The Catalan people of northern Spain (extending partially across the border with France) developed their cultural and ethnic identity largely during the fall of the Roman Empire. Despite the eventual domination of the region by Spain, the Catalan retained a very strong ethnic and cultural identity, which is even particularly strong today. In the 14th century, a group of Catalans sailed from Spain to Sardinia, eventually settling a town called Alghero. Today's fewer and fewer residents of Catalan descent speak the language, Despite an attempt by the government of Italy to protect a number of historic languages, the survival of Catalan language is still very much at risk.
Italy's Last Bastion of Catalan Language Struggles to Keep It Alive
By Raphael Minder
The New York Times
November 21, 2016