Category Archives: Italian History

Historical news, galleries and features from Italy.

The Roman Expeditions of the Nile River

Between 62 and 67 AD the Roman emperor Nero sent a small group of Praetorian guards to explore the sources of the Nile River in Africa.

According to most scholars, the expedition was organized to obtain information for a possible conquest of Ethiopia.

Related: The cities founded by the Romans, Amazing Pompeii images, Ancient Pagan Temple of Diana

Weird Italy roman-Exotic-animal-transportation The Roman Expeditions of the Nile River Italian History  romans roman history roman empire Nile river nero Egypt Africa
Exotic animal transportation, Villa del Casale, Piazza Armerina, Sicily, Italy. Rare scene of two separate events on a single tableau, a common narrative technique in Roman visual arts.

It is part of a series of expeditions, conducted between 19 a.C. and 86 AD, aimed at the exploration and acquisition of control of the caravan routes through the Sahara, which guaranteed trade between the Mediterranean coast and sub-Saharan Africa; among these, the Roman expedition towards Lake Chad and the river Niger.

Around 62 d.C. Seneca wrote that Nero had sent some legionaries to the city of Meroe in Nubia, in order to explore the south of that capital. This expedition was commissioned by the Roman emperor to obtain information on equatorial Africa and its possible riches.

Weird Italy Nero-exploration-of-Nile-river The Roman Expeditions of the Nile River Italian History  romans roman history roman empire Nile river nero Egypt Africa

Seneca

“Are you unaware that among the various” theories explaining how the summer flooding of the Nile occurs there is this one: that the river gushes of the earth and rises with water not from above but from deep within? I heard two centurions whom Nero Caesar, great lover of the other virtues and especially of truth, had sent to search for the source of the Nile. They told how they made a long journey, when they were provided with assistance by the king of Ethiopia, were given recommendations to the neighboring kings, and penetrated further inland. “Then,” they said, “we reached interminable marshlands. The local people had not discovered where they ended, nor can anyone hope to do so: weeds are so entangled with the water and the water “with weeds”, they are impassable either on foot or by boat; only a small, one-man craft can manage on the muddy, overgrown swamp. There, “he said, “we saw two crags from whhich a huge volume of river water cascaded down.” Whether that is the source of the Nile or a tributary, whether it first emerges there or returns to the surface after being swallowed underground in its earlier course, do you not believe that this water, whatever it is, rises from a great lake within the earts? For the earth must contain liquid, both dispersed in many places and concentrated in a single place, to be able to disgorge it with such force. Seneca, Natural Questions, Book VI, On Earthquakes, 8.1, pag. 96-96. L. Annaei Senecae Naturalium quaestionum

In a 1996 article published in the magazine Nigrizia, Giovanni Vantini, a scholar belonging to the order of the Comboni fathers, identified in Meroe the city where the Romans met the king of Ethiopia. According to him, the description of the swamp made by the centurions is a clear reference to the lake No, formed by the confluence of the Bahr el Ghazal with the white Nile.

According to Vantini the expedition possibly arrived also in Ugandan territory, interpreting as a reference to the Murchison Falls, known in the past as Kabalega, the following passage reported by Seneca “We have seen two rocks, from which the force of the river escaped with power “(Ibi, inquit, uidimus duas petras, ex quibus ingens uis fluminis excidebat). The description given by Seneca still corresponds today, according to the Comboni scholar Father Giovanni Vantini, at Lake No, an immense swamp, 2-5 meters deep, formed by the confluence of the river Bahr el Ghazal with the Nile coming from the Equator. The scenario would be that of the Murchison Falls, today Kabalega, where the Nile coming from Lake Victoria, plunges into Lake Albert, with a jump of 100 meters, in a gorge of just 60-70 meters. Some historians, like the great Meroitist F. Hintze, even believe that Nero sent two successive expeditions, because the first of 61 AD, reported by Seneca, speaks of a “king of Ethiopia” who “provided aid and commendatizie” to the centurions. ; the other of 66-67, reported by Pliny, instead mentions a queen (Candace).

Weird Italy the-great-hunt-villa-casale The Roman Expeditions of the Nile River Italian History  romans roman history roman empire Nile river nero Egypt Africa
Roman mosaic at Villa del Casale, Sicily. Author: Urban

Pliny the elder

Another expedition, recorded by Pliny the Elder in 67, was probably intended to gather information for a possible conquest by Nero of what is now Sudan.

These are the names of places given as far as Meroë: but at the present day hardly any of them on either side of the river are in existence; at all events, the prætorian troops that were sent by the Emperor Nero under the command of a tribune, for the purposes of enquiry, when, among his other wars, he was contemplating an expedition against Æthiopia, brought back word that they had met with nothing but deserts on their route. The Roman arms also penetrated into these regions in the time of the late Emperor Augustus, under the command of P. Petronius, a man of Equestrian rank, and prefect of Egypt. That general took the following cities, the only ones we now find mentioned there, in the following order; Pselcis, Primis, Abuncis, Phthuris, Cambusis, Atteva, and Stadasis, where the river Nile, as it thunders down the precipices, has quite deprived the in- habitants of the power of hearing: he also sacked the town of Napata. The extreme distance to which he penetrated beyond Syene was nine hundred and seventy miles; but still.

Pliny the elder, Naturalis Historia, Liber VI, XXXV, 181

But all this difference is lately determined by the Report of those Travellers whom Nero sent to Discover those Countries, who have related that it is 862 Miles from Syene in this manner : from Syene to Hiera-Sycaminon, Fifty-four Miles ; from thence to Tama, Seventy-five Miles ; from Tama to the Euonymites Country, the first of the Ethiopians, 120 ; to Acina, Fifty-four; to Pitara, Twenty-five; to Tergedum, 106 Miles. That in the midst of this Tract lieth the Island Gagandus, where they first saw the Birds called Parrots; and beyond another Island called Attigula they saw Monkeys ; beyond Tergedum they met with the Creatures Cynocephali. From thence to Napata Eighty Miles, which is the only little Town among all the beforenamed ; from which to the Island Meroe is 360 Miles. They reported, moreover, that about Meroe, and not before, the Herbs appeared greener ; and the Woods shewed somewhat in comparison of all the way besides ; and they espied the Tracts of Elephants and Rhinoceroses.

Pliny the elder, Natural history, book VI

Images: 1 , 2 , 3 (from Le Musée absolu, Phaidon, 10-2012)

Three fascinating cultural practices from ancient Rome

Italy is stuffed with culture like some kind of metaphysical, literally culture-stuffed calzone.

Obviously, all countries have something to show for themselves, but the fact is Italy is culturally rich in all those aspects that phrases like cultural richness connote.

Italian drama, paintings and desserts are known worldwide for their pedigree. Italian food is eaten with (sometimes literal) relish all over the world – served from street vans and in Michelin-star restaurants. There is a robustness to Italy’s cultural capital that is the mark of a true centre of refinement.

And the reason for all this, of course, is the legacy of the Roman Empire. Like the British or Ottoman Empire, the empire of Rome encompassed such a vast swath of the globe (over two million square miles, to be precise) that its seat of power could not help but become the treasure trove of its particular epoch. As new cultures were conquered and assimilated, all flowed back to the capital. Not just materially, either. Empires are renowned for being melting pots of art and culture. And Rome was no different.

In this article, we take a look at look at three fascinating aspects of Roman culture throughout history, and what they tell us about the empire.

The separate treatment of the head and body in Roman sculpture (stone)

Weird Italy cultural-practices-from-ancient-Rome-2 Three fascinating cultural practices from ancient Rome Italian History What to see in Italy  Imperial Rome
IMAGE SOURCE: Pixabay

The difference in attitude from head to body is fascinating. While the heads of many Roman sculptures are finely cast, with much attention paid to idiosyncratic liniments and the reality of age, the bodies tell a different story.

In the Greek tradition, the bodies of most Roman sculptures represent an ideal rather than an individual. They are quite literally carved from stone, to borrow a pun from the world of bodybuilding. The reasons for this duality are not abundantly clear but are thought to be traceable back to a few key facts.

For one, the heads of Roman statues were forever being removed and replaced by other heads. When you consider this, the need for a generic, one-size-fits-all body becomes apparent, as does the reasoning behind making the prolific body easy on the eye – why would you not?

