Emigration from Cuggiono
All Lombardy, and our territory in particular, once called Mandamento di Cuggiono, has been affected by a huge wave of emigration.
The period from 1880 to 1915 has witnessed the departure of about 12,500 people to the Americas, 12,160 of them from Cuggiono whose population was about 6,000 people. From the area now called Castanese, then inhabited by 30,000 people , almost 12,500 emigrated to the Americas.
The emigration started around the 1870s due to poor living conditions in the territory also linked to the unfavourable agrarian pacts imposed by landowners upon the peasants.
The economy of this part of Lombardy was mainly agricultural and with the increase in trade with the United States, the price of Italian corn plummeted. In addition, factories and silk-mills were unable to offer sufficient occupation to the population.
The desperate living conditions caused by misery were also exacerbated by the epidemics of cholera and smallpox that spread rapidly on account of the poor methods of food preservation and poor personal hygiene.
At that time the literacy rate of the population was around 5% and this didn’t favour the dissemination of good practice about cooking and preserving food, the poor diet of the peasants and caused the diffusion of pellagra besides other diseases and infections. Often, emigration was the only way to escape unpleasant living conditions.
Our past has been built also on this; the willfulness and ingenuity of our forefathers have been necessary to overcome this status of constriction and pain.
During the last few years many people who live overseas have shown a great interest in tracing their roots, still strong in these places.
The descendants of the emigrants return in search of possible relatives, to reconnect with their origins, their past and the reasons that forced their forefathers to leave their native land in search of a better life.