After the Second World War, the south of Italy was a place of poverty and hardship. During the years that followed, many southern Italians left Italy, hoping for a better life elsewhere.
Reading was worlds away from the rural towns and villages in which many of these Italians had grown up. However, its busy and industrial nature meant that the town provided a wealth of opportunities for these hardworking individuals. Despite this, little has been mentioned about the story of Reading’s Italian community.
For the first time, our 2022 exhibition Reading's 'Little Italy': Stories of Migration and Belonging shined a light on the lives of these Italians who left southern Italy for Reading in search of a new beginning. It put their migration stories centre stage through oral histories, photography, and other archival material.
On these pages, discover the history of Reading’s Italian migrants, how they created a sense of community within their new home, and how these Italians and their culture have helped shape the face of the town that we know and love today.
Reading's 'Little Italy': Stories of Migration and Belonging has been researched and produced by Lydia Ackrell, an MA Public History student at Royal Holloway, University of London. We are very grateful for her fantastic and meticulous work in bringing this online exhibition together.