Southern Italy

The less wealthy, somewhat more Hellenized portion of Italy; comprising the "boot" and "heel" of the peninsula, together with the islands of Sardinia and Sicily.

Contains: Agira, Agrigento, Amalfi, Apulia, Arborea, Aversa, Barbagia, Bari, Benevento, Cagliari, Calabria, Capua, Catania, Crotone, Cumæ, Enna, Gaeta, Gallura, Gela, Gozo, Gravina, Lentini, LoritelloMalta, Melfi, Messina, Molise, Naples, Palermo, Reggio de Calabria, Salerno, the Samnites, Sardinia (general survey), Sassari, Segesta, Sicily, Sybaris, Syracuse, Taranto, Tavolara, and Torres.


Sic. Aggira) is a town in the province of Enna, Sicily. It is located in the mid-valley of the River Salso, 15 miles (24 km.) east-northeast of Enna, and some 28 miles (45 km.) west-southwest of Mount Etna. Until 1861 it was called San Filippo d'Argiriò. In classical times it was the home town of Diodorus Siculus (fl. mid 1st cent. BCE), the famous Græco-Roman historian.

A port in southern Sicily, notable as the birthplace of philosopher Empedocles.

AMALFI A town and port in Campania, southeast of Naples and 9 miles (14.5 km.) west of Salerno. Now a well-known seaside resort, once an important rival to Venice and Genoa as a maritime republic.

APULIA The heel of the Italian peninsula. A separate county in 1043, it became a duchy in 1059.

ARBOREA On the western coast of Sardinia and controlling much of the interior. Its best known dynast, the warrior-queen Eleonora (d. 1404), created a law-code which remained in force until 1713.

AVERSA A County in southern Italy, a Principality from 1062; the earliest Norman establishment in the area.

BARI An important port on the Adriatic coast, at the base of the "heel" of the Italian boot, 65 miles (105 km.) northwest of Brindisi. An ancient city, the place has had a been subject to diverse influences and has been an important point of embarkation for the East - it was here that Peter the Hermit preached the First Crusade in 1096.

BENEVENTO A duchy 590, a principality from 774. The city became a Papal possession in the Middle Ages, but most of the ancient ducal territory fell under Neapolitan control.

CAGLIARI A major port in the far south of Sardinia, and the primary city on the island today. An ally of Genoa in the Middle Ages.

The southernmost province of mainland Italy; the "toe" of the Italian boot.

CAPUA A Lombard Duchy in the Campania, alongside Benevento and Salerno.

CATANIA On the east coast of Sicily, about 35 miles (55 km.) north of Syracuse, and brooded over by Mt. Etna, just to the north (it was named AEtna, after the volcano, c. 480-461 BCE). Site of Sicily's first University, founded 1434.

CROTONE On the east coast of the Calabrian Peninsula (the "foot" of the Italian boot), overlooking the Ionian Sea to the east and southeast, and the Gulf of Taranto to the northeast and north. Founded about 710 BCE from Achaea, in Greece. The ancient city is notable as the site (530-510) of the Pythagorean Academy.

CUMÆ (Cyme) An ancient Greek settlement lying 12 miles (19 km.) to the northwest of Naples, on the Campanian coast. The settlement is believed to have been founded in the 8th century BCE by Greeks from the city of Cyme and Chalkis in Euboea led by the oecist (colonizer) Hippocles, upon the earlier dwellings of indigenous Iron-Age peoples whom they supplanted. Cumæ was the first Greek colony on the mainland of Italy (Magna Graecia), there having been earlier starts on the islands of Ischia and Sicily by colonists from the Euboean cities of Chalcis and possibly Eretria or Cuma. Cumae is perhaps most famous as the seat of the Cumæan Sibyl. Her sanctuary is now open to the public. The colony was also the entry point onto the Italian peninsula for the Cumæan alphabet, a variant of which was adapted by the Romans. The colony spread throughout the area over the 7th and 6th centuries BCE, gaining sway over Puteoli and Misenum and, thereafter, the founding of Neapolis (Naples) in 470 BCE.

