Romanians in Italy became a notable presence mostly after 1999, due to a large wave of emigration known in Romania as Fenomenul către UE. 80% of the emigrants went to Spain or Italy, whose national languages are related to Romanian. They were followed by a further wave beginning in 2002, when Romanian citizens obtained the right to leave their country and go to any Schengen Zone country without having a visa. As of 1 January 2011 (2011-01-01)[update], there were 968,576 Romanian citizens living in Italy, representing 21.2% of all foreign citizens in that country. Unofficial estimates put the actual number of Romanians in Italy at well over one million people.
On 4 November 2007, Italy started expelling Romanians with criminal records, after a wave of violent crimes of which swelling numbers of Romani immigrants from Romania were held responsible. Roma are a large historical ethnical minority in Romania (2 million people, 10% of the population) and they make up 10% of Romanians in Italy too.
Cities with significant Romanian communities