Category Archives: History

Southern Italians press author Pino Aprile to lead political action

by Anthony M. Quattrone

The Party of the South and 20 other southern Italian political and cultural organizations held a meeting in Bari on 6 September 2012 with Pino Aprile, author of the best seller “Terroni”, to seek his agreement to become the political leader of a wider southern Italian political movement aiming at electing to the Italian Parliament during the elections in 2013, a team of dedicated southern deputies truly committed to the redemption and revival of the Italian South.

There are already many southern Italian deputies elected to the Chamber of Deputies, but, according to Enzo Riccio, member of the executive board of the Party of the South, “none truly represent southern Italians because their parties are tightly linked to the economic and political interests of northern Italian financial and industrial groups”.  According to Riccio, “the South has been in a position of subordination to the north since the brutal conquest of 1860-61, when the Piedmontese occupation army subjugated and annexed the peaceful, independent and sovereign state of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies”.

Antonio Ciano, founder and honorary president of the Party of the South

Southern Italian political and cultural movements complain that during the past 151 years the unified Italian state, which went from a monarchy under the House of Savoy to a democratic Republic after World War II, has fundamentally treated the South as a colonial possession, stripping it of its industry, banks and population.  According to revisionist historians, the vast majority of Italian immigrants throughout the world come from southern Italy because their homeland was brought to misery by the new Italian unified state, which they allege favored northern interests.

The Mayor of Bari, Michele Emiliano, speaks with attendees outside City Hall before the meeting

The meeting in Bari was hosted by the city’s popular mayor, Michele Emiliano, who is a member of the Italian Democratic Party (center left) and is a staunch supporter of the rights of the Italian South.  Last year, in another meeting with Pino Aprile, the mayor opened the event having a band play the national anthem of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, openly marking his understanding of subjugation of the southern homeland.

The hundreds of participants who filled City Hall were unable to sway Pino Aprile into becoming the leader of the wider southern Italian movement, but they were rewarded for their efforts when they heard him announce that he will play a major role by becoming the editor-in-chief of a new southern Italian daily which is in the making.

Stefano Lo Passo and Luca Antonio Pepe of the “Together for the Rebirth (of the South)” movement

Antonio Ciano, founder of the Party of the South, was particularly forceful in reminding the audience that the battle for the redemption and the revival of the South is uphill against the “strong powers” of the North.  Author Lino Patruno was particularly moved by the presence of many youngsters in the crowd.  Two young representatives of “Insieme per la Rinascita” (“Together for the Rebirth of the South), Luca Antonio Pepe and Stefano Lo Passo appealed to the need for linking the battle for the revival of the South with a strong struggle against all forms of organized crime.

According to Marco Esposito, a member of the Naples City Government and major organizer of the meeting in Bari, the creation of an independent southern Italian newspaper headed by Aprile will provide a major loudspeaker and standard-bearer for southern interests, facilitating the development of a strong and well established southern Italian political movement.

Pino Aprile in Bari

The comments on social networks after the meeting with Pino Aprile ranged from rank-and-file disappointment that the Pino Aprile would not take up a specifically political role, to a more pragmatic approach which acknowledges that, after all, the meeting has led to Pino Aprile’s announcement that the South will finally have an independent paper not linked to any northern financial or industrial group.


Filed under Elections, History, Political parties, Uncategorized

Book review – “Terroni: All that was done to ensure that the Italians of the south would become ‘meridionali’ (southerners)” by Pino Aprile

The history of the south of Italy, as seen from those who were “liberated” by the north

