Monday, December 3, 2018


This essay is dedicated to a friend -Massimo Canepari- who was born in Venezuela from an Italian father but who initially has had a low judgment of Italy and the Italians, as sometimes happens in the Italian communities (mainly) in the Americas. Sadly some descendants of Italian emigrants are "brainwashed" by the local establishment in order to get them assimilated since their early schoolyears and are often forced to reject their roots in order to be fully accepted into their local society. In the case of Massimo this rejection -or bad judgment- was fully reversed thanks to his knowledge and study, that allowed him to become an italophile in his country Venezuela. His turning point: his visit to Italy when he personally admired the wonderful "Pieta" of Michelangelo in Rome ("seeing the perfection of this masterpiece -he said to me- I understood why the art of Italy is unique in the word")

The Spanish steps in Rome are worldwide appreciated by millions of italophiles in the world

Indeed we all know that all the American countries -that are independent- have an Italian community that has reached top socio-economical positions and all of these country have had at least one president with Italian roots (from Argentina and Brasil to the little Panama and Costa Rica), but there it is one exception: the United States. The reason: in the USA the Italians are poorly judged with an ethnic classification based on the triangle "Mafia/crime" - "pizza/food" - "Nero cruelty/dishonesty". In other words: Italians are good for eating matters, but are criminally related to the Sicilian Mafia (from Sicily comes nearly 1/5 of all the Italoamericans!) and are often dishonest ("cheating" with deceptions & lies at work and a bit cruel like emperor Nero). Of course many academics argue that this is a prejudice created by the "Wasp" (white-anglo-saxon-protestants), who rule the US society, in order to maintain their centuries old leadership: the reader must remember -for example- that some US black leaders argue that Obama has been elected president because he is a "mulatto" whose mother was a typical Wasp, and that they also argue that if he would have been a real black he would have never been elected!

Of course we have to remember that Italy has forty-seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2016, more than any other country in the world. According to UNESCO, the cultural and educational agency for the United Nations, over 60 percent of the entire world’s art treasures are found in Italy, which draws tourists, scholars, artists and art historians from everywhere in the world.

But what most of us often forget is that Italy is the country with most "super genius" in the world History: from Augustus, Caesar, Archimedes to Leonardo, Galileo and Marconi, to name a few, no other country has such amount of important personalities. During Fascism the nationalists even pinpointed that Napoleon was not French, but Italian, because born in Corsica (an island that has always been Italian until one year before his birth)! Of course this was an exaggeration, but why all this concentration? One explanation -that I want to study further in the next years- seems to be related to the fact that Italy is the place in Europe with most lighting strikes. Let me explain better: the "metallic mountains" (Colline Metallifere) of Tuscany have produced the best iron in Antiquity for the famous roman "gladius" (an armament that literally allowed the creation of the Roman empire by the legionaries), but are also responsible for the strongest lighting thunderstorms in the western world. Actually we know that some of the best world genius were born during these thunderstorms (like Nicola Tesla, see my, that seems to have "charged" the brain neurons of the newborns. Of course, this is a matter that is being studied by academics only in the last decades and needs a lot of further research & confirmations.....but I think it is worth to remember this fact as a possible explanation (by the way, the second country in Europe with excessive lightings is Scotland, and we all know that many clever inventors have been born there).

Consequently here I add some excerpts taken from an essay in Wikipedia, named "Italophilia", that I have partially written years ago:


Italophilia is the admiration, general appreciation or love of Italy, its culture, society, arts and people. It is often related to the emulation of Italy's ideals and civilization.

Italophilia is very strong -for example- in the USA, mainly between the Italian communities, as was seen even in New York during the 2006 WorldCup celebrations of the Italian soccer team victory (see The term is used in two basic contexts: in international politics and in cultural context. "Italophilia", "Italophile", and "Italophilic" are the terms used to denote pro-Italian sentiments, usually in politics and literature.

Historically, a huge italophilia started to develop in Europe during the centuries of the Italian Renaissance.

William Shakespeare is a famous example of an Italophile of the 16th century

Actually one of the main reasons of Italophilia in the world is that Italy is home to more World Heritage Sites than any other nation in the world. Another reason is the worlwide appreciation for Italian culinary and foods. For example, the Pizza -created in Napoli- is one of the most appreciated foods in nearly all the countries of the modern world, from Europe to the Americas and Australia.

Italy is also a big wine producer. In 2005 it made over 5 million tonnes, and many italian wines are very famous in the world, like the "Chianti".

Indeed in the American countries with a huge Italian emigration (since the early XIX century, nearly 2/3 of the more than 28 millions of Italian emigrants moved there!), there it is a widespread italophilia: Argentina, Brasil, Uruguay, Canada and the USA have millions of Italian descendants who promote in their society the love and appreciation for Italy.

Actually Giorgio Silvestri (director of the "Assemblea legislativa della Liguria") has calculated that there are more than 250 million italophiles in the world.

Italophilia in History

The extent to which Italic civilization has shaped Western civilization and, by extension, the civilization of the whole world, is widely recognized and acknowledged. Appreciation of the legacy of Italic ideals, civilization and culture has existed for many centuries, into the present day.

Some of the most famous "italophiles" in History are William Shakespeare, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Francis I, Catherine the Great, Goethe, John Ruskin and Lord Byron. In the last two centuries even Queen Victoria, Napoleon, Simon Bolivar, Francisco Franco, Juan Perón and other politicians showed some form of italophilia.

Roman era

Statue of Augustus, first Roman emperor and first creator of "Italia" as political entity

Rome was the center of an empire that stretched across a large segment of the then-known world, and later became the center of the Christian faith.

Roman civilization was transplanted to most parts of Europe, the Mediterranean basin and the Near East in the form of law, architecture, engineering, roads, aqueducts, public baths, sanitation, trade, literature, art, libraries, hospitals and agriculture.

It was possible for the people in the provinces to attain Roman citizenship, rise to the Senate, and even to become Roman emperor. The Roman provinces, having received much of the benefits of Roman civilization, became Romanized to a large degree.

Winston Churchill states -in his famous "History of the English Speaking Peoples"- that :
For nearly 300 years Britain, reconciled to the Roman system, enjoyed in many respects the happiest, most comfortable, and most enlightened times its inhabitants have ever had.

The Christian religion was viewed in Rome as contrary to prevailing religious and political beliefs and, consequently, was suppressed. Many Christians in Rome and elsewhere were persecuted. After the conversion of the Emperor Constantine to Christianity in 312 AD, Christianity flourished and became an integral part of Roman life. Roman Catholicism, in a form easily recognizable today, emerged and took root in Rome and much of the Roman Empire.

The Church adopted many religious customs and forms common in pre-Christian Rome, such as the stole and other vestments, the use of incense and holy water in purifications, burning candles before the altar, the veneration of saints, the architecture of the basilica, the law of Rome as a basis for canon law, the title Pontifex Maximus for the Pope, and Latin as the language of Catholic ritual.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, its vast governmental network provided a structure for the Church’s ecclesiastic rule. The bishops, rather than the Roman prefects became the source of order and the seat of power. In many important ways, the Roman Catholic Church became the successor of the Roman Empire. The Church and its Pope were major stabilizing influences in Europe in the centuries that followed. In the words of historian Will Durant (in his "Caesar and Christ, The Story of Civilization"):
Rome died in giving birth to the Church; the Church matured by inheriting and accepting the responsibilities of Rome

The cultural patrimony of Roman literature, architecture and sculpture inspired many of the achievements of the Middle Ages and Renaissance in Italy and the rest of Europe. Works by poets, authors and historians, such as Ovid, Horace, Catullus, Cicero, Virgil, Livy and Tacitus had a far reaching impact on the Western world.

The legacy of Rome is clearly evident in the Western world, and elsewhere, in numerous ways, such as:
*The Roman alphabet
*Roman numerals
*Names of the planets
*Names of the months
*Names of the days of the week (in Romance-language countries)
*Julian Calendar (used for almost 1500 years)
*Systems of government and law based on Roman models
*Latin-derived languages in Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and Romania
*Languages heavily influenced by Latin, such as English (approximately 55% Latin based)
*The Roman arch in architecture
*Techniques used in building roads, bridges, aqueducts, viaducts, etc.
*Use of concrete as a building material
*The stadium & the acqueduct
*Wine-making cultures in Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Austria and Southern Germany
*Creation of political-administrative entities ( "Italia", "Hispania", "Britannia", etc…)

Medieval period

After the fall of the Roman Empire, the civilization of Italy continued to be a cultural force that helped preserve Greco-Roman civilization and ideals. Latin, the indigenous language of the Italic people, became the universal language of the Catholic Church and, generally, of culture and learning in Europe.

Western Monasticism, as first practiced by the followers of Saint Benedict, born in Nursia in 480 AD, spread from Italy to all parts of Europe. The Benedictine monks were a very important factor in preserving Greco-Roman culture and learning for later centuries. Saint Francis of Assisi (born Giovanni di Bernardone in Assisi in 1181) was a friar who founded the men's Order of Friars Minor and the women’s Order of St. Clare, both of which attracted many followers from all over Europe. He became one of the most venerated religious figures in Catholic Church history.

Statue of Dante at the "Uffizi Gallery", Florence

Saint Thomas Aquinas, a Dominican priest born in Aquino in 1225, was an influential philosopher and theologian. He was one of the greatest minds of the Middle Ages, and his influence on Western thought was immense. He was considered then, as he is now, to be the greatest theologian and philosopher of the Catholic Church. He is best known for his monumental work, the Summa Theologica.

The Gregorian Chant, an outgrowth of Roman plain chant, strongly influenced both liturgical and secular music during the Middle Ages. An Italian monk, Guido of Arezzo, developed the form of musical notation that became the basis of Western music and, subsequently, of music worldwide.

Educated people in Europe were familiar with the works of Dante and Boccaccio, which dominated the literature of the Middle Ages, and with their contemporary Petrarch, who had established the most important lyric poetry tradition in Europe. These works had a great influence on Shakespeare, Chaucer, John Milton, Tennyson and many other English writers of the Middle Ages, Renaissance and later periods. Dante's reputation grew and solidified during the Renaissance and the following Enlightenment Era: by 1865, the 600th anniversary of his birth, he had become established as one of the greatest literary icons of the Western world. Dante's "Inferno" is famous and still (in the English version) read in the contemporary so called "English speaking world" (UK, Canada, Australia, Ireland and of course the USA) to the point that the world 'inferno' is often used in normal conversations.

