There are over 30,000 Scottish born Italians living in Scotland today and they have had a great influence on Scottish life since they started arriving in the 19th Century.
Migration to Scotland
In the 1890s, thousands of families from Central Italy left their homes for a new life in Scotland. They moved to escape poverty and start a new life with better opportunities. Whilst most who left Italy went to America, a sizeable minority came to Scotland.
The two World Wars further increased Italian immigration, keen to escape discrimination and hardship in Italy. Unfortunately many Italians were treated with suspicion and some were even sent to prison during the Second World War. At this time Britain was at war with Italy who was under the rule of Fascist leader Benito Mussolini.
Upon arrival many Italians set up their own businesses and are even said to have made the fish and chips popular across Scotland! In fact it wasn’t until the 1970s that pizza became popular across Scotland as a new culture of eating out emerged, with a number of Italian restaurants emerging.
As well as Italian restaurants and ‘chippys’, Italians are also famous for spreading ice cream shops throughout Scotland. The ice cream was often a family recipe that had been passed down from generation to generation.
However, it isn’t just food that Italians are famous for. Many Italian-Scots have flourished in the arts, media and sports. Paulo Nutini, born in Paisley, is an internationally famous singer of Italian heritage, as is Sharleen Spiteri, the Bellshill born singer, best known for being the lead singer of 1990s band Texas. Peter Capaldi, who plays Malcolm Tucker in the BBC series ‘The Thick of It’, is another Italian-Scot from Glasgow.