Numerous photographs were taken at the four-day journey, which were later presented through the exhibition “Roots of the Italians from Banja Luka”.
Majority of Italians came to this region after disastrous floods which hit Italy in 1882 leaving only havoc behind – demolished houses, destroyed roads and farms. Impossibility of survival in those areas forced thousands of, mostly young, working able people to look for a better life outside of the borders of their homeland.
Many of them from the most endangered regions such as Trento, Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Veneto ended their journey in the Western Bosnia, precisely at the wider area of Banja Luka, Mahovljani near Laktaši, Štivor near Prnjavor, and also in Konjic. Authorities back at the time gave them some land, cattle, seedlings of fruits and vines, etc. Following the recipe from their native land, the Italians launched the production of wine and brandy and modernization of agriculture and pomiculture, new houses were built and properties were expanded.
According to Radmila Maričić, President of the Association of Italians of the City of Banja Luka, this city was influenced the most by the Duke Vito Del Mestri who arrived from Medea, the homeland of this noble lineage since the first half of 16th century.
The association today counts 122 members of Italian origin and 34 members-lovers of the Italian language and culture. Around 30 families of Italian origin live today in Banja Luka.