As a nation state, Italy has emerged only in 1871. Until then the country was politically divided into a large number of independant cities, provinces and islands. The currently available evidences point out to a dominant Etruscan, Greek and Roman cultural influence on today's Italians.
Both of my grandparents immigrated from Gaeta (Elena at the time). My grandfather set sail in 1897 at the age of 8 with his mother (his father had already immigrated in 1892). My grandmother set sail in 1910 with no other relatives (none that I could find on her passenger manifest) at the age of 16.
I have found quite a bit of information about what it was like traveling in steerage to Ellis Island, and then what they went through upon their arrival. However, I would like to learn more about their experiences before setting sail from Naples. How they may have travelled from Gaeta to Naples? What they had to do when they got to Naples? Did immigrants stay over night in Naples before boarding? Was all of the information on the manifest collected just as they arrived in Naples or did they have to have papers filled out before they arrived? Things like that.
Does anyone know of any publications that talk about the immigrants experience once they made up their minds to take such an unknown journey?
I found the following book to be very comprehensive regarding the immigrant experience. It was written by an American, who with the help of Italians, traveled to Italy (Sicily) to actually experience what it was like as an Italian immigrant. This took place around 1904. He goes into much detail about leaving the village, traveling by boat from Palermo to Naples, and then the experiences in Naples. Quite an eye-opener. He then covers the voyage to New York.