South Italy (The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, Italian: Regno delle Due Sicilie) was the largest of the Italian states before Italian unification.
It was formed of a union of the Spanish Bourbon Kingdom of Sicily and the Kingdom of Naples, which collectively had long been called the "Two Sicilies" (Utriusque Siciliae), in 1816 and lasted until 1860, when it was annexed by the Kingdom of Sardinia, which became the Kingdom of Italy in 1861.
The name "Two Sicilies" originated from the division of the medieval Kingdom of Sicily.
Until 1285, the island of Sicily and the Mezzogiorno each formed part of the Kingdom of Sicily.
As a result of the War of the Sicilian Vespers (1282-1302), the King of Sicily lost the island of Sicily (also called Trinacria) to the Crown of Aragon, but remained ruler over the peninsular part of the realm.
Although his territory became known as the Kingdom of Naples, he and his successors never gave up the title of "King of Sicily" and they officially referred to their realm as the "Kingdom of Sicily".
At the same time, the Aragonese rulers of the island of Sicily called their realm the "Kingdom of Sicily" as well. Thus, formally, there were two kingdoms calling themselves "Sicily": hence, the Two Sicilies.
The Two Sicilies had its capital in Naples and was commonly referred to in English as the "Kingdom of Naples".
Naples was the most populated city in Italy, and third in Europe and, according to many official sources, it was the 7th or 4th most populated city in the world prior to the 19th century.
Naples was also the city with the highest amount of typographies in Italy and also had the highest number of theaters and music schools.
The integration of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies into the Kingdom of Italy ( 1870) changed the status of the south forever: "Abject poverty meant that, throughout Naples and Southern Italy, thousands were forced to leave in search of a better future."
Many went to the United States.
Like many other Italian 'states' at the time, the south was heavily agricultural and by 1750 the church owned 50/60% of the land.
The majority of Italians still today do not know the truth,
and the debate continues.
Benvenuti in Southern Italy
The term "Southern Italy", "South Italy", "Lower Italy", "Mezzogiorno", "Meridione" etc etc. refers to the part of the Italian peninsula South of Rome and consist of the Abruzzo region, Molise, Campania, Puglia, Basilicata and Calabria...Sicily and Sardegna.
Of these, Abruzzo and Molise, despite being geographically located in central Italy are considered historically, linguistically, culturally, demographically and economically as part of Southern Italy....(even though they like to think of themselves as part of the "other Italy").
Southern Italy, we must remember, is a non statistical geographical and historical term referring to all the South of Italy, comprising the two major islands of Sicily and Sardinia and should not be confused with South Italy which is defined for statistical and electoral purposes and does not include the two islands of Sicily and Sardinia which are referred to as Insular Italy (Italia Insulare)
The term Mezzogiorno first came into use in the 18th century and is an Italian rendition of meridies (Latin for 'south', because of the sun's position at midday in the Northern Hemisphere) hence the name "Meridione" .
The word “meridionali”, which can be translated literally as “southerners”, also has a pejorative connotation, rather than a geographical one, and is associated with notions of poverty, illiteracy and crime: stereotypes of the South that often persist to this day.
The word “terroni” , is another derogatory term used by northern Italians to describe those from the south, can be translated generally to mean peasants, with a negative connotation.
- The Regions -
Glimpse of Southern ltaly - Visitors to southern ltaly find a rich array of archaeological remains.
Although the Roman ruins at Pompei are the most famous of all, Greek ruins are found in Sicily and the southern coast , not to mention Sardinia's mysterious ancient structures called nuraghe.
The regions of Campania', Puglia, and Sicily are admired for their architecture, while breathtaking landscapes, wildlife, and endless opportunities for outdoor activities can be found across the whole Southern peninsula.
The lost kingdom:
To conclude this wide-ranging review of the political, civil, social and cultural history of Southern Italy under the rule of the Royal House of Bourbon Two Sicilies (1734-1860) it can be useful to make a short summary of the main “supremacies” which marked in a deep way the Southern civilization and society in the second half of the eighteenth century and in the first half of the nineteenth.
In fact, this short summary will clearly show how positive and constructive were the works of the Bourbon sovereigns (Charles, Ferdinand and Ferdinand II in particular) on one hand, and how misleading and often untruthful is the «Risorgimento» “vulgate” about the Bourbon rule in Italy.
To complete what was said under all previous headings, we will just list, one after the other, each “supremacy”, at least the most important ones.
INDUSTRY: At the Paris International Exhibition in 1856 it received the Prize for the third industrially developed country in the world (first in Italy);
First iron suspended bridge (across the Garigliano river ) .
First railroad and railway station in Italy (Napoli-Portici railroad);
One of Europe's and Italy's biggest foundry and iron work complex. (At Mongiana in Calabria, also a army manufacturing Centre, cannons, rifles).
First gas-fuelled lighting system; First electric telegraph, in function since 1852; First network of lighthouses with lenses system; Largest engineering industry in Italy, at Pietrarsa; First locomotive steam engine built in Italy. (Pietrarsa means literally scorched stone in english).