As to why the lust for decapitation, the answer is actually quite pragmatic. Great Romans fell out of favour at a tabloid rate, but unlike today, their representation in media was permanent. Hence, rather than making a new statue, swapping out the head was a lot faster.

Lucky bronze

Since ancient times, coins have been associated with luck. But the practice originated in Rome. The emperor Vespasian would hand out ‘touch pieces’ to the sick on walks throughout the great city.

As was the case in many ancient societies, the ruler was supposed to have some sacred connection with the god or gods that presided over the society’s affairs. The Holy Roman Emperor was no different. In fact, some members of the imperial family actually were deified – transcending flesh and bone to become part of the indelible cosmos. It’s alright for some.

The coins then were imbued with a considerable spark of that divinity – or at least enough to give advanced leprosy a run for its money. The tradition of touching divine metals is preserved in Italy to this day in the form of the Il Porcellino. According to betway casino online list of lucky customs, here the luck is said to be had in touching the nose, which has caused it to be finely polished. This tradition has made its way all the way from 1766, so it’s having a good run. If the superstitious nature of people has not changed, at least we’re now more enamoured with magically contagious craftsmanship/graft than unearned privilege.

The vomitorium

Of course, no list about the oddities of ancient Rome would be complete without a mention of the vomitorium – so we’ll go one better and debunk this bilious falsehood. The term vomitorium was indeed used to describe certain facets of architecture in Roman times, but its use was metaphorical, according to The Conversation.

Vomitorium meant something close to “the place where people spew out” – meaning the place they gather to and dessert in large number, rapidly. Trans-located to modern parlance, the term might be aptly used to describe a football stadium or cinema. Unfortunately, our imaginations are far more taken with stories of excess and decadent rulers.

These artefacts of a lost time are sure to titillate the culture vultures among you, but for those less conventional there are many Italian destinations somewhat off the beaten track.

Crucified like Jesus two thousand years ago | The second case in the world discovered in Italy

A multidisciplinary – anthropological, taphonomic and genetic study – conducted in collaboration between researchers from the University of Ferrara and Florence has allowed to analyze and interpret the lesions present on a human skeleton coming from a Roman burial

The exhibit was discovered by the then Archaeological Superintendence of the Veneto during the archaeological emergency excavations conducted in 2006-2007 on the occasion of the laying of the pipeline in La Larda di Gavello, near Rovigo.

The deposition had taken place in an isolated burial without any trousseau. The biological and genetic profile of the individual indicates that it was a man who died at 30-34 years of frail physique and short stature.

“In the specific case, despite the poor conditions of conservation – says Professor Emanuela Gualdi, of the Department of Biomedical and Surgical Sciences of Unife – we have been able to demonstrate the presence of signs on the skeleton that indicate a violence similar to the crucifixion”.

“The right heel (the only one preserved) shows unequivocally a lesion peri mortem (breakthrough) from the medial side (entrance hole) .The lesion then crosses the heel to the outer side of the foot, confirming the hypothesis of an execution through crucifixion “, adds Dr. Nicoletta Onisto, from the Department of Biomedical and Surgical Sciences of our University.

“This type of execution – continued Professor Ursula Thun Hohenstein of the Department of Humanistic Studies in Unife – was generally reserved for slaves, and the same topographical marginalization of the burial leads one to think that it was an individual considered dangerous and neglected by the society in which he lived. who refused him even after death. ”

“The importance of the discovery lies in the fact that it is the second case documented in the world, although in fact this brutal type of execution has been perfected and practiced for a long time by the Romans, the difficulties in preserving the damaged bones and, subsequently, the interpretation of traumas. hinder the recognition of victims of crucifixion, making this testimony even more precious “concludes Thun.

The study, entitled “A multidisciplinary study of calcaneal trauma in Roman Italy: a possible case of crucifixion?” Was published by the journal Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences.

The article is available at the following links:

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/324496883_A_multidisciplinary_study_of_calcaneal_trauma_in_Roman_Italy_a_possible_case_of_crucifixion

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12520-018- 0631-9

Archaeologists found in Pompeii the skeleton of a man fleeing from the fury of the Volcano

The man, probably limping, was killed by a boulder hurled at high speed by the force of the eruption that practically beheaded him.

The chest crushed by a large block of stone, the body thrown back by the powerful pyroclastic flow, in a desperate attempt to escape from the eruptive fury. It is in this dramatic position that emerges the first victim of the site of the new excavations of the Royal V.

Weird Italy skeleton-pompeii-001 Archaeologists found in Pompeii the skeleton of a man fleeing from the fury of the Volcano Italian History Latest Italian News and Videos  Pompeii campania archeology   The discovery took place in the area of ​​the new excavations, the Regio V, right on the corner between the Vicolo dei Balconi (the road that the team from the Pompeii Archaeological Park has just unearthed) and the Silver Wedding alley. “We found it in a place where there was a widening and perhaps a fountain – says Osanna – a slice of ground still covered with a considerable layer of pyroplastic material”.

The earth had partially collapsed on him, so that explains why it was not possible to reconstruct the features using the plaster cast technique. It was possible, however, to make other casts all around the skeleton. And they served to understand how dramatic the last moments of this man must have been: a pyroplastic cloud fell on him “with it debris, pieces of iron, tree trunks, pieces of road”.

Weird Italy skeleton-pompeii-003 Archaeologists found in Pompeii the skeleton of a man fleeing from the fury of the Volcano Italian History Latest Italian News and Videos  Pompeii campania archeology   The first analyzes performed by the anthropologist, during the excavation, identify an adult man aged over 30 years. The presence of lesions at the tibia level shows a bone infection, which may have been the cause of significant difficulties in walking, such as to prevent the man from escaping the first dramatic signs that preceded the eruption itself. Weird Italy skeleton-pompeii-004 Archaeologists found in Pompeii the skeleton of a man fleeing from the fury of the Volcano Italian History Latest Italian News and Videos  Pompeii campania archeology   Weird Italy skeleton-pompeii-005 Archaeologists found in Pompeii the skeleton of a man fleeing from the fury of the Volcano Italian History Latest Italian News and Videos  Pompeii campania archeology

Source: MIBACT

 

The Gardens of Tivoli in Italy: Villa d’Este

The Villa d’Este in Tivoli is a masterpiece of the Italian Renaissance and is listed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

The villa was commissioned by Cardinal Ippolito d’Este, son of Alfonso I and Lucrezia Borgia (Ferrara 1509 – Rome 1572), on a site of a Roman villa.

The history of its construction is linked to the events of its first owner. Pope Julius III thanked the Cardinal d’Este for the essential contribution made in 1550 to his election to the papal throne by appointing him governor for life of Tivoli and its territory. The cardinal arrived in Tivoli on 9 September and made a triumphal entry, but discovered that he would have to live in an old and uncomfortable convent attached to the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, built centuries earlier by the Benedictines, now held by the Franciscans and partially readjusted to governor’s residence.

Hippolytus decided to turn the convent into a villa. This would have been the twin of the grand palace that he was building at the same time in Rome, in Monte Giordano; while the Roman palace was intended to serve the “official” receptions in Rome, the villa of Tivoli should have been a pleasant place for meetings.

Weird Italy tivoli-waterfall The Gardens of Tivoli in Italy: Villa d'Este Italian History What to see in Italy  UNESCO Tivoli Renaissance Lucrezia Borgia Lazio Ippolito d'Este
Great Cascade, Tivoli, Lazio, Italy, between 1890 and 1905.

It is no coincidence that the place where the villa was built had the name “Valle Gaudente”.

Weird Italy hall-of-Glory The Gardens of Tivoli in Italy: Villa d'Este Italian History What to see in Italy  UNESCO Tivoli Renaissance Lucrezia Borgia Lazio Ippolito d'Este
Noble apartment, hall of Glory

The works were entrusted to the architect Pirro Ligorio, flanked by an impressive number of artists and artisans.

