A tentative Italian colonization of the Americas was pursued in 1608 by the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Ferdinando I. He wanted to create a settlement on the territory of modern French Guiana. Contents [hide] 1 History 2 The Ferdinando I expedition 3 Giovanni Lascaris and Knights of Malta's Caribbean colonies 4 Modern Italian communities 5 References 6 Bibliography History[edit] Ferdinando I ordered an expedition in order to create a Tuscan settlement on the territory of modern French Guyana The Italian colonization of the Americas was limited to a failed attempt by the Grand Duchy of Tuscany to create a colony in the Atlantic northern area of South America in the early 1600s. In 1608, Ferdinando I of Tuscany organized an expedition under captain Robert Thornton, in order to explore northern Brazil and the Amazon river and prepare for the establishment of a settlement in northern coastal South America, which would serve as a base to export Brazilian wood to Renaissance Italy. The Ferdinando I expedition[edit] Giovanni Lascaris, Genoese Grand Master of Malta's Knights Ferdinando I, Grand Duke of Tuscany, oversaw the only Italian attempt to create a colony in the Americas.[1] In the first years of the 17th century Ferdinando I of Tuscany evaluated the possibility of a colony in Brasil […] Ferdinando gave captain Thornton a galleon and a "tartane" [for an expedition in 1608] […] Thornton sailed for one year: he reached Guyana and Brasil, exploring the Amazon and Orinoco rivers. […]In July 1609 he was back in Leghorn, but in February of that year the Grand Duke died and in Florence nobody [after him] was still thinking about establishing an overseas colony.[2] When Thornton returned to Tuscany a year later, he found Ferdinando I dead, and his successor Cosimo II was uninterested in the establishment of a colony. Thornton was ready to sail back to the area between the rivers Orinoco and Amazon in the summer of 1609 with Italian settlers from Livorno and Lucca, but the project was scrapped.[3] Thornton's galleon 'Santa Lucia' returned to Italy in 1609 with plenty of information (after exploring the area between Trinidad island and the delta of the Amazon river), some indigenous natives of the Americas and a few tropical parrots.[4] Indeed he brought back with him to Tuscany five Arawak natives, most of whom died of smallpox. Only one lived on at the Medici court for several years, and learned to speak Italian. These natives often talked about the richness and fertility of their native land, speaking of a country rich in silver and gold. Thornton himself corroborated these reports, and asserted that the country was rich in rosewood, wild sugar canes, white pepper, balsam, cotton and many other kinds of merchandise which would form an abundant commerce for the Tuscans. The area that Thornton considered as a possible site of an Italian colony now lies in modern French Guiana, near Cayenne,[5] which would be colonised by France in 1630. The expedition was the only attempt by an Italian state to colonise the Americas.[6] However, after this attempt by a ruler of Tuscany, colonization occurred in the next century under the rulers of the island of Malta, which was nominally part of the Kingdom of Sicily. Giovanni Paolo Lascaris, an Italian who was Grand Master of the Knights of Malta, obtained some Caribbean colonies for a few years. Giovanni Lascaris and Knights of Malta's Caribbean colonies[edit] Giovanni Paolo Lascaris was an Italian nobleman from Ventimiglia and Grand Master of the Knights of Malta. Nominally, Malta was under the sovereignty of the Kingdom of Sicily when Giovanni Lascaris in 1651 approved the Knights of Malta colonizing some Caribbean islands. Indeed, the Knights of Malta bought the island of Saint-Christophe, along with the dependent islands of Saint Croix, Saint Barthélemy, and Saint Martin, from the failing Compagnie des Îles de l'Amérique in the Caribbean sea.[7] The Knights' ambassador to the French court, Jacques de Souvré, signed the agreement.[8] The Order's proprietary rights were confirmed in a treaty with France two years later: the Knights would have complete temporal and spiritual jurisdiction on their islands. These Caribbean islands were so under nominal rule of the King of France, but even under the rule of the Kingdom of Sicily. This happened because Malta (represented by the Knights of Malta) was politically considered part of Sicily until the British took control of the Maltese archipelago in the 1814 Congress of Vienna[9]' In 1665, after Lascaris's death, the Knights sold their islands back to France, ending their brief colonial project. Modern Italian communities[edit] The Italians, like the Germans, never created real colonies in the Americas, and only made territorial colonies in other areas of the world after their political unification in the 19th century. However, many Italians (and similarly Germans) moved to America to live under other flags and created the so-called "colonies" of emigrants. Those "colonies" were made by groups of Italian emigrants who settled together in the same place and around the same time, founding a settlement that still exists today in many cases. That is the case of the first Italian "colony" of this kind made in Venezuela by General Luigi Castelli, who wanted to settle in the late 1830s Italian emigrants from Tuscany in the same area where a few years later German emigrants, Agostino Codazzi[citation needed] settled and created the "Colonia Tovar" (unluckily their ship sank in the Mediterranean).[10] Many of these Italian communities were created in the second half of the 19th century, mainly in Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Mexico and the Southern Region of Brazil (Parana, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul). In most of those "colonies" the Italian language (and dialects) is still spoken nowadays: like in "Capitán Pastene"[11] of Chile, in "Chipilo" of Mexico or in "Nova Veneza" of Santa Catarina (where the Talian language is spoken). None of these settlements is related to the Italian colonial empire of the 20th century.