A Rural View: Italy’s Internal Migration in the Mirror
of Ferrara’s Countryside (19th Century)
Historical studies on contemporary Italy’s spatial mobility focused on emigration abroad and on urbanization. Rural migrations have been neglected. As a result, understanding of common, everyday movements, which represent mobility’s «elementary structures», has been lost. A general, quantitative picture of internal migrations in contemporary Italy is lacking, partly because italian mobility is articulated in sub-national migratory systems, as the ones based on the Po Valley, in the northern side of the country. Grounded on documentation held by local archives and on data preserved in register office, this article focuses on mobility in Ferrara’s countryside during 19th century (emigration, seasonal migration, internal mobility). It discloses distinctive characters and a considerable amount of variation in mobility’s volume and geography. Ferrara’s case helps to show the inadequacy of current assumptions about mobility (growth in contemporary age, preponderance of male and youth single movers) and it confirms the close relationship between mobility and kinship.