Students and scholars came from all over Europe to study at institutions of higher learning in Italy. The University of Bologna, the first modern university, was founded in Bologna in 1088. The University of Padua, the second oldest university in Italy, was founded in 1222 as a school of law. The University of Naples Federico II, founded in 1224, was the world's first state-supported university. The Schola Medica Salernitana, founded in the ninth century, was the world's first medical school, and unrivalled in the Middle Ages.

During the Middle Ages, the vitality of Italian merchants was evident throughout Europe, and the resultant trade prompted their invention of financial and business practices which provided the foundation for modern banking, commerce and capitalism. The original banks were "merchant banks" that Italian grain merchants first invented in the Middle Ages. Merchants and bankers grew in stature based on the strength of the Lombard plains cereal crops, and capitalism evolved based on these banks. The same word "capital" was created by Italians and is made of the latin words "caput" (meaning 'head/center') and Italia: "cap ital" - meaning the center of a nation and/or the center of economic power! Many words in banking are from the Italian language: for example, the word 'bankrupt' is a corruption of the Italian 'banca rotta', or broken bench, which is what happened when someone lost his traders' deposits; and the word 'cash' is from the Italian "cassa" (meaning "box"), the word 'money' is from Italian "moneta" (meaning "valuables"), the word 'management' is from archaic Italian ''maneggiamento" (meaning "handlement"), etc..etc...

Indeed, banking (from the Italian word 'banco' for "bench") can be traced to medieval and early Renaissance Italy, to the rich cities in the north such as Florence, Milan, Venice and Genoa. The Bardi and Peruzzi families dominated banking in 14th century Florence, establishing branches in many other parts of Europe. Perhaps the most famous Italian bank was the Medici bank, established by Giovanni Medici in 1397. The development of banking spread from northern Italy through Europe during the early Renaissance. In 1407, the Bank of Saint George, the first state-bank of deposit, was founded in Genoa and was to dominate business in the Mediterranean: it was this bank that initially financed most of the creation of the Spanish empire in the newly discovered Americas (read

1994 Italian 750-lira postage stamp commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Luca Pacioli's Summa publication on accounting & bookkeeping

Indeed Luca Pacioli -a friar mathematician born in Tuscany- is referred to as the "Father of Accounting and Bookkeeping" in Europe. He was the first person to publish a work on the double-entry system of book-keeping on the continent. Pacioli dramatically affected the practice of accounting by describing the double-entry accounting method used in parts of Italy in his masterpiece "Summa de arithmetica". This revolutionized how businesses oversaw their operations, enabling improved efficiency and profitability. His Summa's section on accounting was used internationally as an accounting textbook up to the mid-16th century. The essentials of double-entry accounting have for the most part remain unchanged for over 500 years. Historian Smith wrote that "Accounting practitioners in public accounting, industry, and not-for-profit organizations, as well as investors, lending institutions, business firms, and all other users for financial information are indebted to Luca Pacioli for his monumental role in the development of accounting".

The Renaissance

The Italian Renaissance was to a large extent an expression of Italian "Humanism", and led to one of the most productive and significant periods in human history in the arts, literature, medicine and science.

Giotto, born in 1267, was recognized as the first great artistic genius of the Italian Renaissance. His ability to portray human emotions distinguished him from the artists of the Middle Ages, and he established a style of painting that would be widely emulated in Italy and, later, elsewhere in Europe. Italian Renaissance painters and sculptors, such as Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti, and scores of others of the first rank, were greatly admired and acclaimed, and had a widespread influence on artistic concepts and esthetic standards throughout Europe.

Leonardo, born in 1452 in Vinci, was a painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer. His genius, perhaps more than that of any of his contemporaries, epitomized the creative energy of the Renaissance. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time, and his Mona Lisa is regarded by many to be the most famous painting in the world, and probably the most valuable. His anatomical drawings have never been surpassed in detail and accuracy, and are still used today. Some mechanisms he invented are used in present-day robotic systems.

Michelangelo's Pietà in St. Peter's Basilica

Michelangelo was born in Florence in 1475 and, like Leonardo, was a true Renaissance man. He was a sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art. He was considered the greatest living artist in his lifetime and, since then, one of the greatest artists of all time. His two best-known sculptures, the Pietà and David, are famous throughout the world. Michelangelo also created two of the most famous and influential frescoes in the history of Western art: the scenes from Genesis covering the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and The Last Judgment on the altar wall of the Chapel.

Italian singers, composers, dancers and actors had a great impact on music and the performing arts. Palestrina, Monteverdi and Frescobaldi were responsible for musical innovations that were seminal in the development of Western music. Italian Commedia dell'arte was an art form that had a great influence in the performing arts, not only in Italy but in many other parts of Europe as well.

The flourishing of arts in England during the Hanover dynasty attracted many Italian artists and musicians to the country. William Shakespeare is said to have exhibited Italophilia in his many works with an Italian setting, such as Romeo and Juliet and The Merchant of Venice. Spenser was greatly influenced by Italian epic poems.

Francis I, king of France, initiated the French Renaissance by attracting many Italian artists, including Leonardo da Vinci, to his court. French theatre of the 17th century was rooted in the theatre of 16th-century Italy. Poland was strongly influenced by Italian artisans, painters, sculptors and architects, such as the sculptor, Giammaria Mosca, whose many commissions included the tomb of the king of Poland.

The Spanish writer, Cervantes, was greatly influenced by Italian literature, which is readily discernible in his own works. Spanish theatre of the 17th century was strongly influenced by Italian models.

Italy was a center of commerce and Italian merchants and navigators, such as the Venetian Marco Polo, and the "Italian maritime republics" moved all around the known world. The Genoese explorer Cristoforo Colombo (Columbus) discovered America in 1492, changing world history forever. Another Italian navigator, Amerigo Vespucci, was the source of the name given to the New World. They were followed by other New World navigators from the Italian peninsula, notably the Neapolitans Giovanni Caboto (John Cabot) and Sebastiano Caboto, and the Florentine Giovanni da Verrazzano.

It is noteworthy to pinpoint that three countries in the Americas have their names related to Italy: Colombia (from Columbus), Argentina (from argento, as is called silver in Italian) and Venezuela (from Venezia, as is called Venice in Italy)

Age of Enlightenment

During the 17th and 18th centuries, Italy was an integral part of the European Grand Tour, a period in which learned and wealthy foreign, usually British, German or American, aristocrats visited the country due to its artistic, cultural and archaeological richness. Examples included Goethe, Keats, Lord Byron and Shelley. As a matter of fact, most nobles and royals at the time visited Italy as a part of their education. Keats said that the country was a "paradise of exiles".

In the same centuries, the development of Italian music created many italophiles in western Europe. Indeed Italian innovation in musical scales, harmony, notation, and theatre enabled the development of Opera in the late 16th century, and much of modern European classical music, such as the Symphony and Concerto.

The most renowned figure of late 18th century opera was the italophile Mozart, who began with "opera seria" but is most famous for his Italian comic operas, especially The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni, and Così fan tutte, as well as The Magic Flute, a landmark in the German tradition.

The Victorian era in Great Britain saw Italophilic tendencies. Britain supported its own version of the imperial Pax Romana ("Roman Peace"), called Pax Britannica. John Ruskin was a Victorian Italophile who respected & appreciated the concepts of morality held in Italy.

Germany under Chancellor Otto von Bismarck copied Pax Britannica and Pax Romana and sought to create Pax Germanica in Europe.

Beginning in the 16th century, most of the Italian states came under the political control of more powerful European monarchies; however, Italy continued to be a source of creative energy in art, science, music and medicine. Enlightenment thinkers, like Renaissance thinkers, were interested in pre-Christian Greek and Roman thought.

Galileo Galilei, the founder of modern science

Galileo, born in 1564 in Pisa, was the most famous scientist of his age, and played a major role in the Scientific Revolution. He is often referred to as the “Father of Modern Science.” His achievements include a greatly improved telescope, which he employed in making astronomical observations supporting the heliocentric theory of Copernicus; and also the experiments he carried out leading to his law of falling bodies, which was of key importance in Newton’s synthesis of his own famous three laws of motion.

Bonaventura Cavalieri, a Jesuit priest and mathematician, born in 1598, is known for his work on indivisibles, a precursor of infinitesimal calculus, and for Cavalieri's principle in geometry, which partially anticipated integral calculus.

Italians such as Fallopio, Eustachi, Malpighi, Morgagni and Valsalva were important pioneers of modern anatomy at the University of Bologna and University of Padua, which drew students from all over Europe. Padua's famous anatomical theatre was renowned in Europe at the time, and the great English medical scientist William Harvey received his education there.

Cesare Beccaria, a philosopher, jurist and marquis wrote "On Crimes and Punishments" (1754), dealing with the abolition of torture and capital punishment, which had a great impact throughout Europe and in the United States. It strongly influenced intellectuals and politicians in the age of enlightenment, and led to a revolution and reform of judiciary systems to the prevailing modern concept. In 1786, Grand Duchy of Tuscany was the first to abolish capital punishment.

Giordano Bruno had a great influence on 17th-century scientific and philosophical thought and, ever since, his ideals have been absorbed by many philosophers. Bruno's freedom of thought inspired European liberal movements of the 19th century. The significance of Bruno’s work lies in his cosmological theories, which anticipated some fundamental aspects of the modern concept of the universe; his ethical ideas, in contrast with religious ascetical ethics, which appealed to modern humanistic activism; and his ideals of religious and philosophical tolerance.

Giambattista Vico was a political philosopher, rhetorician, historian, and jurist, who is recognized as one of the great Enlightenment thinkers. He criticized the expansion and development of modern rationalism and was an apologist of classical antiquity. His major work, Scienza Nuova, published in 1725, has been highly influential in the philosophy of history, into the 20th-century.

Opera originated in Italy at the end of the 16th century (with the opera "Dafne", which was composed by Jacopo Peri, and produced in Florence in 1598), and soon spread to the rest of Europe. Italian opera was adapted by French, German and Russian composers, who developed their own national schools of opera.

Italian instrumental music was studied and emulated all over Europe. The sonata, concerto, sinfonia, oratorio and other musical forms all originated in Italy. Italian terminology defining the tempo and mood of a musical passage was universally adopted in Western music. The music of Italian composers, such as Corelli, Scarlatti, and Vivaldi, was studied or transcribed by many other composers of the day, most notably Bach. In addition, many composers, such as Handel, Gluck and Mozart studied or worked in Italy, and subsequently became famous for their instrumental music and operas.

The Fortepiano, the fore-runner of the modern Piano, was invented by Bartolomeo Cristofori in Florence around 1725, and soon replaced the harpsichord as a solo and ensemble keyboard instrument. The family of stringed instruments, consisting of the violin, viola, cello and contrabass evolved in Italy in the mid 16th century. Antonio Stradivari, Andrea Guarneri, Nicolo Amati and other master instrument makers crafted stringed instruments that were highly prized, widely imitated, but never equaled.

