1898 in Italy

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See also: 1897 in Italy, other events of 1898, 1899 in Italy.

Events from the year 1898 in Italy.

Kingdom of Italy[edit]


The year is marked by widespread bread riots all over Italy. The tariff on the duty on imported wheat is lowered from 75 lire a tonne to 50 lire. In 1897 the wheat harvest in Italy was substantially lower than the years before; it fell from on average 3.5 million tons in 1891–95 to 2.4 million tons that year. Moreover, import of American grain was more expensive due to the Spanish–American War in 1898.[1][2] Wheat prices in Milan increased from 225 lire a tonne to 330 lire a tonne in April 1898.[1] In order to try to diminish the rising prices the government of Antonio Di Rudinì was urged to abolish the duty on imported wheat. The lowering of the tariff is generally considered to be too little and too late.[1] Street demonstrations demanding "bread and work" began in the South of Italy,[2] which already had seen widespread revolts by the Fasci Siciliani in 1893–94. In towns like Bari and Naples rioting could be suppressed, while Florence was controlled by demonstrators for a whole day.[3] The situation escalated when demonstrators were shot by nervous policemen, and rioting increased.[1][2]
The Finance Minister in the administration of Prime Minister Antonio di Rudinì, Luigi Luzzatti, passed two measures of social legislation in 1898. The industrial workmen’s compensation scheme from 1883 was made obligatory with the employer bearing all costs; and a voluntary fund for contributory disability and old age pensions was created.[4]
'O sole mio the globally known Neapolitan song is composed. Its lyrics were written by Giovanni Capurro and the music was composed by Eduardo di Capua.


Barricades of the rioters and intervention of the military, Milan 1898
  • January 2 – Bread riots in Sicily near Agrigento.[5]
  • January 17–18 – Two days of bread riots in Ancona after a demonstration of women demanding a reduction in the price of bread.[6][7]


  • February 27 – To annihilate the Sicilian Mafia, Italian troops arrest 64 people of Palermo.[8] In a series of reports between 1898 and 1900, Ermanno Sangiorgi, the police chief of Palermo, identified 670 mafiosi belonging to eight Mafia clans that went through alternating phases of cooperation and conflict.[9]


  • April 27 – Bread riots start in Bari, where a mob of 2,000 attacks the tax office.[10] The riots expand to many parts of Italy, with several people killed. In Naples, women lead the mobs carrying loaves of bread or red flags on long staves.[11]


  • May 7–9 – Bread riots in Milan, Florence and Livorno, in which many people are killed. Martial law is proclaimed.[12] The Bava Beccaris massacre, named after the Italian General Fiorenzo Bava Beccaris, quells widespread riots in Milan. On May 9, 1898, the troops used artillery to breach the walls of a monastery outside Porta Monforte, but they found inside only a group of beggars who had come to receive assistance from the friars. According to the government, there were 118 dead and 450 wounded. The opposition claimed 400 dead and more than 2,000 injured people. Filippo Turati of the Italian Socialist Party was arrested, accused of inspiring the riots. In July 1900, King Umberto I of Italy was assassinated by the anarchist Gaetano Bresci who claimed to avenge the victims of the repression and the offense given by the decoration awarded to General Bava Beccaris.
  • May 14 – Bread riots continue in various areas in Italy, such as Naples and Pontedera, with several people killed.[13]
  • May 28 – Fall of the administration of Antonio di Rudinì following the May massacres in Milan.[14] Indignation at the results of his policy against the uprisings in May left him without support of both the Left – who blamed him for the bloodshed – and the Right – who blamed him for the permissiveness that allegedly had promoted the uprisings and led to his overthrow.[15]




  • February 15 – Totò, Italian comedian, film and theatre actor, writer, singer and songwriter, nicknamed il principe della risata ("the prince of laughter") (died 1967)
  • February 18 – Enzo Ferrari, Italian race car driver and automobile manufacturer (died 1988)
  • March 27 – Titina De Filippo, Italian actress and playwright (died 1963)
  • June 5 – Salvatore Ferragamo, Italian shoe designer (died 1960)
  • June 9 – Curzio Malaparte, born Kurt Erich Suckert, Italian journalist, dramatist, short-story writer, and novelist (died 1957)
  • August 4 – Ernesto Maserati, Italian automotive engineer and racer (died 1975)
  • August 5 – Piero Sraffa, Italian economist (died 1983)
  • August 10 – Mario Radice, Italian painter (died 1987)
  • September 19 – Giuseppe Saragat, Italian politician and President of the Italian Republic from 1964–1971 (died 1988)
  • September 27 – Valentino Bompiani, Italian publisher, writer and playwright (died 1992)
  • November 30 – Mario Mattoli, Italian film director and screenwriter (died 1980)



  1. ^ a b c d Clark, Modern Italy, pp. 126–28
  2. ^ a b c "Fatti di maggio" in: Sarti, Italy: A Reference Guide from the Renaissance to the Present, p. 271
  3. ^ "Riots at Milan", in The Cambridge Modern History (1904)
  4. ^ Seton-Watson, Italy from liberalism to fascism, 1870–1925, pp. 185–86
  5. ^ Bread Riots in Sicily, The New York Times, January 3, 1898
  6. ^ Bread Riots at Ancona; Women Go to the Town Hall and Men Join the Demonstration, The New York Times, January 18, 1898
  7. ^ Ancona Rioters Driven Out; Cavalry Disperses the Crowd After It Is Expelled from the Town, The New York Times, January 19, 1898
  8. ^ To Annihilate the Mafia, The New York Times, February 27, 1898
  9. ^ The Mafia and the 'Problem of the Mafia': Organised Crime in Italy, 1820–1970, by Gianluca Fulvetti, in Fijnaut & Paoli, Organised crime in Europe, p. 64.
  10. ^ Bread Riots at Bari; A Mob of 2,000 Attacks the Tax Office and Burns the Papers, The New York Times, April 28, 1898
  11. ^ Bread Riots in Italy; Several Participants in a Demonstration at Rimini Killed Fighting Carabineers, May 2, 1898
  12. ^ Bread Riots Italy's Peril; Disturbances in Milan, Florence, and Leghorn Result in the Killing of Many Persons. Martial Law Is Proclaimed, The New York Times, May 8, 1898
  13. ^ Bread Riots Continue; Reports from Various Points in Italy Show that Men, Women, and Children Were Shot, The New York Times, May 14, 1898
  14. ^ Italian Cabinet Resigns; Rudini Will Stay in Power, The New York Times, May 29, 1898
  15. ^ Sarti, Italy: a reference guide from the Renaissance to the present, pp. 534–35
  16. ^ Italian Cabinet Resigns; Rudini Begs the Chamber to Suspend Its Sittings, but Meets with Opposition, The New York Times, June 19, 1898
  17. ^ Cabinet Formed In Italy; Gen. Pelloux Premier and Minister of the Interior, The New York Times, June 30, 1898
  • Clark, Martin (1984/2014). Modern Italy, 1871 to the Present, New York: Routledge, ISBN 978-1-4058-2352-4
  • Sarti, Roland (2004). Italy: a reference guide from the Renaissance to the present, New York: Facts on File Inc., ISBN 0-81607-474-7
  • Seton-Watson, Christopher (1967). Italy from liberalism to fascism, 1870–1925, New York: Taylor & Francis, ISBN 0-416-18940-7