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What to see in Italy: The History of Palmi, the City of the Tauriani

2021-02-25 23:01

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What to see in Italy: The History of Palmi, the City of the Tauriani

What to see in calabria: The History of Palmi, the City of the Taurians Before the middle of the 10th century, Palmi did not exist.

What to see in Italy: The History of Palmi, the City of the Tauriani

Before the middle of the tenth century, Palmi did not exist, but it is believed that some farmhouses, belonging to the nearby town of Tauriana, must have been scattered around the then contrada De Palmis, so called because of the numerous palm trees that grew there spontaneously.

It is not to be excluded, however, that already previously the city of Palmi could exist because, in the VI century, Cassiodorus in a letter addressed to Anastasio ("cancellaro" of Bruzia and Lucania), praised a wine called "Palmaziano" and argued that this name derived from that of a territory even if, subsequently, the glossators thought that it was referred not to a territory, but to its excellent superiority.


The Bronze Age

The municipality has been inhabited since the Bronze Age, as evidenced by the findings of excavations carried out since 1991 in the Cave of the  Pietrosa. In fact, the artefacts found are ceramics, mainly from the late Bronze Age phase, which prove that the area was inhabited at that time. Other finds, however, can be interpreted as imports from the Aegean area. This leads us to think that the Tyrrhenian coasts of Calabria were part of the Mycenaean trade routes. The remains of the huts of a village, active for about a thousand years, and located in Taureana di Palmi, also date from the Bronze Age.

 Photo below: 

Tavola Peutingeriana: Segmentum VI; representation of the southern end of Calabria and the Strait, with Tauriana highlighted



In ancient times, in the municipal territory of Palmi, there was a city called Tauriana, which was the northern end of the chora of Rhegion.

Regarding the foundation of the city, some legends tell of a possible Achaean colonisation of the area.

The city is also mentioned in official documents of later times, when Livy asserts that in 212 BC, during the Second Punic War, 'in Bruttiis' the Taureans, together with the Cosentines, 'passed under the protection of Rome'.

Also Cato[unclear] tells about the existence of the Taurian people, giving an indication of the area where their territory was. The border with Rhegion was given by the river "Pecoli" and, according to some archaeologists, this Catoian passage would give a historical basis to the legend about Tauriana's links with the Achaeans.

Pomponius Mela and Pliny the Elder also wrote of a 'city of the Taurians' in the 1st century AD. The latter defines it as 'Tauroentum oppidum'. The Cosmografia ravennate mentions, for the late ancient age, Tauriana among the cities located 'near the strait that divides Sicily and Italy'.

Also the Tavola Peutingeriana, in segment VI, reports the existence of the city of Tauriana in the imperial age.

Around the 3rd-4th century the town became an episcopal seat. In Byzantine times, within the Thema of Calabria, Tauriana fell within the area of the 'Turma delle Saline'.

In the years around 590, Tauriana was prey to Lombard raids from the Duchy of Benevento and, in the following centuries, Saracen raids occurred. Between the 7th and 8th centuries, Tauriana was already severely damaged either by the Saracens from Africa or by the Lombards.

Apart from this, the few news that have reached us about the life of the town are contained in the bios of the life of Saint Fantino the Elder, a native of Tauriana, written in the 8th century by Peter, bishop of the diocese.


The rest of the territory in ancient times

In the area of Tauriana, by the way, there was, further south, a place frequented and well known since the first century AD, also mentioned by Pliny the Elder, who calls it Portus Orestis.

Gabriele Barrio recognised it in the area of Rovaglioso, but there were no ruins or anything else that could attest to the existence of a city in ancient times. Therefore, in the first centuries of the Christian era, there must have been only a few villages that, perhaps temporarily between the fifth and sixth centuries, enjoyed a bishop's residence. In fact, there are historians who affirm that the town of Porto Oreste was an ancient bishop's seat.

Moreover, in the period between the 6th and 8th centuries, when numerous Byzantine monks chose Calabria as a consequence of the iconoclastic persecutions proclaimed by Pope Leo III and the occupation of Sicily by the Saracens, a rocky settlement of Byzantine monastic imprint was built in the present-day contrada Pignarelle.

Other news concerns Mount Sant'Elia, then called Salinas.

In fact, even before the 10th century, the mountain was renowned for the existence of several convents of Basilian monks.

One of these was founded in 884 by Elia di Enna and the chronicles report that Saint Filarete, who spent most of his life in the monastery, was buried in the church.

The destruction of Tauriana

In 951, the emir of Palermo, Abū l-Qāsim al-Hasan, due to the lack of tribute owed to him by the Byzantines, to whom the extreme part of Southern Italy belonged, sent aggressive militias determined to occupy Calabria. Asking the Caliph of Africa for help, he promptly sent Farag Mohadded with an army of Saracens and a large army. Having conquered Reggio Calabria, the army covered the whole southern side of Calabria, bringing devastation, looting and massacres everywhere. In the meantime, the people of Tauris, having heard of the coming of the Saracens, thought of saving themselves elsewhere, since in their own town they could not prepare a valid defence, since it had no walls, a sparse population and was still largely ruined by previous raids. For this reason they were forced to take refuge in the nearest castles and forts and abandon their native Tauriana. The latter was, in fact, attacked by a mob of Agareni, Moors and Carthaginians who, not finding abundant booty, destroyed it entirely, devastating the whole surrounding territory.

The part of the inhabitants of Taurian that was dedicated to trade and seafaring, finding it uncomfortable in the inland villages, chose as their permanent home the eminent place on the upper part of the coast, between Mount Aulinas and the Metaurus River, that is, on the heights of Porto Oreste in the district of De Palmis. Traditionally, the village they built there is supposed to correspond to today's Cittadella district.

11th century

In the 11th century, Seminara was the only town to rise not far from the sea, so it began to exercise its jurisdiction over vast and depopulated districts, including those that were forming in the territory of the ancient Tauriana and, in particular, over the village of De Palmis.

The village is mentioned in 1061 by Roger I of Sicily, who had become Count of Calabria in the same year, since he decided to donate the funds belonging to the destroyed Tauriana to the Church of St. Mary and the XII Apostles of Vagnara, including the church of 'San Georgium da Palmis cum pertinentiis et terris suis'. In 1086, however, the Count added the abandoned territory of the diocese of Tauriana, its seat being empty, to the new diocese of Mileto.

12th century

On 4 February 1169, a terrible earthquake, with epicentre in Catania and estimated at 6.6 on the Richter scale, caused immense ruin and a large number of deaths throughout southern Calabria.

The earthquake of 24 May 1184, with epicentre in the Crati Valley and estimated at 6.0 on the Richter scale, caused even more damage and deaths.

13th century

It is assumed that in this century, the village of Palmae grew and this aroused the ambition of the feudal lords of the nearby castles or lands. Therefore, at the time of the Angevin domination, the town certainly began to be subject to some feudal lords.

