Paolo Celi, Italiani in Francia: insieme con orgoglio

Traditions, culture, job opportunities, and love for the Bien vivre. The president of the Amitié France-Italie Paolo Celi tells us more about the fil rouge between Italy and France 

According to the Civil Registry of the Ministry of the Interior there are more than 4 million Italians around the world. The majority of them are from the South of Italy (almost 2 million and 300 thousand, 52.8%), followed by those from the North (around 1 million and 390 thousand, 32%), those from the Center of Italy (slightly more than 662 thousand, 15%).

Observing the continental data, one notes that the majority of the Italians residing abroad are in Europe (2.364.263, 54,5%). Those are followed in the list by the ones in the Americas (1.738.831, 40,1%); and far behind are Oceania (136.682, 3,1%), Africa (56.583, 1,3%) and Asia (44.797, 1,0%). The most populated communities continue to be the Argentinean (691.481), the German (651.852), the Swiss (558.545), the French (373.145), and the Brazilian one (316.699). To follow, Belgium (254.741), the US (223.429), and the UK (209.720). During the last 3 years almost 30.000 Italians moved their residence in France.

It deserves attention the age repartition since the majority (25%) is in the 35-49 years’ old interval; 21% is between 18 and 34 years old; 15,5% is younger than 18 years old; 19,1% is between 50 and 64 years old; and 19,4% is older than 65.

Italians in France are 375.145, a non-indifferent figure, in particular when one speaks about culture, traditions, and “weight” in economy and in politics. In an unforgettable day, the 12-12-2012 the Association Amitié France-Italie was born. The association reunites the Italians residents in France, in the Principality of Monaco, the French of Italian origins, the French who love Italy and all of those who love these three States. One met Paolo Celi, President of the Association

How was the Amitiè France Italie Association born?  

We were in Rome for a visit to the Holy Father with Christian Estrosi, Deputé Maire de Nice and at the time French Minister of Industry. In that occasion he told me “You should create an association (and be the President) able to gather up not only the Italians in France but also the French of Italian origins (4 million), all of them united both in their origins and in their attachment to the Church”. As soon as I was back in Nice, I did it.

How many are the association’s members today?

They are around 500 but we have thousand of sympathizer. To us the number of the members is not very relevant, to say the truth. Instead, what it is important is the “following”. In the Côte d’Azur 50% of the population follows us.

Which are the objectives of Association?

To gather up a large number of people is an ambitious project and yet we are succeeding in doing so. Moreover, the French have always snubbed Italy and now the same people proudly tell me of their Italian origins. It’s a great success.

Italians in France have a political weight? Who are the most illustrious Italians resident in France that you had the chance to know?

The Italians resident in France vote in the administrative elections, the ones in which mayors are elected. In the most important cities Italians represent 7/8 and 12% of the population. Thus, we have an important political role. If we count also the French of Italian origins, then we are really many and we vote for the presidential elections. In 2017 we will have some weight in the election of the new President. About the second question, I will answer saying: only me!

In these modern times in which Internet helps to nullify the distance from the motherland and where the migratory fluxes are often effect of choices rather than necessity, what is that pushes our compatriots resident in a foreign country to gather up in an association?

It is always nice to find again traditions, music, sports etc. Moreover, when we meet we are many and we are in front of French personalities. This is something that boosts the pride of our compatriots.

What projects are you the most proud of?

I’m proud of having reunited the Italians resident abroad with the French, and that the French of Italian origin recognize this fact with affection.

As an Italian living in France, what do you think is the most important asset we should be proud of when we are abroad?

It is difficult to answer to such a question. I would say the beauty of our land, the culture of our country

Finally, what should we learn from the French?

Without doubt, the sense of state and the high value they attribute to the rule of law. They aren’t perfect, for sure, and yet…

Having said so, Italians want the French electoral system, and the French want the Italian political system.