Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Chinese immigrants to Italy build no ordinary Chinatown

The Tribune's Christine Spolar explores how Chinese workers are transforming Italy's fashion industry. Says a son of immigrants in the Tuscan city of Prato: 'This is not like being in Chinatown in Chicago or New York or anywhere else. This is like China.'

An Italian Chinatown

A thriving Chinese population drives the apparel industry in Prato, Italy. Alessandra Maggiorani/for the Chicago Tribune (Alessandra Maggiorani for the Tribune / December 18, 2008)

PRATO, Italy - In the heart of "Made-in-Italy" fashion country, China has carved out a home.

Signs in Chinese script hang from wrought-iron balconies in this Tuscan city. Hot dumplings and fried fish—flown in from China—are served in cafes. Chinese men and women, tourist visas in pocket, hang out on street corners in the center of town angling for jobs. Not a one speaks Italian.

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