The Società Magna Grecia in Fascist Italy - PDF

Anabases Traditions et réceptions de l Antiquité varia The Società Magna Grecia in Fascist Italy Nathalie de Haan Publisher E.R.A.S.M.E. Electronic version URL: DOI:

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Anabases Traditions et réceptions de l Antiquité varia The Società Magna Grecia in Fascist Italy Nathalie de Haan Publisher E.R.A.S.M.E. Electronic version URL: DOI: /anabases.367 ISSN: Printed version Date of publication: 1 mars 2009 Number of pages: ISSN: Electronic reference Nathalie de Haan, «The Società Magna Grecia in Fascist Italy», Anabases [Online], , Online since 01 March 2012, connection on 01 October URL : ; DOI : /anabases.367 The text is a facsimile of the print edition. Anabases Anabases 9 (2009), p The Società Magna Grecia in Fascist Italy* NATHALIE DE HAAN The serious crisis that troubles Italy, still tormented after years of war, makes it difficult for the government to fulfil its task of satisfying the spiritual needs of the Country. [ ] Nowadays it is an act of real Italianità to support, even on a small scale, not only social initiatives, but also those that focus on the conservation and valorisation of the country s natural beauty and cultural heritage. That is why we, Friends of the Mezzogiorno, plan to found a Society that aims at the protection of one of the richest, but also most forgotten regions of our country : ancient Magna Grecia. This statement was published in October 1920, in a circular letter sent to numerous members of the upper class of Italian society 1. This letter announced the founding of the Società Magna Grecia, and was a call for membership 2. The actual initiative was * I am very grateful to the board of ANIMI and to Dott.ssa C. Cassani for permission to access the archives of Umberto Zanotti Bianco and the Società Magna Grecia, housed in the office of ANIMI at Rome. What is presented here is part of a larger research project that hopefully will result in a biography of Zanotti Bianco. I warmly thank the colleagues of the Équipe de Recherche ERASME, Université de Toulouse-Le Mirail, in particular Prof. Corinne Bonnet and Prof. Philippe Foro, for the inspiring Journée d études. Last but not least, I thank Malena B. McGrath (Rome), who kindly corrected my English. 1 The text of the letter can be found in U. ZANOTTI BIANCO, Paolo Orsi e la Società Magna Grecia, in Paolo Orsi. Suppl. a Archivio Storico per la Calabria, Rome, 1935, p For the Società Magna Grecia see M. PAOLETTI, Umberto Zanotti Bianco e la Società Magna Grecia, Bollettino della Domus Mazziniana 38 (1992), p ; N. DE HAAN, NATHALIE DE HAAN taken by Umberto Zanotti Bianco and Paolo Orsi, supported by a group of friends. In the first fourteen years of its existence, the Società Magna Grecia financed and initiated numerous excavation and restoration projects in Southern Italy focusing on the archaeo logical remains of the Greek and Byzantine past. The Società Magna Grecia was an autonomous society that worked together with the state controlled soprintendenze. This contribution starts with a brief portrayal of the founding fathers of the Società Magna Grecia, Umberto Zanotti Bianco and Paolo Orsi. Their objectives are explored, followed by a description of the way the Società organized its projects. A sketch of the network of individuals behind the Società is necessary as well. Finally, the way the fascist regime reacted to the Società Magna Grecia, ultimately dissolved in 1935, is discussed briefly. As I have argued elsewhere, this reaction was various and incoherent, seeming to reflect the troubles the regime had in ways to evaluate the Greek past of Italy 3. The regime s inconsistent treatment of the Società Magna Grecia provided room for Zanotti Bianco, the director, and many of his friends, who were in part antifascist. At the same time, the antifascist position of some of its leading members, Zanotti Bianco in primis, seems to have been one of the main reasons for the suppression of the Società by the fascist government. Umberto Zanotti Bianco and Paolo Orsi Umberto Zanotti Bianco was born in 1889 on the island of Crete as the son of an Italian father, a diplomat, and a Scottish mother 4. The aristocratic Zanotti Bianco family was financially well off : Umberto was never on anyone s payroll. His aristocratic and his international family background would turn out to be of vital importance in his later life. After the devastating earthquake that struck large parts of Sicily and Calabria in December 1908, young Zanotti Bianco travelled to Calabria early in He was encouraged to do so by one of his schoolteachers in Turin, Padre Semeria, and by Antonio Fogazzaro, a well-known writer who inspired Zanotti Bianco a great deal. Umberto Zanotti Bianco and the Archaeology of Magna Graecia During the Fascist Era, in N. DE HAAN, M. EICKHOFF, M. SCHWEGMAN (eds.), Archaeology and National Identity in Italy and Europe Proceedings of the International Round Table at the Royal Netherlands Institute, Rome, February 2007, Fragmenta. Journal of the Royal Netherlands Institute in Rome, 2 (2008), p DE HAAN, Umberto Zanotti Bianco. Some overlap between this article and the present one has been inevitable. 