Weird Italy The-Godess-Nature-Fountain The Gardens of Tivoli in Italy: Villa d'Este Italian History What to see in Italy  UNESCO Tivoli Renaissance Lucrezia Borgia Lazio Ippolito d'Este
The Godess Nature Fountain in the garden of Villa d’Este in Tivol, Italy

The Cardinal barely had time to enjoy the solemn inauguration of the villa, which took place in September 1572 with the visit of Pope Gregory XIII; in fact, he died on December 2nd of the same year.

Weird Italy tivoli-villa-d-este The Gardens of Tivoli in Italy: Villa d'Este Italian History What to see in Italy  UNESCO Tivoli Renaissance Lucrezia Borgia Lazio Ippolito d'Este
Villa d’Este, Tivoli, Lazio, Italy. View of town. Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer. Glass lantern slide, hand-colored.

The first owners were three cardinals of Este governors of Tivoli: the patron Hippolytus II, the nephew Luigi until 1586 and finally Alexander, until 1624.

Weird Italy One.hundred.fountain.at_.villa_.deste_ The Gardens of Tivoli in Italy: Villa d'Este Italian History What to see in Italy  UNESCO Tivoli Renaissance Lucrezia Borgia Lazio Ippolito d'Este
The One Hundred Fountain (Le Centro Fontane) at the Villa d’Este

In 1918, after the First World War, the villa passed to the Italian State that began important restoration work and opening it to the public. Another series of restorations was then performed after World War II to repair the damage caused by bombings during the last world war.

Tivoli italy gardens images

Weird Italy tivoli-villa-d-este-2 The Gardens of Tivoli in Italy: Villa d'Este Italian History What to see in Italy  UNESCO Tivoli Renaissance Lucrezia Borgia Lazio Ippolito d'Este
Villa d’Este, Tivoli, Lazio, Italy. Shaded walk. 1925 summer. Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer. House Architecture: Pirro Ligorio, 1560-1575. Landscape: Pirro Ligorio and Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este.
Weird Italy Fresco-of-hall-of-Apollo-in-Villa-dEste-Tivoli The Gardens of Tivoli in Italy: Villa d'Este Italian History What to see in Italy  UNESCO Tivoli Renaissance Lucrezia Borgia Lazio Ippolito d'Este
Fresco of hall of Apollo in Villa d’Este (Tivoli)
Weird Italy Villa-dEste-Tivoli-Lazio-Italy-8 The Gardens of Tivoli in Italy: Villa d'Este Italian History What to see in Italy  UNESCO Tivoli Renaissance Lucrezia Borgia Lazio Ippolito d'Este
View to Sabine Mountains from villa. Villa d’Este, Tivoli, Lazio, Italy. Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952, photographer.
Weird Italy Tivoli-Villa-Este-second-cave-grotto The Gardens of Tivoli in Italy: Villa d'Este Italian History What to see in Italy  UNESCO Tivoli Renaissance Lucrezia Borgia Lazio Ippolito d'Este
Tivoli, Villa d’Este: second cave grotto between Organ Fountain and Fountain of Neptune (one of the so-called “caves of the Sibyls”)
Weird Italy noble-apartment The Gardens of Tivoli in Italy: Villa d'Este Italian History What to see in Italy  UNESCO Tivoli Renaissance Lucrezia Borgia Lazio Ippolito d'Este
Noble apartment, room of the Hunt
Weird Italy the-hall-of-Nobility The Gardens of Tivoli in Italy: Villa d'Este Italian History What to see in Italy  UNESCO Tivoli Renaissance Lucrezia Borgia Lazio Ippolito d'Este
Tivoli, Villa d’Este: rooms on the main floor, the hall of Nobility

Image source: Wikimedia

6 Things You Could Never Have Guessed Are Actually Italian Inventions

Italy’s contribution to culture and gastronomy is undisputable. From ancient Roman times to the present day, Italians keep coming up with ideas and inventions – and legendary culinary feats and restaurants – that shape not only Italian culture but transcend borders to influence other nations, too.

And even though the first examples that spring to mind when we think about things that were invented in Italy are quite obvious – raise your hand if you also thought of pizza or opera – there are quite a few things that hardly spring to mind, but are truly Italian!

1. Jeans

Although jeans are thought of as typical American clothing, they actually originated in Italy – even their name is a tip of the hat to their Italian birthplace, Genoa. When Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis first started out in manufacturing jeans, they used a fabric called denim – which is another reference to the French town Nîmes.

But weavers in Nîmes actually were trying to copy the sturdy cotton corduroy typical of Genoa – a cross-weaved, strong type of fabric used since the 15th century in Genoa by shipbuilders and merchants to make sails for their ships and work clothes.

It was sometimes dyed blue by indigo brought from India, which resulted in the name “bleu de Gênes” (blue from Genoa) when they were exported to France – ring a bell?

The name was converted into “blue jeans” in English.

Weird Italy jeans 6 Things You Could Never Have Guessed Are Actually Italian Inventions Italian Dishes and Food Italian History  venice Nutella inventions food casino
IMAGE SOURCE: pexels.com

2. Shopping malls

Built around 107-110 AD, the awe-inspiring structure that was later named Trajan’s Market is the world’s first public shopping centre.

Ancient Romans would flock into this industrial complex that housed roughly 150 shops and offices across various levels – smaller shops would stand on the ground floor, where clients crowded the tiny entrances, while an arcade of shops was found on the higher level and most probably individual apartments on the last floor.

The entire left wing of this building marvel representative of Ancient Roman architecture that spread in the form of a hemicycle housed a covered shopping arcade.

3. Casinos

Human history is filled with games of chance – every civilization, from the Ancient Greeks to the Mayans, had their very own gambling games. Yet casino entertainment as such was born in Italy: the word casino itself is of Italian origin, as a derivative of the root word casa, which means house.

Casinos were originally country villas where people would take their summer holidays or social club. In 1638 the first casino establishment in the modern sense of the word opened its doors to the public – the Casino di Venezia, which still operates today.

Indeed, it wasn’t until the 19th century that the term extended to other public buildings – usually within or on the grounds of a larger villa – that housed various fun social activities, from dancing and music to sports and games of luck.

Weird Italy italian-casino 6 Things You Could Never Have Guessed Are Actually Italian Inventions Italian Dishes and Food Italian History  venice Nutella inventions food casino
IMAGE SOURCE: pexels.com

 

4. Batteries

Yes, it was an Italian who brought this incredibly handy invention to the world – that in turn sparked the invention of numerous portable devices.

In 1791, Alessandro Volta, an Italian physicist and chemist from Como, published a paper in which he debunked the claims of fellow Italian Luigi Galvani – and the popular theory of the time – that electricity was produced only by living things. Volta proved instead that electricity could be generated chemically and went on to invent the first wet cell battery – now know as the voltaic pile.

Oh, in the process, he also discovered methane, set the foundations for the development of electrochemistry and had the SI unit of electric potential, the volt, named after him. Not bad at all.

5. Pretzels

Few foods are thought of as more typically German – but pretzels were actually invented by an Italian monk around 610 AD.

He came up with the baked goodies to reward children who were meticulous in learning their prayers and Bible verses; so legend has it that the shape of the folded dough is meant to resemble the crossed arms of children deep in prayer. Whether that is true or not remains a mystery, but he did call his invention pretiola, which means “little reward” in Latin, which later probably got distorted into pretzel.

Weird Italy Pretzels 6 Things You Could Never Have Guessed Are Actually Italian Inventions Italian Dishes and Food Italian History  venice Nutella inventions food casino
IMAGE SOURCE: pexels.com

6. Nutella

This one many people probably suspected is Italian, and we are happy to confirm; yet any list of Italian inventions would be severely lacking if it did not mention the incredibly popular hazelnut chocolate spread: Nutella. The history behind it is fascinating; Nutella was invented by one Pietro Ferrero, a professional pastry maker.

Mr. Ferrero was seeking a solution to the cocoa shortage experienced in Italy during WWII – and he turned to the ingredient that his native Piedmont had in abundance: hazelnuts. He used hazelnut paste mixed with sugar and just a touch of the rare cocoa to invent the predecessor to the famous spread.

The list of course does not stop here – countless more inventions and products that sprung up in Italy have spread all over the world, creating a deep impact and many imitations or improved versions in other cultures.

The Italian Army during WWI

Italy was officially a member of the Triple Alliance with Germany and Austria-Hungary. Despite this, in the years before the war, Italy had enhanced its diplomatic efforts towards the United Kingdom and France.

