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Bulgarians (Italian: Bulgari) in Italy (Bulgarian: Италия, Italia) are one of the sizable communities of the Bulgarian diaspora in Western Europe. According to data from Italian sources presented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, the Bulgarian diaspora in Italy numbers around 70,000; of those, 50,000 reportedly reside in Northern Italy.[1] Official Italian statistics show that 33,477 Bulgarian citizens lived in Italy in December 2007, making Bulgarians the fourth-largest European Union emigrant community in Italy.[2] Besides Rome, major centres of Bulgarian migration are Milan, Bologna, Florence and Torino. There are Bulgarian Orthodox parishes in Rome and Milan.[1]


The Bulgarian Orthodox parish of Saints Cyril and Methodius in Rome occupies the Baroque church of Santi Vincenzo e Anastasio a Trevi by the Trevi Fountain

In the early 7th century AD, groups of Bulgars, one of the ancient peoples that participated in the ethnogenesis of the modern Bulgarians, settled in the Italian Peninsula. The main migration was headed by Altsek, a Bulgar leader who initially joined the Avar Khaganate before switching allegiance to the Germanic Langobards. Altsek and his people arrived in the Exarchate of Ravenna, where Grimoald I of Benevento invited them to populate the Duchy of Benevento. According to the Gesta Dagoberti I regis Francorum, Altsek's Bulgars settled in what are today the communes of Isernia, Bojano and Sepino. Altsek remained the leader of the Bulgar-populated areas, bearing the title gastald.[3][4][5][6]

It is uncertain whether this Altsek can be identified with another Bulgar lord, Altsiok. According to the Chronicle of Fredegar, Altsiok deserted the Avar Khaganate in 631–632. Altsiok settled in Bavaria with 9,000 Bulgars under Frankish king Dagobert I. Altsiok is known to have moved to the Venetian March with his 700 remaining men after Dagobert I slaughtered most of his people.[3][4][5]

Human graves of a steppe nomadic character as well as horse burials dated to the second half of the 8th century AD attest to the presence of Bulgars in the Molise and Campania regions.[7] Toponyms containing the root bulgar and personal names such as Bulgari and di Bulgari continued to appear in medieval documents relating to the Italian Peninsula. According to one study, 700 placenames in Italy may be derived from the demonym of the Bulgars.[5] The medieval Bulgarian Empire was in contact with the Italian lands and particularly the Republic of Venice, with which Bulgaria had active trade relations.[8]

In the 17th century, Bulgarian Roman Catholics often visited Rome in their attempts to negotiate support for a Bulgarian uprising against the Ottoman Empire. Prominent religious and public leaders such as Petar Bogdan and Petar Parchevich spent time in the city. The first book printed in modern Bulgarian, Abagar, was published in Rome in 1651.[5]

Notable people


  1. ^ a b "Италианска република: българска общност" (in Bulgarian). Министерство на външните работи. Retrieved 2009-09-19.  
  2. ^ "Foreigner Citizens. Demographic Balance for the year 2007 and Resident Population on 31th December — All countries of citizenship". Statistiche Demografiche dell'ISTAT. 2007. Retrieved 2009-09-19.  
  3. ^ a b Бакалов, Георги; Милен Куманов (2003). "Алцек" (in Bulgarian). Електронно издание "История на България". София: Труд, Сирма. ISBN 9844830679.  
  4. ^ a b Ангелов, Димитър (1971). "Заселване на прабългарите в Балканския полуостров и образуване на славянобългарската държава" (in Bulgarian). Образуване на българската народност. София: Наука и изкуство, “Векове”. pp. 204. OCLC 19966366.  
  5. ^ a b c d Колев, Йордан (2005) (in Bulgarian). Българите извън България. София: Тангра ТанНакРа. pp. pp. 261–265, 425. ISBN 954-9942-73-2.  
  6. ^ "Chapter XXIX". History of the Langobards. Retrieved 2009-09-19. "During these times a duke of the Bulgarians, Alzeco by name, left his own people, from what cause is unknown, and peacefully entering Italy with the whole army of his dukedom, came to king Grimuald, promising to serve him and to dwell in his country. And the king directing him to Beneventum to his son Romuald, ordered that the latter should assign to him and his people places to dwell in. [1] Duke Romuald, receiving them graciously, accorded to them extensive tracts to settle which had been deserted up to that time, namely, Sepinum (Sepino), Bovianum (Bojano), Isernia [2] and other cities with their territories and directed that Alzeco himself, the name of his title being changed, should be called gastaldius [3] instead of duke. And they dwell up to the present time in these places, as we have said, and although they also speak Latin, they have not at all forsaken the use of their own language."  
  7. ^ Miltenova, N. (1993). I Bulgari di Gallo Matese. Rome: Passaporto Editore.  
  8. ^ Васил Гюзелев, ed (2001) (in Bulgarian). Венециански документи за историята на България и българите от XII–XV в.. София: Главно управление на архивите при Министерския съвет. ISBN 954-0800-22-9.  


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