4 Cf. J. TORRACA, Profilo di Umberto Zanotti Bianco, Nuova Antalogia 85 (1953), p (reprinted and up-dated in Archivio Storico per la Calabria e la Lucania 34 [ ], p. 3-15) ; A. MEDEA, Vita di Zanotti Bianco, Il Ponte 19 (1963), p ; S. SETTIS, Archeologia, tutela, sviluppo. La lezione di Umberto Zanotti Bianco, in S. SETTIS, M.C. PARRA (a cura di), Magna Graecia. Archeologia di un sapere, Milan, 2005, p THE SOCIETÀ MAGNA GRECIA IN FASCIST ITALY Zanotti Bianco was shocked by the poverty that he found on his first stay in Southern Italy. It was obvious that the misery he saw was not only the outcome of a natural disaster, but to a large extent the result of structural neglect. For Zanotti Bianco, who was raised with the intellectual legacy of Giuseppe Mazzini, the enormous social problems of Southern Italy were a serious obstacle for a truly united Italy. Action, in the Mazzinian sense, was not seen as a choice, but as a duty. As a result, in 1910, Umberto Zanotti Bianco founded, together with Giovanni Malvezzi and Tommaso Gallarati Scotti, the Associazione Nazionale per gli Interessi del Mezzogiorno d Italia (the National Association for the Interests of the Mezzogiorno in Italy, ANIMI) 5. The three of them knew each other in the circle of admirers around Fogazzaro and had been close friends since 1908, especially after their travel together in Calabria 6. During that same stay, Zanotti Bianco met Giuseppina Le Maire, who he would work with on many social and cultural projects until her death in It is obvious from the outset that Zanotti Bianco, despite his young age, had great organisational abilities and that he was very talented in mobilising others for his ideals. Senator Leopoldo Franchetti, for example, willingly agreed to act as president of ANIMI. Very soon Zanotti Bianco was working fulltime for the Association while also studying law in Rome. He spent most of his time in Reggio Calabria, where ANIMI opened an office in 1911, living off a small allowance from his father. He worked with great passion, constantly travelling in Calabria, founding infant and elementary schools and libraries. The first adult literacy campaigns were also soon started. From the beginning, Zanotti Bianco drove the educational and cultural programs of ANIMI. In his view, cultural education was an important tool for the emancipation of the people. Decisive in this respect had been his encounter with the archaeologist Paolo Orsi in 1911, on board a steamship in the Strait of Messina 7. Paolo Orsi ( ) was at that time soprintendente of Sicily and Calabria and director of the Archaeological Museum at Syracuse 8. Undoubtedly, Orsi was impressed by this young man who devoted his time and energy to this region of Italy, probably because Orsi himself had dedicated most of his archaeological career to the cultural 5 U. ZANOTTI BIANCO, L Associazione Nazionale per gli Interessi del Mezzogiorno d Italia nei suoi primi cinquant anni di vita, Rome, 1960 ; M. ROSSI DORIA, Il Meridionalista, in Umberto Zanotti Bianco ( ). Atti del convegno su Umberto Zanotti Bianco, Roma gennaio 1979, Rome, 1980, p M. ROSSI DORIA, Il Meridionalista, p Cf. U. ZANOTTI BIANCO, Paolo Orsi e la Società Magna Grecia, Archivio Storico per la Calabria e la Lucania 5 (1935), p On Orsi see U. ZANOTTI BIANCO, Paolo Orsi ; M. BARBANERA, L archeologia degli italiani. Storia, metodi e orientamenti dell archeologia classica in Italia, Rome, 1998, p ; M. PAOLETTI, Paolo Orsi : la dura disciplina e il lavoro tenace di un grande archeologo del Novecento, in SETTIS-PARRA, Magna Graecia, p See also P.E. ARIAS, Zanotti Bianco and Paolo Orsi, Nuova Antologia 125, fasc (1990), p NATHALIE DE HAAN heritage of Southern Italy, especially Sicily and Calabria. In fact, Paolo Orsi and Umberto Zanotti Bianco had a lot in common. Both men came from Northern Italy (Orsi was born in Rovereto) and shared a deep love for the Mezzogiorno. For both of them, committed citizens of the still young Italian nation, it was only logical to devote their time and energy to the benefit of that nation. Soon after their first meeting, they started a correspondence and Orsi asked if Zanotti Bianco could help to find money for the restoration of Byzantine churches in Calabria 9. The requests for money from Orsi were received with favour by Zanotti Bianco, who became more and more convinced that knowledge of the glorious ancient and Byzantine past would restore the scattered identity of a region regarded as backward by the rest of Italy. Hence, the archaeological remains and monuments were landmarks deserving attention and study. This was exactly the point where Orsi s and Zanotti Bianco s ideas converged. Orsi certainly played an important role in the first period of ANIMI s existence, in which Zanotti Bianco became aware of the value of the past as a weapon in the present to fight poverty