Italian Venezuelans

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Italian Venezuelans
Italo Venezolanos
Total population
Various estimates:
  • 30,840 Italian-born residents (Census, 2011).[1]
  • 200,000 consular record (AIRE, 2019).[2]

Venezuelans of Italian descent:

  • 500,000 (Voce d'Italia, 2019).[2]
  • 1,500,000 (Italian Embassy, 2011).[3]
  • 5% to 6% (Italian Embassy, 2012).[4]
  • 2,000,000 (Italian Embassy, 2017).[5]
  • 5,000,000 (Il Gazzettino, 2020).[6]
Regions with significant populations
Greater Caracas, Valencia, Maracay, Barquisimeto, Maracaibo, Barcelona-Puerto La Cruz, Margarita Island, Ciudad Guayana, Acarigua-Araure and Mérida
SpanishItalianNeapolitanSicilianother italian languages.
Roman Catholic
Related ethnic groups
Italian Americans, Italian Argentines, Italian Brazilians, Italian Chileans, Italian Uruguayans, Italian Peruvians, Italian Canadians, Italian Mexicans, Italian Australians, Italian South Africans

Italian Venezuelans are Venezuelan citizens of Italian descent. The word may refer to someone born in Venezuela of Italian descent or to someone who has emigrated to Venezuela from Italy. Italians were among the largest groups of European immigrants to settle in the country. Approximately 5 million Venezuelans have some degree of Italian ancestry.[3][4][7][8]

Italians began arriving in Venezuela in massive numbers in the last half of the nineteenth and the first half of the twentieth centuries. Yet Italians began to transmit a sound cultural heritage, giving and receiving demonstrations of social empathy, which contributed to their integration and to the huge flows into Venezuela in 1947 and in 1948.

The massive presence of travelers, explorers, missionaries, and other peninsular and insular Italian immigrants over the course of almost 500 years made Venezuela acquire a Latin vocation instead of a Hispanic one. Italians also influenced Venezuelan accent, given its slight sing-songy intonation.[9]


Before the discovery of huge deposits of oil in Venezuela, during the first half of the 20th century, the emigration of Italians to Venezuela was limited. A number of Italians moved to Venezuela from Italy during the colonial times as Filippo Salvatore Gilii, José Cristóbal Roscio, Francisco Isnardi. In the Republican era of the 19th century there was a small number of Italians and their descendants who attained high status in Venezuelan society, such as Agostino Codazzi, Constante Ferrari, Carlos Luis Castelli and the surgeon Luis Razetti.

By 1926 there were 3,009 Italians in Venezuela ... approximately one-third lived in the capital, one-sixth in Trujillo and there were respectable showings in Bolivar, Carabobo, and Monagas. Zulia, with its port of Maracaibo, had gained in importance. ... The "Societa' Fratellanza Italiana" was a mutual benefit society founded in Caracas in 1883. Other organizations of the small Italian community included the "Associazione Nazionale Combatenti", the "Lega Navale Italiana", the "Camera di Comercio Italiana in Venezuela", a section of the "Croce Rossa Italiana" and, founded in 1923, the "Partito Nazionale Fascista", with over two hundred members and organizations in four cities:Caracas, Valencia, Puerto Cabello and Barquisimeto (Duaca). ... Two Italian newspapers, "Eco de Italia", followed by "El Eco de la Patria", were published in the early 1920s. The first attempts to provide schooling in the Italian language date from the late 1930s, as do the beginnings of the first social club, "La Casa de Italia" (officially founded in 1937 with the patronage of the Italian minister). The Casa co-sponsored an Italian school, a cultural institute and several sports teams, notably in soccer and cycling.Susan Berglund[10]

In the 1940s and 1950s the Dictatorship of the general Marcos Pérez Jiménez promoted european immigration to his depopulated country, and more than 300,000 Italians emigrated to Venezuela where flourished under his administration because he had started many urban infrastructure projects thanks to the revenues of oil exportation. There were ample opportunities to work in construction developments, and as a result the economic stance increased within its cities, especially Caracas, Valencia, Barquisimeto and Maracaibo. The Electoral Law of 1957, which allotted to foreigners voting rights for the very first time, became a detrimental event for the Italian communities in Venezuela. The law was put into place by General Pérez Jiménez, to aid him in his reelection campaign. The loss of Perez Jimenez in the presidential referendum meant that his social programs would end, and a huge gap in leadership would follow.

