Italian units of measurement

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A variety of units of measurement were used in the independent Italian states between the Napoleonic wars (ca. 1815) and the unification of Italy (ca. 1870) – as, of course, before that. The units to measure length, volume, mass, etc., could differ widely between countries or between towns in a country (Rome and Ancona), but usually not between a country and its capital.

The Kingdom of Sardinia included the island of Sardinia and the continental areas of Piedmont (with the capital Turin) and Liguria (with Genoa). The Kingdom of Naples included the island of Sicily (with Palermo). The Kingdom of Lombardy–Venetia was part of the Austrian Empire, which also shared ruling family with Modena, Parma and Tuscany (with Florence). The Papal States included the areas of Latium (with the capital Rome), Romagna (with Bologna) and the Marches (with Ancona).

Since 1862, the metric system has been compulsory (with the exception of Milan, which already adopted the metric system 1803).[1][2]


Historical Roman measurements[edit]

System of units before adoption of metric[edit]

Length[edit]

Units varied from one province or city to another.[1][2]

1 piede liprando (foot) = 0.51377 m

1 punto (point) = ​1144 piede liprando

1 oncia (inch) = ​112 piede liprando

1 canna = 4 piede liprando

1 trabucco = 6 piede liprando

1 miglio (mile) = ​4333 13 piede liprando

Modena[edit]

1 cavezzo = 6 piede

1 piè = 20.593 in

1 braccio = 22.741 in[3]

Naples[edit]

1 canna = 10 palmi (or 8 palmi[4]) = 2.646 m[2]

1 oncia = 5 minuti [4][2]

1 palmo = 12 once = 10.381 in[4][2]

1 pertica (a.k.a. passo) = ​7 12 palmi[2]

1 miglio = 7000 palmi = 1.147 miles[4][2]

Palermo[edit]

1 canna = 10 palmi = 2.065 m[2]

Parma[edit]

1 punto = 12 atomi

1 oncia = 12 punti

1 braccio di legno = 12 once

1 pertica = 6 braccia

1 braccio = 21.344 in

1 pie = 22.428 in[5]

Papal States[edit]

Units used in the Papal States included:[6]

1 commercial palmo = 8.796 in

1 mercer's palmo = 8.347 in

1 architect's palmo = 8.79 in

1 pié = 11.592 in

1 canna = 78.4 in

Architects[edit]

1 palmo = 12 once[6]

1 once = 10 decimi[6]

1 canna = 10 palmi[6]

1 catena = 10 stajoli = ​25 12 palmi[6]

1 architect's piè (foot) = 16 once = 11.72 in[6]

Rome[edit]

1 canna = 10 palmi = 2.234 m[2]

1 braccio = 0.732 in

Ancona[edit]

1 pié = 15.384 in

1 braccio = ​35 13 in

Bologna[edit]

1 braccio = 0.64 m

1 piede = 0.38 m[2]

Sardinia[edit]

Units used in Sardinia include:[7]

1 punto = 12 atomi

1 oncia = 12 punti

1 piè liprando = 12 once = 20.228 in

1 raso = 14 once

1 miglio = ​4333 13 piede liprando = 1.3835 mile[7]

Turin[edit]

1 trabucco = 6 piedi liprandi = 3.096 m[7]

1 raso = 0.6 m

1 pertica = 2 trabucci[7]

1 piede = 0.293 m[2]

Genoa[edit]

1 piè manuale = ​23 piè liprando[7]

1 palmo = ​5 13 once[7]

1 palmo = 0.248 m[2][7]

1 braccio = ​2 13 palmi[7]

1 canna = about 9 palmi[7]

Tuscany[edit]

1 soldo = 12 denari

1 palmo = 10 soldi = 11.49 in

1 braccio = 2 palmi

1 canna = 4 braccia

1 architect's canna = 5 braccia[8]

1 miglio = ​2833 13 braccia = 1.0277 mile[8]

Florence[edit]

1 braccio = 2 palmi - 0.583 m[2]

Venetian Lombardy[edit]

1 punto = 12 atomi

1 oncia = 12 punti

1 braccio = 12 once

1 braccio = 2 piede

1 miglio = 1 kilometre = 0.6214 mile[9]

Milan[edit]

1 braccio = 12 once = 0.595 m

1 brabucco = 6 piedi[2]

1 piè = 15.61 in[9]

Venice[edit]

1 braccio = 0.683 m

1 piede = 0.348 m[2]

1 piè = 13.69 in[9]

Mass[edit]

A number of units were used in Italy to measure mass, varying from one region to another.[1][2] Several countries had both a light and a heavy pound.