and backwardness. Orsi would become his mentor and a close friend until his death in 1935, despite a difference of age of thirty years. It was Orsi who trained Zanotti Bianco as an archaeologist, directly in the field, during various excavation and survey projects in the 1920s. Zanotti Bianco, who had a degree in law, not in classical archaeology, was a dedicated and diligent student. His sketchbooks from projects in the 1930s show furthermore that he was a good draughtsman 10. Knowing his limits, however, he never directed excavations projects alone, always working together with academically trained and experienced archaeologists. The Società Magna Grecia The shared commitment of Umberto Zanotti Bianco and Paolo Orsi to the archaeological heritage of Southern Italy resulted in the founding of the Società Magna Grecia soon after World War I, in The aim of the Società was to promote research on the Greek remains in Southern Italy, the region called Magna Graecia (Megalè Hellas) since ancient times. Orsi and Quintino Quagliati, the soprintendente of Apulia, were appointed as presidents, and Zanotti Bianco became the executive director 11. In the beginning the Società had a central seat in Rome and an additional department in Milan. Later on departments in Turin and Naples were founded. The Società 9 U. ZANOTTI BIANCO, Carteggio , ed. by Valeriani Carinci, Rome-Bari, 1987, p Part of the correspondence between Zanotti Bianco and Orsi is kept in the archives of ANIMI : Fondo Umberto Zanotti Bianco and Fondo Società Magna Grecia. 10 Archives ANIMI, Fondo Umberto Zanotti Bianco, Sezione B Serie 5 Società Magna Grecia, Unità Archivistica 13 : taccuini. 11 On Quagliati see A. CORRETTI, Quintino Quagliati ( ), in SETTIS-PARRA, Magna Graecia, p THE SOCIETÀ MAGNA GRECIA IN FASCIST ITALY organized lectures, occasionally even art fairs, to collect money. Brochures informing the members of the Società on projects and initiatives were published from the start on a regular basis. The Società was independent of ANIMI. As the executive director Zanotti Bianco acted as fundraiser and dealt with the archaeologists responsible for the various state run Antiquity Services (the soprintendenze) in Southern Italy. The common practice was for the Società Magna Grecia to raise money from private individuals, companies and institutions. This money was spent by the soprintendenze in various excavation and editorial projects selected by the Società. The soprintendenze were responsible for the excavations carried out by their own archaeologists and workmen. In the 1920s and early 1930s the Società Magna Grecia paid for the projects of the soprintendenze of Naples, Calabria, Apulia and Sicily, at the sites of Hipponium (Vibo Valentia), Taranto, Serra d Alto (a prehistoric site), Syracuse, Metapontum, Velia, Sybaris and Himera 12. Under the aegis of the Byzantine section (Sezione Bizantina medioevale) established in 1932, several Byzantine churches were restored. Furthermore, a photography campaign in Apulia provided a complete documentation of the frescoes in many cave chapels in that region 13. This section of the Società was supervised by the Milanese art-historian Alba Medea, who was a lifelong friend of Zanotti Bianco. Zanotti Bianco turned out to be a very skilful fundraiser for the many projects that took place under the aegis of the Società Magna Grecia. Private persons or institutions, e.g. libraries, could take a subscription to the publications of the Società. Of vital importance were the Atti e Memorie della Società Magna Grecia, a scholarly journal with high standards that was published annually between 1926 and Editor-in-chief was Zanotti Bianco. A number of benefactors immediately donated large sums of money. The list of members of the year 1931 reveals the involvement of the royal family, of many aristocrats, of banking and financial institutions, of cultural institutions, scholars and cultivated individuals in both Italy and abroad 14. To give just a few examples : King Vittorio Emanuele III was socio perpetuo, as were banks such as the Banca Commerciale Italiana and the Banca Monte de Paschi at Siena. Among members were the Biblioteca Hertziana and various other foreign Schools and Academies in Rome, and individual scholars such as Eugenia Strong, Bernard Berenson, Amedeo Maiuri, and Giulio 12 An overview of all projects can be found in U. ZANOTTI BIANCO, L opera della Società Magna Grecia nei primi dieci anni, Annales Institutorum Romae 3 ( ), p Cf. A. MEDEA, Mural Paintings in some Cave Chapels in Southern Italy, American Journal of Archaeology 42/1 (1938), p The list of 1931 can be found in the archives of ANIMI : Fondo Umberto Zanotti Bianco Sezione B Serie 5 Società Magna Grecia, Unità Archivistica 16. A copy of the list is in Pisa (Università di Pisa, Biblioteca del Dipartimento di Scienze Storiche) and has been published by M. Paoletti : M. PAOLETTI, Umberto Zanotti Bianco, Appendice II, p NATHALIE DE HAAN Emanuele Rizzo. Even the Confederazione Nazionale Fascista del Commercio at