The Pietrarsa Museum is a MUST SEE if you are visiting Naples. Bring the children along, they will love it. It is closed on saturday and sunday. Entrance is between five and seven Euros. Not easy to reach by car. Easier by train.
Take the train Naples to Salerno and you will get off right in front of the place where you will be greeted by big bronze statue of King Ferdinand II.
Naples shipyard had the first masonry dry dock in Italy;
First steamship of Mediterranean Sea (the boat "S. Ferdinando" then called "Ferdinando I");
First cruising fleet in the Mediterranean; First merchant fleet in Italy (third in the world). First war steamship of Italy (the frigate "Ercole"), launched at Castellammare; First steamer of Mediterranean Sea to America (the "Sicilia", 26 days spended); First helical ship of Italy (the "Monarca"), launched at Castellammare;
First cruise ship of Europe (the "Francesco I"); First submarine telegraph in continental Europe; First experiment of electric lighting in Italy (at Capodimonte, Naples); First electric-magnetic seismograph in the world (by Luigi Palmieri);
Economy - Best public finance
Assets distribution in the peninsula before Italy's unification
Assets (million golden lires)
% Circulation of money
Kingdom of the Two Sicilies
Kingdom of Sardinia
Parma & Modena
The table above should give a better idea as to why the bankrupt North wanted to "liberate the brothers" of the South from the Bourbon royal dynasty. The war was bankrolled by (the Rothschild family) England who among other interests, had its eye on the sulfuric mines in Sicily and wanted to prevent France from gaining a foothold in the Mediterranean.
First bank checks in the history of economics (policies on Credit Guarantees); First University Chair in Economics (Naples, Antonio Genovesi, 1754); First Goods Exchange and second Stock Exchange in continental Europe; Greatest number of Joint-Stock Companies in Italy; Lower number of taxes in all Italian States. First pension system in Italy (with 2% deductions on salaries);
Promulgation of the first Maritime Code in Italy; First military code; Establishment of Military Colleges (Nunziatella); Fire Brigade.
SOCIETY, SCIENCE AND CULTURE
First realization of principles in order to criminal rehabilitation. First allocation in Italy of "Council Hauses" (San Leucio near Caserta).
First Italian cemetery for poor (il "Cimitero delle 366 fosse", near Poggioreale, Naples);
First town plan in Italy, for Naples; Chair of Psychiatry; Chair of Obstetrics and surgery observations; Physics Laboratory of the King;
Vesuvian seismological observatory (first in the world), with its meteorologic station;
Highest percentage of physicians per capita in Italy; Lowest infant mortality rate in Italy; First tourist agencies in Italy; First Italian institute for deaf-mute persons. Archeological Excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum; Papyrus Factory in Herculaneum; First astronomical observatory in Italy (at Capodimonte, Naples);
First University Chair in Astronomy; Academy of architecture, ones of first and more prestigious in Europe; First intervention in Italy of Anti- tuberculosis prophylaxis; First establishment of free health care (industrial area of San Leucio, near Caserta); First maritime atlas in the world (G. Antonio Rizzi Zannoni, "Atlante Marittimo delle Due Sicilie"); First museum of mineralogy in the world;
First botanical garden in Italy ("Orto Botanico", in Naples);
First italian periodical psychiatric (published by "Reale Morotrofio" of Aversa, by Biagio Miraglio); First dance school in Italy (linked to "San Carlo" theatre, Naples);
First town in Italy in order to number of theaters (Naples);
First town in Italy in order to number of academies of music (Naples); First town in Italy in order to number of publications of newspapers and magazines (Naples);
The very famous ceramic and porcelain manufactures, among which Capodimonte manufactures;
S. Carlo’s Theater (the first in the world), rebuild in just 270 days after the fire of 1816;
Neapolitan music school (Paisiello, Cimarosa, Scarlatti);
World success of Neapolitan songs;
The great royal palaces. Our list do not include all activities carried out in the Kingdom and the success and progress reached in every sector.
We just mention here, as a further example, the tapestry weaving school.
To conclude, we think that to arouse controversies is out of place here. We just desire to stress three historical truths and let the reader reach its own/her conclusion.
1) can we still continue to believe in the «Risorgimento» “vulgate” presenting the Bourbon Kingdom as the most hated and old-fashioned in Italy?
2) how to explain that before 1861 the phenomenon of migration did not exist at all and that following the 'unification' almost 20,000,000 desperate people had to migrate?
3) can all this provide an explanation of the tragic as well as heroic phenomenon of the pro-Bourbon revolution of 1860-1865?
Between 1860 and 1871, (following the "unification"), the industry moved north.
Workforce in South Italy was reduced to 195,000 from 750,000 while in the north increased to 4,400,000 from 350,000.
Immigration from the north to foreign countries relented...and the exodus of South Italians to the America's began.
The South had become a colony of the North... never to recover again.