This was because the Italian government had grown convinced that support of Austria (the traditional enemy of Italy during the 19th century Risorgimento) would not gain Italy the territories it wanted: Trieste, Istria, Zara and Dalmatia, all Austrian possessions. In fact, a secret agreement signed with France in 1902 sharply conflicted with Italy’s membership in the Triple Alliance.

A few days after the outbreak of the war, on 3 August 1914, the government, led by the conservative Antonio Salandra, declared that Italy would not commit its troops, maintaining that the Triple Alliance had only a defensive stance and Austria-Hungary had been the aggressor. In reality, both Salandra and the minister of Foreign Affairs, Sidney Sonnino, began to probe which side would grant the best reward for Italy’s entrance in the war. Although the majority of the cabinet (including former Prime Minister Giovanni Giolitti) was firmly against intervention, numerous intellectuals, including Socialists such as Ivanoe Bonomi, Leonida Bissolati, and, since 18 October 1914, Benito Mussolini, declared in favour of intervention, which was then mostly supported by the Nationalist and the Liberal parties.

Pro-interventionist socialists believed that, once that weapons had been distributed to the people, they could have transformed the war into a revolution.

The diplomatic moves led to the London Pact (26 April 1915), signed by Sonnino without the approval of the Italian Parliament. According to the Pact, after victory Italy was to get Trentino and the South Tyrol up to the Brenner Pass, the entire Austrian Littoral (with Trieste), Gorizia and Gradisca (Eastern Friuli) and Istria (but without Fiume), parts of western Carniola (Idrija and Ilirska Bistrica) and north-western Dalmatia with Zara and most of the islands, but without Split. Other agreements concerned the sovereignty of the port of Valona, the province of Antalya in Turkey and part of the German colonies in Africa.

Germany and Austria-Hungary had only advanced the possibility of negotiating parts of the Trentino and Eastern Friuli, without Gorizia and Trieste. The offer of the French protectorate of Tunisia was deemed unsatisfactory.

Under the London Pact, Italy joined the Triple Entente. 3 May 1915 Italy officially revoked the Triple Alliance. In the following days Giolitti and the neutralist majority of the Parliament opposed declaring war, while nationalist crowds demonstrated in public areas for it. (The nationalist poet Gabriele D’Annunzio called this period le radiose giornate di Maggio—”the sunny days of May”). On 13 May Salandra offered his resignation to King Victor Emmanuel III, but Giolitti, fearful of nationalist disorder that might break into open rebellion, declined to succeed as prime minister and Salandra’s resignation was not accepted. On 23 May, Italy declared war on Austria-Hungary. This was followed by declarations of war on the Ottoman Empire (21 August 1915, following an ultimatum of 3 August), Bulgaria (19 October 1915) and the German Empire (28 August 1916). [Wikipedia]

Child Labour And the Sulphur Mines in Sicily

THERE is one street in Catania, Sicily, which seems to be given over to the trade and industry of the poorer people of the city.

It is not mentioned in the guide- books, and there is perhaps no reason why it should be. Nevertheless, there are a great many interesting things to be seen in that street — strange, quaint, homely things — that give a stranger intimate glimpses into the life of the people.

For example, on a street corner, tucked away in one of those snug spaces in which one sometimes finds a crowded fruit-stand, I discovered, one day, a macaroni factory. Within a space perhaps three feet wide and ten or twelve feet in length one man and a boy conducted the whole business of the sale as well as the manufacture of macaroni, from the raw grain to the completed article of trade. The process, as it was carried on in this narrow space, was necessarily a simple one. There was a bag of flour, a box in which to mix the paste, and a press by which this paste was forced through holes that converted it into hollow tubes. Afterward these hollow tubes were laid out on a cloth frame which, because there was no room inside, had been set up in the street. After leaving this cloth frame the macaroni was hung up on little wooden forms for inspection and for sale.

One of the most curious and interesting places on the street was an apothecary’s shop in which the apothecary manufactured all his own drugs, and acted at the same time as the poor man’s physician or medical adviser. This man had never studied pharmacy in a college. His knowledge of drugs consisted entirely of the traditions and trade secrets which had come down to him from his predecessor in the business. His shop was filled with sweet-smelling herbs, gathered for him by the peasants, and from these he brewed his medicines. The skeleton of a fish hung over the counter from which medicines were dispensed, and the shelves behind were filled with many curious and musty bottles.

The apothecary himself was a very serious person, with a high, pale forehead and the absorbed air of a man who feels the weight of the knowledge he carries around with him. All these things, especially the smell of the herbs, were quite awe-inspiring, and undoubtedly contributed something to the efficacy of the medicines.

It is a very busy street in which the apothecary, the macaroni manufacturer, and the others are located. In fact, it seems as if work never stopped there, for it is full of little shops where men sit in their doorways or at the open windows until late at night, working steadily at their various trades, making the things they sell, and stopping only now and then to sell the things they make. The whole region is a hive of industry, for it is the neighbourhood where the artisans live, those skilled workmen who make everything by hand that, in our part of the world, we have long since learned to make by machine. In fact, in this street it is possible to get a very good picture, I suspect, of the way in which trade and industry were carried on in other parts of Europe before the age of steam.

About nine o’clock Saturday night — the night upon which I arrived in Catania — I was walking down one of the side streets in this part of the city, when my attention was attracted to a man, sitting in his doorway, working by the light of a little smoky lamp. He was engaged in some delicate sort of iron work, and, as near as I could make out, he seemed to be a tool-maker.

What particularly attracted my attention was a little girl, certainly not more than seven years of age, who was busily engaged in polishing and sharpening the stamps he used. I stopped for a moment and watched this man and child, working steadily, silently, at this late hour of the night. I could but marvel at the patience and the skill the child showed at her work. It was the first time in my life that I had seen such a very little child at work, although I saw many others in the days that followed.

I have often heard it said that people who are born under the soft southern skies are habitually indolent, and never learn to work there, as they do in more northern latitudes. This is certainly not true of Sicily, for, so far as my experience goes, there is no other country in Europe where incessant labour is so largely the lot of the masses of the people. Certainly there is no other country where so much of the labour of all kinds, the skilled labour of the artisan as well as the rough labour of digging and carrying on the streets and in the mines, is performed by children, especially boys.

There is a law against Sunday labour in Catania, but the next morning, as I passed through this same quarter of the city, I found the majority of the people still busily at work. I stopped to watch a man who was making mandolins. This man lived in one room, which was at the same time a workshop, kitchen, and bed- room. There was a great heap of mattresses piled high upon the bed in one corner. A little charcoal brazier, on which the cooking for the family was performed, stood upon the work- bench. The ceiling was hung with finished instruments, and the pavement in front of the house was piled with others in various stages of completion. This room was occupied by a family of five, all of whom, with the exception of the wife and mother, were engaged, each in their different ways, in the work of manufacturing mandolins. All the skilled work (the setting of the decorations and the polishing of the frames) was performed by the boys, but a little girl who was standing near seemed to be making herself handy as a helper in the work of the others.

In this treeless country, where there is almost no wood of any kind to be had, the most useful building material, after stone and plaster, seems to be tile. Not only the roofs but the floors of most of the buildings are made of this material, and its manufacture is consequently one of the principal minor industries of the country. One day, while I was wandering about in the outskirts of Catania, I ran across a plant where two men and three little boys were at work mixing the clay, forming it into octagonal shapes, and piling it out in the sun to dry. The two men were at work in the shade of a large open shed, but I could not make out what they were doing. As nearly as I could see, almost all of the actual work was performed by the children, who ranged, I should say, from eight to twelve years of age. The work of carrying the heavy clay, and piling it up in the sun after it had been formed into tiles, was done by the younger children.

I am certain that if I had not seen them with my own eyes I would never have believed that such very little children could carry such heavy loads, or that they could work so systematically and steadily as they were compelled to do in order to keep pace with the rapid movements of the older boy, who was molding the tiles from the soft clay. The older boy could not have been, as I have said, more than twelve years of age, but he worked with all the skill and the rapidity of an experienced piece-worker driven at the top of his speed. I was so filled with pity and at the same time with admiration for this boy that, as I was unable to speak to him, I ventured to offer him a small coin in token of my appreciation of the skill with which he worked. So intent was he on his task, however, that he would not stop his work even to pick up the money I proffered him, but simply thanked me and nodded his head for me to place it on the bench beside him.