The Italian immigrants had notably supported President Perez Jimenez’s referendum of December 2 of 1957, as well as expressing public adherence to the dictatorship by about 75,000 Italians liderated[clarification needed] by the entrepreneur Filippo Gagliardi. And so, when the General Perez Jimenez fell from power in January 23 of 1958 the hostile attitude of the provisional military government towards the removed president was also reflected on the groups who were supportive of him. For this reason, many migrants and their families chose to return to Italy through the following year, subsiding towards the end of February, when the Minister of Foreign Affairs recognized the potential damage of this shift and proceeded to guarantee security to the remaining Italians in Venezuela. This is a relevant factor, since acts of disdain towards the Italian populace undoubtedly affected the decisions of that ethnic group in regards to choosing to leave or enter the country.

The Italians in the 1961 Venezuelan census were the biggest European community in Venezuela (ahead of the Spanish).

In 1966, according to the Italian Embassy in Caracas, of the 170,000 Italians present in the country, 90% lived in the main cities: about 96,000 in Caracas, 14,000 in Maracaibo, 8,000 in Maracay, 6,000 in Valencia and 5,000 in La Guayra. Most of these Italians were born in Sicily, Campania and Puglia; only 15% were born in northern Italy (mainly in Emilia-Romagna). They initially worked in construction, in the service sector, in commercial agencies and in different businesses (like hotels, banks, restaurants, etc.), in manufacturing activities (the shoe industry in Caracas, for example, was fully in Italian hands) and a few also in the oil industry.

In 1976 the "Dirección de Estadísticas" of Venezuela registered 210,350 Italians residents and 25,858 Italians "naturalised" (who had obtained Venezuelan citizenship).[11] In 2001, 126,553 Italians were living in Venezuela.[12]

Marisa Vannini calculated that in the 1980s Italian-Venezuelans made up almost 400,000 of Venezuela's population, including second-generation descendants of immigrants. The Italian language in Venezuela is influencing Venezuelan Spanish with some modisms and loanwords and is experiencing a notable revival between the Italian-Venezuelans of second and third generation.

Santander Laya-Garrido estimated that the Venezuelans with at least one grandparent from Italy can be nearly one million at the beginning of the 21st century (like the former president of Venezuela, Raul Leoni, whose grandfather was an Italian mason refugee of the 19th century).

Currently, Italian citizens resident in Venezuela are reduced to less than 50,000 due mainly to demographic mortality and to their return to Italy (because of a Venezuelan political and economic crisis in the 2000s).[13] The Ambassador of Italy in Venezuela, estimated that 5–6% (1.44 to 1.73 million) of the current Venezuelan population is of Italian origin.[14]

Italian population in Venezuela
Census Year Venezuelan population Italian population % Italians over foreigners % Italians over total population
1881 2,075,245 3,237 6.6 0.15
1941 3,850,771 3,034 6.3 0.07
1950 5,091,543 136,705 31.1 3.01
1961 7,523,999 113,631 24.6 1.51
1971 10,721,522 213,000 22.3 1.99
2001 23,054,210 49,337 4.86 0.21


Initially, agriculture was one of the main activities of the Italian community in Venezuela. In the 1950s, entire Italian families were moved from Italy to special agricultural areas, like the "Colonia Turén" of the Portuguesa region.[15]

However, most Italians concentrated in commercial, building and services activities during the second half of the 20th century. In those sectors, Italians reached top positions in the Venezuelan economy.

The community's main Italian newspapers are Il Corriere di Caracas and La Voce d'Italia [1], both published in the Capital, and the main Italian school is the Agustin Codazzi of Caracas (with courses from elementary to high school). Since 2002, the Italian government has become the promoter for a provision which makes it mandatory to teach the Italian language as a second language in a consistent number of public and private schools within Venezuela.[16]

Most of the Italian community in Caracas but even in the rest of Venezuela followed Deportivo Italia football club, as its own representative team.[17]

Indeed, the Italian-Venezuelans have obtained significant results in the contemporary society of Venezuela. The Italian Embassy calculates that 1/4 of the Venezuelan industries, not related to the oil sector, are directly or indirectly owned and/or managed by Italian-Venezuelans.[18]

In the Italian community, actually one of the most important in Venezuela, there are Presidents of Venezuela (like Jaime Lusinchi and Raúl Leoni), entrepreneurs (like ing. Delfino, who with his "Constructora Delpre" made in Caracas the tallest skyscrapers of South America: Parque Central Complex), managers (like Pompeo D'Ambrosio), sportsmen (like Johnny Cecotto), artists (like Franco De Vita), beauty pageants (like Daniela di Giacomo and Viviana Gibelli), and many others personalities.

