mercoledì 21 agosto 2013

What is Southern Italy?

At the Papal-Bourbon frontier.
At left, Falvaterra, with the crossed keys and the year the marker was installed.
At right, San Giovanni Incarico, with the fleur-de-lys and the number of the marker.
Seeing as this blog claims to be a blog about Southern Italy, the question came to my mind: What is Southern Italy?

I discovered that there is no one response.

To say that Lazio does not belong to the South is too simplistic.  Historically, many towns in Lazio were part of the South. But on the other hand, to define the South strictly according to the Bourbon borders – i.e., the borders of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies – is too simplistic in another way.  It excludes Sardinia.  And it excludes Pontecorvo and Benevento, two Papal enclaves.  How can you say that Benevento isn't in the South? 

Therefore, I decided that my definition of the South will be: all of the land that is south of the northern border of the Two Sicilies, plus Sardinia. 

But where is this border?

It's a little complicated.  To draw this border, we have to dissect the provinces of Latina, Frosinone, and Rieti.

Let's start on the Mediterranean side.  Sperlonga is a coastal town about 15 km west of Gaeta.  Bordering Sperlonga on the west is another coastal town, Terracina.  Terracina always resisted French domination and remained part of the Papal States.  Therefore, we know where to begin our border: between Terracina and Sperlonga. 
Traveling northeast from Sperlonga, one arrives at Monte San Biagio, then Fondi, then Lènola, then Pico. (We have left the province of Latina, and we are now in the province of Frosinone.) North of Pico is San Giovanni Incarico. San Giovanni was flanked by the Papal States.  Beyond the western border is Falvaterra, a Papal town, and beyond the eastern border is Pontecorvo, a Papal enclave. North of San Giovanni is Isoletta (west of which is Ceprano, always a staunchly Papal town). North of Isoletta is Colfelice, then Arce, Fontana Liri, Castelliri, Isola del Liri, Sora, and Pescosolido. (West of Fontana Liri are Strangolagalli and Monte San Giovanni Campano, both Papal.)
Isola del Liri, the Great Waterfall
After Pescosolido, we enter Balsorano. Now things become much easier. We are now in Abruzzo, in the province of L’Aquila. Between Balsorano and Carsoli, the border is very clear, following perfectly the modern border between Lazio and Abruzzo.

After Carsoli, we leave Abruzzo and re-enter Lazio. Once again, the border becomes complicated, dissecting the province of Rieti. After Tufo Alto (a frazione of Carsoli), the first town we reach is Pescorocchiano. (The three towns in Rieti west of Carsoli – Turania, Collalto Sabino, and Nespolo – were all Papal.) From Pescorocchiano we arrive at Fiamignano, Petrella Salto, Cittaducale, Lugnano, Cantalice, Pian de’ Valli, and Leonessa – all towns in Rieti. (West of Leonessa is Rivodutri, a Papal town.)
Photo: © Simone Telari (
From Leonessa, all the way to the Adriatic, the border is once more very clear, following the modern borders.  From Leonessa  (specifically, the frazione Fuscello), we follow the Umbria-Lazio border and the Marche-Lazio border.  Then, we are once again in Abruzzo, in the province of Teramo, and we follow the Marche-Abruzzo border to the Adriatic.

At the coast we are at Martinsicuro. North of us is Porto d’Ascoli, a Papal town.
We've done it! Unfortunately we had to dissect three provinces to do it, but we did it: we established our border of Southern Italy!
Map © Leonardo Ciampa

2 commenti:

  1. Interesting to see you also included Abbruzzo. Not everyone would, I think. But as you say, there's more than one way to define the Mezzogiorno. And I do agree there's definitely a southern feel to the southern reaches of Lazio....

    1. I'm dying to know if there is a different "feel" between Sperlonga and Terracina, or Isoletta and Ceprano, or Carsoli and Turania. I guess I'll just have to go there and find out!