As a nation state, Italy has emerged only in 1871. Until then the country was politically divided into a large number of independant cities, provinces and islands. The currently available evidences point out to a dominant Etruscan, Greek and Roman cultural influence on today's Italians.
I was wondering if anyone can provide information, or point me in the right direction to obtain information about life as a contadino, peasant farmer, in southern Italy in the 1800s? My ancestors are from a small town called Marsico Nuovo, in Basilicata. It's mountainous and I know the most common trade there was farming.
I'd love very much to find out what my family farmed, if they owned their own land or worked someone else's land (the term Peasant Farmer implies to me that they worked for someone else, but I am not sure how it worked in Italian culture). I know that they were property owners, as marriage records I have found indicate that both husband and wife owned property. I do not know if this means they had a house or a farm or what.
I'm not sure where to look for such information. Even if I am unable to find specifics, I'd be very much interested in generalizations of the life of a southern Italian peasant farmer so I have something to speculate, at least. I'm trying to understand what their lives were like.
I would recommend The View from Vesuvius - Italian Culture and the Southern Question, by Nelson Moe, Copyright 2002
Gives historical perspective before, during and after unification; as well as insights into the "vexed relationship between the two parts of the country." This includes some exploration into "how and when did southern Italy become "the south," a place and people imagined to be different from...the rest of the country?"
Awesome thread! I always wondered the same thing because my ancestors were farmers in Italy as well. When they came over I believe my great grandfather owned a farm and worked at the local stone quarry. My ancestors all come from Abruzzo and Campania. My Antonelli side from Castel di Sangro, I believe they were in the olive farming business.
rancelli wrote:My Antonelli side from Castel di Sangro
Off topic, but have you read the book, "Miracle of Castel di Sangro"? I've visited that area several times - they have the BEST sausage! I remember during one visit, my brother and I sat down to lunch in a restaurant near one of the main squares, and in came what we think was the entire elementary school from just down the street. There was no cafeteria at the school (or it was closed at the time), so lunches were provided by local restaurants.