1902 Encyclopedia > Italy > Beneficence (Social Welfare)

(Part 21)


Beneficence (Social Welfare)

A first attempt to form an idea of the number and nature of the beneficent institutions of Italy was made by the Government in 1862, and the result was published in 1864 in the Oalendario générale del Begno. A fuller inquiry was undertaken in 1863 by the board of statistics under the direction of Pietro Maestri, and the information was communicated to the public in 15 large volumes published between 1868 and 1872. According to this inquiry, usually called of 1861, because the data refer to the state of the institutions in that year, the total number of benevolent institutions (exclusive of the province of Rome) was 20,123 (of which 3866 were purely religious foundations), and. their property was valued at 1,100,932,000 lire. The amount of money annually expended by these institutions was about 86,000,000; and on an average 6,305,000, or about a fourth of the population, were recipients of their bounty in one form or other. In 1862 a law was passed by which the control of all public institutions of a charitable nature was placed in the hands of the communal authorities, and these have to appoint a charity committee to superintend the department and balance the accounts. In the case of all institutions subsidized by the state, the accounts must be presented to the minister of the interior ; and to this functionary is assigned the right of dissolving or reorganizing any institution which the communal authorities report as misdirected or defective. Every institution is obliged to have a regular treasurer, with surety. During the eighteen years that the law has been in force, it has greatly improved the state of matters ; but that there is much room for further improvement appears from the fact that nearly the half of their gross income is of no avail for the special purposes for which they exist.

The following details, derived from an admirable report presented by Signor Bodio to the international congress of beneficence in Milan, August 1880, [Footnote 462-1] show the present extent of the opere pie, or works of piety. In 1878 there existed in the kingdom 3668 eleemosynary charities, 13 charities for prisoners, 2694 dowry charities, 15 baliatici (charities for poor nursing mothers), 239 asylums for shelter, 16 labour charities (case di lavoro), 1028 foundations for the assistance of the sick in their own homes, 41 for the assistance of women in childbed in their own homes, 1139 hospitals for the sick, hospitals for chronic patients, 18 maternity hospitals, 15 lunatic asylums, 10 seaside hospitals, 508 school charities, 340 infants' asylums, 397 collegi e retiri, 463 orphanages, 17 deaf-mute institutions, 9 blind asylums, 695 monti di pietà, 1965 monti frumentari (offices for furnishing grain to poor peasants in return for pledges), 30 agrarian loan funds, 102 nursling and foundling institutions, 2633 "congregations of charity," and 1553 foundations of miscellaneous scope. [Footnote 462-2] These 17,870 institutions being distributed among 5951 communes, 2431 communes have none of their own ; but the advantages of the institutions are seldom confined to the special communes in which they are situated.

The following table (XXXVI.) indicates the gross and the net revenues enjoyed by the opere pie of each of the compartimenti :—

== TABLE ==

Classifying the institutions, the following results appear, the amounts being stated in thousands of lire (Table XXXVII.):--

== TABLE ==

The following table (XXXVIII.) gives the returns for 1877 for the lunatic asylums of Italy:--

== TABLE ==

It appears that the number of asylums is deficient in the Napoletano and in Sicily and Sardinia, while of all the regions Emilia and the Marches are the best supplied. Of the institutions included in the table, some are maintained by the provinces, such as those of Cuneo, Alessandria, Bergamo, &c, others by the municipalities, others again by private individuals. Among the larger establishments are the public asylums of Genoa (Manicomio pubblico), Milan, Aversa (819 inmates), Rome (715), Siena (791), Florence (712). Venice has separate establishments for its male and female lunatics.

The idea of establishing seaside hospitals to which patients could be taken from the inland districts for change of air has been carried into effect more extensively in Italy thar in most other countries. Such institutions exist at Viareggio (since 1856), Voltri (1862), Fano (1863), Leghorn (1864), Sestri Levante (1867), Porto d'Anzio (1868), Venice (1868), Porto S. Stefano (1870), Rimini (1870), Riccione(1871), Loano (1871), Celle (1872), Grado (1873), Palermo (1874), Pisa (Bocca d'Arno, 1876), Cagliari (1879). In many cases a very considerable number of communes have the right of sending their patients to a given hospital; that of Loano for instance receives from thirty-four communes which have committees of transmission. See Dr Gaetano Pini, " Gli ospizi marini e le scuole pei rachitici in Italia" in Atti del VI. Oongresso dell' Associazione medica italiana, Turin, 1877.


462-1 Printed in Archivio di Statistica, 880. fasc. iv.

462-2 It is to be observed that this list does not include those institutions which are still, like the great Cottolengo Hospital at Turin, under the direct control of their founders.

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