Molise Croats live in the Molise region of Italy in the villages Acquaviva Collecroce, San Felice del Molise, Montemitro and elsewhere. In these three villages they are a majority. There are about 5,000 speakers of the Molise Croatian dialect. Additionally, there are about 1,000 people in other parts of Italy and emigrants in other countries originating from these villages. These three villages are the descendants of colonies of Croat refugees (due to the Ottoman advance), that appeared in the Italian southern Adriatic hinterland (from Marche to Puglia) in the 15th century. The Molise Croat community is split on ethnic identify: they may declare Croat or Italian; the speak the Molise Croat dialect as a communal tongue, alongside Italian which is their national language. Milena Lalli, a poet born to local parents in Rome, studied Slavic languages in the 1970s and acquired a sizeable literary Croatian vocabulary to replace the numerous Italian borrowings in her dialect.
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