The Kingdom of Two Sicilies and the Italian unification – Public Works

A lot of public works were completed during the reign of Ferdinando II, however the infrastructural facilities were still inadequate and inferior to other parts of Italy, particularly as regards the road network that was in fact built on the needs of the capital. The lack of development of the road network, in part due to the difficulty of the territory, was actually offset, at least in the coastal cities, by the remarkable development of navigation. Between 1815 and 1860 were constructed 4585 km of roads, significant increase but not sufficient.

Among the most important works we remember the two suspension bridges designed by Ing. Luigi Jura, the first on the Garigliano (1832), which stood until 1943 when it was blown up by the Germans, the second on the Calore (1835).   

Other rehabilitation work started in 1832 in various provinces of the Kingdom, such as the construction of the Colony of Battipaglia , which had suffered significant damage during the earthquake of 1857 and was just completed in 1860

We should not forget the new port area of ​​Naples, on an area of ​​3 square kilometers, designed in 1857 with a planned investment of a half million ducats from public and private funding; work was to start in 1860, but the project was cancelled.

As regards the railways, it is known that the first Italian railroad was the Naples-Portici (1839); in 1861 the kingdom had 128 km of railways in operation: it was  late compared to other parts of Italy, the Piedmont had in fact exercise 866 km, 240 km of Lombardy and Tuscany 324 km.

Construction of other railway lines was in progress or scheduled, such as the railway network along the Tyrrhenian coast with branches connecting with the Adriatic coast, started in 1855, or the operating concession to the company Melisurgo from Naples to Brindisi, also under construction, the additional lines Naples-Rome-Ceprano, Teramo-San Severo and Naples-Pescara (aiming at connecting the Kingdom with Bologna.

After the priority was changed from connecting East to West coast to the connections from North to South of Italy and some routes were dismantled, while the works of others remained suspended: the Southern Railways in 1862 were acquired by the company Bastogi.

A special mention has to be made to the works of land reclamation: on the hydrogeological point of view the South has special characteristics that differentiate it from other parts of Italy. The heavy deforestation that occurred between the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century had damaged the environmental balance and created erosion of soils typical of the Mediterranean regions, it followed a hydraulic disorder that made plain depopulated and malaria. Unlike the north, where the marsh can be reclaimed by drainage or by filling in the southern reclamation must start from the arrangement of the mountain or hill above.

After the Restoration, gigantic reclamation projects were launched by the Administration of bridges, roads, water, forests and hunting it is important to remember the names of the engineers Grasso and Afan de Rivera (who became director in 1824); in just over 40 years they were reclaimed 128 square kilometers of swamp, which were equipped with bridges, roads and apartment blocks.

It was also set to an original technical system and for a legislative project of “reclamation” which will be taken up and updated in the 20s of XX century: the law 11/05/1855 created the General Administration of Reclamation (bonifiche) , divided into 46 districts involving the landowners in the area, since the remediation would also increase the value of their funds.

After 1861, the liberal culture of the new ruling class, coupled with complete ignorance about the conditions of the South, led to consider cleaning up as a private matter left to the discretion of individual owners; such a system was not compatible with the environmental constraints and, consequently, the remediation activities stopped for more than 50 years, with no measurable damage and delays.


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