The Republic of Italy is a peninsular country in Europe, and is well known for its food, arts, being the center of the Roman Empire, the start of the Mafia and its alliance with Nazi Germany in World War II.

Over two thousand years ago, Italy was the seat of power of both the Roman Republic and later the Roman Empire. The two governments ruled most of Europe for over a thousand years. The Roman language, Latin, is commonly used to describe legal terms in American and British court systems.

Waves of migration in the early 20th century brought many Italians to New York City in pursuit of a better life. Many characters in the Law & Order franchise can trace their heritage back to Italy. In the 27th Precinct alone, the ranks of the Italian-descended include Detectives Joe Fontana, Morris LaMotte, Tony Profaci and Nick Falco, Sergeant Phil Cerreta. Other notable descendants of Italians include the late Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Borgia, Angela Agnelli, disgraced celebrity chef Aberto Moretti, and animal smuggler Andre Bushido, though Bushido was born in Russia.

Benito Mussolini

Benito Mussolini

In 1925, the Kingdom of Italy came under the dictatorial rule of the Fascists, led by "Duce" Benito Mussolini who became Prime Minister. He allied with Nazi Germany in the late 1930s, though he only joined Hitler in World War II after Germany invaded France. This led to further migration to the US. It also caused people to flee from nearby Albania, which came under Fascist occupation. Among the Fascists' goals was the elimination of black markets, so they targeted the Cosa Nostra, the Sicilian crime families. Prominent figures from those old and powerful families fled to the United States of America, including Carlo Gambino, whose cosca would become one of the most powerful criminal organizations in New York City.
Carlo Gambino

Carlo Gambino

When the United States entered World War II, 3,000 Italian Americans were arrested and sent to interment camps. (L&O: "Fear America")

When the Allied forces retook Italy, those crime families who'd survived Mussolini's rule capitalized on the power vacuum created by their rivals' departure, with some, like Giuseppe Genco Russo, placing their allies in government positions. (Russo is particularly notable, as the Russo Family in Spotsville may or may not be distant relatives.) (L&O: "Ambitious")

Italy is also a popular destination for travelers. Neil Hayes-Fitzgerald and his family spent several months living in the town of Siena when he impregnated his stepdaughter Stacy. (CI: "Playing Dead")

Robert Distasio, an Italian diplomat, raped a Sudanese maid in a hotel. (SVU: "Scorched Earth")

Notable people

Further reading

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