Academic journal article International Journal of Communication Research

The Role of Italian Minority in the Economic Modernization of Romania

Academic journal article International Journal of Communication Research

The Role of Italian Minority in the Economic Modernization of Romania

Article excerpt

Presence of Italians in the economy of the Romanian Principalities in the Xllth and XVIIth centuries

Scarce information is available on Italian emigration prior to 1800, however, along the years, mention has been made about their presence (as travellers, missionaries, physicians, soldiers of fortune, civil and military architects, engineers, painters, house designers, musicians, fencing masters, brick layers, carpenters, stone cutters, etc.), at the princely courts of Moldova, Valahia and Transilvania. Along the centuries, the history of Romanians registered the important contribution brought by Italians to the socio-cultural development and building up of modern Romania. Tens of thousands of Italians came, either invited by the princes, kings and governments of the country, or on their own, in search of a better life1.

Historical records attest the presence of Italians on the actual territory of Romania as early as the Xllth century. Some of the first settlers mentioned in Transilvania during the reign of the Hungarian king Geza the lind (1142-1162) were, apart from Walloons, the Italians from Varadino (present Oradea), where they had built up their residential district, earlier than 1241, the year of the Tartar-Mongolian invasion. In the XHIth and XIVth centuries, the ancient Greek walled towns built up on the Black Sea coast have been colonized by the maritime cities of Genova and Venice, first with the agreement of the Byzantine, then of the Ottoman authorities - namely the cities of Lycostomo, Maurocastro or Moncastro, and the Danubian fortress of Vicina (in the vecinity of the present Isaccea), Sfântu Gheorghe - facing one of the river mouths of Danube in the Black Sea, and San Giorgio (today, Giurgiu). The Genovese lighthouse of Constanta has been erected around the year 1300 by the Genovese merchants developing their trade in this harbour.

Later on, Italian architects and foremen have been brought here to build up walled towns and fortresses. Accordingly, between 1307 and 1315, a castle was raised in Timiçoara for the new king of Hungary, Carol Robert of Anjou. Iancu de Hunedoara, governor of the Timi§ Comitat and voievode of Transilvania since 1441, then king of Hungary between 1446 and 1453, settled his headquarters in Timiçoara and hired Italian, possibly Milanese, architects, to erect a larger and more modern one on the place of the old castle - destroyed by an eartyhquake.

Other Italian architects mentioned in historical records are those who came in 1541, to build up walled fortresses against the Turkish attacks. As early as the time of Matei Corvin and Gheorghe Zápolya, continuing with Báthory, Rackozy and Gabriel Bethlen, numerous Italian architects, military and civil engineers were present at the princely courts of Transilvania. For example, the entrechments of the walled city of Oradea have been fortified, during the reign of Bethlen (16131629), by Giovanni Landi of Mantua and Agostino Serena of Venice, while Giacomo Resti, an architect of Verona, built up, inside these fortifications, a pentagonal palace with an - obviously - Italian styled chiostro. Oradea remains the central European city having most faithfully preserved the style of the Italian Renaissance. The same Agostino Serena erected the Banffy Castle at Bontida (Cluj county).

XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries documents make mention of several Italians hired at the Vallachian and Moldavian courts: physicians, counselors, translators, personal secretaries, fancing masters, revenue officers, wig makers, etc.


Starting with the XVIIIth century, especially in the first half of the XIXth one, Italians came in large numbers, even in compact groups, in Transilvania, Bucovina, Banat and Basarabia. The main reason of their migration in the provinces inhabited by Romanians was definitely the economic one. They settled where their profession and their training were needed; consequently, in certain regions, their number was indeed high: for example, in Tara Hategului, the Clopotiva, Râu de Mori and SäntämariaOrlea villages had preponderantly an Italian population, due to the Italians established here around 1850 to work in the forest domain. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.