These instances of skilled labour among children are by no means exceptional. At another time I remember stopping to look at a little boy who, it seemed to me, could not be more than eight or nine years of age, working side by side with a man, evidently his father, together with several other men, all of them engaged in building a boat. The boy I speak of was engaged in finishing off with a plane the hardwood rail of the sides of the boat, and as I watched, him at his task I was again compelled to wonder at the ease and skill with which these little fellows use their tools.

All these things, as I have said, gave me an idea of the manner in which the trades were carried on before the extensive use of machinery had brought the factory system into existence. It showed me also the easy way in which, in those days, the industrial education of children was carried on. When the work in the handicrafts was performed in the house, or in a shop adjoining the house, it was an easy thing for the father to hand down to the son the trade he himself had practised. Under the conditions in which trades are carried on in Sicily to-day children are literally born to the trade which their fathers practise. In these homes, where the shop and the home are crowded together in one or two rooms, children see their fathers and mothers at work from the time they are born. As soon as they are able to handle a tool of any kind the boys, at any rate, and frequently the girls also, are set to work helping their parents. As the father, in his turn, has probably inherited the accumulated traditions and skill of generations that preceded him in the same trade, his children are able to get from him, in the easiest and most natural way, an industrial education such as no other kind of school can give.

Whatever may be the disadvantages of the people of Sicily in other respects, they have an advantage over the Negro in learning the skilled trades, the value of which it is difficult to estimate. Everywhere one sees the evidences of this skill with the hand, not only in the public buildings, but in some of the common objects of daily use. I have already referred to the way in which the ordinary little two-wheeled carts, which take the place of the ordinary farmer’s wagon in this country, are decorated. I have seen in Catania men at work practically hew- ing these carts out of the log. I do not know to what extent the frame of the wagon is hewn out in this way, but, at any rate, the spokes are. Every detail is worked out with the greatest possible skill, even to the point of carving little figures or faces at the ends of the beams that make the frames. Likewise the harness of the donkeys that draw these carts Is an elaborate and picturesque affair which must require a vast amount of patience and skill to make. The point I wish particularly to emphasize here Is that all this skill In the handicrafts, which has become traditional In a people, Is the best kind of preparation for every kind of higher education. In this respect the Italian, like the Japanese and Chinese, as well as every other race which has had centuries of training in the handicrafts, has an advantage over the Negro that can only be overcome when the masses of the Negro people have secured a training of the hand and a skill in the crafts that correspond to those of other races.

Not only are children, especially boys, employed at a very early age In all the trades I have mentioned, but young boys from fourteen to sixteen perform, as I have said, In the mines and elsewhere an incredible amount of the crude, rough work of the community.

I remember, one day in Palermo, seeing, for the first time in my life, boys, who were certainly not more than fourteen years of age, engaged in carrying on their backs earth from a cellar that was being excavated for a building. Men did the work of digging, but the mere drudgery of carrying the earth from the bottom of the excavation to the surface was performed by these boys. It was not simply the fact that mere children were engaged in this heavy work which impressed me. It was the slow, dragging steps, the fixed and unalterable expression of weariness that showed in every line of their bodies. Later I learned to recognize this as the habitual manner and expression of the carusi, which is the name that the Italians give to those boys who are employed in the sulphur mines to carry the crude ore up from the mines where it is dug and to load it into the cars by which it is conveyed to the surface.

The work in a sulphur mine is organized in many respects, I learned, like that of a coal mine. The actual work of digging the sulphur is performed by the miner, who is paid by the amount of crude ore he succeeds in getting out. He, in his turn, has a man or a boy, sometimes two or three of them, to assist him in getting the ore out of the mine to the smelter, where it is melted and refined. As I myself had had some experience as a boy in work similar to this in the mines of West Virginia, I was interested in learning all I could in regard to these boys and the conditions under which they worked. In the case of boys employed for this work, the Sicilians have a custom of binding out their children to the miner, or picconiero, as he is called. Such a boy is then called, in the language of the country, a caruso. As a matter of fact, a picconiero who buys a boy from his parents to employ him as a caruso actually purchases a slave. The manner in which the purchase is made is as follows : In Sicily, where the masses of the people are so wretchedly poor in everything else, they are nevertheless unusually rich in children, and, as often happens, the family that has the largest number of mouths to fill has the least to put in them. It is from these families that the carusi are recruited. The father who turns his child over to a miner receives in return a sum of money in the form of a loan. The sum usually amounts to from eight to thirty dollars, according to the age of the boy, his strength and general usefulness. With the payment of this sum the child is turned over absolutely to his master. From this slavery there is no hope of freedom, because neither the parents nor the child will ever have sufficient money to repay the original loan.

Strange and terrible stories are told about the way in which these boy slaves have been treated by their masters. Before coming to Sicily I had met and talked with persons who described to me the processions of half-naked boys, their bodies bowed under the heavy weight of the loads they carried, groaning and cursing as they made their way up out of the hot and sulphurous holes in the earth, carrying the ore from the mine to the smelter. All that I had heard elsewhere was confirmed later by the details furnished by official reports and special studies of conditions in the mining regions, made at different times and by different persons. In these reports I learned that the mines had been in the past the refuge of a debased and criminal population, whose vices made the bleak, sulphursmitten region where the mines are located as much like hell as it looks.

The cruelties to which the child slaves have been subjected, as related by those w^ho have studied them, are as bad as anything that was ever reported of the cruelties of Negro slavery. These boy slaves were frequently beaten and pinched, in order to wring from their over- burdened bodies the last drop of strength they had in them. When beatings did not suffice, it was the custom to singe the calves of their legs with lanterns to put them again on their feet. If they sought to escape from this slavery in flight, they were captured and beaten, sometimes even killed. As they climbed out of the hot and poisonous atmosphere of the mines their bodies, naked to the waist and dripping with sweat, were chilled by the cold draughts in the corridors leading out of the mines, and this sudden transition was the frequent cause of pneumonia and tuberculosis.

In former years children of six and seven years of age were employed at these crushing and terrible tasks. Under the heavy burdens (averaging about forty pounds) they were com- pelled to carry, they often became deformed, and the number of cases of curvature of the spine and deformations of the bones of the chest reported was very large. More than that, these children were frequently made the victims of the lust and unnatural vices of their masters. It is not surprising, therefore, that they early gained the appearance of gray old men, and that it has become a common saying that a caruso rarely reaches the age of twenty- five.

It was with something of all this in my mind that I set out from Palermo a little before day- light one morning in September to visit the mines at Campofranco, on the southern side of the island, in the neighbourhood of Girgenti. My misgivings were considerably increased when, upon reaching the railway station to take the train, I found that the guide and interpreter who had been employed the night before to accompany us on the trip had not made his appearance. We waited until all the porters at the station and the guards on the train were fairly in a fever of excitement in their well-meant efforts to get us and our baggage on the train. Then, at the last moment, with the feeling that we were taking a desperate chance, we scrambled aboard and started off into a wild region, which no guide-book had charted and, so far as I knew, no tourist had ever visited.

The train carried us for some distance along the fertile plain between the sea and the hills. It was just possible to make out in the twilight of the early morning the dim outlines of the little towns we passed. At length, just as we were able to catch the first gleams of the morn- ing sun along the crests of the mountains, the railway turned abruptly southward and the train plunged into a wide valley between the brown and barren hills.

At Roccapalumba we left the main line of the railway, which turns eastward from there in the direction of Catania, and continued our journey with the somewhat ruder comforts of an accommodation train. From this point on the way grew rougher, the country wilder, and the only companions of our journey were the rude country folk, with an occasional sprinkling of miners. At the little town of Lercara we entered the zone of the sulphur mines. From now on, at nearly every station we passed, I saw great masses of the bright yellow substance, piled in cars, waiting to be carried down to the port of Girgenti for shipment to all parts of the world, and particularly to the United States, which is still the largest market for this Sicilian gold.

