“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.