Say grazie to your Italian heritage with our guide to exploring your roots in the boot country.
Every ethnic group in the United States can recite ways its group has impacted American culture, but Italians have them all beat. After all, we dubbed the land America — a fine Italian name. And who doesn't like Italian food? Go to any US city and you'll find restaurants serving up pizza, lasagna and tiramisu. Italy's influence in America is everywhere you look, from expensive Armani suits to Roman art to Marlon Brando of Godfather fame. And descendants of Italia — among them baseball great Joe DiMaggio, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and blue-eyed crooner Frank Sinatra — represent one of the United States' largest heritage groups.
More than 5 million Italians have immigrated to the United States since 1820, with 80 percent of them arriving during the peak immigration years, 1880 to 1920. Nearly 16 million Americans claimed Italian ancestry in the 2000 US census. If that includes you, it's time to embark on the genealogical mystery tour to your roots. Let us guide you through the magnifico resources that await you.