One winner of the title Miss Venezuela was born in Italy: María Antonieta Cámpoli[19] in 1972 (later she represented Venezuela in the Miss Universe, where she was the runner-up).

Main Italo-Venezuelan Institutions and Associations[edit]

Coat of Arms of Deportivo Italia (the futbol team of the Italian community in Caracas), that won five Venezuela Championships and the famous Little Maracanazo.
  • Asociación Civil "Agustin Codazzi" in Caracas
  • Casa de Italia in Caracas, Maracay, Valencia, Ciudad Bolívar
  • Centro Italo-Venezolano in Caracas, Barcelona, Maracaibo, Valencia
  • Club Social Italiano in Puerto La Cruz, Acarigua, Calabozo
  • Deportivo Italia Football Club
  • Instituto Italiano de Cultura in Caracas[20]
  • Camera di Commercio, Industria ed Agricoltura Venezuelana-Italiana in Caracas
  • Regional Associations of Italians in Venezuela[21]
  • Genealogía Italiana en Venezuela[22]


The Colegio Agustín Codazzi in Caracas is an overseas Italian school recognized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy.[23]

There are also multiple Italo-Venezuelan schools in the country:[24]


Eastern Venezuela:[24]

Western Venezuela:[24]

Geographical distribution and origin[edit]

Areas of Venezuela where the Italian community is concentrated

The Italians who migrated to Venezuela came mainly from the regions of South Italy, like Abruzzo, Campania, Sicily, and Apulia, but there were also migrants from the north, such as from Emilia-Romagna and Veneto.

The Italian Consulate in Caracas stated[25] that in 1977, of 210,350 Italians residents in Venezuela, 39,855 were from Sicily, 35,802 from Campania, 20,808 from Abruzzi, 18,520 from Apulia, 8,953 from Veneto, 7,650 from Emilia-Romagna and 6,184 from Friuli – Venezia Giulia.

The Italians are concentrated mainly in the north-central region of Venezuela around Caracas. The Consulate stated that in the same 1977 there were 98,106 Italians in the Distrito Federal of Caracas, 39,508 in Miranda State, 14,203 in Maracaibo, 12.801 in Aragua State and 8,104 in Carabobo State, as well as 66 in the Amazonas equatorial region.

In the 2000s, it was determined that nearly 90% of the Italo-Venezuelans were concentrated in the northern coastal section of Venezuela facing the Caribbean sea. Approximately 2/3 of them are residents of the metropolitan areas of the three main Venezuelan cities: Caracas, Maracaibo and Valencia.

There is also a considerable number of Italian residents that live in the city of San Cristóbal and in the Andes region.



States with the highest proportions of Italian-born population tend to be those of the North-central coastal area (Capital and Central Region), the Andean Region (Mérida) and the Insular Region.

Percentage of population born in Italy through Venezuela

At the 2011 census, this was the breakdown of Italian-born population by state, showing that the capital area was the one with the biggest concentration of native Italians.

State Italian-born Population Percentage
Amazonas 19 0.013
Flag of Anzoátegui State.svg Anzoátegui 1,116 0.0798
Flag of Apure State.svg Apure 63 0.0137
Flag of Aragua State.svg Aragua 2,492 0.1537
Flag of Barinas State.svg Barinas 351 0.0434
Flag of Bolívar State.svg Bolívar 885 0.0631
Flag of Caracas.svg Capital District 5,792 0.3003
Flag of Carabobo State.svg Carabobo 3,011 0.1349
Flag of Cojedes State.svg Cojedes 93 0.0216
Flag of Delta Amacuro State.svg Delta Amacuro 18 0.01
Flag of Falcón.svg Falcón 355 0.0373
Federal dependencies of Venezuela's Flag.svg Federal Dependencies 20 0.9438
Flag of Guárico State.svg Guárico 582 0.0785
Flag of Lara State.svg Lara 1,449 0.082
Flag of Mérida State.svg Mérida 558 0.678
Flag of Miranda state.svg Miranda 8,263 0.3122
Flag of Monagas State.png Monagas 494 0.0566
Flag of Nueva Esparta.svg Nueva Esparta 915 0.1886
Flag of Portuguesa.svg Portuguesa 851 0.0986
Flag of Sucre State.svg Sucre 296 0.038
Flag of Táchira.svg Tachira 338 0.0291
Flag of Trujillo State.svg Trujillo 349 0.051
Flag of Vargas State.svg Vargas 557 0.1591
Flag of Yaracuy State.svg Yaracuy 339 0.0566
Flag of Zulia State.svg Zulia 1,645 0.0446
Total Venezuela 30,901 0.1137