The education of upper-class young man was expected to be completed by a "Grand Tour" of Italy to be exposed to the visible legacies of its classical culture, as well as to its contemporary culture of music, literature, art and architecture. Famous examples included Goethe, Keats, Lord Byron and Shelley. Many of the nobility and royalty of the time visited Italy as a part of their education. Keats said that the country was a "paradise of exiles”. John Ruskin was a Victorian Italophile who respected and appreciated the concepts of morality held in Italy.

Italian universities and medical schools attracted students and scholars from across Europe. Luminaries, such as Copernicus and Harvey, were educated in Italy. The University of Bologna, the first modern university, was a leading center of mathematical studies in the 16th and 17th centuries, and it was there that Niccolò Fontana Tartaglia developed the method of solving cubic equations, an achievement previously considered impossible. Extending Tartaglia’s work, Lodovico Ferrari devised a similar method to solve quartic equations, and both solutions were published by Gerolamo Cardano. The solutions to the cubic and quartic equations used, for the first time, what are now known as complex numbers, although it was another Bologna mathematician, Rafael Bombelli, who first explained what complex numbers are, and how they could be used. Complex numbers have since found practical applications in many fields, including physics, chemistry, biology, economics, electrical engineering, and statistics. Later, Cardano published the first systematic treatment of probability.

The US president Thomas Jefferson was a declared italophile who admired Palladio's architecture and created his own "Monticello" imitating him and the Roman Pantheon. The photo shows the "Jefferson Memorial", that was built in 1938 in Washington (USA) as an evident copy of the Pantheon in the "Eternal City"

At the end of the eighteenth century, Italophilia was not uncommon among the founders of the United States, and some of the creators of the U.S. Constitution, such as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, looked to Roman models upon which to base the American systems of government and law. The founding fathers were also interested in Renaissance political thinkers and humanists like Machiavelli, and how Italian republics functioned.

Jefferson was among the most conspicuous of the early American Italophiles. He was especially impressed with Italian architecture, and based the design of his Virginia residence, Monticello, on prints by Palladio, the 16th-century Italian architect. The "Jefferson Memorial" in Washington DC, erected in honor of Jefferson, is a neo-Palladian imitation of the famous "Pantheon" in Rome. The Palladian style of architecture appears elsewhere in the U.S. Capital, and the White House itself was inspired by it. (Congressional Resolution n. 259 of 6 December 2010 recognized Palladio as "Father of American Architecture".)

The influence of Italian culture and artistry during this era is expressed by the academic Barzini:
Italian architects and masons built part of the Kremlin in Moscow, and the Winter Palace in Leningrad. Italian artists embellished the Capital in Washington. They have strewn churches, princely palaces and stately villas all over Catholic Europe, especially in Vienna, Madrid, Prague and Warsaw. Their influence on architecture was felt almost everywhere.They also taught poetry, statesmanship and trade to the English; military art to the Germans; cuisine to the French; acting and ballet to the Russians; and music to everyone.

XX century era

Italy -after the unification of 1861- was able in only half a century to create an "Italian empire", that went from Libya to Somalia/Eritrea/Ethiopia and reached Tientsin in China. The first accomplishment done by the Italians was the abolition of slavery in those territories: even now many natives (like in Somalia) remember with nostalgia the progress experienced by their countries in those years and show some form of italophilia.

Winston Churchill was a pen-pal of Benito Mussolini until the late 1930s, appreciating his Fascism fights against the Communism in western Europe: he showed some form of italophilia when commented positively in the British parliament about the Italian conquest of the last territory in Africa not ruled by Europeans (Ethiopia in 1936). Only when Mussolini fell in the hands of the crazy Hitler's Nazism after 1938, he rejected this friendship.

Additionally we must remember that Adolf Hitler was an admirer of Benito Mussolini and Italian Fascism: during the Fascist era, several leaders in Europe, including Hitler (Germany), Franco (Spain) and Salazar (Portugal), modeled their government and economic system on Italian Fascism. The admiration and imitation of Italian Fascism also became popular in South America and to a lesser extent Asia. The parties and organizations associated with these leaders also adopted the Roman salute. Perón's admiration for Mussolini is well documented. Many scholars categorize "Peronism" in Argentina as a fascist ideology. Carlos Fayt believes that Peronism was just "an Argentine implementation of Italian fascism". Hayes reaches the conclusion that "the Peronist movement produced a form of fascism that was distinctively Latin American".

After WWII, Italy has enjoyed a huge economic development and is currently admired for many reasons. Between the most famous are the Ferrari cars and the Italian design.

Photo of 22 Ferrari used in F1 racecars competences

There are millions of Ferrari fans in the world and many of them are italophiles.

The Italian fashion is admired all around the world: brands like Gucci and Benetton are imitated by many designers from China to Latin America. Indeed, many Italophiles in the world buy from major Italian fashion houses like Armani, Valentino, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Ferragamo, Trussardi, Versace and Fendi.

Actually italophilia is actively fostered by organizations such as the Order Sons of Italy in America, the National Italian American Foundation, the Dante Alighieri Society and the Italic Institute of America.

Contemporary important Italians, appreciated by the italophiles

After Napoleon times there has been a huge number of Italians who are important worldwide and are admired by the italophiles. In 1861 Italy was united for the first time since the fall of the Roman Empire and became a modern industrialized country, where the tradition of creativity, scientific achievement and excellence in manufacturing continued. Here it is a brief list of the most important Italians of contemporary Italy:

*Guglielmo Marconi, a pioneer in the development of wireless telegraphy and long-distance radio transmissions. He is credited as the inventor of the "radio", and received the 1909 Nobel Prize in Physics.

*Enrico Fermi, pioneer of nuclear power, is the creator of the world's first nuclear reactor, the Chicago Pile-1. He has been called the "architect of the nuclear age" and the "architect of the atomic bomb".

*Giuseppe Garibaldi, a central figure in achieving Italian independence, was called the "Hero of Two Worlds" because of his military enterprises to achieve independence for countries in South America as well. Garibaldi was admired by many of the greatest intellectuals of his time, such as Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, and George Sand.

*Maria Montessori, born in 1870, was a physician and educator who became known around the world for the educational method that bears her name, and for her writings on pedagogy. Her methods are in use today in schools throughout the world.

*Toward the end of the 19th century, mathematicians Gregorio Ricci-Curbastro and Tullio Levi-Civita developed tensor calculus, which provided the mathematical framework for Einstein's General Theory of Relativity in the early 20th century.

*Alessandro Volta in 1800 created the first battery. His findings were published by the Royal Society of London in their prestigious journal. The "Volt", the basic unit of electromotive force, was named in his honor. Volta invented the first true electrical battery, known as the voltaic pile. It provided a continuous source of electric current, which greatly benefitted Ampere, Ohm and other electrical experimenters in their development of basic electrical theory.

*Ascanio Sobrero -a doctor and chemist- is remembered as the discovered of nitroglycerine, which lead to Alfred Nobel's invention of dynamite in 1866. Nitroglycerine is also used as a heat medication.

*Pirandello, a Nobel Laureate, was the first European playwright in the early 20th century to radically question the structures of traditional theatre. Since then, film directors and writers such as Fellini, Antonioni, Pasolini, Calvino, Eco and Fo have been recognized around the world. Italian neorealism in films, beginning after the second world war, had a great impact on audiences around the world, and established a new philosophy of filmmaking adopted worldwide.

*The legacy of Italian scientists Majorana (nuclear fusion), Meucci (telephone), and Marconi (radio), whose discoveries and inventions transformed the world, is widely recognized. At the same time that German scientists were making major advancements in physics, beginning with Max Planck, Italian scientists like Fermi's Via Panisperna group in Rome were making important fundamental discoveries in physics as well.

Photo of the first public flight of a jet-engined aircraft in History, done by the Italian "Caproni Campini N.1" on August 27, 1940

*Secondo Campini, an engineer, in 1931 wrote a proposal for the Italian Air Ministry on the value of jet propulsion and in 1932 demonstrated a jet-powered boat in Venice. With support of the Air Ministry, he began work with Italian aircraft manufacturer Caproni to develop a jet plane, the Campini Caproni CC.2, which as a prototype was created in 1938. The first public flight of a jet-engined aircraft was that of his Italian "Caproni Campini N.1" on August 27, 1940. It was briefly regarded as the first successful jet-powered aircraft in History.

*Pier Giorgio Perotto: Italian companies have developed products that are of fundamental importance in contemporary society, such as the Olivetti-developed transistorized mainframe computer systems (Olivetti Elea) and, in 1964, the world's first commercial desktop computer, the Programma 101, invented by Perotto.

*Gucci, Benetton, Armani, Valentino, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Ferragamo and Versace are fashion creators that are known worldwide. Today, Italy is admired throughout the world for its design, particularly in the areas of fashion and manufactured goods.

*Enzo Ferrari, a worldwide famous engineer, has created the most famous race-cars in the world, the "Ferrari", admired by millions of fans (in many cases italophiles). The "Ferrari" is the most successful team in the history of Formula One racing, contesting every World Championship season since 1950, winning 15 Drivers' Championships and 16 Constructors' Championships until 2015. Ferrari won the 24 Hours of Le Mans 6 years in a row from 1960 to 1965. In automobile design, the brand names Ferrari, Lamborghini, Alfa Romeo and Maserati are known and admired throughout the world. In Britain in the 1960s the emerging mod subculture championed Italian and French design, with mods adopting the "Vespa" GS and the "Lambretta" LI 150 motor scooters as their preferred means of transport as well as wearing Italian-designed clothes and shoes, and had a lasting effect - Britain remains Vespa's largest market outside of Italy. Italian design and manufacturing in furniture, architecture and interior design is appreciated worldwide.

*Renzo Piano, a famous architect, has designed important modern buildings such as Centre Pompidou in Paris and Kansai International Airport in Osaka. Architect and designer Giò Ponti was a pioneer in industrial design, and inspired many other Italian designers who have established the Italian image of design excellence in the world. Designers such as Ettore Sottsass, and his Memphis Group of designers, are famous for creating postmodern furniture, fabrics, ceramics, glass and metal objects; and lighting manufacturer Artemide is famous for lamps which transcend their common use as objects, and are nowadays considered cult manufacturing artworks, collected in Museums of Modern Art.

