Mostre Annual

Tracing Migrants' Paths - From the Alps to the Andes

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Luogo: (CO)



Between 1861, the year of national unification, and the outbreak of the First World War in 1915, it is estimated that 9 million Italians emigrated, with around 1.4 million of them being from Lombardia.

In the history of the Great Emigration, the case of the Municipality of Bene Lario and some of the neighboring fractions of the municipalities of Grandola ed Uniti and Carlazzo is exceptionally interesting. The first emigrant, Pietro Maldini, was a pioneer. He left under the Lombardo-Veneto Kingdom in 1843 to avoid serving the Austro-Hungarian occupiers, against whom Milan and Como would rise four years later. Unlike most Italians who settled in Argentina, Maldini and about half of the town chose Chile as their destination. Until 1910, when the Transandean Railway was built, Chile was reached through a challenging route across the Andes. The emigrants maintained a very strong connection with their country of origin, evident in the various public works they financed and the fact that the electoral rolls of Bene Lario include 195 citizens living in Chile compared to 265 residents in the town.

The enduring interest in emigration from Bene Lario and its surrounding areas to Chile and Uruguay resonates on both sides of the globe. This is evidenced by the annual return of hundreds of emigrants in search of their roots, the ‘Piccolo museo dell’emigrazione’ (Small Museum of Emigration) presented as a traveling exhibition in Val Menaggio since 2004, the Museo Casa Maldini Tornini established in 2019 in Copiapò, Chile, and the Casa Tornini, a museum of regional significance located in Caldera, Chile. Additionally, there stands a bust and a street dedicated to the enlightened agricultural entrepreneur Carlo Maldini of Bene Lario, near Salto in Uruguay.

The association ‘Sentiero dei Sogni Aps’ has connected all relevant entities on both sides of the ocean. Each year, they orchestrate an event to raise awareness and promote the project and the region. Their overarching objective is to establish a permanent ‘open-air museum,’ featuring interactive signage that encourages exploration of dedicated routes, interweaving the stories of emigrants with the history of the locales:

– On July 29, 2023, the creative walk ‘Neruda and the Emigrants of Val Menaggio’ and the ‘Apericena dei due modi’ took place. The latter event was designed to collect funds for a publication scheduled to be released in 2024, showcasing the most impactful stories illustrating the connection between Val Menaggio and South America.

– On July 27, 2024, a new creative walk, ‘In the footsteps of the emigrants,’ will take place between the villages of Bene Lario and Grona. The event will feature readings of some of their transcribed testimonies, which will be included in the volume currently being published. In the evening, a new edition of the ‘Apericena dei due mondi’ will follow, featuring typical dishes from Val Menaggio and South America, accompanied by music and thematic readings.


27 July 24

27 July 24


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Via Binadone, Bene Lario, CO, Italia

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