Italian Influences[edit]


Italian was introduced to Venezuela by Italian immigrants, and it now has over 200,000 speakers, making it the country's second most spoken language after Spanish. Italian was widely spoken across the country, specially in the capital "Caracas," "Maracay," and other cities; it is also commonly spoken (mostly by the older generation) by residents of the town of La Carlota, a town in Venezuela which was one of the main settlements for Italians immigrants, regional languages of Italy were also brought to the country such as Neapolitan and Sicilian, Italian is the second language of many Venezuelans of Italian descent after Spanish, also the Italian government has become the promoter of a provision requiring the teaching of Italian as a second language in a constant number of public and private schools within Venezuela.[27]


Italian cuisine is one of the most influential in the country's every day in fact, Venezuela is the second country in the world with the most consumption of pasta only after Italy itself. Pasta is the third most consumed product in Venezuela, whose per capita consumption is 12.6 kg.[28]

Lasagna with Parmesan cheese at the top.
Lasagna with Parmesan cheese is one of the most common and national dishes of Venezuela.

Pasticho (lasagna in Italian) is extremely common dish in Venezuelan Cuisine, Pasticho basically Lasagne is one of the traditional Venezuelan dishes being popular as hallaca, it is consumed in the original form, but also received adaptations, the variants are innumerable, for example, in some, layers of ham are added or the pasta is replaced by banana or by cachapas leafs, a version which is known as chalupa, in others it has been completely modified which involve sauce of chicken or fish, and Pasticho de berenjena which resembles greek Moussaka.[29]

Fettuccine Alfredo with shrimp.
Venezuelan Pasta.

Pizza is one of the most popular dishes in Venezuelan cuisine, pizza has had completely different contrast and variations. L'Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana has approved Portarossa, a Venezuelan business, for "La margarita," which comprises mozzarella cheese, and "La Marinada," which contains tomato sauce and garlic, as the eighth Latin American pizza certified as Pizza Napolitana by this establesiment, is an example of the various variants of pizzas in the country; it serves numerous types of pizzas, including "La Pizza Parrilla," which is made with chicken, pork, chorizo, and french fries, as well as Focaccia de Lomito carpaccio.[30][31]

Polenta originated in Italy originally made from boiled cornmeal. Funche as it is better known in Venezuela, has been incorporated into stews. The typical dish is made with chicken. In the East and West of the country they additionally prepare it with sardines. The typical Polenta of Venezuela is a baked cake made from a mix of precooked corn (Harina P.A.N.), water and salt, stuffed with some meat, chicken, fish or pig stew.[32]

Cannoli is a pastry tube filled with ricotta cheese and honey or chocolate.

Notable Italian-Venezuelans[edit]



Actors and entertainers[edit]








