Italian immigration into Cuba was minor in comparison with other waves of Italian emigration to the Americas, where a few thousand Italians emigrated to Cuba, compared to the millions that went to Argentina, Brazil and the United States.
After Cristoforo Colombo (Italian from Genoa), discovered Cuba in 1492, the first Italians arrived with the Spanish conquistadores. Some were sailors and soldiers of fortune but most were missionaries. In 1605 shipwrecked Italian sailors founded the city of Mantua, Cuba in the far west of the island. These sailors came from the Genoa and Venice areas.
Only in the mid-19th century did there develop a small Italian community in Cuba: they were mostly people of culture, architects, engineers, painters and artists and their families. They were called to Cuba to work in the development of the churches, monuments and government buildings in Havana. In 1884 these first Italian Cubans founded the "Sociedad de Socorro Mutuo" (Society of Mutual Aid) and in 1891 the "Sociedad de Beneficiencia" to help the neediest among them. At the beginning of the 20th century socialist associations were formed but these were strongly opposed with the Catholic-aligned authorities. Some Italian Cubans participated actively in the Cuban wars of independence, such as Oreste Ferrara editor of the national El Heraldo de Cuba newspaper.
In 1931 according to the Cuban census there were 1178 people with an Italian passport in Cuba. Of these Italians, 80 lived in Pinar del Río Province, 129 in Oriente Province, 762 in Havana, 30 in Matanzas Province, 103 in Las Villas Province and 74 in Camagüey Province.
During WWII, Italy and Cuba broke off diplomatic relations and some Italian Cubans were jailed accused of sympathizing with Italy. In 1941, nine such Italians were jailed on Isla de Pinos (now called Isla de la Juventud; they were: Principe Camillo Ruspoli (rancher), Doctor Attilio di Gregorio (physician), Francesco Savonelli (businessman), Felice Siervo (jeweller), Erminio Tarditi (businessman), Bruni Pasquale (shoemaker), Doctor Pasquale Fontanella (physician), Francesco Grosso (tailor) y Piero Rosbochi (businessman). All were released in November 1943. 
In 2008 there were 2340 people in the Italian Cuban community, concentrated in Havana and tourist areas such as Varadero. One of the most famous is architect Roberto Gottardi, designer of the "Escuela de Artes Escénicas" (Scenic Arts School) in Havana.
- Ervantes-Rodriguez. International Migration in Cuba: Accumulation, Imperial Designs, and Transnational Social Fields. Max Kade German-American Research Institute Series. Publisher Penn State Press, 2011 ISBN 0-271-03539-0
- Favero, Luigi e Tassello, Graziano. Cent'anni di emigrazione italiana (1861 - 1961) CSER. Roma, 1981
- Mantua, an Italian footprint in Cuba (en ingles)
- En los registros de las parroquias de Mantua se encuentran los apellidos Ferrari, Pitaluga, Fiorenzana y otros."Italianos en Mantua". Bohemia, a.87, n.10, 14 mayo 1995, pp.18-19.
- Biografía de Oreste Ferrara
- Black Political Activism and the Cuban Republic, Melina Pappademos, p.153
- Francesco Tamburini. "La colonia italiana di Cuba (1884-1902)"(en italiano)
- Angela Oramas Camero. "Italianos en Cuba", Bohemia, a.89, n.11, 24 mayo 1997, pp.24-25
- ASDMAE, Affari Politici (1931-1945),Cuba, b.4, doc.n.0040,4 gennaio 1943; Appunto per la Direzione Generale AffariGenerali: Italianos libertados, Embajada española en La Habana, 12 novembre 1943
- Roberto Gottardi´s National art school - Paradise lost?