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Palermo

(318 words)

Author(s): Ricca, Paolo
[German Version] City on the northern coast of Sicily (2007 population 666,552), at the mouth of a beautiful, fertile valley known as early as the 4th century bce as ¶ the “garden” of Sicily and since the 16th century as the “Golden Shell.” The valley has been settled since the Paleolithic period. The city was founded in the 7th century bce by the Phoenicians (Phoenicia); it has always been a cultural crossroads. It was captured by the Romans in the First Punic War (254 bce), then later by the Goths. (440 ce), the Byzantines (536; Constantinople), the Arabs (831), the Normans (1072), …

Venice

(1,251 words)

Author(s): Ricca, Paolo
[German Version] According to a new hypothesis, the first settlement on the island of Rivoalto (Rialto) was a Roman castrum. It seems quite certain that fugitives from neighboring areas found refuge in and around Rivoalto during the 5th to 7th centuries after having fled before the Huns, Ostrogoths, and Langobards. While the origins of Venice remain obscure, its history and culture were nonetheless prestigious. The most powerful maritime republic of Italy from the 12th to the 16th century, it successfully competed…

Vinay, Tullio

(177 words)

Author(s): Ricca, Paolo
[German Version] (May 13, 1909, La Spezia – Sep 2, 1996, Rome). From 1934 to 1948, Vinay was pastor of the Waldensian church (Waldenses) in Florence, where he helped many Jews escape deportation. Between 1948 and 1951, he created Agape, an ecumenical youth center in the Valli Valdesi, as a place of meeting, dialogue, and reconciliation after the experiences of World War II. In 1961 he founded the Servizio Cristiano in Riesi, Sicily, a social service organization intended to show the meaning of the…

Naples

(615 words)

Author(s): Ricca, Paolo
[German Version] In the 9th century bce, merchants from Rhodes founded a trading post named Parthenope near the present site of Naples; in the 7th/6th century, it was settled by colonists from Cumae. In the 4th century, under the influence of Syracuse, the settlement was extended to Neapolis, a center of maritime trade. The economic importance of the city declined under Roman rule, but it remained a focus of Greek culture in Italy. In the Augustan period, it became the favorite tourist destination of …

Monaco

(187 words)

Author(s): Ricca, Paolo
[German Version] lies in a region occupied in antiquity by Ligurians and Phoenicians. The harbor, which existed from the 6th century bce, was only occasionally used by the Romans. The political history of Monaco is bound up with the still reigning Grimaldi family from Genoa. The principality (1.9 km 2, 32,000 inhabitants in 2000) is, according to its 1962 constitution, a sovereign state with friendly relations to France, the protecting power. It is not a member of the United Nations, but is the seat of various international organizations. Its …

San Marino

(220 words)

Author(s): Ricca, Paolo
[German Version] San Marino, the oldest republic in Europe. Located on the eastern side of the Umbrian Apennines, as of 2010 it had an estimated population of 31,830 in an area of 61.2 km2. A 9th- or 10th-century legend associates its beginnings with Marinus and Leo, two Christians sentenced to forced labor near Rimini under Diocletian; after some missionary work in that area, they retreated to Monte Titano. There a group of hermits formed, which grew into a settlement that was organized in the 10th century as a fortified town …

Montes pietatis

(291 words)

Author(s): Ricca, Paolo
[German Version] ( Monti di pietà). Communal pawnbrokers, founded in Italy from the second half of the 15th century, after an unsuccessful attempt in the 14th, in order to combat widespread usury. They offered to anyone, especially to the poor, a small loan on favorable conditions (sometimes free), in return for an object of equal value as security. Their establishment was promoted by Franciscans (esp. by Bernardino of Feltre and Barnabas of Terni, who also collected funds to ¶ maintain them), and supported by popes (first by Pius II in 1463, with a decree). On the other h…

Sicily

(879 words)

Author(s): Ricca, Paolo
[German Version] Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean (25,460 km2, population some 5.2 million). Thanks to its central location in the Mediterranean, it has always been a junction and melting-pot of peoples and cultures. The earliest settlements date from the Paleolithic, some 300,000 years ago. In prehistoric times, various cultures flourished; c. 1400 bce the Aegean-Mycenaean culture was dominant. During Phoenician domination (after 1000 bce; Phoenicia), which was more economic than political, Greek colonization began in 735 bce; it was opposed – with varying…

Italy

(7,951 words)

Author(s): Beck, Rolf K. | Schneider, Helmuth | Paoli-Lafaye, Elisabeth | Ricca, Paolo | Veltri, Giuseppe
[German Version] I. General – II. History and Sociology I. General Since 1861 (the establishment of the Kingdom of Italy), Italy has been the name of the first unified nation on the Italian peninsula since the Lombard invasion in 568. Following a referendum in 1946, Italy became a republic (Repubblica Italiana) with a bicameral parliament. The president is the representative chief of state; the government is headed by the prime minister. Since 1870, with the dissolution of the Papal States, the capital has been Rome (population 2.7 million in 2000). Italy has an area of 187,179 km2, with…