On 5 April 1230, there was a great earthquake that partially destroyed Reggio Calabria and all the lands near it.

14th century

In the 14th century, however, the size of the settlement must have been rather small, as only one church, dedicated to St Nicholas, is mentioned in documents from 1310 to 1311.

Moreover, the village did not have defensive walls, as the name castrum or castellum was not used at that time, and the lack of the toponym motta also suggests that it extended over a plateau.

In 1333, in the list of barons of Calabria, a certain Jacobus De Roto of Seminara appeared as a useful lord of the town. It seems that De Roto not only exercised the dominion of useful lord but was also charged by the Angevin government with keeping armed people on guard along the coast against possible enemy landings.

15th century

In the 15th century, the settlement began to become quite a large village, but it still followed the fate of Seminara, of which it remained a hamlet.

As early as 1466, the landscape around the town was characterised by olive trees, and records from that period show that the town's economy was linked to the production of oil, as well as citragnulj (bitter oranges), vegetable gardens and vineyards. There are no drawings or paintings of the 15th-century town, but the history of Calabria at the time suggests that the settlement consisted of the houses with the church that dominated the medieval village. Around the centre stood mills and on the sea the tuna fishery for swordfish.

In this century there were destructions, by the Saracens, of some places and churches that rose in the territories of the ancient Tauriana.

In 1495 King Ferdinand II of Aragon, after having suffered a defeat in the first battle of Seminara (part of the first Italian war), against the troops of General Robert Stuart d'Aubigny, sought refuge in the village of Palmae. The king himself, in order to oppose the French attempt to annex the Kingdom of Naples, had organised a war against these troops by sending, in 1494, Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba who had previously distinguished himself in the capture of Granada.

Also in 1495 Carlo Spinelli, also known as Jacopo, became Count of the city of Seminara and therefore feudatory also of Palmae.

16th century

At the beginning of the century the village, which was called Parmao Palma, although still subject to Seminara, increased its importance by attracting all the maritime traffic that was exercised along the coast from Scilla and Bagnara Calabra to Nicotera, using as ports of call its Marina and the Marina of Pietrenere, a locality near the ancient Tauriana. The inhabitants of the village, almost all sailors, with their feluccas kept up the trade that reached Naples and in a few years its territories, fertile with every product, came to export in considerable abundance olive oil, wine, cereals, silk and in smaller quantities wool, leather, wax, honey and other products. The development of trade and industry enabled the population to enjoy a period of prosperity and wealth. For this reason, many people immigrated to Palma from the mountains and neighbouring towns. The fief of Seminara, in the period of Carlo Spinelli, therefore had both a rich and populous city and the most commercial and important city of the coast and, therefore, Spinelli immediately understood that Palma, for the salubrity of the air, the fertility of the land and, even more, for its proximity to the sea, could become an important centre for industry and trade. He therefore dedicated himself to making it a commercial emporium for the whole region and granted it 'special protection'.

In 1509 Palma, like the whole of Calabria, was struck by violent earthquakes.

The quake on 25 February, with its epicentre in Reggio, had a magnitude of 5.6 on the Richter scale and was followed by a long-lasting swarm.

In those years, the prosperity of the Calabrian coasts often attracted Turkish and Algerian pirates who, from the beginning of the 16th century, invaded and plundered the lands on the western side of Calabria. In the case of Palma, the pirates arrived at night as far as Monte Sant'Elia and hid in the rocky recesses, waiting until the first light of dawn to attack the sailors, robbing and killing them. Despite this, the traffic did not diminish, but took place by means of small boats, always during the day, and after cautiously exploring the coasts.

20 July 1533 went down in the history of the town because, during the celebrations of Our Lady of Succour, an event known as the 'Miracle of Palmi' took place.

In 1548, on the death of Carlo Spinelli, his son Pietro Antonio Spinelli became feudal lord of Palma and succeeded him as head of the county of Seminara.

In 1549 Palma was destroyed by the Turkish corsair Dragut Rais. The Basilian hermitage dedicated to St Elijah the Prophet, which stood on Mount Salinas, was the only church that escaped the ruins of the Saracen raids.

Following this devastation, the Duke of Seminara Carlo II Spinelli, who had become feudal lord of the city in 1555 on the death of his father Pietro Antonio, decided to rebuild the land of Palma and to fortify it by making it, with Gioja, the emporium of all trade. The city, rebuilt on the same site where it had stood before Dragut's devastation, took on a rectangular shape and was surrounded by (very high) walls at the ends of which rose four imposing towers, also square and attached to the city walls.


 The construction of the two coastguard towers also dates back to this period. One of them was called 'Torre di San Francesco' and was located in a place still known as 'Torre'; the other, built near the church of San Fantino, was called 'Torre di Pietrenere' after the name of the marina below. The date stamped on the Pietrenere Tower (1565) is the probable date of the rebuilding of Palma by Duke Spinelli and the establishment of the fideicommissum for his family.

Following the fortified reconstruction of the city, Spinelli minted a medal commemorating the event. This medal represents the oldest iconography of Palmi. Moreover, the citizens called the fortified city by the name of 'Carlopoli', as a sign of gratitude to the feudal lord. Thus, from 1567, the term oppidum (i.e. 'fortified') and the name 'Palma nunc Carlopolis' are evident in the town's toponymy. The latter term suggests that the new fortified town of Carlopoli arose next to the old town of Palma.

In the following years the inhabitants of the city, estimated at 508 families, had already returned to ordinary life, so that the immigration of population from the two neighbouring centres of Seminara and Gioja began again.

Even after the fortification of the town, the Turkish raids on the Palmese coast continued. In one of these, when the pirates landed again at the Marina di Palmi, the corsairs camped in large numbers because of the heat near the Fontana dell'acqua degli ulivi. Disarmed, they were attacked by the citizens of Palma who, with great impetuosity, killed a large number of them and those few who found safety took to the sea again. Their leader fell to the ground wounded and the citizens caught up with him and killed him lying on a stone. They cut off his head and carried him in triumph through the village on the tip of a pole. Until the 19th century, the stone on which he was killed was still visible and was called the 'dragon stone' (short for Dragut). In fact, the citizens of Palma, in killing the leader of that round of Turkish pirates, believed they had killed the famous and ferocious Dragut Rais.

When Charles II died in 1572, his eldest son Scipione Spinelli became feudal lord of Palma and succeeded him in inheriting the duchy of Seminara.

In the second half of 1575, an epidemic of plague that had broken out in Messina, brought from the east after the battle of Lepanto, spread along the coasts of Calabria, including Palma, although to a lesser extent. The plague, which lasted about 30 years, killed more than 40,000 people in the Peloritan city. The citizens of Palma took in all those who fled the Peloritan city and also sent aid in the form of food and oil through its sailors.

Once the calamity had passed, the city of Messina, as a sign of gratitude to the Calabrian town, decided to donate to the ecclesiastical authorities of Palma one of the hairs of the Madonna, which they had venerated since 42 AD.