Finally, it is noteworthy to remember that Italy was the fourth country in the world to build nuclear power plants, starting in 1955 (now decommissioned due to a popular referendum in 1987), and the third, after The United States and The Soviet Union, to launch a scientific earth satellite in the 1964 San Marco programme, using an American Scout missile as the launch vehicle. The "Broglio Space Centre" of Italy, located on a sea platform offshore the Kenya coast is the only example of a spacecraft launch center built on a floating sea platform.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018


A topic that is not well studied by academics is the Israeli Navy creation -thanks to the "Civitavecchia Maritime School" (called sometimes in Israel: "Betar Navy Academy")- with help from Fascist Italy in the 1930s. Many of us don't know that Mussolini had links with the Jewish of Italy, when he started his political movement that was later called "Fascism".

In October 1933 there were 4920 Italian Jews who were members of the Italian Fascist Party, nearly 10% of all the Jews living in Italy (please read the interesting essay in Italian:

Jewish Cadets of the Civitavecchia Maritime School near the "Sarah I" stern in 1937
Indeed one of the main fascist authorities was Maurizio Rava, who was governor of Italian Somalia. He was one of the many members of the "Fascist Party" (like Italo Balbo, Gabriele D'Annunzio, Guglielmo Marconi, Giovanni Gentile, to name a few of the most important) who did not like -and tried to reject, but sadly failed- the Mussolini union with the Hitler Nazism after 1936.

Maurizio Rava was born in a Jewish family in Milan. He enthusiastically joined the "National Fascist Party" ('Partito Fascista' in Italian language) during World War I: in 1919 he was a cofounder of the "Fascio" of Roma. In the EARLY 1930s Rava was vice-Governor of Italian Libya and a general in the fascist militia. From 1 July 1931 to 6 March 1935 Rava was the "Governor" of Italian Somalia. But in the late 1930s he faced problems within the party because of Nazi Germany's influences against Italian Jews. However he was always respected by the fascists (read: ). After being nominated "senator", he died in 1941 because of wounds received in Italian Libya, when was a general of brigade fighting the British. In the last years of his life he was very close to Italo Balbo (the second in charge in fascist Italy after Mussolini) and promoted some links with the Israeli Navy.

Links to Jabotinsky Revisionism

Indeed Rava was linked to Jabotinsky (the main leader of the "Zionist Revisionism") who promoted the "Betar" (youth organization of the Revisionism) and who did the 1931 Betar Conference where was decided to promote the so called "maritime idea" of the 'Rodegal association' (read in Italian: ). In this conference the captain Irmiyahu Helpern was allowed to create a jewish "group for maritime selfdefense", that was to be prepared in the Italian navy school of Civitavecchia (located near Rome). Maurizio Bendes, responsible for the Betar in Italy, started to contact the Italian authorities for the authorization to open a section school for Jews in the Civitavecchia military compound.

The Jewish Italian Revisionists obtained the official approval from the Italian admiral Thaon de Revel in January 1935. The same Mussolini agreed with this request since early 1934 and welcomed the contacts with the Jewish organizations (previously he had met 3 times with the Jewish leader Chaim Weizmann). Mussolini never met Jabotinski (who has been a student at the Sapienza University of Rome law school and always showed sympathies for the Italian Fascism before it suffered the influence of Hitler). Jabotinski ordered to the young Jewish members of the "Betar" the use of "brown shirts" similar to the "black shirts" of Mussolini, and was nicknamed the "Revisionism Duce" (LEONE CARPI, "Come e dove rinacque la Marina d'Israele, la scuola marittima del Bethar a Civitavecchia" - Nemi, Roma 1965)

Jewish Cadets over the Sarah I masts in the 1938 Tunisia voyage

In 1933 the Italian Foreign ministry (Mussolini was also Foreign Minister) began writing documents arguing that a possible Jewish state would be in the Kingdom of Italy's best interests, against British control of Palestine and the Middle East .

Although Jabotinsky had still not been able to arrange a meeting with Mussolini it became clear that the Italian government did view the Revisionists as potential ideological partners at the end of 1933. It was this change that facilitated the creation of the Betar Naval Academy in the Italian port city of Civitavecchia.

Nicola Fusco, the nominal head of the Academy, was administrative secretary of the local Fascist Party and the relationship between the cadets and the fascist establishment was close.

Indeed Alberto Bianco in 2003 wrote the « Les Sionistes Révisionnistes et l’Italie » (Bulletin du Centre de recherche français à Jerusalem: ), showing clearly this relationship. The following are excerpts translated from French:
Moreover, Jabotinsky wants the cruise to serve the propaganda of the Jewish Navy. He is convinced that it is in the interest of the Italian government that this cruise be conducted under the auspices of the fascist regime. But he is also aware that after the problems have occurred, it is necessary to obtain the agreement of the authorities before starting this second trip. The Directorate General of the Merchant Navy asks for the authorization, informing the excellent results obtained by the students and the extreme recognition of the young of the Betar with regard to the regime. In addition, she asks that the students can cruise aboard the Sara I along the Italian coast, stopping only in the foreign ports of Nice and Marseille. She also recalled that previous trips made in April 1936 had not caused any problem. Mussolini gives his authorization on October 20, 1936. The start of the second cruise also looks like a grand ceremony. The speech delivered by Isacco Sciaky is indicative of his attachment to Zionism and fascism: "Students! Greet the Italian flag flying on your Jewish boat. Always remember what Fascist Italy has given you!...The waters of "Mare Judaicum" will mix amicably with the waters of the "Mare Nostrum" of Italy

Brief History of the Academy

In October 1934, the first 28 Jewish official students arrived in Civitavecchia to be trained in the Maritime School; in the next three years there will be almost 200 graduates. On the uniforms they carried an anchor, the Menorah (the seven-branched candlestick) and the lictorian bundle, and in some official ceremonies they hailed in Roman style, as recalled by the then group leader Avram Blass, later become admiral of the Israeli Navy.

In 1936 the Second Course began, inaugurated by the Chief Rabbi of Rome. Meanwhile, a 60-meter motor sailboat was also purchased, the 'Quattro Venti', renamed "Sarah I", which in the summer of that same year sailed towards Palestine, where it was welcomed with great celebrations by the Jewish community. It is the first merchant of the modern history of Israel.

The "Sarah I" in the Mediterranean sea in 1938

First commander of the "Sara I" was a professor of the school, Tiberio Paone. The second course was inaugurated on March 29, 1936, in the presence of the Chief Rabbi of Rome. The members increase considerably, going up to 52, with the Poles who were the largest group. The second educational cruise is limited to the Italian ports and the French airports of Nice and Marseille.

In February 1937, Commander Fusco was invited to London to meet with the leaders of the Zionist movement, including Jabotinsky, and some businessmen. There was a discussion about the creation of a Jewish fishing port to exploit the sea in front of the coasts of Palestine.

The third course opened in February 1937 with about seventy students. In the lessons were introduced fishing concepts. In order for the students to receive practical fishing lessons, a trawler, renamed "Neca", was purchased at a judicial auction in Porto Santo Stefano. It was then joined by a smaller one, the "Lea". The cruise of summer 1937 had Palestine as a destination, where at the arrival of "Sarah I" grand celebrations were unleashed in honor of the students of the school. The Palestine Post reported that visitors from Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and the settlements visited the ship to greet the "Jewish seagoing pioneers".

But in 1938 the school had to close after the fourth course was held. The sad reason: Mussolini government has now changed its political acceptance towards Judaism, under the terrible influence of Adolf Hitler and his Nazism. But the courses were very successful and the Revisionists also contacted in December 1935 and in April 1937 the Italian consulate in Haifa to see if they could send some youths to train with the Italian air Force (The Jews in Fascist Italy; p.262 )

Future commanders of Israeli Navy and the start of "Skayetet 13"

However in those few years the Academy trained nearly 200 Jewish cadets from all over Europe, Palestine and South Africa and produced some of the future commanders of the Israeli Navy.

A few of these cadets were successively trained by an Italian fascist sailor named Fiorenzo Capriotti to use Italian explosive motorboats and obtained an important sinking during the 1948 Israeli war of independence: the Israelis deployed an underwater demolition commando unit with high speed torpedo boats, that was the first military action of the special unit called "Skayetet 13".

Indeed in late October 1948, the Israeli Navy performed a feat of daring and resourcefulness. For some days a flotilla of Egyptian vessels had been coming very close to the Tel-Aviv coastline. This included the flagship of the Egyptian Navy, the "Emir Farouk". For a number of days the Israeli and Egyptian Navies had been acting in a threatening manner which was liable to escalate at any time. This mini-escalation took place amidst the largest israeli offensive of the war -Opeation Yoav, which was a major Israeli advance into the Negev, all the way down to Eilat and the Red Sea. The Emir Farouk's actions were seen as a threat to Operation Yoav and the Israel General Staff ordered action. The Emir Farouk was to be sunk.

Photo showing the Italian explosive motorboats used to sink the "Emir Farouk"
We have to pinpoint that in March 1948 David Ben-Gurion ordered Ze'ev HaYam (literally, "Sea Wolf"), one of the main figures in Israel's early navy and merchant marine, to go to Italy to find ships that could be procured for the naval service. While Ze'ev HaYam procured two large motor boats and two landing craft, he wanted to acquire the Decima Flottiglia MAS's MT explosive motorboats that had been used in the "Raid on Souda Bay (Crete)" to ram into and destroy larger ships. Ze'ev HaYam believed that these boats could turn the tide of the war. With the help of a relative and Ben-Gurion's consent, he bought six refurbished boats for $3,000 each from an ailing Italian factory, and while the factory owners were told what the boats were for, to the outside they were disguised as racing boats. In June the MT explosive motorboats were deployed in the "Sea of Galilea" lake and there Capriotti (who had received a silver medal for sinking a British destroyer in 1941 using these boats) trained a "commando" group of Israelis to use this navy weapon.

However this would not be an easy operation. The Emir Farouk moved about with two ships for escort, including a minesweeper, "and both usually stayed within protective range of coastal batteries." The small Israeli Navy could not sink it with conventional methods. So, a small assault force would have to be found: it was - a specially trained group of naval commandos using special Italian torpedo-ships.

They had four specially designed crafts filled with explosives which were intended to carry their operator to within 100 yards of their target. From there, the operator would aim his craft at the enemy ship, set the ship speeding off towards its target, and then seconds later, jump out, his legs attached to a flotation device. From there the craft worked something like a torpedo.

On October 22, 1948 the four boats were assembled for action. The first one took aim, fired, and the operator ejected well before the boat struck the Emir Farouk and detonated. The operator was safe, and the Emir Farouk was now badly damaged, but not destroyed. A second boat opted to have another go at the Emir Farouk. The impact and detonation broke the ship in two. Minutes later, it sank.

This was a tremendous feat for the young Israeli Navy.

Some years later, Capriotti was awarded by Israeli authorities, even if he has recently been a member of the neofascist party of Italy called MSI (Fiorenzo Capriotti, "Diario di un fascista alla Corte di Gerusalemme", 2002).

