For once and for all…

July 30, 2014 / Local Interest
Campiglia, Tuscany

Ma Vostro Onore,” (But Your Honor), “I’m short almost 16 Fiaschi of wine. Instead of the usual two Barili, Francesco delivered 128 of these newfangled Liters! I don’t want liters. My customers don’t drink “liters”. They drink Fiaschi! 40 to the barile! Not 64, which are liters equivalent to 32 Fiaschi per Barile, but of Oil, not wine. Meaning he stiffed me 8.. of what I’m not even sure.”

“That’s it! Basta!with these lawsuits… they’re driving me nuts! Mannaggia (damn) whoever came up with this new measuring system!”

You can almost still hear the judge’s desperation, more than a century and a half later…


Or something to that effect. One can only imagine the confusion during the switch-over from the old measuring system of weight, length, and volume units in sacchi (sacks), braccia (arms), and barili (barrels) to the new metric decimal system.

What is certain, is that at a certain point it was decided for clarity’s sake that the conversion amounts should be displayed publicly. And for something this important to an almost exclusively agricultural 1861 Italy, no leaflet, pamphlet, broadside, or circular would do. Nope. They likely thought “This is so important that we’re gonna engrave it in stone!”

And to endow the operation with even more gravitas, they decided that a bust of Garibaldi would look over the engraved tablets with a stern look, hopefully settling the issue for once and for all.




by GB Bernardini

Editor, Italian Notebook

10 Responses to “For once and for all…”

  1. Frank Bettinelli

    With that “LOVELY” walking down the road in that last photo, who is going
    to check out figures cut in stone

  2. Pat Carney Ceccarelli
    Pat Carney Ceccarelli

    Oh great, GB! I have looked That chart so many times and never figured it out. Thanks again for discovering , interpreting, etc what is even on ones stroll.

  3. Marcia Bailey

    That’s why the USA could never adopt the metric system, we didn’t carve into stone. Thanks, GB.

  4. Allan Mahnke

    Marcia is right, but it is also probably true that here is the US our systems are already so complicated that we could never figure out how to do a chart converting them to metric systems.

    • Marcia Bailey

      Allan, I worked in the medical field and we only used metric measure. It makes so much more sense but the conversion to our system is really a challenge.

  5. Michael Yaccino

    More important than all this GB is, who is the girl in the white dress?

  6. Marianna Raccuglia

    It IS a lovely dress! I could never adapt to metric – my brain can’t comprehend – nice story, though. Thanks, GB

  7. Lina Falcone

    GB It is very difficult to figure out the metric system, that’s why it couldn’t be adopted in the U.S.


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