APT Basilicata

APT Basilicata

Basilicata turistica

Nitti Francesco Saverio

Born in Melfi on July 19, 1868, Francesco Saverio Nitti was a man of culture, an economics and finance scientist. He entered parliament in 1904 from Muro Lucano seat and, even though he came from a small southern region, was minister of industry from 1911 to 1914, minister of treasury from 1917 to 1917, prime minister from June 23, 1919 to June 15, 1920. When Mussolini came in, in 1924, and after fascist paramilitary squads had devastated his house in Rome, Nitti reluctantly took the decision to leave Italy, together with his family, for a “voluntary and long and sad exile.” He went to Zurich, then to Paris, where he got into contact with the international press and with the uppermost European and world authorities. Deported by Germans from 1943 to 1945, grief-stricken by his two sons’ death, he returned to Italy in July 1945. He actively took part into the reconstruction process, to start with his own small region. On October 3, 1945 Nitti delivered an important speech at Teatro San Carlo in Naples, which remains a model of dignity and moral consistency. Nitti delivered, with the authoritativeness he derived from a 21-year exile, a message of peace and national harmony to a country torn to pieces, split and divided into factions. A member of the Constitutional Court first, then of the Constituent Assembly, Nitti’s contribution to the redaction of the constitution was fundamental.


Nitti was a republican, he opposed the so-called “fraudulent law” and, even though he expressed his reserves on it, voted for the Atlantic Treatise. He did not take part in the elections of April 18, 1948 out of respect for the loss of his long-life companion, Antonia Persico, who had died two months before on February 19. This testifies once more to his great dignity. Anyway, from 1948 to 1951 he sat in Senate, exercising his prerogative of former prime minister. In 1952 Nitti, on occasion of the elections in Rome, led a civil list to oppose the centre-right list, a coalition of Christian Democrat and Movimento Sociale. He did not win, but knew how to be in the opposition. Nitti died on February 20, 1953.


Unlike Giustino Fortunato, who had been his master as well as his moral and civil model, Nitti was not only the champion of southern masses, but also the author of proposal to address the problems of the South. Unlike Giustino Fortunato, he thought even the physical aspect of the South could be modified: throughout the centuries, the South had suffered from deforestation, irrational exploitation of the countryside, latifundism, state of neglect of its rivers, etc. In this regard, he suggested a rational policy of reforestation, regulation of rivers, building of catch basins for irrigation systems and hydro-electric power. This was the way to give back the South the status it had in the Magna Grecia days. In his opinion, industrialization was to play a fundamental role.


While waiting for all these things to happen, he launched a bold attack against latifundism, and declared the necessity of an agrarian reform and even the expediency of a redistribution of the uncultivated land to peasants. That was the definitive answer to the problem of emigration, in respect of which Nitti had an understanding approach: he saw it as necessary to solve, in that particular historic moment, individual and familiar problems. At the end of the 19th century, many had no choice but brigandage or emigration.


Fascist tyranny had forced him to go into exile and to live in solitude: this gave him the possibility to become a detached observer of international affairs. A sworn enemy of war, and an enthusiastic follower of Pope Benedict XV, Nitti put no faith in peace treaties: according to him, they did nothing but confirm the division between winners and defeated and express the thirst for revenge and punishment on the defeated people. It had been done to Germany, and the result had been Nazism; There had been no benevolence towards Italy, and the result had been Fascism. As Nitti already anticipated in 1921, the outcome could be but a new, long, and devastating war. He thought the antidote to this could be represented by the constitution of the United States of Europe, which had to be finally ruled, like a big family, by knowledge and tolerance, dialogue and wisdom, according to an old utopia dating back to Erasmus of Rotterdam.


Nitti’s most important works are: L’emigrazione ed i suoi avversari (1888), La vita italiana nel Risorgimento (1899), Il socialismo cattolico (1891), L’Italia all’alba del XX secolo (1901), La città di Napoli (1901), Napoli e la questione meridionale (1903), Il porto di Napoli (1907), L’Europa senza pace (1921), La decadenza dell’Europa (1922), La tragedia dell’Europa (1923), La pace (1925), La libertà (1926), L’inquietudine del mondo (1934), La disgregazione dell’Europa (1938), Rivelazioni. Dramatis personae (1948).

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