Wikipedia article

The following are excerpts taken from the Wikipedia article "Betar Naval Academy":

"The Revisionists and Italy"

Italy was a source of ideological, historical and cultural inspiration for the Zionist Revisionists of the 1920s and 1930s.The country under Mussolini was seen as a historical reminder of the roots of the Jewish people and as a contemporary example of a once glorious culture reclaiming its role in the world through the affirmation of power and national pride. From the early 1930s onwards Jabotinsky believed that the United Kingdom could no longer be trusted to advance the Zionist cause and that Italy, as a growing power capable of challenging Britain for dominance in the region, was a natural ally. Jabotinsky had been scheduled to meet Benito Mussolini as early as 1922, but for various reasons the meeting did not take place. However, in a letter to Mussolini, Jabotinsky attempted to win his support for the Zionist cause by arguing that for cultural reasons Italy's pro-Arab policy was misguided.Jabotinsky predicted that Italy and the Arabs would inevitably come into conflict and that a Jewish state in the Middle East could act as a buffer between Europe, Asia and Africa. In the second half of the 1920s Revisionism became a growing force among Italian Zionists and the first branch of the movement, the Raggruppamento d'Italia, was founded in 1925. In 1930 the first issues of Leone Carpi's L'Idea Sionistica advanced an anti-British stance and in 1932 the first Revisionist Zionist conference in Italy took place in Milan.

"Mussolini and the Revisionists"

In 1933 the Italian foreign ministry (Mussolini was also foreign minister) began circulating internal policy documents arguing that a strong Jewish state would be in Italy's best interests. Although Jabotinsky had still not been able to arrange a meeting with Mussolini it became clear that the Italian government did view the Revisionists as potential ideological partners. It was this change that facilitated the creation of the Betar Naval Academy in the Italian port city of Civitavecchia. Nicola Fusco, the nominal head of the Academy, was administrative secretary of the local Fascist Party and the relationship between the cadets and the fascist establishment was close. This was perhaps seen most clearly following the drowning of a cadet in 1935. On 28 May 1935 the Italian newspaper Popolo di Roma's report on the funeral ceremony illustrated the closeness of the relationship: an emotional commemoration took place on board the Italian ship the Domenico, which was flying its flag at half mast; all of the cadets were present, as were Halpern, Fusco, the mayor's representative, the port supervisor and all of the cadets from Lazio naval academy. The paper reported: "In the place where the accident occurred, the dead cadet's comrades prayed according to their own tradition, performed a military ceremony, and tossed a bouquet of flowers to the sea. All who were present then performed the Saluto Romano with their heads uncovered." In a clear expression of the solidarity between the Revisionist Academy and the Italian military the official publication of the Italian professional maritime schools, the Bollettino del Consorzio Scuole Profesionali per la Maestranza Maritima, stated, "In agreement of all the relevant authorities it has been confirmed that the views and the political and social inclinations of the Revisionists are known and that they are absolutely in accordance with the fascist doctrine. Therefore, as our students they will bring the Italian and fascist culture to Palestine."

See also (Jews in Campagna internment camp)

Sunday, October 7, 2018


Dalmatia is a region south of the Istria peninsula that was populated by fully Romanized Illirians at the end of the Western Roman Empire. These neolatin inhabitants in the early Middle Ages created the Dalmatian City-States, later assimilated by the Republic of Venice and so fully Italianized: this continuity of Dalmatia's Italians was antagonized since the seventh century by the Slavs, who slowly made disappear -for a group of reasons and circumstances- those Dalmatian Italians. But before their disappearance there were important Dalmatian Italians in History: Niccolo Tommaseo (the creator of the first Italian dictionary was born in Sebenico), Antonio Bajamonti (the famous 1865-1880 mayor of "Spalato italiana", who desperately tried to save the historical Italian rule of his city), Arturo Colautti (a famous journalist/writer who was one of the first supporters of the union of Dalmatia to Italy), Antonio Tacconi (leader of Italian irredentism who masterminded the creation of the "Governorato di Dalmazia") and many others left their legacy in the history of the Italian people.

Historically the disappearance started with the barbarian invasions (of the Avars and Slavs) of the eight century, that forced the autochthonous population of the Roman Dalmatians to take refuge in the Dalmatian islands and in some city-islands near the coast (like Ragusa, Trau and Zara, now called Dubrovnik, Trogir and Zadar). These "Adriatic" areas were nearly all romance-speaking until the "Duecento" (XIII century), when started the Ottoman invasion of the Balkan peninsula. Since then the Republic of Venice -that ruled the region until the Dinaric Alps for many centuries- was forced to accept many refugees (mostly Slavs, but also a lot of Slavicized Vlachs called "Morlachs") from the Muslim conquered regions of the western Balkans and soon the newly arrived become majority in the coastal region. When Napoleon conquered the Republic of Venice in 1797, the Italian linguist Bartoli calculated that in the "Dalmatian Venetia" more than two thirds of the population was Croatian speaking (with pockets of Serbian speaking areas): the Dalmatian Italians were a minority of less than 33% of the total Dalmatian population and were concentrated in the main cities. Because of higher fertility rate and further emigration toward the relatively rich and developed Dalmatian coast from the poor inland mountain regions, the Slavs in the first half of the XIX century become more than 80% of the Dalmatian population. The Austrian census done in 1857 registered -south of the Quarnero islands (Cherso, Lussino, Veglia and Arbe, now called Chres, Losinj, Krk and Rab)- 45,000 Dalmatian Italians (nearly all in the islands and in the main cities, where they were the majority in some towns like Zara and Veglia) and 369,310 Slavs: the romance speaking population of coastal Dalmatia was reduced to less than 20%! Since then started to appear the Croatian nationalism, soon in fight with the Italian nationalism: in one century and half of wars and political battles of every kind the Dalmatian Italians disappeared (being reduced in the Croatian census of 2011 to a few hundreds in an area that has nearly one million inhabitants!). This fact has originated the suspicion that the disappearance of the Dalmatian Italians could be related to an "ethnocide" (read in Italian:

There it is in Italian language an interesting essay (of the Italian "National League") about the Italians of Dalmatia, which documents in quite detail their process of disappearance first under Austria and then under Yugoslavia. Here it the translation in English language:




Venice, after the year 1000 AD, for three centuries had made its presence in Dalmatia every year more and more incisive, although opposed by the rebellions of the coastal "neolatin" Dalmatian cities and by the pretensions of Hungary. So from 1409 - with the Venice's "Santa Intrada", meaning "saint entrance" in Dalmatia as it will be remembered - until 1797 Venice exercised continuously the full sovereignty on nearly all the Dalmatia coast from the Istria peninsula until what is now the coast of Montenegro.

Niccolo Tommaseo (Sebenico 1802-1874), father of Italian linguistics
During the four centuries of its undisputed dominion, the Republic of Venice with the "cagnide morlacche" (or vlachs slavicised soldiers)- which over time would have been transformed into the Slav militia - had rejected the Turks (wars of Candia and Morea) who were also pressing along the chain of the Bedie Alps (Velebit) and of the Dinarics mountains.

In those territories devastated by the Ottoman raids that came under the walls of Zara, depopulated by wars & famine, the Venetian Republic granted hospitality and assigned fields and lands to Bosnians, Vlach "Morlacchi", Erzegovesi and Serbs who escaped from the Turk.

While the cities along the coast preserved their "Venetianity" and their autochthonous romance language, the countryside became the seat of Slav populations who -progressively, entering in contact with the inhabitants of the maritime centers- adapted themselves to the local customs and rules (but maintained their Slav language). By the XVII century because of huge demographic increase the Slavs were soon majority, outnumbering -in the "Venetian Dalmatia" - the autochthonous Dalmatian Italians outside of the main cities.

Some venetians -and Italians- moved to live in Dalmatia in those centuries and helped to assimilate the Dalmatian neolatins inside the Italian cultural world that was experiencing the "Rinascimento" (Italian Renaissance), but their presence was only in the main cities and in some islands (like Lissa and those of the Quarnaro), while minimal in the countryside distant from the coast.

The first 40 years of Austrian domination

Two hundred years ago, Dalmatia with the Treaty of Campoformio (1797) passed to Austria which, excluding the French parenthesis (1806-1813) when Dalmatia was part of the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy, would remain there until November 4, 1918.

Vienna, in the first forty years respected the Venetianness of this province, and administered it like the other Italian possessions of the Monarchy.

In May 1818, the "Council of Government of Dalmatia", while noting that "the inhabitants of the mountainous area and those of the maritime side were profoundly dissimilar for their customs, inclinations, occupations, aspects, and language", instead of administering with a military government - as proposed by Vienna - and the others with a civilian one, promoted the opportunity to "blend in a homogeneous people the two indigenous peoples so deeply alien from each other".

On 4 August 1821, with Sovereign Resolution, the Emperor dispose that the Municipalities of Dalmatia - with the exclusion of the Càttaro circle - were governed by structures and with similar criteria to those of the Municipalities of Lombardy-Veneto.The discussion of how much administrative interest was in Dalmatia was the responsibility of the "Aulica Chancellery for the affairs of Italy", and the laws and decrees carried the words: "Valid for the Kingdom of Lombard Veneto and Dalmatia".

The events of 1848

The first turning point in the history of Italians in Dalmatia occurred in 1848 with the affirmation of the principle of nationality.

In that year, the Venetian-Dalmatians loyal to San Marco (I "Marcolini") heard the call of the reborn Republic and participated in the defense of Venice enlisting in a military unit, the "Istrian-Dalmatian Legion". They were over three hundred. They came from all the cities of the coast and with them, from the Dinaric mountains inside Dalmatia, also sons and nephews of the faithful Schiavoni of 1797.They not only fought - [six died] - but assumed the highest responsibilities. - Niccolò Tommaseo from Sebenico and Leone Graziani from Spalato were triumviris. The Marquis Paulucci delle Roncole, from Zara, became minister of the Navy, then of the War. Matteo Ballovich from Perasto, superintendent of the Navy. Enrico Germani, from Sebenico, transport commander and member of the War Council. Vincenzo Solitro, from Spalato, member of the Assembly. Angelo Minich, from Cattaro, Head of the health service.

Four were the Dalmatians "proscribed" by Austria - Niccolò Tommaseo from Sebenico, Don Luca Lazaneo from Brazza, Count Demetrio Mircovich from Bocche di Cattaro, Federico Seismit-Doda from Ragusa.