Beauty queens[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gerencia General de Estadísticas Demográficas (2011). Censo de Población y Vivienda 2011 (PDF). Gobierno de Venezuela. p. 41. Retrieved 10 May 2021.
  2. ^ a b "Gli italiani in Venezuela stanno con Guaidò: la crisi raccontata dai 500 mila italiani nel paese". The Post Internazionale (in Italian). Retrieved 10 May 2021.
  3. ^ a b "Italianos celebran en Venezuela los 150 años de la Unificación". El Universal. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Embajador de Italia en Caracas asegura que el sistema electoral venezolano es confiable". Correo del Orinoco. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
  5. ^ Notargiovanni, Caterina (2017). "Por qué tantos en Venezuela están eligiendo Italia para huir de la crisis" (in Spanish). BBC. Retrieved 31 March 2021. "Estimamos que hay 2 millones de descendientes de italianos en Venezuela", le explica a BBC Mundo el primer secretario Lorenzo Solinas, encargado de prensa de la Embajada de Italia en Caracas.
  6. ^ Scalzotto, Davide. "Noi veneti del Venezuela, siamo i nuovi profughi fantasma". Il Gazzettino (in Italian). Retrieved 10 May 2021. I veneti in Venezuela sono invece 5 milioni: un quinto della popolazione.
  7. ^ Notargiovanni, Caterina (2017). "Por qué tantos en Venezuela están eligiendo Italia para huir de la crisis" (in Spanish). BBC. Retrieved 31 March 2021. "Estimamos que hay 2 millones de descendientes de italianos en Venezuela", le explica a BBC Mundo el primer secretario Lorenzo Solinas, encargado de prensa de la Embajada de Italia en Caracas.
  8. ^ Scalzotto, Davide (3 February 2020). "Noi veneti del Venezuela, siamo i nuovi profughi fantasma". Retrieved 10 May 2021. I veneti in Venezuela sono invece 5 milioni: un quinto della popolazione.
  9. ^ Italian Presence in Modern Venezuela (1926-1990). "7:"
  10. ^ Italian Immigration in Venezuela: A Story Still Untold", by Susan Berglund" (University Central de Venezuela)
  11. ^ Ministerio de Fomento (Dirección General de Estadísticas y Censos nacionales). Décimo Censo nacional de 1971. Caracas
  12. ^ Bevilacqua, Piero; Clementi, Andreina De; Franzina, Emilio (2001). Storia dell'emigrazione italiana (in Italian). Donzelli Editore. ISBN 9788879896559.
  13. ^ "The Annotico Report: Italian-Venezuelans Worried By Chavez, But No Exodus". Archived from the original on 2009-02-12.
  14. ^ "Hay condiciones para celebrar comicios transparentes el 7-O". 17 July 2012. Retrieved 28 March 2021. ...el diplomático calcula que 5% o 6% de la población venezolana actual tiene origen italiano.
  15. ^ Archived 2009-02-12 at the Wayback Machine Colonia Turen (in Italian)
  16. ^ Section:Cultural cooperation
  17. ^ "Website of Deportivo Italia (in Spanish)". Archived from the original on 2020-02-29. Retrieved 2010-12-06.
  18. ^ "Americas". Archived from the original on 2008-04-21. Retrieved 2008-03-13.
  19. ^ Photo of María Antonieta Cámpoli
  20. ^ "Istituto di Cultura - Caracas".
  21. ^ " Emigrazione,Associazioni italiane al'estero,Venezuela".
  22. ^ "Home".
  23. ^ "Scuole Paritarie Italianie All'Estero" (Archive). Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Italy). p. 5/6. Retrieved on November 20, 2015.
  24. ^ a b c d "Informazioni utili nel Paese" (Archive). Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy (Farnesina). Retrieved on November 21, 2015.
  25. ^ Consolato Generale d'Italia a Caracas.Rapporto del Consolato per il Ministero Affari Esteri di Roma. Anno 1978
  26. ^ Censo 2011 - INE
  27. ^ "Ambasciata d'Italia - Caracas". (in Italian). Retrieved 2021-07-07.
  28. ^ "Consumption and production of pasta in the world". Retrieved 2021-07-09.
  29. ^ "Venezolanísimo pasticho". (in Spanish). 14 October 2014. Retrieved 2021-07-09.
  30. ^ "La ruta de la pizza en Caracas". VENEZUELA PARA EL MUNDO (in Spanish). 2014-07-21. Retrieved 2021-07-09.
  31. ^ "Venezuela cuenta con su primera pizza napolitana certificada". El Universal (in Spanish). 2018-01-09. Retrieved 2021-07-09.
  32. ^ "El funche: El manjar de la abuela para tiempos de crisis". (in Spanish). 4 April 2019. Retrieved 2021-07-12.

External links[edit]


  • Cassani Pironti, Fabio. Gli italiani in Venezuela dall’Indipendenza al Secondo Dopoguerra. Roma, 2004
  • Favero L. e Sacchetti G. Un secolo di emigrazione italiana: 1876–1976. Centro Studi Emigrazioni. Roma, 1978
  • Mille, Nicola. Veinte Años de "MUSIUES". Editorial Sucre. Caracas, 1965
  • Santander Laya-Garrido, Alfonso. Los Italianos forjadores de la nacionalidad y del desarrollo economico en Venezuela. Editorial Vadell. Valencia, 1978.
  • Vannini, Marisa. Italia y los Italianos en la Historia y en la Cultura de Venezuela. Oficina Central de Información. Caracas, 1966