Redemption from feudal rule

In those years, the feudal lord Scipione Spinelli, due to his intemperance and prodigality, ran up many debts and his income was not enough to pay them. Therefore, in 1578 he negotiated to sell the entire fiefdom (formed by the land of Seminara with the hamlets of Palma and Sant'Anna) to the Prince of Scilla and Duke of Bagnara Calabra Don Fabrizio Ruffo for 100,000 ducats. As soon as they heard of the fact, the inhabitants of the three towns were indignant about what had happened without their knowledge (they thought they had been treated as abject vassals) and, opposed to the transfer to another feudal lord known for his arrogance, they met in parliament at the church of San Marco in Seminara to decide to enforce their right of pre-emption and redeem themselves for 100,000 ducats to "serve to pay the debts of Duke Scipione Spinelli". In this parliament, the wealthiest offered a one-off sum until they reached the amount needed to pass to the Royal Property (Seminara and Sant'Anna for 75,000 ducats and Palma for 25,000 ducats). Therefore Seminara and its hamlets asked for protection and obtained it, and the price paid was deposited with the public bankers Calamazza and Pontecorbi.

Seminara and its hamlets, having escaped the feudal dominion and returned under the Royal State Property, were governed by a governor of royal appointment.

In the meantime, the old name of Palma was replaced by the new name of Palme.

In the 1595 census, the population of Palme numbered 617 families.

17th century

On 3 February 1624 there was a violent earthquake in Calabria, which was repeated in April 1626.

Independence from Seminara:

Towards the beginning of the 17th century, a further conspicuous increase in industry and commerce was noticed in the hamlet of Palme. The prosperity that was enjoyed in the village had also attracted many people who came from the neighbouring villages to settle in Palme. The land of Seminara, which could not bear the increase of its hamlet, tried by all means to hinder its development and continued the sale of the Spinelli's feudal property, which had been handed over to the Royal State. In 1592, for this purchase, in the settlement made by the Royal Chamber of Sommaria about the debts that the land of Seminara had because of the state property (90,250 ducats), the universitas of Palme was placed expressly in collation for payment and had to assign its gabelle, which were rented every year for 3,478 ducats. These gabelle were used for a period of 36 years (from 1592 to 1628) when the "State of Palme" was formed by the regent Carlo Tappia, and the income from these gabelle, which rose to 3,630 ducats, was reported to have been returned to the universitas in that year, which had previously been assigned for the extinction of the debt to the State. And furthermore, since the citizens paid ducats 20,000 in addition to the price of the state property, those were not only paid by citizens of Seminara, as the universitas assumed, but by two hundred citizens both of Seminara and of the hamlets, as was declared by their Procurators in 1578 in the Royal Chamber of Sommaria.

For this reason, the inhabitants of Palme, held a parliament in 1632 and decided to ask for the separation from Seminara, with the compensation of the damages and interests suffered for the sold feudal goods, and asked to pass to the Prince of Cariati.

Seminara's reaction was harsh, because apart from losing its supremacy and jurisdiction over the territory of Palme, this choice would have created economic damage. The decision of the people of Palme remained firm and, in order to break off the controversy, Seminara ceded its jurisdiction to the Royal Court in 1634, by means of a public instrument, in favour of the Most Serene King Philip IV of Spain, even though with many reservations and conditions. The jurisdictional bodies that Palme reserved for itself, and which were granted to it by Philip IV (definitively in 1636), were those of bailiff, customs and caiapania.


The advent of Marquis Andrea Concublet:

After many vicissitudes of the town, and the Royal Treasury having economic difficulties, in 1636 the land of Palme was sold by the Royal Court, for 28,000 ducats, to the Concublet family, marquises of Arena. The new feudal lord of Palme, Francesco Concublet, instead of exercising the right of 'useful lord', increased trade and industry and, as a result, the town became one of the best lands in the province.

Towards the end of January 1638, a number of earthquakes occurred in the area, but they were not as strong as the one that occurred on 27 March of the same year, which reduced Calabria to ruins. These quakes lasted until June, ruining 180 towns and causing some 19,000 deaths. The following year more earthquakes followed, but lighter ones, until another violent earthquake was recorded on 19 June 1640. The latter two were a continuation of the rione Lo Salvatore on the east side and were separated by an extensive garden, owned by the Spinelli family. The main street of the new extension of Palmi started from the Porta del Soccorso and, curving northwards, crossed the Lo Salvatore district, lapped the La Murarella district and, near the aforementioned garden, bent almost sharply to continue towards the Church of the Carmine.

When Marquis Francesco Concublet died in 1648, he was succeeded by Domenico Concublet, who remained Marquis of Arena and feudal lord of Palme until 1661. In that year Andrea Conclublet became the Marquis of Arena and the new feudal lord of Palme.

The town of Palme was still surrounded by walls until the middle of the 17th century, and the Marquis of Arena Andrea Concublet still kept the towers equipped with cannons. However, the city continued to grow in population and therefore, finding itself in too small a space, part of it was forced to build its houses outside the walls. It was at the sides of the two eastern gates, and in the places close to them, that the settlement began to expand. For this reason, under the consent of the feudal lord, this part of the walls was demolished, and from here the town expanded considerably, so much so that in a short time the districts 'Lo Salvatore', 'La Murarella' (or more commonly called 'Li Canali') and 'San Nicola' were formed.

In this period there were disputes between the Marquis Andrea Concublet and Scipione II, Prince of Cariati and Duke of Seminara, because of the undetermined boundaries between the territories of Palme and Seminara. The population of Palme, in order to defend the marquis to whom they were devoted, defended their territory 'with a weapon in their hands, and more than once with blood and carnage'.



Commercial development:

The plague epidemic of 1656 was followed by years of famine, and cereals and other foodstuffs were hoarded at high prices everywhere. As a result, the economic importance of Palme grew, since the Marquis of Arena had built large warehouses for storing and selling wheat, cereals and other products. The market, held every Monday, Thursday and Friday, attracted a large number of foreigners. Gradually the market became daily, trading not only wheat but also other goods, but the trade took place only between the people of Palmese and the foreigners and not between the foreigners themselves, since such exchanges would have constituted a 'fair or market', i.e. a privilege that only Seminara had, having obtained it in 1420 from Queen Giovanna II of Naples.

In 1662 Andrea Concublet instituted the use of the 'fair or market' in Palme too, trying to demean the industries of Seminara and creating competition on prices and commodities. The merchants who came to sell grains were from Monteleone, Nicotera, Mileto, Pizzo and Rosarno and to get there they had to take the road that led to the Petrace pass (the "Ponte Vecchio" area from where the road forked off to Seminara or Palme) and in that place, the Marquis of Arena, had them waited on by people in charge of offering advantageous prices to merchants, so that the latter came to Palme instead of Seminara. In this way, the town became the emporium of the whole western part of Calabria Ulteriore and, for this reason, the marquis introduced a daily market franchise. Business with foreign countries was given by large shipments of olive oil, wine and silk products that left Pietrenere by feluccas. As a result of these events the town of Seminara, having its market in a state of disrepair, appealed to the viceregal government against the feudal lord Concublet accusing him of usurping the 'fiera ossia mercato'.

