Italy will also soon have in Brazil, through Pirelli, already established in 1929 as the owner of the Conac cable factory, the most important, if not the only, rubber product factory in South America. Agreements just concluded with Mecanica Importadora (Sicilian count) of San Paolo will allow the establishment of Montecatini and Breda as soon as possible. Ansaldo is also studying the possibility of developing the maritime construction industry locally.
All this, especially if supported by a good investment bank, which is still lacking, intended to favor the financing of Italian supplies and contracts, will open new horizons to our expansion, favoring forms of activity, much more than the old ones, useful to the mother country..
It would be very difficult to particularly follow the fortunes, successes or merits of each of the numerous Italians who moved to Brazil. It was the great mass of Italians who gave Brazil roadways, ports, railways, buildings and cities, and this immense work naturally had its victims and its martyrs. The Brazilians themselves recognize this contribution and it cements the by now secular relationships that have become increasingly cordial.
From the emigrant mass, however, the names of some stand out who not only knew how to win well-deserved fortune but who made a contribution of works to the progress and economy of the country. The doctor Vincenzo De Simoni, who lived for over fifty years and died in Rio de Janeiro (July 1881), was one of the founders and the first secretary of the Academy of Medicine, collaborating assiduously to the magazine which was its official organ. Among the many deserving ones we remember the Baron of Itaoca, consul of Brazil in Genoa after a long stay in Rio; Ferrari, author of many scientific and literary books and pamphlets; the architect Lucca who built the temple of S. Fedele in Rio; the illustrious botanist Giuseppe Radde and Andrea Comparetti and Giovanni Casaretto also botanists; il Poggia, a doctor of uncommon fame; Bartolomeo Bossi, Picturesque trip ; Mazziotti, Don Pedro II’s piano professor; Giannini, first director of the National Opera; Fiorita, master of the imperial chapel and fruitful composer; Briani, professor of singing and author of a history of painting; Orlandini, master of fencing; Msgr. Giuseppe Maserata, appointed bishop of Matto Grosso, but not confirmed because he was a foreigner; Antonio Bordo, author of an Italian-Portuguese dictionary; Battista Pozzo, the brave pilot of the Belmonte ship in the battle of Riachuelo; Giovanni Antonio Gallucci, engineer who was responsible for many and important works in the Piauhy.
The most beautiful monument in Brazil, that of “Independence” in San Paolo, is due to an Italian, the Ximenes. So Italian is Brizzolara, author of the Paulist monument to Carlos Gomes and Italian Zani, to whom we owe the monument to Verdi. Also in San Paolo, the works of architecture due to Italians number in the hundreds.
Minor was the Italian artistic contribution in Rio de Janeiro, where there are also beautiful works of Italian architecture: the new bell tower of the cathedral, the engineering club (Rebecchi), the federal government building, the archbishop’s palace, the Bank of commerce (Jannuzzi).
Italian is the author (Guaita) of the best buildings in Curityba, capital of Paraná, as Italian (Nicoli) is the author of the most beautiful monument – that of the “Two of July” – of Bahia, capital of the homonymous state. Considerable contribution, especially in the architectural field, have also given by the Italians in the other states, from Rio Grande do Sul, on the borders of Uruguay, to the north, in the Amazon basin and to Pará, where Italian design and construction is the cathedral of Belém.
The Italian cultural influence in Brazil was strengthened even more with the rise and prosperity of an Italian press. The first newspaper in our language, The Southern Cross, was published in 1765 in the Capuchin convent in Rio by the friars Giovan Francesco da Gubbio and Anselmo da Castelvetrano. It was short-lived; and only seventy years later the Dallecase with Luigi Rossetti, Francesco Anzani and Lucca Carioni published that Young Italy which is the organ of the Italian refugees gathered around Garibaldi. Once this leaflet is also dead, the third Italian leaflet in Brazil, founded in 1854 by Professor Galleano Ravara, is the Italian Iris, which ceased its publications with the immature death of the founder.
Only after 1880 did Italian journalism multiply in the federal capital and in fact the first daily newspaper: L’Italia directed by the engineer Giovanni Fogliati, immediately followed by many others, weeklies and newspapers. In 1907 in S. Paolo there were 5 newspapers: Il Fanfulla, La tribuna italiana, Il century, L’avanti and Corriere d’Italia, but now of all these newspapers the most are dead. The Fanfulla, founded by Vitaliano Rotellini (a refugee from Italy for political reasons, but a fervent lover of the homeland and defender of workers’ rights) and led to ever greater fortunes by Angelo Poci who succeeded him, with its diffusion it has assumed a predominant importance not only as an organ of defense of our colony but as a decisive element for the preservation of the language and the homeland feeling among the Italians of Brazil, which keeps them informed of what is happening at home. Next to it we must remember the Piccolo which also contributes to the defense of the Italian spirit in the host country.
The Italian colony in Brazil is for us one of the most interesting also from another aspect. Brazil is, in fact, the only country in the world in which – although with different intentions but bearing the same effects – those conservative criteria of emigration policy then implemented and generalized by the fascist government have been in force for over 28 years. It is therefore possible to appreciate the results of this new policy in Brazil from the point of view of preserving the Italian character.
Many think that, with the cessation of emigration and therefore of the introduction of new blood, the old trunk of Italianness is irremediably and completely destined to wither and die. The example of Brazil shows no. Of course, the process of assimilation is also constant in Brazil, albeit less rapid and in any case less violent and integral than in other Latin American countries. However, it is astonishing to see how in groups lost in the interior, and often in the most distant regions, the feeling of Italianness, albeit weakened by time, persists and is perpetuated.
The names of several Italians conspicuous in economic activities have been mentioned by mentioning the latter; others might remember. It should also be borne in mind that – absorbed by the travail of economic reconstruction – the Italians of Brazil have generally kept away from politics. Only now are the descendants of Italians beginning to appear in state parliaments and one of them, Dr. Pentagna, was elected in 1930 to the vice-presidency of the state of Rio de Janeiro.
There are many Italian institutions in Brazil: as far as emigration is concerned, there are patronages in S. Paolo and Santoswho deal with the placement and assistance of workers: in the major centers the Italians gathered around the charity society which is like the home of the Italians, where the historical anniversaries of the homeland are also celebrated. Of the 250 associations, 145 have charitable, mutual aid and assistance purposes; 19 educational and propaganda purposes of Italian culture; 21 are recreational; 3 sports; others have a varied character. As for the schools, there are 310 privately maintained, attended by a total of 16,923 pupils; 302 are elementary and 8 secondary. There are 7 Italian boarding schools and 1 orphanage; in S. Paolo there is the only, but magnificent, Italian hospital. Dante Alighieri has several offices and actively exercises propaganda. The fighters and the maimed are grouped into various sections,
St. Paul also possesses, unique in all America, an average institute, and an institute of high culture.
Of course, the school organization in Brazil has serious deficiencies (also due to the scarcity of Italian religious orders and priests – in Rio de Janeiro there is neither a parish nor an Italian church) and therefore deserves to be revised and adapted. to the new situation, given that it is no longer children who attend our schools there, but grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Italians. But even this problem, faced with realism, is capable of a solution.