One libbra (pound) was equal to between 307 and 398 g.[1]

1 grano (grain) = ​16912 libbra

1 denaro (scruple) = ​1288 libbra

1 ottavo (drachm) = ​196 libbra

1 oncia (ounce) = ​112 libbra

1 rubbo = 25 libbre

1 cantaro = 150 libbre[1][2]

Modena[edit]

1 oncia = 16 ferlini

1 libbra (a.k.a. lira) = 12 once

1 libbra = 0.7044 lb[3]

Naples[edit]

1 rotolo = 0.861 kg

1 libbra = 12 once = 0.321 kg[2]

Gold, silver, silk, spices, drugs and pigments[edit]

1 trapeso = 20 accini

1 dramma = 3 trapesi (a.k.a. scrupoli)

1 oncia = 10 dramme

1 libbra = 12 once[4]

Apothecaries' weights[edit]

1 scrupolo = 20 accini

1 drachma = 3 scrupoli

1 oncia = 10 drachme

1 libbra = 12 once[4]

Palermo[edit]

1 cantaro = 100 rotoli = 79.34 kg

1 libbra = 12 once = 0.317 kg[2]

Papal States[edit]

1 denaro = 24 grani

1 oncia = 24 denari

1 libbra = 12 once

Rome[edit]

1 libbra = 12 once = 0.339 kg[2]

1 libbra = 0.7477 lb[6]

Ancona[edit]

1 libbra = 0.7277[6]

Bologna[edit]

1 libbra mercantile = 12 once = 0.362 kg[2]

1 libbra = 0.7984[6]

1 carato = 4 grani[6]

1 ferlino = 10 carati[6]

1 ottavo = 2 ferlini[6]

1 oncia = 8 ottavi[6]

1 libbra = 12 once[6]

Parma[edit]

1 denaro = 24 grani

1 oncia = 24 denari

1 libbra = 12 once

1 rubbio = 25 libbre

1 libbra = 0.7197 lb[5]

Sardinia[edit]

1 grano = 24 granotini

1 denaro = 24 grani

1 ottavo = 3 denai

1 oncia = 8 ottavi

1 libbra = 12 once = 0.81332 lb

1 marco (for gold and silver) = ​23 libbra

1 apothecaries' libbra = ​1 14 marco[7]

Turin[edit]

1 libbra = 12 once = 0.369 kg[2]

Genoa[edit]

1 denaro = 24 grani

1 oncia = 24 denari

1 libbra = 12 once = 0.317 kg[2]

1 libbra = 12 once = 0.70021 lb (in peso grosso it was ​110 larger)

1 rottolo = ​1 12 libbre[7]

Tuscany[edit]

1 denaro = 24 grani

1 dramma = 3 denari

1 oncia = 8 dramme

1 libbra = 12 once = 0.7486 lb[8]

Florence[edit]

1 libbra = 12 once = 0.3395 kg[2]

Venetian Lombardy[edit]

1 denaro = 10 grani

1 grosso = 10 denari

1 oncia = 10 grossi

1 libbra metrica = 10 once = 1 kilogram = 2.2046 lb

1 rubbio = 10 libbre[9]

Gold and silver[edit]

1 denaro = 24 grani

1 oncia = 24 denari

1 marco = 8 once = 7.5562 troy ounce[9]

Milan[edit]

1 libbra grossa = 28 once = 0.763 kg[2]

Venice[edit]