On 3 January 1664, the universitas of Palme held a parliament and appointed Bruno Lupari as its procurator. The arbitrators in the dispute were don Fabrizio Ruffo, prior of Bagnara Calabra, and don Giovan Battista Caracciolo. The latter decided on 13 April 1668 that the 'fair or market' was not to be held by the coastal city. This decision led to a prohibition order by the viceroy Pietro Antonio d'Aragona. Contrary to this order, even though the fair between foreigners was apparently suppressed, the citizens of Palme went to foreigners to shop on behalf of other foreigners, thus circumventing the ban.

Also thanks to the work of the Marquis, a town hospital (1667), a main square with a monumental fountain (1669)[69] and an academy (1673) were built.

In the 1669 census, ordered by Pietro d'Aragona viceroy of the Kingdom of Naples, Palme counted 519 families.

On the death of Marquis Andrea Concublet in 1675, his seven-year-old son Riccardo took over as feudal lord of Palme and Marquis of Arena. The latter died three years later, in 1678, because he was ill. The marquisate of Arena therefore passed to the Acquaviva family in that year, in the person of the Duke of Atri Giosia, who was the heir, being the son of Andrea Concublet's sister, and became feudal lord of Palme.

The new feudal lord Giosia Acquaviva, perhaps to avoid conflict with the neighbouring feud or perhaps because he had no interest in the area, sold the land of Palme in 1684 to the Prince of Cariati and Duke of Seminara, Carlo Filippo Antonio Spinelli, who became the new feudal lord of the town.

Carlo Filippo Antonio Spinelli knew very well the progress of Palme in the field of marking, and especially in the production of silk and silk products. Considering this detrimental to Seminara, the feudal lord placed restrictions, increased the levies and had the mezzarola erected in Piazza del Mercato, which served as a unit of measurement and a monument to the free market, destroyed.

In 1693, starting on 11 January, Calabria was shaken and damaged by violent earthquakes.

photo below:

The foundation medal of Carlopoli. On the recto the profile of Carlo Spinelli, on the verso the relief of the town in perspective.


18th century

Carlo Filippo Antonio Spinelli died in 1725, leaving no male children. Therefore the fief of Palme passed to his nephew Scipione III Spinelli Savelli, son of Giovambattista I and Giovanna Caracciolo, who became the new Prince of Cariati and Duke of Seminara.

Also in 1733, the Sacred Congregation of Rites, by decree of 12 September 1733, confirmed the election made by the clergy and the people of the Madonna della Lettera as the city's main patron saint, fixing the Divine Office and Holy Mass on the last Sunday in August.

One of the most important events in the town in the first half of the 18th century was the visit to Palme on 5 March 1735 of King Charles III of Spain on his way to Palermo, where he was to be crowned King of Naples and Sicily. His stay in the city, before leaving for Messina from the Marina di Palme, lasted 12 days. The king, in gratitude for the honours he had received, granted the city the privilege of its ancient market 'of the art of silk and wool' (dated 1636). Moreover, during the days he spent in Palme, the king often wanted to go hunting in the countryside between the districts of San Filippo and Pietrenere. These fields were called 'Lo Terzo' or 'Lo Re' in his honour, and finally Monteterzo (the current name of the area).

On 25 August 1741, the Bishop of Mileto, Marcello Filomarini, elevated the mother church of San Nicola to the status of Collegiate Church of the Order, having obtained the concession from Pope Benedict XIII with the Bull of August 1741.

On 20 February 1743, a strong earthquake occurred in Calabria Ulterior.

Scipio III in those years increased trade and, in 1756, although the population had full rights to the bagliva, dogana and catapania, he decided to donate parts of his income to him, as a useful lord, and to leave seven parts to the universitas.

In 1766, Scipione III Spinelli Savelli died of poisoning and was succeeded by his son Giovan Battista II Spinelli, who became feudal lord of Palme, prince of Cariati and duke of Seminara. The latter proved to be very overbearing towards the population and continued to demand the three-tenths that the citizenship granted to his predecessor. Although he had erected even better factories than those that were already there, the population's hatred increased as a result of taxes on trade and forced rents.

The feudal lord, Giovan Battista II, was forced by the most powerful families of Seminara to stay away from the town. Therefore, the Duke thought it would be humiliating for Seminara to deprive it of its ducal seat and establish it in Palme. He did so in the mother church of San Nicola, keeping under his command a baronial squad of between one hundred and fifty and two hundred soldiers, who lived in the central part of the town, near the Market Square.

In 1770, the feudal lord, because he was 'moved by Christian piety to allow the numerous shopkeepers and sailors who disembarked and frequented the port of Marina delle Pietre Negre to fulfil their festive orders', built a rural chapel in Pietrenere dedicated to the 'Abandoned Souls of Purgatory'. In fact, at the end of the 18th century, Pietrenere had a 'scaricatoio' (oil dump) from which oil was traded and its port was one of the most flourishing in southern Italy in the 18th century.


The 'Scourge' of 1783

On 5 February 1783, at 7.15 p.m., there was a violent earthquake in southern Calabria, which struck 190 towns in about two minutes, creating 32,000 deaths. The quakes were repeated on 7 February and 28 March. The event on 5 February caused 1,400 deaths in Palme and the hitherto pretty town was totally destroyed. In addition to the aforementioned deaths, the earthquake caused popular fever through contaminated air, polluted water and nutrition with lost food. Thus, of the 4,900 inhabitants that the town had before the earthquake, only about half remained alive.

The silk and wool workshops that the Prince of Cariati had established were also lost. The damage caused was estimated at 500,000 ducats for Palme alone. The Palme historian Domenico Guardata said that of all that had been built there before the earthquake, 'only the Fontana della Palma in the Piazza del Mercato remained unscathed, while the nearby Monte Sant'Elia continually collapsed at the summit, dragging men and animals with it'. The tributes owed by the city to its useful lord were suspended, as they were throughout Calabria. This is how Giovanni Vivenzio describes Palme after the event:

"It is almost unbelievable the sorry state of this city, which was one of the most prosperous and commercial in the province. It is now nothing more than a confused mass of stones and crushed wood. They are lost under the ruins almost all the elms, and wine, which formed a large traffic of citizens who were also employed in the work of silk, having the prince of Cariati, master of it, erected factories of cloth and camels (calidori) for the manufacture of which, fed a good amount of goats Angora.

This is the description of Cardinal Antonio Despuig y Dameto, who visited the city on 13th February:

"The rich and industrious city of Palme offered to my eyes the most horrible scene; the funereal expression of those unfortunates, prey for so many days to tears and hunger, together with the terror that aroused the sight of so many disfigured corpses extracted from under the rubble, made that day the most painful of my life".