Anthony M. Quattrone

Pino Aprile’s “Terroni: All that was done to ensure that the Italians of the south would become meridionali (southerners)”, published by Edizioni Piemme, is one of those books that could cause a revolution, albeit a peaceful one, if read by enough people at the same time. It could become “the spark that starts the fire” by igniting a sentiment of unity among southern Italians, who are discovering that something is missing in mainstream history books informing how Italy was united 150 years ago. Aprile explains, through a series of anecdotes and historical events, how the south of Italy has ended up becoming the “minority” of the country, relegated to a backward condition with respect to the north of the nation and to the rest of Europe, when 150 years earlier, Naples was, in Aprile’s account, behind only Paris and London on many counts. The book’s title is a political statement. He uses the word “terroni”, which is a derogatory term used by northern Italians to describe those from the south, and its root is “terra”, that is, land. It can be translated generally to mean peasant, with a negative connotation. In the subtitle Aprile uses the Italian word “meridionali”, which can be translated literally as “southerners”, and it also has a pejorative connotation, rather than a geographical one.

Aprile very ably connects the events of 150 years ago to today, either in terms of similarity between those of the past and today’s events, or showing the actual causal relationship between yesterday’s events and today’s. He recounts how the Piedmontese government had set up the first concentration camps in 1860 and 1861, where thousands of Neapolitan and other southern Italian soldiers and irregular combatants were deported and left to die within a few years, preceding by approximately 80 years the notorious Nazi concentration camps in Europe. The comparison between the Nazis and the Piedmontese soldiers is continued also when Aprile describes how the towns of Pontelandolfo and Casalduni were destroyed by the Bersaglieri infantry troops in August 1861, in the same way that the Nazis destroyed Marzabotto in September 1944. In both cases, the civilian population was massacred in response to the action of irregular combatants against occupation troops. Aprile also draws a comparison between the torture used by the American military in Abu Grahid and what the Piedmontese did in the years following the unification of Italy. His analogies between past events and today’s allow the reader to immediately relate to events that took place 150 years ago. Read the whole article


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Southerners protest against racist museum in Turin

The Lombroso Museum in Turin is targeted for racism by southern Italians

Demonstration against the Lombroso Museum in Turin on 8 May 2010 (Photo La Stampa)

Anthony M. Quattrone

As Italy prepares to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the country’s unification, there are many in Naples and in the south of the nation who believe that there is not much to celebrate.  Their feeling is that the south was the loser in the process to unify Italy, because it lost its freedom and its relative wealth.  They sustain that in 1860 the south was way ahead of the north in terms of industry, education, science, art, and standards of living, and that independent Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, whose capital was Naples, was condemned to be dissolved as a result of a conspiracy led by Great Britain and other contemporary big powers 150 years ago.

On 11 May 1860, Giuseppe Garibaldi and about 1,000 followers invaded Sicily and made their way up the boot, defeating the Neapolitan army, and handing the rich southern kingdom to an indebted and impoverished French-speaking king, Emanuel II of the House of Savoy.  By 13 February 1861, when Gaeta fell, King Francis II went into exile as a guest of the Pope in Rome, and on 19 March 1861, the last Borbonic bastion, in Civitella del Tronto, fell, and all of the soldiers who surrendered were executed by their Italian “brothers”.

Several cultural organizations and political action committees from the south have taken steps to respond to official commemorations by scheduling peaceful, non violent counter celebrations.  The Civil Insurgent Movement, the Neoborbonic Cultural Association,  Party of the South, and For the South are among the most active in pursuing an organized timetable of demonstrations, which, in many cases, will coincide with the official celebrations organized by the Central Government.

The first demonstration took place on 8 May 2010 in Turin, when several hundred participants gathered in front of the Lombroso Museum to protest against the exhibition of dozens of skulls of southern patriots, who are known as Brigands in “official” history books.  Cesare Lombroso was an Italian social scientist who, at the end of the 1800s, founded the Italian school of positivist criminology, whereby he theorized that criminals could be identified by physical defects.  He is particularly detested by southern Italians due to his definition of an inferior Southern Italian type race which he opposed to the Northern Italian one, based on measurements he made of the skulls of dead southern patriots and common criminals whose remains the soldiers from the invading Piedmont took back to Turin. Read the whole article

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