No 13 November 1992 page 8

Domenico D’Amico

Relationships with Spaventa


By Domenico Pettinella

Domenico D’Amico, Silvio D’Amico’s Uncle was on the promotional committee for the statutory bodies of the Abruzzan Association (Associazione Abbruzzese), which was originated by Silvio Spaventa[1] and was founded in 1886; Spaventa, who was born at Bomba, was a Deputy of the historic Right, a great statesman and President of the Association until his death.
At the General Assembly of 24th April 1887, with the renewal of his statutory duties, Domenico D’Amico was elected as Counsellor of the Association together with Francesco Cappelli, Francesco Filomusi Guelfi, Nicola Giorgi, Luigi Mancini, Luciano Navarra, Vittorio Paolini, Francesco Roselli, Andrea Santori, and Desio and Luigi Tancredi.

The Association had 52 statutes and there were about 200 members, all of whom acted out of affection for the far away districts of Abruzzo. They declared with finality the unity of brotherly meetings between all Abruzzans living even temporarily in Rome. They developed a relationship between Abruzzo and the Capital covering economic, social and moral aspects which always had as its heart the betterment of the working class by means of mutual help, the institution of a Social Club (Casa Sociale) and by organising schools. The Association took care to send a circular containing these objectives to all the Mayors, the Presidents of Charitable Organisations, Agrarian Consortiums etc. in Abruzzo, to involve them and to inform them and to set up a collaborative relationship with them. At the meeting of 15th May 1887, the President, Silvio Spaventa, insisted on affirming that the proposed aims should be reached by all possible and suitable means, so that the Association might have the desired consistency and prestige. The President insisted that they should work to determine how many Abruzzans were living in Rome, what jobs they were doing, what opportunities they had, where they were living and how many died each year. It was intended that this survey should be carried out especially amongst the workers and the peasants of the Roman countryside, so that the Abruzzan colony in Rome, Capital of Italy and its financial and economic centre, together with all Abruzzo, might draw greater advantages from it, in as much as it offers powers of intelligence and strength of arms for their uninterrupted and ever increasing industriousness.

In 1887 Domenico D’Amico was re-elected as counsellor and his wife, Concetta, became a member of the Ladies’ Committee, presided over by Sofia Spaventa; the ladies gave a social flag (or banner) to the Association on 31st March 1889, designed by Francesco Paolo Michetti, bearing the emblems of the Provinces of l’Aquila, Chieti and Teramo. Spaventa declared that this flag visibly demonstrated the Association’s honour and accomplishments, stressing that “to say ‘flag’ is the same as saying the work and heart of a woman, because where honour is to be kindled and delivered, woman is the only teacher”. Amongst the initiatives undertaken by the Association we should remember their  interventions in favour of populations struck by

Silvio D'Amico and probably his son, the musicologist Fedele D'Amico,
in Rome in the period 1930-35.

natural calamities, such as at Taranta Peligna,   where a landslide on 7th and 8th June 1889 buried more than 200 houses which was worsened by flooding of the River Aventino. Aid for these people only arrived two years after the catastrophe due to delays by the Government. The Association also helped the Communes of Castellamare, Pescara, Antrodoco etc. It is of note that Domenico D’Amico was a prime mover in the Mutual Assistance department of the Association and, given the closeness of the brothers, Fedele (father of Silvio D’Amico) must also have been a member of the Association. These experiences of his Uncle and his Father will certainly have influenced the development of Silvio D’Amico’s character. This could be an important field of future research.

