Relations between the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies and the United States: an ancient friendship

by Leonardo Quagliuolo

The United States, in its history, has always had to do, in one way or another, with Italy, but with Naples there has always been a special relationship. The Kingdom of the two Sicilies was the first among the Italian states to make friends with the United States, a fruitful and lasting friendship.

The December 16, 1796 It was a historic day for relations between the Italian peninsula and the then very young United States: the first representative office of the USA in Italy, in Naples, in a building in via Chiatamone, with first consul John Matthiew and, immediately after, the envoy of the Kingdom in America was Ferdinando Lucchesi Palli, a Neapolitan nobleman whose task was to establish a new network of consular offices, of which the main one was inaugurated in New York.

The relations between the two states predated this agreement, but were limited to a naval traffic of goods to and from America, the result of a far-sighted policy from an economic point of view, but with the United States that was not yet fully established on the international scene.

The initial friendship suffered, however, an abrupt interruption between 1809 and 1812, as Joachim Murat he seized and blocked numerous US cargoes, disrupting relations between the Kingdom and the nascent overseas power and causing them considerable economic damage, which was followed by a temporary diplomatic estrangement.

Murat, re delle Due Sicilie
Joachim Murat

With the Restoration, after the Congress of Vienna, the US decided to ask for the bill for all the losses suffered in previous years: one and a half million in Neapolitan Ducati. A figure that at the time would have made anyone pale.

After Napoleonic parenthesis, contacts between the two states continued peacefully and even the Kingdom of the two Sicilies established numerous consulates in some of the most important and populated cities in the States at the time, such as New York, Boston, Philadelphia and New Orleans and, vice versa, the United States set up consulates in various cities of the Kingdom, such as Palermo, Messina, Catania, Taranto and Pozzuoli.

The question of the economic debt ended up being shelved over time only to be resumed in 1835.

The last years of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies saw a great development of the relationship with the United States mainly from a commercial point of view. With Unity, one of the first measures taken as early as 1860 was the replacement of the Duosicilian consul with one chosen by the new monarchy. The figure of Baron Saverio Fava was prominent in this role.

The consulate, between the last years of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, was moved to via Nazario Sauro, following the fill that expanded the city by the sea, with new and elegant buildings, suffocating the ancient in concrete. village of Santa Lucia.

Consolato USA Napoli
The US consulate today, from the site "US Embassy

A new break in relations occurred with the second World War, whose epilogue led to the end of the Kingdom of Italy. At the end of the conflict, the Allies, settled in Naples, built the Bank of America, recovered theInstitute of the children of the people of the Foundation Banco di Napoli, a public work of the Regime, but never entered into operation due to the war, using it as NATO base, in 1954 and, from 1947 to 1953, on the ashes of the Grand Hotel in viale Elena (today Viale Gramsci), destroyed by bombing, they built the new Consulate General of the United States of America, still present today in the beautiful scenery of Mergellina.

Grand Hotel, dopo l'annessione del Regno delle Due Sicilie
Grand Hotel, Mergellina. Thanks to "Palaces of Naples

Very recently, in 2011, the US ambassador David Thorne stressed the value and the antiquity of diplomatic relations with Italy, which started from the ancient friendship with the Kingdom of the two Sicilies, more than two centuries ago, underlining not only the commercial value, as well as the cultural value of the exchanges that took place with the South Italy, which has left a mark in the history of both.

Italian travelers wishing to travel to America, Neapolitan or not, need a USA ESTA or a visa. Contrary to the visa, theESTA USA can easily be applied for using an online application form

-Leonardo Quagliuolo


“Architecture of the Americans in Naples” by Elena Manzo

Former NATO

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