The German politician Johann Heinrich Bartels gave this description:

"We rushed through Palme reduced to a small heap of ruins. All the wool and silk factories, with which the Prince of Cariati had tried to promote the prosperity of his region, had been destroyed.


A more detailed description of the following months is provided by the English archaeologist William Hamilton. There was 'a large oil trade' in the town and at the time of the disaster there were more than 4 000 barrels. The jars containing the precious product had been ruined and its spillage had formed a river, which then flowed into the sea. Moreover, the oil mixed with the grains contained in the stores and the corruption of the corpses caused a 'sensible alteration of the air'. The surviving population lived in huts near the town.

In the city "where no stone was left upon stone[85]", not all the survivors were able to demarcate the boundaries of their property, and this led to a disagreement among the citizens about where they should build the new Palme. Some were of the opinion that the city should be rebuilt on the so-called "Piano della Torre", i.e. to the west of the city destroyed by the earthquake (between the old Carlopoli district and the edge of the Riviera). Others chose the plateau on the hill that surrounded Palme to the east. Still others, who were in the majority, wanted the city to rise again on the same spot as before, since they said that it should be taken as a "favourable omen" that the Market Fountain had remained standing, despite the fact that "earthquakes made it sway like the mast of a stormy ship". The task of redesigning the city was entrusted to engineer Giovambattista De Cosiron. The project provided for the demolition of Carlopoli, to be transformed into an area with avenues and ramps, and the design included 11 squares with spaces for political, religious and civil power.

In 1785, the government of Ferdinand IV prescribed that the back taxes owed to the feudal lords should be paid to the Cassa Sacra and not to the Universitas, as the latter were extremely impoverished. Consequently, the Prince of Cariati promptly made his claims and, for this reason, a dispute arose between the surviving citizens of Palme and their feudal lord, which was brought before the "Giunta Suprema", a tribunal created at that time to replace the Royal Chamber of Sommaria.



The post-earthquake years:

In March 1786, for the apportionment of the Plain, the Vicar-General reported the city of Palmi with its cathedral church had been almost entirely rebuilt]. The historical city, contrary to what was predicted by De Cosiron, did not disappear. The Citadel remained attached to the western side while the Borgo to the north-east appeared almost like a wedge driven into the schematic nature of the new layout. Shreds of the old building fabric, such as the San Nicola district, appeared along the routes, as work was evidently carried out where the terrain was less steep and less built up. The work of excavating the Citadel was not undertaken, and a public garden was created in the area designated for the drapery and silk factory, filling in the gap with the rubble. The blocks of flats were broken up into lots and sometimes retained traces of the previous building fabric inside. Construction was also carried out on the bastions and curtain walls of Carlopoli and only the north-western vertex remained intact as it had become the enclosure of the 'monks' garden' attached to the convent. The entire eastern part of the curtain wall also disappeared, partly raised to form the main street and partly incorporated into the public garden. In the new urban planning of the city, the Enlightenment rigour typical of the second half of the 18th century emerged. This is why Palmi resurfaced with a regular chessboard layout.

On 12 October 1791, a further earthquake occurred. The earth shook for about 50 seconds and large chasms opened up in the ground. Even the most solid buildings fell apart. During the night, there were more tremors and by dawn the cities were once again a scene of ruins and victims. The earth shook until 24 October.

The citizens of Palmi who, because of the "Scourge" and the emigrations had decreased in population, could not put obstacles in the way of the despotism of the Duke of Seminara, also because among the citizens there were many of his partisans, employed in his abandoned silk and wool factories or agents and employees who had influence in the country. The latter did their best to divert the citizens from any intention of rebellion against their master. He was unfair to the people but very generous with his employees. In fact, some of them were given houses and land that the feudal lord had, in whole or in part, arrogantly usurped from the universitas and from private persons. In the town, the flourishing activity in various industries and commerce had disappeared following the 'Scourge', and the much sought-after silk and wool cloth was no longer manufactured. Nor were those frequent and abundant quantities of olive oil, wine and grains exported, and that continuous market, so frequented by foreigners and always rich in goods, was reduced to being held only two days a week and for products limited to local needs. Therefore in Palmi, as in other lands of Calabria, discontent and hatred certainly reigned against the Prince of Cariati, who added insults and bullying to the people of Palmi to the terrible misfortune of the earthquake.

The population, no longer able to suffer being held in vassalage, began to agitate and to stand united against the partisans of the "useful lord" and the foreigners, who also continued to settle in Palmi. Therefore, two factions were formed: one was called the "Verdonelli", who were the partisans of the prince, and the other the "Gialinelli", who were the partisans of the city (or universitas). The natural people of the place also managed to set up an association among themselves, which was called "La Campana di Legno" (The Wooden Bell) and which recalled ancient customs, i.e. being hospitable and benevolent to strangers but not allowing any of them to settle in Palmi without their consent. From this union the citizens found favourable effects, with frequent and insistent complaints to the royal authorities about the harassment suffered by their feudal lord.

Giovan Battista Spinelli II died on 22nd February 1792 at the age of seventy-two. On his death, the fief of Palmi was inherited by his nephew Scipione Spinelli, son of his brother Antonio who died in 1790, who became the new Prince of Cariati and Duke of Seminara. Scipione died in November 1797 and was succeeded as feudatory of Palme by his second-born brother Gaetano Spinelli. The latter, who also died after a short time, was succeeded at the helm of the fief of Palmi in 1797 by his brother Ferdinando Spinelli, who was the only surviving descendant of Giovan Battista and therefore extinguished the male primogeniture.

In Palmi, a lodge of liberal masons was set up among a number of wealthy people, which was related to the Freemasons of Reggio Calabria, but in the rest of the plain, the principles of freedom that followed the French Revolution throughout Europe were not propagated as they were in Palmi. In 1798, in Ulterior Calabria, 75 people were arrested for fear of revolutionary uprisings, including seven from Palmi.

Following the proclamation of the Neapolitan Republic, on 23 January 1799, in the new administrative order of the republic, wanted by Jean Étienne Championnet, the universitas of Palmi was included in the Department of Sagra (administrative body of I level) and in the canton of Seminara (administrative body of II level). The Neapolitan Republic ceased on 8 July 1799 and the Kingdom of Naples was proclaimed anew.


photo below: 

The town's Master Plan, following the 1783 earthquake


19th century

In 1816, with the reunification of the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily into a single state, Palme passed from the Kingdom of Naples to the newborn Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and King Ferdinand VII of Spain, in the reorganisation of the local administrations of the territory, within the Bourbon province of Calabria Ulterior Prima, established that Palme was to be placed at the head of the district, since it had 6,100 inhabitants and was counted among the "first class municipalities". The district of Palmi was created by law No 360 of 1 May 1816 and was divided into the following districts: Casalnuovo, Cinquefrondi, Laureana, Oppido, Palme (municipalities of Palme and Gioja), Polistena, Seminara and Sinopoli Superiore.

