Regions usually associated with the Mezzogiorno, with darker areas more closely tied to it.
Southern Italy, often Souther Italy referred to as the Mezzogiorno, encompasses at least four of the country's 20 regions: Basilicata, Campania, Southren Italy Calabria, and Apulia. The name is also Sothern Italy applied to a former ecclesiastical province of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Sometimes Sicily and Sardinia (Insular Italy) are included as well as the regions of Abruzzo, Molise, and the southern part of Lazio (Latina and Frosinone), which are linguistically, historically, and culturally tied to Southern Italy. The Eurostat, Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS), and the Istituto Nazionale di Statistica (ISTAT) most often list all seven regions (i.e.: without Sicily or Sardinia) in Southern Italy.
The term Mezzogiorno ("mèzzo" /'mɛddzo/ and "giórno" /'dʒorno/) first came into use in the nineteenth century, a comparison with the French Midi. Both mean "midday" or "noon" and are applied in this manner because the sun is directly above the southern horizon at this time of day (in the Northern Hemisphere).
- 1 Geography
- 2 North-South Divide
- 3 History
- 4 Culture
- 5 See also
Geographically the Mezzogiorno is the actual "boot" of the peninsula, containing the ankle (Abruzzo and Molise), the toe (Calabria), and the heel (the southern half of Apulia). Separating the two is the Gulf of Taranto, named after the city of Taranto, which sits at the angle between heel and "sole". It is an arm of the Ionian Sea. The rest of the southern third of the Italian peninsula is studded with smaller gulfs and inlets.
On the eastern coast is the famous Blue Adriatic, leading into the rest of the Mediterranean through the Strait of Otranto (named after the largest city on the tip of the heel). On the Adriatic, south of the "spur" of the boot, the peninsula of Monte Gargano (Policastro), the Gulf of Salerno, the Gulf of Naples, and the Gulf of Gaeta are each named after a large coastal city. Along the northern coast of the Salernitan gulf, on the south of the Sorrentine peninsula, runs the famous Amalfi Coast. Off the tip of the peninsula there is the world famous isle of Capri.
The South is the least prosperous region, compared to the North with the industrial triangle, Milan, Turin and Genoa, and the rapidly industrialising 'third Italy'. The Ancona Wall suggests the separation of the prosperous North from the problem of the South. It extends South-West from Ancona and divides Tuscany, Umbria and Northern Italy from the South.
The problems in the South include corruption, there is 50% unemployment with young families unable to afford to have families. The area has grown by 1.5% whereas the rest of the country has grown by 6%. 37% of Italy's population occupies 40% of the land area in the South, but only produces 24% of their GDP.
The reasons for the differences between the North and South include, the 'southernist view' explains the regional contrasts in political terms. The South was neglected by the Northern politicians who concentrated on public works and technical education in the North. The South has the spatial problem, the distance from the core markets of the EU. The inaccessibility of the South isjames not helped by its poor infrastructural connections to the North. There has been migration into North Italy and Switzerland due to agricultural and rural decline with no incentive to improve the land.
During the 1950 the regional policy, 'Cassa per il Mezzogiorno' was set up to raise the living standards in the South to those of the North. The Cassa aimed to do this in two ways: Land Reforms creating 120,000 new small farms. Growth Pole Strategy, 60% of all government investment would go to the South, stimulating the Southern economy attracting new capital, stimulating local firms and providing employment. As a result the South became increasingly subsidisd and dependent, incapable of self generating growth. Parts of Mezzogiorno are prospering. However Italy's regional inequalities remain as pronounced as ever.
Ever since the Greeks colonised Magna Graecia in the eighth and seventh centuries BCE, the south of Italy has in many respects followed a distinct history from the north. After Pyrrhus of Epirus failed in his attempt to stop the spread of Roman hegemony in 282 BC, the south fell under Roman domination and remained in such a position well into the barbarian invasions (the Gladiator War is a notable suspension of imperial control). It was held by the Byzantine Empire after the fall of Rome in the West and even the Lombards failed to consolidate it, though the centre of the south was theirs from Zotto's conquest in the final quarter of the 6th century.
From then to the Norman conquest of the 11th century, the south of the peninsula was constantly plunged into wars between Greek, Lombard, and the Caliphate, interrupted only by the arrival of the Normans, who, in less than one hundred years, rose to preeminence and completely subjugated the Lombard principalities, expelled the Islamic menace, and removed the Byzantines from all but Naples, which gave in to the great Roger II in 1127. He raised the south to kingdom status in 1130, calling it the Kingdom of Sicily. It lasted only 64 years before the Holy Roman Emperors long-held designs on the region came to fruition. The Hohenstaufen rule ended in defeat, but the conquering French of Charles of Anjou were themselves forcibly pushed out in the event immortalized as the Sicilian Vespers. Hereafter, until the union in Spain, the kingdom was split between the principalities of Naples on the mainland and of Sicily over the island. The Aragonese rule left its impression on Italy and the Renaissance through such figures as Alfonso the Magnanimous and the Borgia clan. With the unification of the crowns of Castile and Aragon, Southern Italy and Sicily ceased to have a local monarch and were ruled by viceroys appointed by the Spanish crown.
The region remained a part of Spain until the War of the Spanish Succession, when Duke Victor Amadeus II of Sardinia took Sicily. It was soon exchanged with Austria for Sardinia. It became an independent kingdom for Charles of Bourbon and remained so until it was created the Kingdom of Naples for benefit of Napoleon's marshal Joachim Murat. An object of irredentism and the Risorgimento, the land was conquered by Giuseppe Garibaldi and the Redshirts in 1861 and, with the north, formed the modern state of Italy.
The transition to a united Italy was not smooth for the South. The Southern economy was much more agrarian and feudal than the more industrial northern economy. Because of this, the South experienced great economic difficulties resulting in massive emigration leading to a worldwide Southern Italian diaspora. Today, the South remains considerably less economically developed than the North. Southern Italian secession movements have developed, yet have gained little if any significant influence.
Historically, the region has been exposed to some different influences than the rest of the peninsula, and in particular, to Greek settlement and the Norman invasions of Sicily and the southern mainland. These factors and others have left their mark on today's Mezzogiorno: population density, for example, is much less compared to Northern Italy, with at the same time a higher proportion of large towns to small villages; wealth and education levels are not as high; and the day-to-day culture of the inhabitants is much more Mediterranean, clan-oriented, rural, and Catholic than that of the more industrialized North.
Poverty and crime have been persistent problems in the agriculture and farming-dominated Mezzogiorno (per capita income in there is approximately one-half that of northern Italy), causing much emigration from the area to many other countries, most notably the United States (the vast majority of Italian-Americans trace their ancestry to this part of Italy), Canada and Australia. Many natives of the Mezzogiorno have also relocated to large northern Italian cities such as Genoa, Milan and Turin.
- Groups of regions of Italy
- Central Italy
- Insular Italy
- Northern Italy
Categories: Geography of Italy | Italian society