The nearer the train approached our destination, the more uncomfortable I grew about the prospect that was before us. I felt very sure that I should be able to reach Campofranco and perhaps see something of the mines, but whether I should ever be able to get out again and what would become of me if I were compelled to seek shelter in some of the unpromising places I saw along the way was very uncertain.

Fortunately, Dr. Robert E. Park, of Boston, who was travelling with me, and who accompanied me on nearly all of my excursions of this kind, was with me on this trip. Doctor Park had a pretty thorough mastery of the German language, and could speak a little French, but no Italian. He had, however, an Italian grammar in his satchel, and when we finally found ourselves at sea, in a region where neither English, German, nor French was of any help to us, he took that grammar from his satchel and set to work to learn enough Italian between Palermo and Campofranco to be able to make at least our most urgent wants known. For four hours he devoted himself industriously to the study of that beautiful and necessary language. It was a desperate case, and I think I am safe in saying that Doctor Park studied grammar more industriously during those four hours than he ever did before in his life. At any rate, by the time the train had crossed the rocky crest of the mountains which divide the north and south sides of Sicily, and before we disembarked at the lonesome little station of Campofranco, he could speak enough Italian, mixed with German, French, and English, to make himself understood. Perhaps another reason for Doctor Park’s success was the fact that the Italians understand the sign language pretty well.

The mines at Campofranco are on the slope of the mountain, just above the railway station. A mile or more across the great empty valley, high up on the slope of the opposite mountain, is the village from which the mines get their name, a little cluster of low stone and cement buildings, clinging to the mountainside as if they were in imminent danger of slipping into the valley below.

A few hundred yards above the station great banks of refuse had been dumped into the valley, and a place levelled off on the side of the mountain, where the furnaces and smelters were located. There were great rows of kilns, like great pots, half buried in the earth, in which the ore is melted and then run off into forms, where it is cooled and allowed to harden.

I confess that I had been very dubious as to the way that we were likely to be received at the mines, seeing that we did not know the customs nor the people, and had very scant supply of Italian in which to make known our wants. The manager, however, who proved to be a very polite and dignified man, could speak a little French and some English. He seemed to take a real pleasure in showing us about the works. He explained the methods by which the sulphur was extracted, insisted upon our drinking a glass of wine, and was even kind enough to loan me a horse and guide when I expressed a desire to rent one of the passing donkeys to convey me to some of the more inaccessible places, farther up the mountain, where I could see the miners had burrowed into the earth in search of sulphur. On the vast slope of the mountain and at a distance they looked like ants running in and out of little holes in the earth.

It was at the mouth of one of these entrances to the mines that I got my first definite notion of what sulphur miners look like — those unfortunate creatures who wear out their lives amid the poisonous fumes and the furnace heat of these underground hells. There was a rum- ble of a car, and presently a man, almost stark naked, stepped out of the dark passageway. He was worn, haggard, and gray, and his skin had a peculiar grayish-white tinge. He spoke in a husky whisper, but I do not know whether that is one of the characteristic effects of the work in the mines or not. I was told that, in ad- dition to other dangers, the sulphur has a bad effect upon the lungs. It was explained to me that the sulphur dust gets into the lungs and clogs them up, and that is what accounts for the groans of the carusi, so frequently spoken of, when they are tugging up the steep and winding passageways with the heavy burdens of crude ore on their backs.

It had been many years since I had been in a mine, but as I entered the dark, damp gallery and felt the sudden underground chill, the memories of my early experiences all came back to me. As we got farther into the mine, how- ever, the air seemed to grow warmer. Sud- denly a door at the side of the gallery opened; a blast of hot air, like that from a furnace, burst out into the corridor, and another of those half-naked men, dripping with perspiration, stepped out.

We passed at intervals along the main corridor a number of these doors which, as I dis- covered, led down into parts of the mine where the men were at work. It seemed incredible to me that any one could live and work in such heat, but I had come there to see what a sul- phur mine was like, so I determined to try the experiment.

The side passage which I entered was, in fact, little more than a burrow, twisting and winding its way, but going constantly deeper and deeper into the dark depths of the earth. I had known what it was to work deep down under the earth, but I never before so thoroughly realized what it meant to be in the bowels of the earth as I did while I was groping my way through the dark and winding passages of this sulphur mine.

It is down at the bottom of these holes, and in this steaming atmosphere, that the miners work. They loosen the ore from the walls of the seams in which it is found, and then it is carried up out of these holes in sacks by the carusi.

In the mine which I visited the work of getting the ore to the surface was performed in a modern and comparatively humane way. It was simply necessary to carry the ore from the different points where it is mined to the car, by which it is then transported to the smelter. In those mines, however, where the work is still carried on in the old, traditional fashion, which has been in vogue as far back as any one can remember, all the ore is carried on the backs of boys. In cases where the mine descended to the depth of two, three, or four hundred feet, the task of carrying these loads of ore to the surface is simply heartbreaking. I can well understand that persons who have seen conditions at the worst should speak of the children who have been condemned to this slavery as the most unhappy creatures on earth.

From all that I can learn, however, the conditions have changed for the better in recent years. In 1902 a law was passed which for- bade the employment of children under thirteen years in underground work, and to this was added, a little later, a provision which forbade, after 1905, the employment of children under fifteen in the mines.

So far as I am able to say, this provision was carried out in the mine I visited, for I did not see children at work anywhere inside the mine. I saw a number of the poor little creatures at work in the dumps outside the mine, however. They were carrying refuse ore in bags on their backs, throwing it on screens, and then loading the finer particles back into the cars. Once having seen these gangs of boys at work, I could never mistake their slow, dragging movements and the expression of dull despair upon their faces.

It is said that the employment of boys in the sulphur mines is decreasing. According to law, the employment of children under fifteen years of age has been forbidden since 1905. As is well known, however, in Italy as in America, it is much easier to make laws than to enforce them. This is especially true in Sicily. The only figures which I have been able to obtain upon the subject show that from 1880 to 1898 there was an enormous increase in the number of children employed in and about the mines. In 1880 there were 2,419 children under fifteen years working there, among whom were eight girls. Of this number 88 were seven and 163 were eight years of age, while 12 per cent, of the whole number were under nine years of age. In 1898, however, the number of children under fifteen years of age was 7,032, of whom 5,232 were at work inside the mines. At this time the Government had already attempted to put some restrictions on the employment of children in the mines, but the age limit had not been fixed as high as fifteen years. The sulphur mines are located on the southern slopes of the mountains that cross Sicily from east to west. About ten miles below Campofranco the two branches of the railway, one running directly south from Roccapalumba, and the other running southwest from Caltanisetta, come together a few miles above Girgenti. On the slopes of the broad valleys through which these two branches of the railway run are located nearly all the sulphur mines in Sicily. From these mines, which furnish some- thing like 70 per cent, of the world’s supply of sulphur, a constant stream of this yellow ore flows down to the sea at the port of Girgenti.

After leaving Campofranco I travelled through this whole region. In many places the mountain slopes are fairly honeycombed with holes where the miners in years past have dug their way into the mountain in search of the precious yellow mineral. For many miles in every direction the vegetation has been blasted by the poisonous smoke and vapours from the smelters, and the whole country has a blotched and scrofulous appearance which is depressing to look upon, particularly when one considers the amount of misery and the number of human lives it has cost to create this condition. I have never in my life seen any place that seemed to come so near meeting the description of the “abomination of desolation” referred to in the Bible. There is even a certain grandeur in the desolation of this country which looks as if the curse of God rested upon it

I am not prepared just now to say to what extent I believe in a physical hell in the next world, but a sulphur mine in Sicily is about the nearest thing to hell that expect to see in this life.

As I have already said, however, there are indications that in the sulphur mines, as else- where in Sicily, the situation of the man farthest down is improving. I pray God that it is so, for I could not picture an existence more miser- able than the slow torture of this crushing labour in the hot and poisonous air of these sulphur mines.

Let me say also that I came away from the sulphur mines and from Sicily with a very much better opinion of the people than when I entered. I went to Italy with the notion that the Sicilians were a race of brigands, a sullen and irritable people who were disposed at any moment to be swept off their feet by violent and murderous passions. I came away with the feeling that, whatever might be the faults of the masses of the people, they were, at the very least, more sinned against than sinning, and that they de- serve the sympathy rather than the condemnation of the world. The truth Is that, as far as my personal experience goes, I was never treated more kindly in my whole life than I was the day when, coming as a stranger, without an introduction of any kind, I ventured to visit the region which has the reputation of being the most wicked, and is certainly the most unfortunate, in Europe. I mean the region around and north of Girgenti, which is the seat at once of the sulphur mines and the Mafia.

