History Time: The Italian Economic Miracle 1958- 1963

With the Italian economy currently paused due to the terrible outbreak of Covid-19 in the country, we take a look into a historical event that could provide some reasons to be positive and hopeful for the future after the crisis.

After World War II the Italian economy, similar to now, was in a terrible position. Fighting and bombing in the country had reduced many cities to rubble and foreign armies had been occupying the country for years. People were poor and mainly lived in rural areas. Following the war, the Americans and others were worried that Italy could become a communist country, so they pumped £1.5 billion into the economy between 1948 and 1954 as part of the Marshall Plan to make sure this would not happen.

This stimulated the economy greatly and Italian economy began to climb back to the level it was at before the war. Italy still had a big population and therefore a large and cheap labour force ready for action. Korean War in 1950 helped the steel industry and the manufacturing and export sectors continued to grow. Italy joined the European Common Market in 1957, bringing more investments and the possibility of Middle Eastern oil exploration and from then on the economy boomed. The economic triangle in the north became famous for producing fashionable clothes and shoes, typewriters, refrigerators, washing machines, scooters like the Vespa and Lambretta and cars which included the economical Fiats and the more luxury Lamborghini and Alfa Romeo. Many people, approximately 9 million, moved from the South to the North to find jobs in the new factories and the cities of Milan, Turin and Genoa exploded with new metropolitan areas. For the first time many people were able to afford cars, televisions and washing machines. Between 1950 and 1962 the GDP of Italy doubled and the standard of living for the entire population increased dramatically.

This can surely be a lesson that out of the darkness there can come light. At the moment Italy faces a grave and serious situation indeed, as the inability of people to move and the collapse of tourism has greatly hurt the economy. Another economic boom could be the solution, although with climate change affecting the world also, perhaps this crisis will be the moment we are shaken from our sleep and the following decades will result in the real change that Italy and the rest of the world needs.

Bored of staying at home right now? Try our quizzes below on the Italian Economic Miracle

Italian Economic Miracle: Definitions

Think you know the words in bold? Have a go at this definitions quiz

The Italian Economic Miracle: True or False

How well did you understand the article? Try the true or false quiz!

History Time: The Great Plague of Milan 1629-1631

We live in a very clean and sanitised period of time compared to hundreds of years ago. In 1629, Europe and the rest of the world was still reeling from centuries of outbreaks of bubonic plague, beginning with the Black Death in the 14th century. This was the time Milan experienced its last outbreak of disease that terrified and shut down the city.

With many soldiers moving around the Northern Italy region due to the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), due to poor sanitation, the plague spread quickly throughout the area. French and German troops initially carried the disease to Mantua and then infected Venitian soldiers brought it to Milan in October 1629. At the time the city was, as it is now, the main commercial centre of Lombardy. The city initially, similarly to today, introduced measures to stop the spread of the disease. They quarantined German goods and soldiers and people tried to stay indoors away from the infected. However, despite these measures, the plague continued to grow amongst the population. During the carnival season in March 1630 the measures were relaxed and a second wave of cases hit the city. Fear and suspicion was rife, and as Alessandro Manzoni has written about, some people were put on trial and executed, accused of being ‘plague spreaders’.  When the disease arrived in the city in 1629, the population was 130,000. By the end of the plague in 1631, 60,000 people had died, nearly half the number of people living there two years before.

Of course it is interesting to note that there are some similarities between now and then. However, considering the history reminds us we are far away from a disaster such as that one currently in Milan. Thankfully we live in a much cleaner and safer world, with far better healthcare and knowledge of how illness spreads. Fingers crossed we will see a slowing of the spread of this virus and we can all go back to living as normal.

Now you know a little more about the history of the last major disease in Milan, try the below quizzes to test out your knowledge!

Plague of Milan: Definitions

How well do you know the words in bold above? Test your knowledge with this exciting definitions quiz!

True or False: The Plague of Milan

Do you know your truth from your falsehood? Try this Plague of Milan true or false quiz!