Some 48,600 Italians aged 18 to 34 left Italy in 2016, the Fondazione Migrantes, a Catholic organisation that aids migrants, said in a report on Tuesday. That represents an increase of 23% on the year before.
Young people made up 39% of all Italians who emigrated. At home, their age group has some of the fewest opportunities in Europe.
In total 124,076 people left Italy in 2016, 15% more than in 2015.
“Italian emigration is far from being a closed chapter in our history,” commented the foundation's director general, Giovanni De Robertis. “It is a current reality and continually changing.”
He cited the example of Apulia, where at one point for every immigrant that arrived in the region, he said, there were three Apulians living abroad.
“But everyday our television only showed people arriving, not us leaving.”
Nearly 5 million Italians were registered as living abroad as of January 1st 2017, the foundation said.
The region with the most departures by far was Lombardy, where last year 20,389 inhabitants decided to leave. It was followed by Sicily, Veneto and Lazio, which each saw around 9,000-10,000 departures.
Over the past ten years the number of Italians emigrating has soared by 60%, according to the foundation's figures.
Most Italian emigrants resettled in other European countries, followed by the Americas. The UK, Germany, Switzerland and France were among the most popular destinations, though the United Arab Emirates are also attracting more and more Italian expats.