The Problem of Sicily and Italy

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.
rocco
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The Problem of Sicily and Italy

Postby rocco » 06 Aug 2016, 21:49

I am an American. My fathers side of the family came from Sicily so I have an interest in the North South issue. I do know a little bit of Italian ancient history and the issue with Sicily is not new. Some facts are needed to put this problem with Sicily in proper context.
The People of Sicily were not much different then the People of Southern Italy. Magna grecia the term used to describe " Greater Greece" included Southern Italy as well as Sicily. Sicily also had the Carthage connection but the Island spoke Greek just as Southern Italy. Most of us know the great cities of the South were founded and colonized by Greece. Even in the time of Augustus the south was mostly Greek speaking at least the major cities. As time went by the Greeks in the south became more and more Latinized. The gene pool in Italy would most likely show this.
Sicily was a Provence of Rome just as what we now call " the North". Northern Italy which was called " short haired Gaul by the Romans was not even a province of Italy until Julius Caesar made that part of the mainland a province. Before Caesar what we call the North was barbarian. Sicily had already been a province since the end of the third Punic war. Caesar was planning on giving Sicily full Citizenship but that plan was cut short by his assassination. Sicily however had Latin rights which was a kind of "Citizenship lite". The major cities may have had full citizenship to my knowledge. After the assassination Mark Anthony was going to put through those Citizenship rights but it was complicated by the civil war which must have taken precedent. To make a long story short towards the end of the civil war Sextus pompey had taken Sicily and made it his bace of operations. He fought what was left of the "triumvirate" (the alliance between Octavian, Mark Anthony and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus) from Sicily. Sextus had a blockade around the Roman ports and effectively prevented grain from Egypt to get to Rome. Sicily basically went with the Republicans and against the Triumvirate and fought against Octavian. This I think is why he never put through Caesars legislation to give Citizenship to Sicily. After Octavian won the war he never forgave Sicily for siding against him. This prejudice is the genesis of the hate the North and even the south have for Sicily. Even then Sicily never had the benefit of Roman infrastructure. It was used for farming and milking the people of their money. Large slave estates were built to help to feed Rome along with Egypt. Sicily was considered second class and even though some areas had the coveted Roman Citizenship most of the people did not. And this Prejudice passed down through the ages, and that my friends is why most Italians consider Sicily second class and they don't even know the source of their own Prejudice.

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Re: The Problem of Sicily and Italy

Postby kencwalker » 10 Aug 2016, 23:54

Hi Rocco,
Not sure what prompted this post.
It's true, historically there has been a certain tension (or friction) between Northern and Southern Italians. My GM & GF are from the north (Lombardia and Piemonte). I remember hearing the stories as a youth. :-)

From my observation, if you're doing genealogy research, it's much better to have family from Sicily and southern Italy. I can't find many civil records in the north prior to 1866 reunification, and am dependent on church records prior to that date. From posts in this forum, it appears civil records in the south begin as early as 1814, and there is much better access to church records. So, count your blessing if you have Sicilian family.
Besides, now we're all one big happy Italian-American family! Right?
-Ken
Researching surnames Pedroncelli and Pilatti in Sondrio; Cantoia in Novara; Penna in Asti.

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Re: The Problem of Sicily and Italy

Postby peonygirl » 12 Aug 2016, 19:49

Rocco - Welcome to the Forum!
Interesting. I was appalled when I first learned about the conditions in Sicily. Growing up, I heard about that tension – with parents from the “North” and “South.” As a child I imagined North as Milan – far north, maybe even bordering on Switzerland. Sicily, however, was never a question – there it was by itself, nearly engulfed by water, independent. It’s funny how the mind works. Now that I am researching my history, I find that my father’s line only went as far North as Teramo, but settled pretty much in Alanno and Manoppello. Not exactly by the Swiss border! And my mother’s line are all from one town in the Province of Agrigento. My understanding is that what was once poor and struggling is now a spa town….maybe someday I will get to visit.

I was interested to see that food is still essential to the Italian culture; hence the BBC news food story. And another story about child nutrition (correct or not I cannot say….but so good that they care).

Thanks for the history; let’s hope we can move beyond it.

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Re: The Problem of Sicily and Italy

Postby jennabet » 12 Aug 2016, 20:44

peonygirl wrote:I find that my father’s line only went as far North as Teramo, but settled pretty much in Alanno and Manoppello. Not exactly by the Swiss border!


Many Abruzzese live in Switzerland. Both sides of my family are from Teramo. The relatives on my father's side were clothing designers, seamstresses and tailors who went to work in Geneva for the big fashion houses. Some of them returned to Italy to practice their craft (my cousin designs wedding gowns in Teramo) and some stayed in Switzerland and had subsequent generations born there, all of whom are still Italian and not Swiss. Teramo itself is older than Rome and a very nice place to call home.

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Re: The Problem of Sicily and Italy

Postby peonygirl » 13 Aug 2016, 01:49

Jennabet – That's what I love about this forum; so much history and understanding. Yours sounds like a wonderful lineage - designers, seamstresses, tailors.

I embedded the links to the food stories, but I see they did not take. I will post here in case anyone was curious….
1) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/08 ... ood-waste/

2) http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-37034619

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Re: The Problem of Sicily and Italy

Postby jennabet » 14 Aug 2016, 13:08

Actually, Italians have always been very generous with food as they've always had enough. Italian immigrants were never starving. They didn't leave Italy due to hunger like some other immigrants did; they left because they wanted jobs. However, Italy's generosity is not always appreciated, particularly among uninvited African migrants that Italy cares enough to rescue from the sea. They complain daily and voice publicly their dislike for the food they're given as well as the accommodations provided for them.

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Re: The Problem of Sicily and Italy

Postby peonygirl » 15 Aug 2016, 20:15

Jennabet - That is a shame. It is probably because the food is not the same as what their culture may be used to, but to complain about such a gift, freely given, is particularly rude.
I can only speak from my own experience, but food has always been associated with love and caring in my family.

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Re: The Problem of Sicily and Italy

Postby jennabet » 15 Aug 2016, 20:20

Also in my family. It's the Italian way. I agree.

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Re: The Problem of Sicily and Italy

Postby sacesta » 19 Aug 2016, 23:18

I've only recently begun reading about the history of Sicily (and southern Italy, which together at one time formed the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies). It is a very rich and interesting history.

The Italian diaspora outside Italy often recognizes Sicily as part of Italy, and it has been (more or less, depending on whom you ask) since the Risorgimento, but the history of Sicily differs greatly from that of Northern Italy.

During the Dark Ages, Sicily was experiencing a Golden Age under Arab rule. And during the Renaissance and afterwards, as Northern Italy blossomed, Sicily was under the oppression of foreign rulers, most notably the Spanish who imposed the Inquisition.

Sicily has a very rich history, having been literally at the very center of Mediterranean civilization since before records were kept. Over the centuries it has been invaded and ruled or otherwise influenced by many different civilizations. Elymians, Sikels, Sicanians, Phoenicians, Ancient Greeks, Romans, Goths, Vandals, Byzantine Greeks, Arabs, Normans, Swabians, Angevins, Aragonese and Castillians, Spaniards, Albanians, and Jews.

The Ancient and Byzantine Greeks, Arabs and Normans in particular left lasting imprints on Sicilian culture.
Steve Acesta

Researching Calatafimi, Trapani
Surnames Aceste, Papa, Cusenza, Gruppuso, Sciortino, Sparacino, Zito, and Vona.

Researching Montevago, Agrigento (Girgenti)
Surnames Infranco, La Rocca, Mandina, Bilello, Cacioppo, and Cardino.


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