ENNA An inland town in the very center of the island of Sicily.

GAETA A coastal town in south-central Italy, about 50 miles (80 km.) northwest of Naples. A favoured resort in Roman times, it remained a significant community and strategically important fortress during the Middle Ages and early modern times. It's surrender to Piedmontese forces in Feb. 1861 ended the Bourbon Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, and finalized the emergence of Italy as a unified state.

GALLURA A city and territory on the northern end of the island of Sardinia

GELA A port in southern Sicily, a Greek colony founded from Rhodes and Crete, site of a powerful state in ancient times.

GOZO (Ghawdex)
Gozo (it's Maltese name, Ghawdex, is pronounced "ow-desh") is one of five islands in the Maltese archipelago (the others being Malta proper, Comino, Cominotto and Filfla). It has an area of approximately 26 mi² (67 km²). The island has a population of 30,000, about 6,000 of them living in its capital Rabat (Victoria). Gozo lies approximately 3 ¾ miles (6 km) northwest from the nearest point of Malta. It was inhabitated since the 5th millennium BC, as witnessed by the megalithic structures at Ggantija, believed to be the oldest free-standing human-built structure ever discovered.

Gravina (Latin "Silvium", Greek "Silouion") is a municipality in the province of Bari in southern Italy, on the Gravina River. It is located about 30 miles (48 km.) southwest of Bari, and about 48 miles (77 km.) northwest of Taranto. It is the site of one of the most venerable commercial fairs in Europe, San Giorgio's Fair, held every April since 1294.

LENTINI An eastern Sicilian town in ancient times called Leontinoi, it is strategically placed some 22 miles (35 km.) northwest of Syracuse. It has had a chequered history, being contended against, beseiged, sacked, or otherwise in the way of numerous armies; Gelan, Syracusan. Athenian, Roman, and Arab, especially. It was nearly leveled by the earthquake of 1693, but is now a prosperrous market town.

An Italo-Norman county along the Adriatic north of the Gargano Promontory. It was carved out of the eastern seaboard of the Principality of Benevento following the Battle of Civitate in 1053 by members of the Hauteville family. See alo, Molise.

MaltaMALTA A very strategically placed island south of Sicily; its possession has meant naval control of the central Mediterreanean Sea on many occassions. See also, Gozo. Maltese Baronies I include these tiny lordships not because they retained any sort of autonomy from the rulers of the island, but because they shed some light on purely local conditions obtaining in the region in the later Middle Ages and early Modern era.
DJAR IL-BNIET Held originally by the Bava family; names unknown. With the extinction
of the Bava family, title reverts to the crown of Aragon.
  • Francis I (Cicco)............................1350-1372
  • Francis II Lanza.............................1372-1397
  • Francis III..................................1397- ?
  • Lanza
  • Francis IV...................................1397-1442
  • Also Baron of  Buqana, of Budaq, and Lord of Jemsija and Zabbaria.
  • Imperia (fem.)................................1442- ? with...
  • INGUANEZ (Gatto-Inguanez)
  • Anthony I..................................1440's- ?
  • Angeraldo..................................... ? -1472
  • Anthony II Angerao...........................1472-1487
  • James Angerao................................1487- ?
  • ??
  • Mark Angerao.................................. ? -1589
  • Anthony III..................................1589-1608 ?
  • Mark.........................................1608-1612
  • ??
  • Mark Anthony.................................. ? -1760
  • Direct line extinct, barony passes to various branches of the family and continues today as a title in the Apap-Bologna family.

  • MELFI A town near the central spine of the Appenines in southern Italy, 73 miles (117 km.) east-northeast of Naples and 65 miles (104 km.) west-southwest of Bari. A favoured residence of Norman overlords and HRE Frederick II, the Constitutions of Melfi - the basic law for the Kingdom of Naples in the Middle Ages - was enacted here in 1231.

