The “mysterious” residents of Malta and Sicily who bear the surname “Armenia” embody the Armenian presence on the islands of the Mediterranean Sea, Malta, and Sicily. The roots of Armenian presence in these areas dates back to the Middle Ages.
There are a number of Armenian communities in Malta and Sicily. However, you can meet many people who bear the surname “Armenia” but identify themselves with the local population.
Malta and Sicily are also home to various locations that bear the international name of the Armenian state. Among them is the restaurant Al Porto Armenia located on the southern coast of Sicily near the town of Pozzallo. The interlocutor of RUSARMINFO living in this region said that the institution had been named in honor of its owner.
According to the interlocutor, you can often meet people with the surname “Armenia” in Sicily and Malta. Among them, there are even people with Armenian names and a characteristic Armenian appearance, but they don’t know anything about their origin.
The name Armenia has been rooted in these places since the existence of the Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea (modern Turkey). In the Middle Ages, Cilician Armenia has been a reliable ally of European countries, supporting them in the Crusades.
Family ties through interethnic marriages were often established between Europeans, including representatives of the Order of Malta and the Armenians of Cilicia. As a result, many of the then inhabitants of Malta, Sicily, and the whole region became the bearers of the surname “Armenia” and thus partly Armenians.
The Armenian presence on the islands has intensified after the fall of the Cilician kingdom – many of its inhabitants have moved to Malta and the surrounding areas.
Today, the population of Malta that identifies itself as Armenians does not exceed 400 people. However, the number of those inhabitants of the island who are of ancient Armenian origin but are not aware of it reaches 6 thousand, according to some estimates.
Among the bearers of the surname “Armenia”, there are also famous people. One of them is Italian football manager Paolo Armenia. Last year, he was appointed the CEO of the Cremonese football club.