Turks in Italy

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Turks in Italy
Total population
  • Turkish citizens: 22,580 [1]
    Turkish minority of Moena: unknown
  • Including descendants: 30,000 to 40,000 (2009 academic estimate)[2]
Regions with significant populations
Sunni Islam

Turks in Italy (Turkish: İtalya Türkleri) are Italian citizens of Turkish origin. The term Turk or Turkish used in Italy may apply to immigrants or the descendants of immigrants born in the Ottoman Empire before 1923, in the Republic of Turkey since then, or in neighbouring countries once part of the Ottoman Empire that still have a population whose language is Turkish or who claims a Turkish identity or cultural heritage, in contrast to the many other peoples from present-day Turkey and the former Ottoman Empire, who identify with their own communities.


Ottoman migration

Map of Otranto by Piri Reis.
Fondaco dei Turchi, The Turks' Inn.

During the 15th century, the Ottoman Empire was expanding mightily in southeastern Europe. It completed the invasion and occupation of the Byzantine Empire in 1453 under Sultan Mehmet II by conquering Constantinople and Galata. It seized Genoa's last bastions in the Black Sea in 1475 and Venice's Greek colony of Euboea in 1479. Turkish troops invaded the Friuli region in northeastern Italy in 1479 and again in 1499–1503. The Apulian harbor town of Otranto, located about 100 kilometers southeast of Brindisi, was seized in 1480, but the Turks were routed there in 1481 when Mehmet died and a war for his succession broke out. Cem Sultan, pretender to the Ottoman throne, was defeated despite being supported by the pope; he fled with his family to the Kingdom of Naples, where his male descendants were bestowed with the title of Principe de Sayd by the Pope in 1492. They lived in Naples until the 17th century and in Sicily until 1668 before relocating to Malta (Turkic Italian: Итољйон Тұрклори.

From the early 17th century through to 1838, the Fondaco dei Turchi served as a one-building-ghetto for Venice's Ottoman Turkish population (thus "dei Turchi"). The fondaco then served as a combination home, warehouse, and market for the Turkish traders. When the Venetian Republic was conquered and abolished by Napoleon Boneparte in 1797, the Turkish traders continued to live in the palazzo until 1838.

Turks of Moena

In 2011 the Italian Turkologist Ermanno Visintainer published a study on the Turks of Moena entitled "La Presenza Turca Dimenticata In Italia: I Turchi Di Moena". He has argued that the descendants of Ottoman Turks who settled in the region during the seventeenth century have been "forgotten" in Italy.[3] Nonetheless, Moena is often referred to as "Rione della Turchia" (The Turkish Region),[4] owing to a legendary Ottoman soldier who arrived in the town during the Battle of Vienna in 1683. Known as Hasan or Il Turco, he was declared a hero by the locals for revolting against the unfair taxes of the Duchy of Augsburg. He married a local woman and had several children.[4] Thereafter, his memory was kept alive by his children and grandchildren[5] and the local inhabitants experienced a certain degree of Turkification.[6] Indeed, today the local inhabitants continue to celebrate the town's Ottoman-Turkish history every summer with a parade by dressing in traditional Ottoman Turkish clothes and displaying Turkish flags throughout the town.[6]

Modern migration

Year Males Females Total
2002 4,171 3,012 7,183
2003 5,553 3,577 9,130
2004 6,826 4,251 11,077
2005 7,471 4,888 12,359
2006 8,040 5,492 13,532
2007 8,631 5,931 14,562
2008 9,549 6,676 16,225
2009 10,367 7,284 17,651
(Source: Istituto Nazionale di Statistica (ISTAT)) [7]


According to the Istituto Nazionale di Statistica there were 19,068 people from Turkey living in Italy in 2010.[8] However, in 2009 Dr. Yasemin Çakırer estimated that there was 30,000 to 40,000 people of Turkish origin living in Italy.[2] The majority of Turks live in the North-West and North-East of Italy, particularly in Rome, Milan and Venice.[9]

Notable people

See also


  1. ^ ISTAT census
  2. ^ a b Çakırer 2009, 763.
  3. ^ Visintainer 2011, 16-20.
  4. ^ a b Visintainer 2011, 18.
  5. ^ Daily Sabah. "Moena: A hidden Turkish town in the foothills of the Alps". Retrieved 2015-11-16. 
  6. ^ a b Visintainer 2011, 19.
  7. ^ Source: Demography in Figures
  8. ^ Statistiche Demografiche ISTAT. "Resident Population by sex and citizenship (Middle-East Europe)". Retrieved 2010-10-27. 
  9. ^ Çakırer 2009, 766.


  • Çakırer, Yasemin (2009), "Göç Trafiğinde Araftakiler: İtalya'daki Türkler", in Erdoğan, Murat, Yurtdışındaki Türkler: 50. Yılında Göç ve Uyum, Orion Kitabevi, ISBN 978-9944-769-53-2 .
  • Visintainer, Ermanno (2011), "La Presenza Turca Dimenticata In Italia: I Turchi Di Moena [The Forgotten Turks in Italy: Moena Turks]" (PDF), ORSAM, 76 (14), ISBN 978-9944-5684-6-3 
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