At the beginning of the 19th century, however, the town tended to expand well beyond De Cosiron's plan, so much so that in 1824, by royal decree, small plots were created in the "Spirito Santo" district.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the flourishing commercial activity from the fishing village of Pietrenere continued, so much so that King Ferdinand II, in his 'organic law on customs' of 19 June 1826, included the Palmi and Pietrenere customs house among the class II customs houses. In the following years, however, as the silting up of the area was advancing, the vicar general of Calabria of the Kingdom of Naples replaced the port of the seaside village of Palmi with that of Gioia Tauro, where he built a first warehouse for the oil trade[105]. Partly in view of this, on 16 January 1834 King Ferdinand II downgraded the customs of Palmi and Pietrenere from class II to class III, as the export of local goods subject to "extraction customs duties" had ceased for years.

In the first decades of the 19th century, the town's administrations planned the new construction, or reconstruction, of the theatre, the prison, the fountains and many public places. Between 1817 and 1845, Palmi's monumental cemetery was built.

In September 1837, a cholera fever spread through the town and in just 18 days 325 people died out of a population of 8,700. When the disease stopped causing deaths, the enthusiastic Palme inhabitants believed it was due to a miracle performed by Saint Roch.

In 1857, in Taureana di Palmi, the complex of San Fantino, also destroyed in 1783, was rebuilt thanks to the work of Abbot Pietro Militano.

On the death of Ferdinando Spinelli in 1801, Cristina Spinelli, daughter of Scipione IV Spinelli and Margherita Doria, took over the rights of the fief of Palmi. Spinelli continued to hold the title of Princess of Cariati, and was also pleased with the title of Baroness of Palme, until August 1806, when Joseph Bonaparte abolished feudalism by law, although it was under Joachim Murat (1810) that it was effectively abolished.

By the law of 19 January 1807, the French made Palme a seat of 'government' including the 'places' of Seminara and Sant'Anna. At that time the French planned a 'fort' in Pietrenere, which was to be connected to a battery of cannons placed near a tower. The structure was never completed as the Bourbons took over the Kingdom of Naples.

In the following reorganisation of the kingdom, arranged by decree no. 922 of 4 May 1811, Palme was included in the Province of Calabria Ultra, district of Reggio Calabria, and was placed at the head of a district including the municipalities of Pietrenere, Seminara (with its hamlets Sant'Anna and Ceramida), Gioja and Melicuccà.


The Palmi district:

In 1816, with the reunification of the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily into a single state, Palme passed from the Kingdom of Naples to the newborn Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and King Ferdinand VII of Spain, in the reorganisation of the local administrations of the territory, within the Bourbon province of Calabria Ulterior Prima, established that Palme was to be placed at the head of the district, since it had 6,100 inhabitants and was counted among the "first class municipalities". The district of Palmi was created by law No 360 of 1 May 1816 and was divided into the following districts: Casalnuovo, Cinquefrondi, Laureana, Oppido, Palme (municipalities of Palme and Gioja), Polistena, Seminara and Sinopoli Superiore.

At the beginning of the 19th century, however, the town tended to expand well beyond De Cosiron's plan, so much so that in 1824, by royal decree, small plots were created in the "Spirito Santo" district.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the flourishing commercial activity from the fishing village of Pietrenere continued, so much so that King Ferdinand II, in his 'organic law on customs' of 19 June 1826, included the Palmi and Pietrenere customs house among the class II customs houses. In the following years, however, as the silting up of the area progressed, the vicar general of Calabria of the Kingdom of Naples replaced the port of the seaside village of Palmi with that of Gioia Tauro, where he built a first warehouse for the oil trade. Partly as a result of this, on 16 January 1834 King Ferdinand II downgraded the customs of Palmi and Pietrenere from class II to class III, as exports of local goods subject to 'extraction customs duties' had ceased for years.

In the first decades of the 19th century, the town's administrations planned the new construction, or reconstruction, of the theatre, the prison, the fountains and many public places. Between 1817 and 1845, Palmi's monumental cemetery was built.

In September 1837, a cholera fever spread through the town and in just 18 days 325 people died out of a population of 8,700. When the disease stopped causing deaths, the enthusiastic Palme inhabitants believed it was due to a miracle performed by Saint Roch.

In 1857, in Taureana di Palmi, the Complex of San Fantino, also destroyed in 1783, was rebuilt thanks to the work of Abbot Pietro Militano.


The landing of the Thousand:


On 22 August 1860, coming from Bagnara Calabra, Giuseppe Garibaldi stopped at a fountain near Palme to quench his thirst, as he was leading the 'Expedition of the Thousand', committed to the unification of Italy. Garibaldi waited there for the mayor Baron Filippo Oliva and a delegation of the municipal council. After the greetings, the procession made its way into the city via the contrada Vitica. The 'Hero of Two Worlds' gave a speech from the balcony of the Piria house, and immediately afterwards sent the following message from the Tower of San Francesco, where a telegraph was located:

"The enemy troops are disbanded, our march is a triumph...".

Together with Giuseppe Garibaldi was the English journalist Jesse White and her husband Alberto Mario. The happiness of the people of Palme at the arrival of Garibaldi's troops was also noted on a page of a red shirt's diary. This entry read:

"We arrived in Palmi, where the enthusiasm was at its height, and the affection shown for our troops was no less than for Garibaldi. Volunteers offered themselves to us from all sides. Tomorrow at dawn we were off again."

Garibaldi remained in the city until 26 August and then embarked from the Marinella. The decurions' registers show that the Commune of Palmi paid 29 ducats for some of the festivities and took out a loan of 4,000 ducats to cover the costs of food, fodder, transport and other expenses for General Giuseppe Garibaldi's troops. The municipality also paid some peasants to accompany the troops as far as Naples, and reimbursed them for the value of the carts that were requisitioned by Garibaldi's troops.

photo below:

Painting depicting the landing of the Thousand in Palmi, 22 August 1860


The Unification of Italy:

From 18 March 1861 the city, with the definitive name of "Palmi", was part of the new Kingdom of Italy proclaimed the day before in Turin by the national parliament. Within the new state, the municipality fell under the confirmed province of Calabria Ulteriore Prima (first level authority) and was also placed at the head of the homonymous Circondario di Palmi (second level administration).

On 25 September 1862, with Royal Decree-Law No 837, the Court of Palmi and its judicial district were established. This was also thanks to the interest of the Palmi magistrate Vincenzo Cosentino.

On 16 August 1882 the province of Calabria Ulteriore Prima, to which Palmi belonged, was renamed province of Reggio Calabria.