1 libbra grossa = 12 once = 0.477 kg

1 libbra sottile = 0.301 kg[2]

Area[edit]

Several units were used in Italy to measure area, varying from one region to another.[1]

1 giornata (also known as a quadrao) = 38 m3[1]

1 tavolo = ​1100 giornata[1]

Modena[edit]

1 cavezzo2 = 36 piede2

1 tavola = cavezzi2

1 biolca = 72 tavole

1 biolca = 7009 acres[3]

Papal States[edit]

1 rubbio = 370300 architect's palmi2 4.5658 acres[citation needed]

Parma[edit]

1 staro = 12 tavola

1 biolca = 6 stari of 288 pertica2

1 biolca = 75.28 acre[5]

Sardinia[edit]

1 giornata (in Piedmont) = 100 pertica2 = 0.9393 acre[7]

Tuscany[edit]

1 saccato = 16500 braccia2 = 1.389 acre[8]

Venetian Lombardy[edit]

1 tornatura = 100 palmi2 = 1 are = 0.0247 acre

1 campo = 0.6881 acre[9]

Capacity[edit]

Two separate systems, dry capacity and wet capacity, were used in Italy to measure capacity.

Dry[edit]

Several units were used in Italy to measure dry capacity. These units varied from one province or city to another.[1]

One mine varied from 12 to 120 litre[1]

Modena[edit]

1 sacco = 2 staja

1 stajo = 1.9978 bushels[3]

Parma[edit]

1 mina = 8 quarteroli

1 stajo (a.k.a. staro) = 2 mine

1 stajo = 1.334 bushels[5]

Papal States[edit]

1 scorzo = 4 quatucci

1 starello = ​1 38 scorzi

1 quarta = 4 starelli

1 rubbio = 4 quarte[6]

Rome[edit]

1 rubbio = 8.355 bushels

Ancona[edit]

1 rubbio = 7.974 bushels

Bologna[edit]

1 quarterone = 4 quarticini

1 stajo = 4 quarteroni

1 corba = 2 staja

1 corba = 2.232 bushels (20.7617 gallons, liquid)

Sardinia[edit]
Turin[edit]

1 copello = 20 cucchiari

1 quartière = 4 copelli

1 mina = 2 quartière

1 stajo = 2 mine

1 sacco = 3 staje = 3.2635 bushels[7]

Genoa[edit]

1 quarto = 12 gombette

1 mina = 8 quarti = 2.4804 gallons[7]

Tuscany[edit]

1 quartuccio = 2 bussoli

1 mezzetta = 2 quartucci

1 metadella = 2 mezzetta

1 quarto = 4 metadelle

1 mina = 2 quarti

1 stajo = 2 mine

1 sacco = 3 staja

1 moggio = 8 sacci

1 moggio = 16.5904 bushels[8]

Liquid[edit]

Several units were used in Italy to measure liquid capacity. These units varied from region to region.[1]

1 barile da vino = 45.6 l[1]

1 barile da olio = 33.4 l

Modena[edit]

1 fiasco = 2 boccali

1 barile = 20 fiasci

1 fiasco = 0.55028 gallon[3]

Papal States[edit]

1 foglietta = 4 quartucci

1 boccale = 4 fogliette

1 barile = 32 boccale

1 botte = 16 barile

1 barile (wine) = 15.412 gallon

1 barile (oil) = 15.185 gallon

Rome[edit]

1 soma = 43.386 gallons[6]

Ancona[edit]

1 soma = 18.49 gallons[6]

Bologna[edit]

1 boccale = 4 fogliette[6]

1 quarterone = 15 boccale[6]

1 corba = 4 quarterone[6]

1 boccale = 0.346 gallon[6]

Sardinia[edit]

1 boccale = 2 quartini

1 pinta = 2 boccali

1 rubbio = 6 pinte = 2.4804 gallons

1 brenta = 6 rubbi

1 carro = 10 brente[7]

Genoa[edit]

1 barile = 90 amole = 50 pinte

1 mezzaruòla = 2 barilli

1 barile = 17.084 gallons[7]

