The Maranos, who were constantly threatened and persecuted by the Inquisition, tried in every way to leave the country, either in bands or as individual refugees. Many of them escaped to Italy, attracted thither by the climate, which resembled that of the Iberian Peninsula, and by its kindred language. They settled at Ferrara, and Duke Ercole I. d'Este granted them privileges, which were confirmed by his son, Alfonso I., to twenty-one Spanish Maranos, physicians, merchants, and others (ib. xv. 113 et seq.).
Spanish and Portuguese Maranos settled also at Florence; and Neo-Christians contributed to make Leghorn a leading seaport. They received privileges at Venice, where they were protected from the persecutions of the Inquisition. At Milan they materially advanced the interests of the city by their industry and commerce, although João de la Foya captured and robbed large numbers of them in that region. At Bologna, Pisa, Naples, Reggio, and many other Italian cities they freely exercised their religion, and were soon so numerous that Fernando de Goes Loureiro, an abbot from Oporto, filled an entire book with the names of the Maranos who had drawn large sums from Portugal and had openly avowed Judaism in Italy. In Piedmont Duke Emanuel Philibert of Savoy welcomed the Maranos from Coimbra, Pablo Hernando, Ruy Lopez, and Rodriguez, together with their families, and granted them commercial and industrial privileges, as well as the free exercise of their religion. Rome was full of Maranos. Pope Paul III. received them at Ancona for commercial reasons, and granted complete liberty "to all persons from Portugal and Algarve, even if belonging to the class of Neo-Christians." Three thousand Portuguese Jews and Maranos were living at Ancona in 1553. Two years later the fanatical Pope Paul IV. issued orders to have all the Maranos thrown into the prisons of the Inquisition which he had instituted. Sixty of them, who acknowledged the Catholic faith as penitents, were transported to the island of Malta; twenty-four, who adhered to Judaism, were publicly burned (May, 1556); and those who escaped from the Inquisition were received at Pesaro by Duke Guido Ubaldo of Urbino. As Guido was disappointed, however, in his hope of seeing all the Jews and Maranos of Turkey select Pesaro as a commercial center, he expelled (July 9, 1558) the Neo-Christians from Pesaro and other districts (ib. xvi. 61 et seq.). Many Maranos were attracted to Ragusa, formerly a considerable seaport. In May, 1544, a ship landed there filled exclusively with Portuguese refugees, as Balthasar de Faria reported to King John.