EMIGRATION IN A SOUTH ITALIAN TOWN

di William Anthony Douglass (1939)

The following year one of Agnone's wealthiest citizens, Feliceandrea Sabelli, died and left two hundred thousand liras for the hospital, raising false hopes. The will was contested by his other heirs, initiating protracted litigation. The hospital project was shelved for the time being.

Meanwhile, there was another development as Pasquale Mario, an extraordinary person, entered the scene. Mario was born in Agnone in 1844 into an impoverished family. A street urchin, he survived by traveling about to nearby towns to sell string, buttons, needles, and thread. He impressed the powerful Falconi family of Capracotta, which offered him a chance to study mechanics. Later he went to Switzerland, where, after several years, he became the owner of a major watch factory in Neuchâtel. He ranged far afield, selling his products, even organizing annual safaris to the African interior to trade his watches for native goods, which he then sold in Europe. He owned his own yacht, which he used to travel extensively throughout the Mediterranean.

During his most active years, Mario demonstrated little interest in Agnone and made the pages of the local press only infrequently. In 1884 "L'Aquilonia" carried a brief announcement that, as president of the Società Italiana of Neuchâtel, Mario was sending cholera relief funds to Naples and its surroundings.

  • W. A. Douglass, Emigration in a South Italian Town. An Anthropological History, Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick 1984, p. 133.

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