Italians in Belgium: who are their grand-children ?

Last year Belgium commemorated the 70th anniversary of the migration agreement of 1946 between Italy and Belgium when thousands of Italians  filled the migrant trains leaving from Milan to reach the mining areas of “le plat pays” after a very long journey.

Books and theatrical plays have been celebrating this event with Italians becoming the most numerous among the many migrants coming to work in Belgium since 1946. The old miners and sometimes their wives had been at the centre of attention of writers, journalists and film-makers. Their children had not.

The Italian photographer and film-maker Alessia Capasso has made the jump. Her film ” Nos ancetres n’etaient pas gaulois”  was presented Thursday night at the Boom Café  in Anderlecht by the Casi-UO association showing the stories of six young Belgo-Italians some with their grand parents having arrived in that period  to work in Belgian coal mines until their closure in 1982 in the Wallonian area and in 1993 in the Limburgh area of Flanders, others with a completely new migration story having arrived alone here a few years /months ago with their computers  instead of the cardboard suitcases of the first Italian miners in Belgium.

The web series was written by Alessia Capasso and supported at the videocamera by Damiano Perri and by Paolo Russo for the music.  The main characters (Loredana, Stefania, Gianni, Giuseppe, Adriano and Herve’) tell their stories, somewhat similar but their feelings are different. However  they all seem to be proud of their Italian origins and all seem to remember some poignant detail of their previous life in Italy. Some of them have also experienced some negative reaction by their hosts that their parents and grand parents had suffered from.

However the friendly atmosphere of the city of Brussels and the company of so many friends from different nationalities have made their working experience a better one compared to that of  their ancestors

Alessia Capasso has Lampedusian origins and has been living in the Campania Region not far from Naples. Now she lives and works in Brussels.