Tuscany[edit]
Wine[edit]

1 mezzetta = 2 quartucci

1 boccale = 1 mezzette

1 fiasco = 2 boccale

1 barile = 20 fiasci = 12.0444 gallons = ​133 13 libbre in weight (barile of spirits weighs 120 libbre)[8]

Oil[edit]

1 barile = 16 fiasci = 120 libbre in weight

1 soma = 2 barile[8]

Venice[edit]

1 moggio = 8 mezzeni = 333.3 litres[2]

Milan[edit]

1 moggio = 8 stala = 146.2 litres

1 brenta = 96 boccali = 75.6 litres[2]

Turin[edit]

1 sacco = 5 mine = 115.3 litres

1 carro = 10 brente = 493.11 litres[2]

Bologna[edit]

1 corba = 2 staia = 60 boccali = 78.6 litres[2]

Florence[edit]

1 monggio = 8 sacca = 584.7 litres

1 barile(vino) = 20 fiaschi = 45.6 litres

1 barile(olio) = 16 fiaschi = 33.43 litres[2]

Genoa[edit]

1 mina = 116.5 litres

1 barile = 70 litres[2]

Rome[edit]

1 rubbio = 22 scorzi = 294.5 litres

1 barile = 32 boccali = 75.5 litres[2]

Naples[edit]

1 botte (vino) = 12 barili = 523.5 litres

1 tomolo = 55.54 litres[2]

Liquid[edit]

For oil, wine and spirits:

1 barile = 60 caraffi

1 botta = 12 barile

1 carro = 2 botti

1 caraffa (for wine and spirits) = 0.1929 gallons[4]

For oil:

1 quarto = 6 misurelle

1 stajo = 16 quarti = 20 pignate (sometimes) = 2.61633 gallons

1 salma = 16 staja[4]

Dry[edit]

1 tomolo = 24 misure = 1.5646 bushels

1 carro = 36 tomoli[4]

Palermo[edit]

1 salma = 4 bisace = 16 tomoli = 275 litres[2]

Venetian Lombardy[edit]

1 pinta = 10 coppi = 0.26418 gallon (or French litre)

1 mina = 10 pinte

1 soma = 10 mine[9]

Metric Adoption in Milan[edit]

Milan adopted the metric system as early as 1803, reusing old names.[1]

Length[edit]

metro = m

palmo = dm

dito = cm

atomo = mm

Mass[edit]

libbra nuova = kg

oncia = hg

grosso = dag

denar = g

grano = dg

Capacity[edit]

soma = hl

mina = dal

pinta = l

coppo = dl

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Washburn, E.W. (1926). International Critical Tables of Numerical Data, Physics, Chemistry and Technology. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. pp. 8 https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=zkErAAAAYAAJ&lpg=PA417&dq=international%20critical%20tables%201926&pg=PA8#v=onepage&q=international%20critical%20tables%201926&f=false.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai Cardarelli, F. (2003). Encyclopaedia of Scientific Units, Weights and Measures. Their SI Equivalences and Origins. London: Springer. pp. 87, 88. ISBN 978-1-4471-1122-1.
  3. ^ a b c d e Clarke, F.W. (1891). Weights Measures and Money of All Nations. New York: D. Appleton & Company. p. 52.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Clarke, F.W. (1891). Weights Measures and Money of All Nations. New York: D. Appleton & Company. pp. 53, 54.
  5. ^ a b c d Clarke, F.W. (1891). Weights Measures and Money of All Nations. New York: D. Appleton & Company. p. 58.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u Clarke, F.W. (1891). Weights Measures and Money of All Nations. New York: D. Appleton & Company. pp. 63, 64.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Clarke, F.W. (1891). Weights Measures and Money of All Nations. New York: D. Appleton & Company. p. 67.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Clarke, F.W. (1891). Weights Measures and Money of All Nations. New York: D. Appleton & Company. p. 76.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Clarke, F.W. (1891). Weights Measures and Money of All Nations. New York: D. Appleton & Company. pp. 80, 81.