If any one had told me before I went to Sicily that I would be willing to intrust my life to Sicilians away down in the darkness of a sulphur mine, I should have believed that such a person had lost his mind. I had read and heard so much of murders of the Mafia in Sicily, that for a long time I had had a horror of the name of Sicilians; but when I came in contact with them, before I knew it, I found myself trusting them absolutely to such an extent that I willingly followed them into the bowels of the earth ; into a hot, narrow, dark sulphur mine where, without a moment’s warning, they might have demanded my life or held me, if they cared to, for a ran- som. Nothing of this kind occurred; on the other hand, I repeat, every Sicilian with whom I came in contact in the sulphur mine treated me in the most kindly manner, and I came away from their country having the highest respect for them. I did not meet, while I was there, a single person, from the superintendent to the lowest labourer at the mines, who did not seem, not only willing, but even anxious, to assist me to see and learn everything I wanted to know. What is more, Campofranco was the only place in Europe where I met men who refused to accept money for a service rendered me.

From “The Man Farthest Down: A Record of Observation and Study in Europe”, 1912, written by Washington, Booker Tagliaferro, 1856-1915

Topic: CHILD LABOUR AND THE SULPHUR MINES,Child Slavery in Sicily,miners,Sicily,The Man Farthest Down: A Record of Observation and Study in Europe,Washington Booker Tagliaferro

The lives of the Carusi, the slave miners of Sicily

Child Slavery at the Floristella Grottacalda mines in Sicily.

The Caruso was a kid aged 8 to 14 years, assigned to carry on shoulder excavated material in bags of 20/30 kg or baskets (stirraturi) of 15/20 kg and working for 8-10 hour shifts.

Weird Italy carusi-000 The lives of the Carusi, the slave miners of Sicily Italian History Italy Crime News and Criminal Investigations Magazine  SULPHUR MINES sicily picuneri old photographs old images of Italy old images mines miners mine-boy Illegal labour Floristella Grottacalda Floristella Child Slavery in Sicily carusu carusi
Early XX Century. Child labour in Sicily was rampant.

The word Carusu in Sicilian means “boy” and is derived from the Latin word carus, “dear“. During XIX century through the early 1900s the word carusu was used to denote a “mine-boy”, a labourer in a sulfur who worked next to a picuneri or pick-man and carried raw ore from deep in the mine to the surface. These carusi generally worked in near-slavery, often given up by foundling homes or even by their own families for a succursu di murti (death benefit), which effectively made them the property of either the picuneri or of the owners of the mines. [Wikipedia]

Read CHILD LABOUR AND THE SULPHUR MINES from “The Man Farthest Down: A Record of Observation and Study in Europe”, 1912, written by Washington, Booker T.

Sources: 1 , 2

Weird Italy floristella-1980 The lives of the Carusi, the slave miners of Sicily Italian History Italy Crime News and Criminal Investigations Magazine  SULPHUR MINES sicily picuneri old photographs old images of Italy old images mines miners mine-boy Illegal labour Floristella Grottacalda Floristella Child Slavery in Sicily carusu carusi
Floristella mines, 1980 circa
Weird Italy floristella The lives of the Carusi, the slave miners of Sicily Italian History Italy Crime News and Criminal Investigations Magazine  SULPHUR MINES sicily picuneri old photographs old images of Italy old images mines miners mine-boy Illegal labour Floristella Grottacalda Floristella Child Slavery in Sicily carusu carusi
Floristella mine, 1900 circa, lodgings for the miners and furnaces.
Weird Italy carusi-miners-2 The lives of the Carusi, the slave miners of Sicily Italian History Italy Crime News and Criminal Investigations Magazine  SULPHUR MINES sicily picuneri old photographs old images of Italy old images mines miners mine-boy Illegal labour Floristella Grottacalda Floristella Child Slavery in Sicily carusu carusi
Carusi and miners.
Weird Italy carusi-kid-miners The lives of the Carusi, the slave miners of Sicily Italian History Italy Crime News and Criminal Investigations Magazine  SULPHUR MINES sicily picuneri old photographs old images of Italy old images mines miners mine-boy Illegal labour Floristella Grottacalda Floristella Child Slavery in Sicily carusu carusi
Landfill.
Weird Italy carusi-naked-miners-002 The lives of the Carusi, the slave miners of Sicily Italian History Italy Crime News and Criminal Investigations Magazine  SULPHUR MINES sicily picuneri old photographs old images of Italy old images mines miners mine-boy Illegal labour Floristella Grottacalda Floristella Child Slavery in Sicily carusu carusi
In narrow tunnels, the wagons were transported directly from the workers
Weird Italy carusi-naked-miners-001 The lives of the Carusi, the slave miners of Sicily Italian History Italy Crime News and Criminal Investigations Magazine  SULPHUR MINES sicily picuneri old photographs old images of Italy old images mines miners mine-boy Illegal labour Floristella Grottacalda Floristella Child Slavery in Sicily carusu carusi
1950-1960 ca
Weird Italy carusi-naked-miners-012 The lives of the Carusi, the slave miners of Sicily Italian History Italy Crime News and Criminal Investigations Magazine  SULPHUR MINES sicily picuneri old photographs old images of Italy old images mines miners mine-boy Illegal labour Floristella Grottacalda Floristella Child Slavery in Sicily carusu carusi
Average basket weight: 20 to 30 kilos
Weird Italy carusi-naked-miners-016 The lives of the Carusi, the slave miners of Sicily Italian History Italy Crime News and Criminal Investigations Magazine  SULPHUR MINES sicily picuneri old photographs old images of Italy old images mines miners mine-boy Illegal labour Floristella Grottacalda Floristella Child Slavery in Sicily carusu carusi
Solfatara of Grottacalda, 1905, Red Cross servants

