Italians in the Caribbean

Christ of Havana statue (Travel Trade Caribbean) focuses on contributions brought to the Caribbean by Italians, such as architectural projects and sculptures such as Havana’s Christ statue (shown above) :

Strictly speaking, there isn’t an “Italian Caribbean”, like the English- or French-speaking one, but since far-off times Italians have left their cultural imprint in this part of the New World admired today by international tourists, including those who come from Italy.

It’s easy to find Italian imprints. For example, military architect Bautista Antonelli, born in Gatteo in 1547, in his time was ordered by the Spanish Crown to design fortresses in Puerto Rico, Santo Domingo, Florida, Havana, Cartagena de Indias, Santa Marta, Nombre de Dios, Portobello, Panama and Chagre River. Moreover, he had to travel to Veracruz, in Mexico, to inspect the San Juan de Ulúa Fortress, study the route of a road from Veracruz to Mexico and reconnoiter the Bay of Fonseca to compare it to that of Portobello.

In Havana, on a hill facing the bay, stands since 1958 a monumental Christ statue, some 20 meters high on a tree-meter base weighing approximately some 320 tons. The statue comprises 67 pieces that were precisely brought over from Italy, since it was sculpted in Rome and blessed there by Pope Pius XII.

Legendary Italian seafarer Americo Vespucio explained in his works on the region that the word “Caribbean” comes from the voice “Charaibi”, which among the indigenous people meant “wise men”. Everything seems to indicate that, after Vespucio, the Italians never stopped coming to the Caribbean islands. A study on the Internet affirmed last year that Italian tourists traveled most frequently to the Caribbean, especially those living in Rome and Milan. [. . .] It added that “since Rome is a city with agreeable weather during the summer, many couples opt for changing Rome for the Caribbean and having the possibility of discovering the beaches and other sites in such a marvelous destination, if the Italians want to spend their vacations in a different place with many options for all of them and their respective couples.”

But if someone is seeking an Italian island in the New World, he/she will be able to find it in Venezuela. It was paradoxically baptized “Venice” by the Spanish conquistadors. [. . .]. Los Roques, which is the name of the place, usually receives visitors from Rome, Milan and Venice, who are always satisfied with their long trip. The coral reefs most attractive for scuba diving are located in the Small Venice, and the lagoons are protected for kite-surfing while the sand islands attract bathers and fishers from around the world. The Italians have settled in the place. They are owners there of accommodations and restaurants which serve risotto and fish carpaccio like in the original Venice. Los Roques is home to a national park and an ecological reserve since 1972. The lake’s islands are called Madrizqui, Francisqui, Selesqui, Carisqui and Nordisqui.

[. . .] The Dominican localities of La Romana and Bayahibe are Italians’ favorite destinations. During 2012, García recommended changing the image and concept especially for the Italian market by introducing ecological and nature tourism, with promotions in the European country of the region of Barahona and Pedernales. [. . .]

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