuring useful information for passengers