On 31 December 1888 the railway section Bagnara Calabra-Palmi (10 km) was inaugurated, within the construction works of the Tyrrhenian railway line, from Reggio Calabria to Eboli, carried out in 1873 by the Mediterranean Railway Company. The planning of this stretch of railway had many difficulties, including the construction of the tunnel passing under Monte Sant'Elia and the location of the station itself in Palmi, as the requests of the local population differed from the choices made by a special commission appointed to examine the most suitable place. The local population asked the company to build the station on the "Torre" plateau, close to the town centre, while the committee chose the "Buffari" area, far from the town and poorly accessible. The choice of the latter led to the approval of the "Cornaglia project" for the construction of the station (engineer Cornaglia was the general manager of the works). The railway line following the station, i.e. the Palmi-Gioia Tauro section, was divided into two parts, the first of which was entirely in the municipality of Palmi. Work on the latter ended on 3 February 1889. The contractor, the Neri company, found difficulties in building the viaduct over the Petrace river.

On 2 April 1887, with the aim of 'favouring agriculture, industry and trade through credit', the Banca Agricola Industriale di Palmi was established. The institution operated in the agricultural sector, as the area cultivated with olives increased continuously during the 19th century. The bank was initially presided over by Marquis Ferdinando Nunziante, and continued its development even after the creation of the Banca Popolare Cooperativa di Palmi. The continuous development of olive cultivation led, in February 1889, to the establishment in Palmi of an experimental oil mill called 'Regio Frantoio Sperimentale'. The purpose of the institution was to carry out research and studies on olive oil production. On 31 January 1899 the Regio Frantoio was transferred to Cosenza[118]. All this was confirmed in a detailed report by the Minister of Public Works Stefano Jacini, who described the situation of olive growing in the area, from cultivation to extraction. In the report he explained how 'olive groves are the main crop in the province. This plant forms the special crop of the Palmi district, so much so that it gives it a characteristic and interesting appearance'.

On 28 July 1889, King Umberto I of Savoy issued Royal Decree No 6321 establishing a royal grammar school in Palmi. The new school represented the official recognition of a pre-existing non-governmental school, named after the poet Giuseppe Parini and founded four years earlier by Vincenzo Graziani. Among other things, a municipal drawing school had been opened the previous year.


The 1894 earthquake:


On 16 November 1894, a violent earthquake struck southern Calabria at 18.52, with its epicentre historically located in the town of Palmi. The intensity of the earthquake, which fell within the 9th degree of the Mercalli scale, also led to a violent seaquake on the city's coast. The main tremor, for which 20 ground movements were counted for about 20 seconds, was preceded and followed by rumbles that lasted throughout the night and the following day.

In spite of the power of the event and the great destruction it caused, with damage estimated at over a million lire, the number of dead was only 9 and the number of injured was 300. This was due to a singular and miraculous circumstance. The statue of the Madonna del Carmine, which was said to have moved its eyes in the previous days, was taken out in procession. When the procession with the statue, made up of almost the entire population, arrived in the open, an earthquake occurred and all the inhabitants of Palmi were unharmed.

In the following days, Palmi became the centre of rescue operations. Army contingents arrived to help the population. After the event, numerous huts were built and about 1,600 houses were propped up, but they were all declared uninhabitable. As a result, many streets were turned into thickets of poles and beams.

A year after the event, the city still consisted of a few inhabited houses and many shacks.

20th century

On 8 September 1905, at 2.45 a.m., the city was struck again by an earthquake whose epicentre was in Nicastro, but which was also felt in all the towns of the Plain, where it also caused damage. In Palmi, part of the old judicial prisons was badly damaged and the Palermo newspaper 'L'Ora' reported that in the city 'there was no house that did not have a wall or walls that had fallen or been damaged'. A further earthquake occurred on 23 October 1907 but, according to the chronicles of the time, Palmi was not one of the towns damaged by the event.

On 28 December 1908, the city was almost totally destroyed by the violent earthquake that struck Sicily and Calabria during the night. At 5.30 a.m., an earthquake of long duration and high intensity was felt. The scene that followed the earthquake was one of avalanches of rubble, roofs blown off, walls pulverised, caves suddenly opening up through streets and hollow buildings with their cornices hanging over the void and shops blocked by rubble on the upper floors. Before the event, the city had almost 14,000 inhabitants and over 2,200 buildings. The earthquake killed about 700 people, injured about a thousand and, as mentioned, destroyed or damaged almost all the housing stock and all the most important churches, the town hall, the gymnasium and the theatre. The day after the event, the 48th Ferrara Infantry Regiment and the Italian Red Cross came to help.

On 2 January, Duke Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy-Aosta visited the city. On 7 January, the city was included in the list of the worst damaged municipalities, while on 8 January, a large warehouse was set up "for the concentration and shipment of materials", serving the entire Calabria region.

It was not until 22 January that public lighting was restored, with the acetylene gas lighting not being restored until a few more days later. There were further tremors throughout January and February. Senator Cesare Tarditi was appointed Royal Commissioner for the reconstruction of the Palmi district and the city became the operational centre for the reconstruction of the entire plain.

Among the people who came to the aid of the people of Palmi in those days was St Luigi Orione, who, together with the ecclesiastical authorities, was in the front line with the bishop of the diocese of Mileto, Monsignor Morabito, helping many orphaned children to find a kindergarten.

Following the event, sixteen slum quarters were built to house the homeless population. The location of the shantytowns surrounded the urban centre, intensifying in a north-easterly direction, saturating the vacated areas between the different districts. The slums were given the following names: Marchese Alfieri, Dietro Correa, Cittadella, Monaci, Croce Rossa, Vina, Regina Elena, Stati Uniti, Bompiani, Impiombato, Tarditi, Prenestini, Ciccolini, Santa Maria, Pizzi and Ajossa. [140] The project for the reconstruction of the city took place with the drafting of the General Regulatory Plan in 1911, signed by the engineer Pucci, which provided for the gutting of the historical fabric, with the use of a geometric scheme that broke up the fabric and dilated the spaces, but which reconfirmed the choice of a regular chessboard city plan. Some of the old districts, called Borgo and San Nicola, disappeared definitively while the Spirito Santo district was gradually incorporated into the urban fabric.

The event also caused a retreat in terms of the quality of life and cultural fabric of the city. Many people emigrated because of the earthquake, including the writer Leonida Repaci, not to mention the many survivors who were directly transported to other regions for help or treatment. There was a kind of diaspora, which divided families beyond the decimation caused by the earthquake.

photo below:

The earthquake-damaged Mother Church.
Hungry people waiting for bread after the earthquake


The First World War: 

As a result of the First World War, Palmi lost 203 citizens who died in battle. Among them was Lieutenant Nicola Pizi, who was awarded the Gold Medal for Military Valour.

During the war period, in 1917 the new Gioia Tauro-Palmi-Sinopoli railway line was completed and inaugurated, with the stations called San Fantino (in the Cisterne locality) and Palmi (in the Trodio locality), in the municipal territory.


The first post-war period and the fascist period:


The Palmi district was abolished in 1927, with Royal Decree No 1 of 2 January.

The new co-cathedral of San Nicola

In the inter-war period, as part of the reconstruction of the city after the 1908 earthquake, new public monuments were designed and inaugurated. On 15 October 1922, the new Fontana della Palma, designed by the architect Jommi and built by Prof. Giovanni Sutera, was inaugurated with an opening ceremony attended by the Fascist hierarch Michele Bianchi.

