Like most immigrants, Italians were attracted to America as the land of opportunity. Between 1861 and 1929, 16 million Italians left their homeland with dreams that the shores of America would welcome them with open arms and the chance to create a better life for their families. Most were very poor when they landed but they were willing to work hard to succeed. The journey to America by ship usually began in either Naples or Genova and took about three months to travel to New York's Ellis Island. After the invention of the steam ship, the trip took approximately eight to 12 days. Ninety-six percent of the Italian immigrants traveled to America this way.