Rome was member (socio perpetuo), as was the Federazione Provinciale Fascista del Commercio Napoli. This seems to indicate that Zanotti Bianco was not averse to some pragmatism if it served his own goals. The way that the Società operated was special for several reasons. First, archaeological research on such a large-scale basis focussing on the Greek remains of Southern Italy had never taken place before the creation of the Società Magna Grecia. Secondly, all research was done by the soprintendenze, the Società was not an additional archaeological institution but made use of the existing organizations. The money involved, however, was private. The success in fundraising can also be explained by Zanotti Bianco s promptness to announce results and projects in newspapers and magazines whenever he could, his ample use of photography and his ability to translate scholarly results for a wider audience. By selecting and scheduling its projects the Società claimed an important role in the archaeological research agenda of Southern Italy. The Società Magna Grecia and the networks behind it The first circular letter, cited above, marking the founding of the Società, was signed by fourteen individuals. All fourteen members of this founding committee held influential positions in Italian society, formally or informally. Scholars, politicians, government officials and persons with careers or close ties in the cultural world took a place on the committee. Aristocracy was well represented. Later brochures of the Società usually listed all names of this founding committee, the soci fondatori as they were called : Sofia Cammarota Adorno, Eleonora Duse, duchessa Amelia Gallarati Scotti, Maria Gallenga, Giuseppina Le Maire, contessa Silvia Manzoni, Carolina Maraini, principessa Adelina di Strongoli, barone Alberto Blanc, professore Giacomo Cenni, generale Mario Moris, senatore Corrado Ricci, ingegnere Enrico Vismara, dottor Umberto Zanotti Bianco 15. Sofia Cammarota Adorno was daughter of a former Senator, Giuseppe Cornero, and married to Gaetano Cammarota Adorno, who held a high position in the Ministry of Education. She had been active in social projects in Reggio Calabria in the years after 1910 and had become a close friend of Zanotti Bianco in that period 16. Eleonora Duse was a famous actress at that time. Amelia Gallarati Scotti is probably a younger sister of Tommaso, Zanotti Bianco s good friend and co-founder of ANIMI. Stemming from a family that played an important role in artistic and intellectual circles at Rome, Maria Gallenga (born Monaci, ) was a successful artist, active in textile 15 Cf. M. PAOLETTI, Umberto Zanotti Bianco, Appendice II, p ; N. DE HAAN Umberto Zanotti Bianco, p V. CORNERO, La storia del volo passa da Rocca, Asti in Vetrina 19/5 (2008), p ; G. RUSSO, Zanotti Bianco, apostolico laico del Sud, Corriere della Sera, 25 novembre 2003, p THE SOCIETÀ MAGNA GRECIA IN FASCIST ITALY printing, clothes and interior design 17. Carolina Maraini, maiden name Sommaruga ( ), was born in Lugano (Switzerland), as was her husband Emilio 18. Emilio Maraini ( ) had been very successful in business and had made his fortune as a manufacturer of sugar. In 1900 he was chosen as member of the Italian House of Representatives, having both Swiss and Italian nationality. The Villa Maraini, built in 1902, was their residence at Rome. The villa has housed the Istituto Svizzero, since 1947, the year in which Carolina Maraini donated the villa to the Swiss Republic under the condition that it should be used to strengthen the cultural ties between Switzerland and Italy 19. Physicist Gian Alberto Blanc ( ) got the first Chair of Geochemistry at the University of Rome, in He had a vivid interest in palaeontology and made important contributions to that scholarly discipline as well. He published, for example, on the Palaeolithic site of the Romanelli Cave near Lecce, one of the first sites where carbon-14 dating was employed. Blanc had participated in the March on Rome in 1922 and was active in the fascist party and fascist organizations until the mid-1930s. 21. Senator Corrado Ricci ( ) had been an influential government official serving in various museums and institutions 22. In 1906 he was nominated director-general of antiquities and fine arts, a position he kept until Already in 1911 Ricci had developed the first plans for the liberation of the area of the imperial fora, a project that was finally carried out under Mussolini in 1932 when the Via dell Impero was built. Ricci was appointed Senator in 1923 and was certainly not an opponent of the fascist party : he signed the so-called Manifesto degli intellettuali fascisti of Blanc and Ricci seem to have been the only soci fondatori that were actively supporting the fascist party and government. 17 Cf. Dizionario della Moda : (consulted on 29 August 2008) ; B.M. DU MORTIER, Couture! , Rijksmuseum Kunstkrant 25/5 (1999), p On Carolina and Emilio Maraini see O. REVERDIN, L Istituto Svizze
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