Later, the current Viale Bruno Buozzi was dedicated to the latter. On 10 June 1932 the Monument to the Fallen was inaugurated, a work created by the sculptor Michele Guerrisi and commissioned by the administration of the Prefectural Commissioner Giuseppe Sigillò. The ceremony was attended by the Princes of Piedmont, Umberto II of Savoy and his wife Maria José of Belgium.

1932 was also the year in which the city's two main new buildings were inaugurated, from a political and religious point of view. The new Palazzo San Nicola, the town hall, and the new Mother Church of San Nicola were completed.

The other public and private buildings were also rebuilt in the neoclassical and Italian rationalist style. Among the first were the new 'Palazzo degli Uffici' and the 'Palazzo della Caserma dei

and the 'Palazzo della Caserma dei Carabinieri', while the latter included the 'Palazzo Ambesi Impiombato' and the 'Palazzo della Banca Popolare', both designed by Marcello Piacentini.


The Second World War:

In the spring-summer of 1943, as part of the Allied air operations against Fascist Italy, the city of Palmi and the entire province of Reggio Calabria suffered aerial bombardment by the armies of the United States and the United Kingdom. A large part of the population of Palmi found refuge from the bombing in the Pignarelle caves.

 In detail, the days on which Palmi was bombed are as follows: 20 February, 1 March, 9 August, 14 August and 17 August.

Also in 1943, on the night between 25 and 26 July, the motor vessel Viminale was sunk off Pietrenere by an allied unit.

The luxury liner, which also sailed to ports in Japan, had been seized by the Regia Marina during the war for military purposes. After the sinking, the liner became known as the 'Italian Titanic'.

During the war, the city was led by, in order, the mayors Francesco Bagalà, Michele Fimmanò, Domenico Guardata and Francesco Carbone.


The post-World War II period:


Following the institutional referendum of 2 and 3 June 1946, held to determine the form of government to be given to Italy after the Second World War and in which the republic was chosen, the city belongs to the new Italian Republic and to the newly constituted Calabria Region (a new first-level administrative body). In the above referendum, the population of Palmi voted in favour of the monarchy with 60.45% of the votes. 

The Socialist Francesco Carbone led the city for a decade, from 1946 to 1956, with municipal elections in 1948 and 1952 won by the Italian Socialist Party and the Italian Communist Party. In this period there was the post-war reconstruction, the completion of many new works destroyed by the earthquake of 1908 and the works for the doubling of the track of the Southern Tyrrhenian Railway (which was activated in 1961).During these railway works, in 1955 there were a series of explosions and subsequent collapses inside the tunnel between Palmi and Bagnara Calabra, which caused the death of 23 workers involved in the consolidation and laying of the tracks.

Just as many were injured. Of the 23 dead, only one was from Palmi, while the others came mainly from the upper Tyrrhenian Sea around Cosenza and the Cilento coast, from Amantea to Sapri.

 The coffins were placed and lined up in the churchyard of a small church in the Palmi Scalo district (near the tunnel) and the funeral took place in the town cathedral in the presence of civil and military authorities and most of the population of Palmi.

To commemorate this tragic event, Edison, the contractor, built a church in the station district dedicated to St Joseph the Worker.

The 1956 municipal elections were won by the Christian Democrats, who, together with the Italian Social Movement, formed a municipal council led by Francesco Arena. The centre-right administration lasted only one legislature, as the next municipal elections in 1960 were again won by the Italian Socialist Party, which again led the city with the Italian Communist Party during the third term of office of Francesco Carbone and the council of Giuseppe Marazzita. During this term of office, homage was paid to the memory of Palmese's most illustrious citizen, Francesco Cilea, with the construction of a mausoleum dedicated to him, and the city increased its cultural importance at provincial level with the establishment of new high schools.

In 1964, the Christian Democrat Bruno Bagalà became the first citizen and administered the city until 1975, leading three councils, two centre-left and one centre-right. In fact, the Christian Democrats, as a result of the municipal elections of 1963, 1967 and 1971, governed Palmi first with the Italian Socialist Party, then with the Liberal Party (for one year only) and finally again with the Socialists and the Italian Communist Party. During this period, in 1969, the new town hospital was built and the new A3 Salerno-Reggio Calabria motorway was inaugurated with the Palmi and Sant'Elia junctions.

The 1975 municipal elections led to a council led by Antonino Pirrottina (DC), in which there were still Christian Democrat, socialist, communist and, for the first time, Italian Republican Party exponents. During this term, the urban development plan was approved. The town planning instrument prefigured the territory projected in the direction of a strong polarisation of specialised services, with a consumption of volumes concentrated in the 167-Pille and San Giorgio area, with spaces for culture and leisure, in view of the absence of similar services in the district and the nearby port complex of Gioia Tauro.

On 10 June 1979, by virtue of the 'Quo aptius' decree of the Congregation for Bishops, the new diocese of Oppido Mamertina-Palmi was created.

 The city, which had formed an apostolic administration with other centres in the plain since 1973, was no longer subject to the diocese of Mileto after about nine centuries, but gave its name to a new see of the Catholic Church.

Three councils were elected in the 1979-1983 term, the first led by Rocco Managò and formed by the Italian Socialist Party with civic lists, the second by Christian Democrat Santo Surace (majority DC, PRI, civic lists and, for the first time, the Italian Socialist Democratic Party) and the last by Socialist Gaetano Baietta (Socialist-Democratic majority).

In 1982, the House of Culture was inaugurated.

 Inside were moved all the city museums, in addition to the new art gallery Leonida and Albertina Repaci [158] and the antiquarium Nicola De Rosa.

The municipal elections of 1983 had roughly the same results as the previous rounds. The Christian Democrats, as the first party, administered with Domenico Ferraro and Francesco Barone two juntas in which was also part of the PRI. In 1985, however, the majority changed, with the second Baietta junta (an administration made up of socialists, communists and social democrats), which remained in office until 1991, and also won the 1987 city elections.

In this decade, the city's urban development was given a major boost, with the building of the '167 zone' in the upper part of the city centre. Entire new neighbourhoods of cooperatives, and new streets and squares, were built upstream of the Pille district, in an area between the San Giorgio and San Gaetano districts.

The 1991 municipal elections were the last to be held using the proportional method and, in the same year, Domenico Alvaro was the last first citizen elected by the civic council (a council formed by the DC, PRI and PLI with the external support of the PSDI).

In 1994, following Law No 81 of 25 March 1993, Armando Veneto was elected first citizen directly by the voters, supported by the Italian Popular Party. In the 1998 municipal elections, voters confirmed Veneto as the city's leader.

In 1998, with Resolution No 83 of 18 November, the Provincial Council of the Province of Reggio Calabria established the Piana district, with its seat in Palmi. Within the district fell the 33 municipalities belonging geographically to the Plain of Palmi.

XXI secolo


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