In 1848, at the same time, Austria had the "insurrection of Vienna", with the request of constitutional laws and freedom of the press.In those years (1848-1849), despite exceptional ferments, while the Dalmatian-Venetians fought in Venice, and in the cities of the coast was constituted the "Civic Guard" which raised the Tricolor as its flag, the Dalmatian Croats with the the exception of some intellectuals abstained from any political activity.

On the other hand were very active those from Zagreb, where the "Illirism" of Gaj and Count Draskovic, as well as the theories of an "historical law" in support of an alleged "Trialistic Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia-Dalmatia", had found a more fertile ground.In Vienna, on March 17, 1848, Emperor Ferdinand granted the Constitution. Eight days later, the Croats in Zagreb, meeting in their Assembly, approved the so-called "national program". At the third point the union of Dalmatia was requested for Croatia.The Municipality of Spalato, as soon as it knew the content of the "national program", addressed a "supplication" to the Emperor asking that "Dalmatia, which for more than six centuries has always been treated, and also treats its public affairs, in Italian language, - that is taught in schools and is spoken and written almost exclusively in all the towns and villages of the coast and the islands and also in many Mediterranean countries - and in which there are everywhere, especially in the cities, families of Italian origin with customs and Italian customs, it could only be part of the Italian Section of Austrian State".

The Croats presented the "national program" to the Emperor on March 31st. Immediately also the Dalmatians-Italians present in Vienna, with an "address" to the Sovereign protested "against any proposal or deliberate that it was done in the name of Dalmatia, without the intervention of people appointed by it to legally represent it".

Despite the protests, on 19 December of that same year, the Banal Conference of Zagreb sent an "address" to all the Municipalities of Dalmatia, and its appeal to the union ended with the following words: "But you brothers and neighbors of italic idiom, that Dalmatia call your homeland, do not see in us Croat your enemies. We not even from a distance intend to touch your language, your customs, your rights, nor your statutes. Our sacred rights are sacred to us, therefore there must also be yours ". And they added: "We see in you the pleasant intermediators between our Slav nation and the brilliant Italy, to whom we have much to thank for our and for the Dalmatian shoreline. ... You have scattered among us many good germs, and we are grateful to you, for the Slavic can not be ungrateful."

It was the beginning of the struggle between Croatian "unionists" and Italian "autonomists", (and additionally a Croatian autonomous component) and until 1859/60, the Croatians of Zagreb were the antagonists.

The second turning point of the events in Dalmatia began with 1860. Austria, in that year, had lost Lombardy. In 1861 a new constitution was given. In 1866 also the Veneto was lost. The following year - 1867 - the unitary Austrian Empire was transformed into the dualistic State of Austria-Hungary (Ausgleich).But above all, the exit from the "Germanic Confederation" would have diverted Vienna's interests towards the Balkans. Becoming a Danubian power the Viennese rulers would have had to deal with the Croatian-Slavic component of their Empire.

Antonio Bajamonti (1822-1891), the best Italian major of Spalato
The events of those years, and above all the establishment of the double monarchy, gave the Croatians new pretexts to demand the annexation of Dalmatia. Boasting the so-called "Historical law" they proposed themselves as the third state of the Empire, in equal position with Vienna and Budapest.

But to have greater contractual force they had to make feel the weight of their number. And the 384,000 Croats, present in Dalmatia according to the census done in 1857, were more and more important to their opinion. But those Croats were administered by an Italian minority that - according to official statistics - amounted to only 45,000 people south of the Quarnaro area ( ).

Even if though they constituted 12.5 percent of the Dalmatia's population (or nearly 20% if added Fiume (actual Rijeka) and the Quarnaro islands Cherso/Lussino/Veglia/Arbe), they were the most socially qualified, the most educated part, its economic activities, its extensive land holdings, its capitals. Above all - the Dalmatian Italians administered the 84 municipalities of the province.It was - in every sense - the actual ruling class. And locally the Croats willingly gave them a large mandate. For a deep-rooted respect towards the heirs of the Venetian counts, towards the traditional families. For their capacity. For habit.

Italian autonomists and Croatian annexionists

Zagreb, to undermine the Italian minority, was to make the Dalmatian Croats understand the importance of annexation. Hence the need to reduce or - possibly - to exclude Italian pre-eminence.It was a program that came in tune with the policy of Vienna, aimed at controlling Italian nationalism but also controlling the power of the Kingdom of Hungary. In fact, Croatia belonged to the Hungarian Kingdom, while Istria and Dalmatia responded to Vienna (the Austrian part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire). The annexation of Dalmatia in Zagreb would have, therefore, unbalanced the relations of forces in the Empire.

For Austria, after the establishment of the Kingdom of Italy (1861), it was essential to control and condition the Italians who were within their borders - in Trentino, in Istria, in Dalmatia. They felt too much the call of national and unitary values ​​that had animated the Italian Risorgimento.If for Vienna, the Italian minority in Dalmatia was part of a wider problem of international order, for Zagreb it constituted a question of internal order with constitutional significance.Different motivations and interests, but the goal was common.The constitutional changes introduced by Austria in 1860 included the establishment of Provincial Diets on an elective basis. Democratically, even if still in a limited way, they represented the popular will but, at the same time, and for the first time, involved the counting of the number that formed the groups.The antagonists were counted and were counted. The statistics came into play. And the contrast that had taken place on an institutional level will, from now on, be decided by the ballots.

The Dalmatian Diet was inaugurated on April 8th, 1861. Thirty Italian deputies, eleven Croatians. The Catholic and Orthodox bishops were part of the law. At the April 18 session, the government representative asked that the question of the annexation of Dalmatia to Croatia be discussed and requested the sending of a Delegation to Zagreb. The proposal was rejected with the unanimous vote of Italian deputies. The Croatian minority left for Vienna to protest to the Emperor. An Italian delegation immediately followed her and she was able to get the legitimacy of the vote cast. But Zagreb did not give up.

In September, autonomously, the Croatian minority presented to the Emperor an "address" to ask for the annexation. Francesco Giuseppe with the 'Sovereign Rescript' of 8 November postponed any decision until the problems with Zagreb were resolved in their entirety (parity of Croatia with Vienna and Budapest). That Rescript, however, on the issue of annexation explicitly stated that: "In any case, it would have been necessary to take into account the diversity of the national origin of the two regions, Dalmatia and Croatia, the divergence of their political viewpoints, the differences between them". Decisions that allowed Vienna not to officially take any decision.

But the Austrian Government - in daily practice - supported the Croats, even in their own interests.

In the fight against that Italian minority - which from 1861 until 1870 would consistently express the majority to the Council of the Empire, the Dalmatian Diet, in all 84 Dalmatian Municipalities - Vienna several times changed the electoral districts. Between 1873 and 1893 the Austrians created five new municipalities, and their institution changed the numerical and political relations also in other ten or fifteen Municipalities, from which the new ones had been cut out.

Vienna also promoted the use of Croatian teachers to educate the masses, mobilized the clergy to influence the population. From 1870 onwards the Italian minority progressively lost its deputies in the Council of the Empire. From 1882, the Dalmatian Diet, the president, the vice-president, and the councilors, would have been Croats. Italian administrations fell into all the Municipalities (like in the island of Lissa where only 50 years before they were nearly 80% of the inhabitants, read ), minus Zara.

Arturo Colautti (1851-1914), journalist/writer born in Zara


In these same years the statistics recorded heavy regresses in the number of Italians. From 55,000 (including the Quarner islands) of the 1865 census they passed to 27,305 in the 1880 census. To fall to a minimum of 15,279 in 1900 and, inexplicably, go back to 18,028 in 1910.If the electoral defeats could be explained by the presence of the political scenes of their new men, [Constantine Vojnovic, Gaetano Bulat, Joseph Smodlaka], with the support of the Government, however falcidia remains incomprehensible of the number.

Because, in fifteen years, a community of 55,000 people, historically rooted in the territory, is reduced by almost 50 percent, falling to 27.305 units, one should think of epidemics, mass emigration, or massive change of ethnic identity when the struggle became more heated. But no source validates similar hypotheses. Instead, the reasonable doubt arose of a deliberate manipulation of numbers.

It is sufficient to show the date of the 1880 census with a document from 1887 - "Situation of the language of service in all the Municipalities of Dalmatia" ('Ausweis der Dienstesprache sämmtlicher Gemeinden Dalmatiens') - compiled for the use of the Lieutenancy of Dalmatia.The table shows that, in the 84 Municipalities, 19 had the Italian language as their office language, 26 were bilingual (of which 3 with prevalence of Italian and 9 of Croatian) and 39 used the Slavic language.In other words, the Italian language was used in 23 percent of the Municipalities (16 percent of the population). By sharing the bilingual common interest, the percentage reached 40 percent of the "Comuni" (Municipalities).

It was not possible, therefore, that the Italians constituted - as was apparent from the censuses - only the 5.8 % of the population in 1880, and furthermore impossible the 3.1 % in 1890. It was difficult to admit that a municipality of 16,000 inhabitants such as Trau (now called Trogir), tin order to administer 171 Italians (as indicated in the 1890 census), would have employed the Italian language in the offices. The same difficulty to admit applied for Còmisa with 52 Italians on a population of about 4,500 people. Or for Lissa who would have had 300 Italians out of 5,000 inhabitants, and so on.

Rise of Croatian nationalism

The Croats, having obtained the majority of the Dalmatian diet, did not insist on the annexation, although they ritually raised the question almost at each new session. But, since the Sovereign Resolution of Francesco Giuseppe of 1861, they had mobilized to de-nationalize (with the process of croatization) what was Italian.

To do the croatization meant to fight - in particular - against the use of the Italian language, which in Dalmatia had been and was the basis of living.

Austria, in 1813, assuming - after the Napoleonic period - full sovereignty over Dalmatia, had found that Italian as well as being the common language, was also the language of all administrations. Consequently, in 1815, he ordered that the judicial proceedings - as in the Lombardy-Veneto region - be treated only in Italian. Similarly, the notaries, according to the regulation of February 15th, 1827, had to formulate the deeds in Italian. It should not, therefore, be surprising that in 1842 the Schmiedt, in his "Das Koenigreich Dalmatien", could write: "The language and the Italian customs were increasingly dominating, so Zara and Spalato, for example, had the appearance of a city purely Italian".

And it is not surprising that Kaznacic, director of the "Avvenire" of Ragusa, in 1848 replied -to those who criticized him for printing a Croatian newspaper in Italian- that "except for rare exceptions, the universality of those who read newspapers in Dalmatia needs to learn from the Italian the slave truths ". Or that Costantino Vojnovic, noted that the Italian had "invaded schools, administration, justice, churches, theaters", and it was 1861.

