Italian immigration into Cuba was minor in comparison with other waves of Italian emigration to the America, where a few thousand Italians emigrated to Cuba, compared to the millions that went to Argentina, Brazil and the United States.
Another, secondary reason but important is that it was promoted by Cuban authorities, almost all of Spanish original, in order to promote the "whitening" (blanqueamiento) of the Cuban population, which had a large black and mulatto community. By 1841 Afro-Cubans had reached a proportion of 60% of the population.
Despite their small numbers, many Italian Cubans reached high positions in Cuban society. For example, Juan Bautista Spotorno (son of a lauded Italian family resident in Trinidad, Cuba) became a Cuban patriot and the president of the "Republic in Arms" in 1876.
After Cristoforo Colombo (Italian from Genoa), discovered Cuba in 1492, the first Italians arrived with the Spanish conquistadores. Some were sailors and soldiers of fortune but most were missionaries.
Only in the mid-19th century did there develop a small Italian community in Cuba: they were mostly people of culture, architects, engineers, painters and artists and their families. They were called to Cuba to work in the development of the churches, monuments and government buildings in Havana.
In 1884 these first Italian Cubans founded the "Sociedad de Socorro Mutuo" (Society of Mutual Aid) and in 1891 the "Sociedad de Beneficiencia" to help the neediest among them. At the beginning of the 20th century socialist associations were formed but these were strongly opposed with the Catholic-aligned authorities.
In 1931 according to the Cuban census there were 1178 people with an Italian passport in Cuba, and to this must be added about 10,000 people of Italian origin, many of whom were illegitimate children of an Italian father and Cuban mother. Of these Italians, 80 lived in Pinar del Río Province, 129 in Oriente Province, 762 in Havana, 30 in Matanzas Province, 103 in Las Villas Province and 74 in Camagüey Province.
During WWII, Italy and Cuba broke off diplomatic relations and some Italian Cubans were jailed accused of sympathizing with Italy. In 1941, nine such Italians were jailed on Isla de Pinos (now called Isla de la Juventud; they were: Principe Camillo Ruspoli (rancher), Doctor Attilio di Gregorio (physician), Francesco Savonelli (businessman), Felice Siervo (jeweller), Erminio Tarditi (businessman), Bruni Pasquale (shoemaker), Doctor Pasquale Fontanella (physician), Francesco Grosso (tailor) y Piero Rosbochi (businessman). All were released in November 1943. 
In 2008 there were 2340 people in the Italian Cuban community, concentrated in Havana and tourist areas such as Varadero. One of the most famous is architect Roberto Gottardi, designer of the "Escuela de Artes Escénicas" (Scenic Arts School) in Havana.
- Capolongo, Domenico (et al.) (2008). migrazione e Presenza Italiana in Cuba. Roccarainola. ISBN 1972-2176 Check
- Ervantes-Rodriguez. International Migration in Cuba: Accumulation, Imperial Designs, and Transnational Social Fields. Max Kade German-American Research Institute Series. Publisher Penn State Press, 2011 ISBN 0-271-03539-0
- Favero, Luigi e Tassello, Graziano. Cent'anni di emigrazione italiana (1861 - 1961) CSER. Roma, 1981
- Pertierra, Henrique. Mantua en Cuba. Entre la historia y la leyenda. Ediciones Loynaz. La Habana, 2001.
See also 
- Ervantes-Rodriguez. International Migration in Cuba p.75
- Mantua, an Italian footprint in Cuba (en ingles)
- En los registros de las parroquias de Mantua se encuentran los apellidos Ferrari, Pitaluga, Fiorenzana y otros."Italianos en Mantua". Bohemia, a.87, n.10, 14 mayo 1995, pp.18-19.
- Biografía de Oreste Ferrara
- Black Political Activism and the Cuban Republic, Melina Pappademos, p.153
- Francesco Tamburini. "La colonia italiana di Cuba (1884-1902)"(en italiano)
- Angela Oramas Camero. "Italianos en Cuba", Bohemia, a.89, n.11, 24 mayo 1997, pp.24-25
- ASDMAE, Affari Politici (1931-1945),Cuba, b.4, doc.n.0040,4 gennaio 1943; Appunto per la Direzione Generale AffariGenerali: Italianos libertados, Embajada española en La Habana, 12 novembre 1943
- Roberto Gottardi´s National art school - Paradise lost?