Weird Italy carusi-0001 The lives of the Carusi, the slave miners of Sicily Italian History Italy Crime News and Criminal Investigations Magazine  SULPHUR MINES sicily picuneri old photographs old images of Italy old images mines miners mine-boy Illegal labour Floristella Grottacalda Floristella Child Slavery in Sicily carusu carusi   Weird Italy carusi-mine The lives of the Carusi, the slave miners of Sicily Italian History Italy Crime News and Criminal Investigations Magazine  SULPHUR MINES sicily picuneri old photographs old images of Italy old images mines miners mine-boy Illegal labour Floristella Grottacalda Floristella Child Slavery in Sicily carusu carusi   Weird Italy carusi-mine-2 The lives of the Carusi, the slave miners of Sicily Italian History Italy Crime News and Criminal Investigations Magazine  SULPHUR MINES sicily picuneri old photographs old images of Italy old images mines miners mine-boy Illegal labour Floristella Grottacalda Floristella Child Slavery in Sicily carusu carusi   Weird Italy carusi-miners-006 The lives of the Carusi, the slave miners of Sicily Italian History Italy Crime News and Criminal Investigations Magazine  SULPHUR MINES sicily picuneri old photographs old images of Italy old images mines miners mine-boy Illegal labour Floristella Grottacalda Floristella Child Slavery in Sicily carusu carusi   Weird Italy carusi-naked-miners-003 The lives of the Carusi, the slave miners of Sicily Italian History Italy Crime News and Criminal Investigations Magazine  SULPHUR MINES sicily picuneri old photographs old images of Italy old images mines miners mine-boy Illegal labour Floristella Grottacalda Floristella Child Slavery in Sicily carusu carusi   Weird Italy carusi-naked-miners-004 The lives of the Carusi, the slave miners of Sicily Italian History Italy Crime News and Criminal Investigations Magazine  SULPHUR MINES sicily picuneri old photographs old images of Italy old images mines miners mine-boy Illegal labour Floristella Grottacalda Floristella Child Slavery in Sicily carusu carusi   Weird Italy carusi-naked-miners-005 The lives of the Carusi, the slave miners of Sicily Italian History Italy Crime News and Criminal Investigations Magazine  SULPHUR MINES sicily picuneri old photographs old images of Italy old images mines miners mine-boy Illegal labour Floristella Grottacalda Floristella Child Slavery in Sicily carusu carusi   Weird Italy carusi-naked-miners-006 The lives of the Carusi, the slave miners of Sicily Italian History Italy Crime News and Criminal Investigations Magazine  SULPHUR MINES sicily picuneri old photographs old images of Italy old images mines miners mine-boy Illegal labour Floristella Grottacalda Floristella Child Slavery in Sicily carusu carusi   Weird Italy carusi-naked-miners-007 The lives of the Carusi, the slave miners of Sicily Italian History Italy Crime News and Criminal Investigations Magazine  SULPHUR MINES sicily picuneri old photographs old images of Italy old images mines miners mine-boy Illegal labour Floristella Grottacalda Floristella Child Slavery in Sicily carusu carusi   Weird Italy carusi-naked-miners-008 The lives of the Carusi, the slave miners of Sicily Italian History Italy Crime News and Criminal Investigations Magazine  SULPHUR MINES sicily picuneri old photographs old images of Italy old images mines miners mine-boy Illegal labour Floristella Grottacalda Floristella Child Slavery in Sicily carusu carusi   Weird Italy carusi-naked-miners-009 The lives of the Carusi, the slave miners of Sicily Italian History Italy Crime News and Criminal Investigations Magazine  SULPHUR MINES sicily picuneri old photographs old images of Italy old images mines miners mine-boy Illegal labour Floristella Grottacalda Floristella Child Slavery in Sicily carusu carusi   Weird Italy carusi-naked-miners-010 The lives of the Carusi, the slave miners of Sicily Italian History Italy Crime News and Criminal Investigations Magazine  SULPHUR MINES sicily picuneri old photographs old images of Italy old images mines miners mine-boy Illegal labour Floristella Grottacalda Floristella Child Slavery in Sicily carusu carusi   Weird Italy carusi-naked-miners-011 The lives of the Carusi, the slave miners of Sicily Italian History Italy Crime News and Criminal Investigations Magazine  SULPHUR MINES sicily picuneri old photographs old images of Italy old images mines miners mine-boy Illegal labour Floristella Grottacalda Floristella Child Slavery in Sicily carusu carusi   Weird Italy carusi-naked-miners-013 The lives of the Carusi, the slave miners of Sicily Italian History Italy Crime News and Criminal Investigations Magazine  SULPHUR MINES sicily picuneri old photographs old images of Italy old images mines miners mine-boy Illegal labour Floristella Grottacalda Floristella Child Slavery in Sicily carusu carusi   Weird Italy carusi-naked-miners-014 The lives of the Carusi, the slave miners of Sicily Italian History Italy Crime News and Criminal Investigations Magazine  SULPHUR MINES sicily picuneri old photographs old images of Italy old images mines miners mine-boy Illegal labour Floristella Grottacalda Floristella Child Slavery in Sicily carusu carusi   Weird Italy carusi-naked-miners-015 The lives of the Carusi, the slave miners of Sicily Italian History Italy Crime News and Criminal Investigations Magazine  SULPHUR MINES sicily picuneri old photographs old images of Italy old images mines miners mine-boy Illegal labour Floristella Grottacalda Floristella Child Slavery in Sicily carusu carusi   Weird Italy carusi-naked-miners-017 The lives of the Carusi, the slave miners of Sicily Italian History Italy Crime News and Criminal Investigations Magazine  SULPHUR MINES sicily picuneri old photographs old images of Italy old images mines miners mine-boy Illegal labour Floristella Grottacalda Floristella Child Slavery in Sicily carusu carusi   Weird Italy carusi-title The lives of the Carusi, the slave miners of Sicily Italian History Italy Crime News and Criminal Investigations Magazine  SULPHUR MINES sicily picuneri old photographs old images of Italy old images mines miners mine-boy Illegal labour Floristella Grottacalda Floristella Child Slavery in Sicily carusu carusi     Weird Italy carusi-valle-della-luna The lives of the Carusi, the slave miners of Sicily Italian History Italy Crime News and Criminal Investigations Magazine  SULPHUR MINES sicily picuneri old photographs old images of Italy old images mines miners mine-boy Illegal labour Floristella Grottacalda Floristella Child Slavery in Sicily carusu carusi     Weird Italy floristella-1905 The lives of the Carusi, the slave miners of Sicily Italian History Italy Crime News and Criminal Investigations Magazine  SULPHUR MINES sicily picuneri old photographs old images of Italy old images mines miners mine-boy Illegal labour Floristella Grottacalda Floristella Child Slavery in Sicily carusu carusi

Floristella mines, 1905.Weird Italy floristella-mine The lives of the Carusi, the slave miners of Sicily Italian History Italy Crime News and Criminal Investigations Magazine  SULPHUR MINES sicily picuneri old photographs old images of Italy old images mines miners mine-boy Illegal labour Floristella Grottacalda Floristella Child Slavery in Sicily carusu carusi   Weird Italy miner-donkey The lives of the Carusi, the slave miners of Sicily Italian History Italy Crime News and Criminal Investigations Magazine  SULPHUR MINES sicily picuneri old photographs old images of Italy old images mines miners mine-boy Illegal labour Floristella Grottacalda Floristella Child Slavery in Sicily carusu carusi   Weird Italy miners-creating-bricks The lives of the Carusi, the slave miners of Sicily Italian History Italy Crime News and Criminal Investigations Magazine  SULPHUR MINES sicily picuneri old photographs old images of Italy old images mines miners mine-boy Illegal labour Floristella Grottacalda Floristella Child Slavery in Sicily carusu carusi

 

 

The Historical Archive of Banco of Naples

“Archivio storico del Banco di Napoli” was founded in 1539. This archive is a valuable source of historical information ranging from 1450 to today.

The Banco di Napoli Historical Archive is the largest collection of existing bank records in the world. In 330 rooms are collected and cataloged bank documents ranging from the mid-1500s to today. It is located in the headquarters of the Fondazione Banco di Napoli, in via dei Tribunali.

Images: https://www.facebook.com/fondazionebancodinapoli Weird Italy archivio-storico-napoli-010 The Historical Archive of Banco of Naples Italian History Magazine What to see in Italy  naples history naples campania Banco di Napoli Historical Archive Banco di Napoli Archivio storico del Banco di Napoli ancient library ancient books   Weird Italy archivio-storico-napoli-007 The Historical Archive of Banco of Naples Italian History Magazine What to see in Italy  naples history naples campania Banco di Napoli Historical Archive Banco di Napoli Archivio storico del Banco di Napoli ancient library ancient books   Weird Italy archivio-storico-napoli-006 The Historical Archive of Banco of Naples Italian History Magazine What to see in Italy  naples history naples campania Banco di Napoli Historical Archive Banco di Napoli Archivio storico del Banco di Napoli ancient library ancient books   Weird Italy archivio-storico-napoli-005 The Historical Archive of Banco of Naples Italian History Magazine What to see in Italy  naples history naples campania Banco di Napoli Historical Archive Banco di Napoli Archivio storico del Banco di Napoli ancient library ancient books   Weird Italy archivio-storico-napoli-004 The Historical Archive of Banco of Naples Italian History Magazine What to see in Italy  naples history naples campania Banco di Napoli Historical Archive Banco di Napoli Archivio storico del Banco di Napoli ancient library ancient books   Weird Italy archivio-storico-napoli-003 The Historical Archive of Banco of Naples Italian History Magazine What to see in Italy  naples history naples campania Banco di Napoli Historical Archive Banco di Napoli Archivio storico del Banco di Napoli ancient library ancient books   Weird Italy archivio-storico-napoli-001 The Historical Archive of Banco of Naples Italian History Magazine What to see in Italy  naples history naples campania Banco di Napoli Historical Archive Banco di Napoli Archivio storico del Banco di Napoli ancient library ancient books

Weird Italy archivio-storico-napoli-011 The Historical Archive of Banco of Naples Italian History Magazine What to see in Italy  naples history naples campania Banco di Napoli Historical Archive Banco di Napoli Archivio storico del Banco di Napoli ancient library ancient books