When Austria lost Veneto (1866), the atmosphere in Dalmatia became increasingly murky. Vienna made its resentments felt against the subjects of Italian nationality, and had the faithful allies in the Croatians. In that year the Austrian government issued a decree making it compulsory for all civil servants to know the Croatian.

Antonio Udina (of Veglia) was the last speaker of the autochthonous "Dalmatian language"

In 1872, the Austrians ordered all offices in Dalmatia to handle written and oral practices in the language requested by the parties. But in the Austrian administrations the resistance of the Italian language had to be very tenacious if for its suppression it will have to arrive to 1909. The "Ordinance" provoked the protest of the Italian employees. And the "Memorial of State Officials of Italian Nationality in Dalmatia", directed to the Ministry of the Interior, carried 506 signatures.

The violence, the personal attacks, the damage to the camps had begun since 1866. The peasants, once quietly cohabiting with the "Italians", were stirred up by those who were more trusting, the priests. The first serious incident occurred in 1869, in Šibenik, with the aggression of the Italian sailors of the "Corzambano" pyro-corvette. About twenty wounded, even serious, on both sides. The fact resonated with the Italian Parliament. Tommaseo wrote the brochure "The Monzambano in Sibenik".

The struggle against the use of the Italian language, in the administrations of the State, developed at the same time on the level of school teaching.In 1866, in Dalmatia (excluding the school district of Càttaro) between government and municipal schools there were 38 "popular" (elementary) Italians, 34 bilinguals, 17 Croatian.For medium education, and all with teaching in Italian, there were 3 gymnasiums of eight classes (Zara, Spàlato, Ragusa); 3 gymnasts of four classes (Cùrzola, Sebenìco, Càttaro); a "real" (technical) school of seven classes in Spàlato, and one of 4 classes in Zadar; two nautical institutes, one in Spàlato and one in Càttaro. In addition two "normal schools" (magistrali), an Italian one in Zadar city, and one in Borgo Erizzo (district of the city) with Slavic language.In that year Vienna arranged that in elementary schools one should pass from teaching up to that moment taught exclusively in Italian to that in the Croatian language.

As soon as the Italians lost the majority to the Dalmatian diet, when the individual Municipalities fell, it was easy for the Croats to suppress Italian in their municipal or provincial schools. At the same time the Government supported the opening of Croatian schools by all means.In 1871 there were already 159 and 31 bilinguals. In 1910 the Croats would have been 459. Achievements that, from the social point of view, constituted a felt need in the face of an illiteracy that reached 62 percent among the Croats. But, at the same time, they constituted the most valid instrument to supplant what was in Italian.

The reaction of the Italians

The loss of representation in the elective organs and the abolition of the schools led to a twofold phenomenon in the Italian minority: organizing themselves into their associations, setting up their own schools.They were private initiatives, but they played a decisive role in city life. And from the struggle between "annexationists" and "autonomists", the "Italian party" was opposed to the "Croatian party".The Italians created the "Reading cabinets", they were gathered in the mutual aid workers' societies, in the Bersaglieri companies (target shooting) with uniforms similar to that of the Italian bersagliere, in the sports clubs (gymnastics, rowing, cycling, running, fencing). ).

The "Spalatino" Antonio Tacconi was a leader of the Italian Irredentism in Dalmatia (and masterminded the creation of the "Governorate of Dalmatia")

They constituted the city music bands, the social circles, the philodramatic societies. All hidden from the "Dalmatian Political Society" which, from 1899 onwards, in terms of action and propaganda, would avail itself of the "Society of Italian Students of Dalmatia". And through the students were created the "Popular libraries", were promoted - especially in Zadar - conferences of politicians, journalists who, invited, came from the Peninsula.Faced with the contextual need to provide for the education of their children according to their own tradition, in 1898 the Italians enthusiastically joined the "Pro Patria", established in Trento to spread the Italian school teaching in the provinces of the Empire. They enrolled in the "Dante Alighieri". They perched around the "National League".Constituted the "Adriatic Section" of the National League, they only financed it with their own personal commitment. In Zara they set up 4 kindergartens, an elementary school, the "Niccolò Tommaseo" boarding school, with 140 places for pupils from all the Dalmatian towns. Two elementary schools in Sebenico, two in Spàlato, one in Cùrzola. Teaching was also given by teachers who came from the Peninsula.

The outbreak of the world war prevented the opening of two other schools, one in Ragusa and the other in Cittavecchia.The defense of the language represented the synthesis of the political struggle. Not being able to exalt Italy was praised the language of "SI". Most probably, among all the ethnic minorities of Europe, that of Dalmatia was the only one that made reference to the language its irredentist creed. His anthem was "El Si!", And the refrain said: "In the homeland of Paravia", or "After death, in burial", "we will speak Italian, SI! .SI!".Well, according to the 1910 census, all this cultural, political, sporting activity would have been supported and developed by 18,028 Italians. If the most compact nucleus was that of Zara with 11,469 people, in the rest of Dalmatia the Italians, mathematically, would have amounted to 6,559. Suspect even for the same Croats. Ivo Rubic, in one of his works, will admit that under Austria "our municipalities, when they compiled the statistics, took into account a number less than the real when it referred to those who spoke Italian". But the statistics of Vienna were official and as such were accepted, even by the Italian Government.

The 1919 Peace Conference

Italy, in November 1918, occupied Zara, Sebenìco, the territories from Tenìn to Punta Planca, the islands in front and those in the south (Cùrzola, Lèsina, Làgosta, etc.), as established by the London Pact of 26 April 1925.For our soldiers, for the authorities, it was the discovery of a new world. The commander of the R.N. will write Puglia, Giulio Menini, who first attracted to Šibenik: "We were all ignorant, even we fighters, of having many brothers on the other side, and that that part of the population that now militates in the adverse party has such an Italian education, that for uses, customs and culture does not make it stand out from the purest citizens of Rialto. ".

The newspapers, public opinion, would have acquired more knowledge of the recent and past history of Dalmatia, during the discussions at the Peace Conference in Versailles, which brought to the fore the Adriatic question.While Italy, in the territories of the Pact of London, established the "Governorate of Dalmatia" (Rear Admiral Enrico Millo), a temporary government of the Serb-Croatians-Slovene (S.H.S.) was established in Spàlato. Kingdom born of the disintegration of Austria.

In this way Italy, as regards the arrangement of the eastern borders, found itself faced with a complex situation.In Versailles, to define the new frontier, Giulia, rather than Austria, would have had as a counterpart the Serbia that had been transformed into the Kingdom of the Serb-Croatians-Slovenians. It was the champion of Croatian interests based on the Pact of Corfu, stipulated in 1917 by the Serbian Nikola Pasic and the Croatian (of Split) Ante Trumbic.The State SHS, even if not included among the "Great", was heavily felt, supported - not inexplicably - by Wilson when, in addition to the messianic "14 points", think that his personal doctor was the Spalatino Dr. Biankini, brother of the Croatian deputy Jurai Biankini.

The First Exodus

From November 1918 until the beginning of 1921 (entry into force of the Treaty of Rapallo) there was a first and uncontrolled exodus of Italians from the areas occupied by the Serbs (from Spàlato, from Trogir, from Ragusa, etc.).The Consul General of Italy in Split, Carlo Umiltà, will write in his book of memories, "Yugoslavia and Albania", that "the Croatian and Serbian provocations and bullying [..] had pushed many thousands of Italians to abandon their country and to take refuge in the Peninsula ".

Already on 18 November 1918, the Provisional Government of Split had imposed on all officials the oath of loyalty to the State S.H.S. Those of Italian nationality opposed that "with regard to the provisional nature of the present situation they were not conscientiously obliged to lend it until the final decision on the part of the Conference of Peace". Immediately they were declared "fallen from office and emoluments".The violence of the Serbs and those of the Croatians did not even ensure personal safety.

In Spàlato, on 12th July 1920 the corvette captain Tommaso Gulli, commanded by R.N.Puglia and the motorist Aldo Rossi were killed.A large part of the Italian element, left at the mercy of its traditional adversaries, not protected by any diplomatic representation (the Consulates will be open in January 1921), left their homes.For a numerical comparison, even if approximate, of this exodus we can compare the data - by nationality - of the movement of the population of Zara, as they appear in the censuses of 1910 and 1921.Between the two dates the "Italians" (11.469 in 1910) increase physiologically by 606 units. The "Croats" decrease from 5,705 to 1,255 (-4,450) certainly not to remain under Italian sovereignty.The "foreigners" are increasing and may even be surprising: 2,289 in 1910 to 3,735 (+ 1446) in 1921. But this is not a distortion, but rather a particular phenomenon.In 1910 under the heading "foreigners" were recorded Austrian officials and employees who, while working in Zara, maintained their residence in the countries of origin. But with the occupation of the city by Italy, except for a few dozen people, they had all returned to their places of origin.Instead, starting from November 1918 and up to the beginning of 1921 (entry into force of the Treaty of Rapallo) under the heading "foreigners" were recorded people of Italian sentimental feelings from other places in Dalmatia. They were not yet Italian citizens, it was uncertain whether they were Yugoslavs for employment, or if they still had Austrian citizenship, and they could also be stateless. In doubt they were registered as "foreigners".

If in the spring of 1921 alone Zara received not less than 3,500 refugees from Dalmatia, it is legitimate to suppose that another five thousand six thousand have continued to Trieste, Venice, Ancona. But no one has ever spoken of this exodus.

In August 1941 the remaining Italians of Arbe (actual Rab) did a ceremony to celebrate the union of their island to the kingdom of Italy

The Treaty of Rapallo

To solve the Adriatic problem it was necessary to resort to direct negotiations between Rome and Belgrade, which signed the Treaty of Rapallo on 12 November 1920. Italy brought the eastern borders of Venezia Giulia to the natural borders made by the chain of the Alps.

Fiume became an independent state. But the Italian Dalmatia of the Pact of London was given to the new State of Yugoslavia, less Zara and the island of Làgosta (a total of 104 sq km of territory). The Italians of Arbe and Veglia protested and even sent their cities flags to Italy and San Marino (see the following image of a famous stamp of S.Marino Republic).

One should suppose that in Rapallo, the diplomats of Palazzo Chigi, almost feeling on its shoulders the weight of renunciation to the Dalmatia territories, wanted to protect the Italian minority that, in this way, remained under the sovereignty of the Yugoslavia state.

Perhaps failing to obtain a special status for that community - in this case changing some norm from the former Austrian law for the minorities of the ceased Empire - they devised a clause that allowed Italians - as such - to stay in their cities. Evidently the exodus of those thousands of Italians, in 1919 and 1920, as well as the reasons that had determined it, did not seem to have been evaluated and so Rome did not capture the real situation in which the Italians were experiencing in Dalmatia. In international customs it is expected that, with the change of sovereignty over a given territory, the population is able to not accept the citizenship of the new State but with the obligation to transfer its residence elsewhere. In other words, it is granted the right to exercise the right of option.