Domenico D’Amico worked with several important Abruzzan people belonging to the Association, attracted by their glamour and garnering experiences. Amongst these he must certainly have been struck by the great personality of the President, Silvio Spaventa, with whom he collaborated as a Counsellor. He carried out his activities fired by the values and programmes referred to by the Association, which were always kept in mind by the President.  It is worth noting a passage from the letter that the President wrote to Professor Francesco Filomusi Guelfi on 31st March 1889, on the occasion of the flag being given to the Association, which he had been unable to attend due to ill health: “Italian, above all in my mind and because of my education, I am very proud to hold a quiet place in my heart, where I only feel Abruzzan. It is not an immeasurable pride, because it only comes from the idea of a certain modest quality of our race, for whom the height of the mountains in which they lived, prevented them from degenerating even under the most barbarous savagery.” He also noted that, “Each Abruzzan says the same thing within himself.” Then he added, “Now the conscience of our own blood and of our native place is a moral force, that ought to be preserved even within the breast of our great Country, that we have conquered.” The union created by affection for his own region and his own Commune, Spaventa added, “carried even  outside the confines of our territory, to

which one makes a special note, if it is kept to the service of solidarity and co-operation for the good (of all), it can generate a powerful organism, which, as it confers usefulness to one part, is not discordant with the interests of everyone else; rather it harmonises with the most intense patriotism. This is where our Association originated from, out of mutual help in Rome; and this is its significance and its scope”. Concerning the validity even today, actually even more so today, of these programmes and human, social and cultural values, he who supports them needs to reflect that today these values seem almost completely to have disappeared in political society and in part also in civilian society, because they have been lessened, if not derided, in relationships where people think or act only to their own advantage, from what is useful, from blowing one’s own trumpet, from the subjugation of the needy and the uneducated. Domenico D’Amico personally worked with zeal to accomplish these values.
(Recently – summer 1991) there was a ceremony to put up the (commemorative) stone on the house where Silvio’s father and his uncle (Fedele and Domenico) were born; the stone contains this same message and thanks to the initiative of the Civic Administration of Torricella Peligna the message can reach everyone, rich and pregnant with its universal values, so that it is therefore still relevant today. Antonio Piccone Stella’s thoughts, published in “Amici di Torricella” of 11th June 1991, where he remarks that, “in every place the sum of the cultural experiences of the people who are born there become deposited, so that to rediscover the beautiful and important things that some of them have achieved, is the best thing that one can do for the good of the community”, represents the confirmation that today we can recover that olden system of social, civil, religious and cultural values. Piccone, who feels “Torricellan” (and why not? even Abruzzan!) despite having spent 60 years in Rome and having travelled around the world, confirms it to us and pushes us into believing and acting, even though it may be difficult, so we may go forth along this road, exactly as the Amici di Torricella Association does.

Domenico D'Amico


[1] Silvio Spaventa - (1822 1893) statesman, pupil of Colecchi, a patriot.
Silvio Spaventa, championed the unification of Italy, was a proponent of the Hegelian state, and a severe administrator; he played an important role in the Neapolitan revolution of 1848 and an even more central one in the post-unification period.
Born at Bomba (Chieti), Silvio shared his famous philosopher brother Bertrando's interest in philosophy and politics {Bertrando Spaventa - 1817 1883}. In March 1848 Silvio founded a journal with republican tendencies, Il Nazionale, which supported both the on-going revolution in Naples and the movement towards Italian unification. Elected to the Neapolitan Chamber of Deputies in April, he soon lost faith in the Bourbon King's pledge of constitutional rule, particularly after Ferdinand II brutally crushed the disturbances of May 15 and ejected the deputies from their chamber. During that summer, with Luigi Settembrini, he helped found a secret society, Unitá italiana devoted to ousting the dynasty and promoting unification. Later in the year he went to Turin to attend a Gioberti-sponsored congress for an Italian confederation. Following the collapse of the revolution in Naples, he was arrested and after a long trial, notorious for its irregularities, he was sentenced to death. The sentence, however, was commuted to life imprisonment and in 1859 to banishment. He returned to Naples in 1860 to support Cavour against both Bourbons and Garibaldi.
After unification he held important public posts. True to his conception of the state as guide to and guarantor of material and moral progress, he favoured public ownership of the country's railways and equity in public administration. He died in Rome.

Translation courtesy of Dr. Marion Apley Porreca

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