Institute of Texan Cultures' Texans Series
Italians have a long history in Texas. While many Italian-Americans migrated to Texas during the 20th century because of the booming job market, the earliest Italians were in the state during the years of Spanish exploration.
These early Italian explorers arrived in Texas with Spanish explorer Francisco Vásquez de Coronado in 1541. Along with Coronado, they trekked across the High Plains, but did not settle in the state.
The first known Italian settlers came to Texas in the late 1700s as merchants. Vincente Micheli was among those. He came from Brescia, a city in Northern Italy, and settled in Nacogdoches, in East Texas. Other Italians settled in Texas and worked as farmers, miners, brick makers and railroad workers. Frank Qualia emigrated from northern Italy to Del Rio and established Texas’s first winery in 1883.
Regardless of why Italian immigrants moved to Texas, they brought with them their strong cultural identity which has been defined by traditions of food, faith and family