However, in the Treaty of Rapallo, in this traditional institution, a completely new clause was introduced. Those who opted for Italian citizenship were not obliged - as a rule - to transfer their residence. And innovation was considered a success of Italian diplomacy, so much so that Count Sforza - in the Chamber of Deputies - declared that they "had obtained privileges such as none of the recent European treaties had come to recognize for an ethnic minority".

But those who opted to remain Italians and kept the residence in place automatically became "foreigners". They remained ousted from the political and administrative life of their cities to which, until then, they had - well or badly - always participated. They were faced with considerable difficulties to continue their professions, to obtain licenses and permits necessary for the exercise of arts and crafts. And in that naturally hostile environment they would have been pointed out as "Italians".

On the other hand, those who opted not to be Italians became Yugoslavian citizens, as sanctioned by the Constitution of the State of Yugoslavia: "Citizenship is one in the whole Kingdom".

With the Treaty of Rapallo the General Consulate of Spàlato, the Consulate of Sebenìco, the Vice Consuls of Cùrzola and Ragusa were reopened or established to allow the Italians to opt. In those moments, however, Rome still ignored how many Italians "really" there were in Dalmatia, which certainly were not the 6,559 of the 1910 census.

At the Chamber of Deputies, during the debate on the Treaty of Rapallo, the same Salvemini, who certainly was not in favor of Italian aspirations in Dalmatia, stood at the figure of 40,000 Dalmatian Italians. Similarly, the deputy Colajanni did not rule out even a presence of 60,000 people.
Furthermore, in 1919 the Spalatini (native neolatin citizens of Spalato) had affixed 8,000 signatures - authenticated - to a petition sent to the Italian Delegation to the Peace Conference to demand the annexation of the city to Italy. That is, in the city of Spàlato/Split alone there were at least 8,000 Italians able to sign.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in order to have more precise data, had to ask the Consular Representatives for information on the spot that they answered with a series of notes between February and April 1921.The Italian Vice Consul in Cùrzola reported the "huge number of citizens of Cùrzola - 118 families with 564 members - who announced themselves to this civil commissioner with the intention of leaving the city and moving to the Kingdom". And he added: "Excluding the regnicoli here domiciled and the officials of the ceased Austrian regime entered our service [who are almost all Italians] and not even calculated the Italians of fresh date, declared such after our occupation, still remain between Cùrzola and the neighbor Petrara Village as many as 189 families with 835 members ". Overall, therefore, the Italians were more than a thousand.

From Sebenìco, that Consul informed that in the city lived 190 Italian families with 650 people and , with the surrounding territory, they would have been at least 800. Data for defect, since when the so-called "second zone" (Sebenìco) was evicted - as far as we know - 20 families left on 20 April 1921. A week after 300 people, and on June 13 another 653.

In Lissa, April 17, 1921, the Italian flag was lowered. The minutes of the handover were countersigned by the mayor Lorenzo Doimi of de Lupis and 30 Italian family leaders.

In relation to Ragusa, the Consul General of Spàlato, reported on the existence of about 100 families of "Regnicoli" (Italians born in the Italian Peninsula), and added: "Italian Dalmatian families who will opt will be fifty".

In this search for data, the list of names of the Dalmatian magistrates and chancellors who were displaced in the Peninsula can be of some interest. These are 74 former Austrian employees placed in the roles of the Italian judiciary in Dalmatia since 1919.The Consul General Umilta, in his book of memories, would have written that, "Including Zara, remained annexed to Italy, the Italians were certainly not inferior to 50/60 thousand." And he added: "Then we must mention those who, isolated in the countryside and in small villages, were to be called Slavs not to be slaughtered by the Croatian energumens, then the indifferent who, while they wished that their country was annexed to Italy, did not dare to demonstrate openly their aspiration, so as not to see any possibility of life precluded ".Finally, a more political than statistical consideration: "In short, among Italians proper and sympathizers, there were no less than one hundred thousand people in Dalmatia, who did not expect anything good from the union of Dalmatia to Yugoslavia.

The exodus of Dalmatian Italians from Spalato

Second Exodus

By 1921, the Italians who were still in the Dalmatia occupied by the Serbian troops, and in the areas formerly controlled by the Italians, were able to exercise the right of option. But there is very little news about it.

The elements that the Consul General Umilta provides, even if not included in an official or service publication but in his book, are probably those closest to reality given the authoritativeness of the source and the non-instrumentality of the volume, considering that it was published in 1948."When it came to the moment of the option," he writes, "and this operation lasted about five months, a ten thousand people became Italian citizens [..], a total of fifteen thousand people remained yugoslavian subjects".The option applications, collected by the consular representations, were sent for notification to the "Civil Commissariat for Dalmatia", then the Prefecture of Zara. And they were a declaration of faith. The interested party, in fact, signed a question where, in addition to the reference to Article 7 of the Treaty of Rapallo, it was specified that the option was "in accordance with the rules that will be enacted". That is, you opted for a closed box.

On 11 April 1923, the newspaper "Corriere di Zara" reported the news that up to that date, despite a rather complex procedure, 3,419 applications had been accepted. Furthermore, a note from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs shows that 344 late applications had been accepted by late May 1925, while a hundred were still in the preliminary investigation.In any case, it is believed that in 1921-1922 more than 10,000 Italians exercised their right of option. In general, people traditionally clinging to their cities, or who had their own heritage, their own self-sufficiency, so they could resist the pressures of the environment.The other 15,000 who did not opt, despite remaining "spiritually" Italian, became confused with the Croatians. But, in progression of time, many later moved to Italy. Because of the difficulty that the Croats, at all times, opposed to their cohabitation. For the political instability of Yugoslavia. For the animosity of Belgrade towards Rome that found immediate resonance in the Dalmatian cities.

According to a Yugoslavian statistic, only between September 1926 and October 1929, 1,493 Italians emigrated from Dalmatia, and Ivo Rubic considers the presence, around 1930, of only 7,500 Italians. Therefore the figures presented by the Consul General Umilta can be considered coherent.

The Last Exodus

Italy returned to Dalmatia in April 1941. Following the Pacts of Rome on 18 May, that were concluded with the Independent State of Croatia which arose from the disintegration of Yugoslavia, Italy included under its own sovereignty both the territories of the London Pact of 1915 and those of Spàlato & Càttaro, erected to new provinces of the Kingdom of Italy which, with that of Zara (constituted the "Government of Dalmatia").

In 1941 there were 20,000 Italians and 2,000 Croats in Zara. In the rest of Dalmatia there will have been at most 3 to 4 thousand Italians (lacking precise data), with the most consistent groups in Spàlato, Ragusa, Sebenìco and Cùrzolabr/>
On July 25, 1943, the personnel of the "Government of Dalmatia" and of political organizations from the Peninsula returned to Italy.

On September 10, while Zara was being guarded by the Germans, and the city's population suffered no offense, the Tito's partisans entered the town of Spàlato. They remained there until September 26, when the city was conquered by the Germans. In those 16 days, between Spàlato and Trau, the titines suppressed 134 Italians, including public security agents, carabinieri, prison guards.Ten people were shot in Sebenìco, although the partisans had the chance to stop only one day. Shootings happened also in Ragusa. Another 94 Italians were suppressed in various locations in Dalmatia. 51 were also shot by the Germans or died in Nazi deportation camps. And each figure shown here corresponds to the sum of persons identified by name. Therefore, it is permissible to think of others who, similarly disappeared, have left no memory.

During 1943 and 1944, from the place occupied by the Germans - like Spàlato, Ragusa, Sebenìco - the last Italians, took the road of exile in their homeland. But there were still the 20,000 Italians from Zara. Tito, making the city appear to be a crucial logistic center for the supplies of the German divisions engaged in the territory of Yugoslavia, convinced the allies of its military importance.The Anglo Americans, between November 2, 1943 and October 31, 1944, with fifty-four bombings razed the city to the ground. No less than were 2,000 dead under the rubble. About 10-12,000 were the "Zaratini" citizens who at various times managed to save themselves in Trieste. Just over a thousand were able to reach Puglia.The Tito partisans entered Zara on October 31, 1944, and 138 were the Italians shot, suppressed, or drowned: this number limited to those identified by name.

With the Treaty of Peace of 1947, Italians who were still in Dalmatia were granted the right to opt for Italian citizenship, but with the obligation to transfer residence in Italy. There will not have been more than five thousand and all of them were scared by the terror related to the foibes and the massacres done with continuous harrassments perpetrated by the Titos's partisans.

The exodus was total. In Dalmatia the Italian minority had ceased to exist.

Lega Nazionale


A group of Dalmatian Italians (and Istrians) in a 1947 refugee camp in Tuscany's Pisa

An Ethnocide?

Finally I want to remind the readers that in 2018 there are still one hundred Dalmatian Italians in Cherso-Lussigno/Cres-Losinj and about a half hundred in Zara/Zadar.

Someone (a few dozen old ones) is also found elsewhere, from Spalato/Split to Lagosta/Lastovo and Ragusa/Dubrovnik of Dalmatia. However you do not reach half a thousand, to be optimistic! The Dalmatian Italians who exiled in the world have their own association called "Libero Comune di Zara in esilio" (Free city of Zara exiled in the world) and have their magazine called "Il Dalmata" ( ).

In short, in the nineteenth century according to the reliable Austrian census of 1857 there were in Dalmatia (excluding the Quarnaro/Kvarner islands: Cherso/Cres, Lussino/Lošinj and Veglia/Krk) 45,000 Italian Dalmatians and 369,310 Croats ( ). So, officially almost 15% of the inhabitants in Dalmatia south of the Quarnaro area was Italian (and if you add these islands of the Quarnaro where the Italians were very numerous, you reach almost twenty percent) but today unfortunately nothing remains. Only a percentage that is practically nothing! And -sincerely- this fact raises a disturbing question: this disappearance of the Italians in Dalmatia should be called "Ethnocide"?

PS: If interested in further information, please go to (about the complete disappearance of the Italians in Lagosta -now in Croatian called Lastovo, a Dalmatian island that was officially part of the Kingdom of Italy until 1947).

MAPS OF DALMATIA WHEN WAS PARTIALLY ITALIAN (after the Republic of Venice fall in 1797):

A) Map showing the borders of Italy from WW1 to WW2 with blue line and the borders of the Governorato of Dalmatia (1941-1943) with yellow points line

B) Map showing the Dalmatia inside the Napoleonic kingdom of Italy (1806-1810). In 1808 was added Ragusa