    MESSINA A city at the northeastern tip of Sicily, across the straits from Reggio di Calabria.

    A rural province in the northern region of the old Kingdom of Naples, fronting on the Adriatic coast; Abruzzi is to the west-northwest, while Puglia and the Gargano Promontory lie to the east. See also, Loritello.

    NAPLES The southern third of the Italian boot. This region was a warren of petty, and not so petty, states during the Dark Ages and early Middle Ages: see Apulia, Bari, Benevento, Capua, Melfi, Salerno, and Taranto for examples. Located where it is, the area has always been a crossroads of influences, from Hellenic and Illyrian, to Latin, Lombard, Arab, Norman, Spanish, and French. This list uses as its focus the city itself, from its early beginnings as a Greek colony (Neapouleis).

    NOTO A town in the southeastern corner of Sicily. The modern town was established in 1703 following the complete destruction of the earlier city, located a few miles northwest of the present site, by the earthquake of 1693.

    PALERMO Largest city and long-standing capital of Sicily, located on the northwest coast of the island.

    REGGIO di CALABRIA A city and district at the very tip of the toe on the Italian "boot". Called Rhegium in ancient times.

    SALERNO A Lombard Duchy, in the interior of southern Italy.

    SAMNITES The Samnites were an early Italic people speaking Oscan, a language closely related to archaic Latin. They lived in central southern Italy, and are quite probably offshoots of the Sabines, a people dwelling in central Italy. The Samnites were only tenuously a single nation; they were composed of four separate clans (the Hirpini, Caudini, Caraceni, and Pentri) grouped together in a loosely-knit confederation. Always regarded by Romans as a rough, hardy, and pugnacious people, they were by times allies (against Gaulish invaders) or contentious enemies. They were eventually assimilated into the general Italian population. The best-known family of Samnite extraction is doubtlessly that of the Pontii, who provided more than one Samnite ruler, and at a somewhat later date a procurator of Judaea, Pontius Pilate.

    SARDINIA A large Mediterrannean island lying north of Sicily. A kingdom was created here in 1720 for the Duke of Savoy, when he transfered his newly-established royal authority in Sicily to the Holy Roman Emperor, who held Sardinia at that time, and traded islands with him. For Sardinia as a whole...

    SEGESTA Located in northwestern Sicily; built by the tribe of Elimoi, said to be Trojan in origin.

    SICILYA large island centrally located in the Mediterrannean Sea. Sicily has seen a wide variety of cultures on its shores; Phoenician, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Norman, and Catalan peoples have all left their mark here. The island has sporadically played host to some of the brightest and most sophisticated milieus in the region, especially in the first half of the 4th century BCE, the latter 3rd century BCE, and the 10th-13th centuries CE.

    SYBARIS (THURII) In the Italian "toe", not far from the Bay of Taranto. During the first phase of independence, the city became a byword in the ancient world for wealth and luxurious decadence, a reputation which remains in the English language to this day, with the adjective "Sybaritic". The region suffered during late Classical and early Mediaeval times, the nearest modern town to the site is Terranova di Sybari.

    SYRACUSE In southwest Sicily, the largest and most powerful of the ancient city-states, controlling much of the island at various times. It's rulers usually used the title of Tyrant.

    TARANTO Located at the northern end of the Gulf of Taranto, at the angle that begins the heel of the Italian 'boot'. Built in 706 by Phalanthos from Sparta, and originally named Taras, the site has always been an important port and naval staging area. During the Middle Ages it was an important Norman Principality.

    A tiny island, known as Hermea in ancient times, off the northeastern coast of Sardinia; the nearest town of any size is Olbia, 12 miles (20 km.) to the east - the village of Porto San Paolo is 3 miles (5 km.) to the east-southeast of the island's western tip.

    TORRES A city on the northwest coast of Sardinia, and a long-time Genoese ally.