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Northern Lands

[image ALT: A marble plaque with a profile bas-relief of a man with a moustache. It is a commemoration of emigration from Fossato di Vico to America, and is to be found on the medieval walls of Fossato, Umbria (central Italy).]

in the northern lands of AMERICA
remembering always our great mother ITALY,
with the participation of other fellow-citizens
who applauded this noble project in our homeland,
wished to erect
this marble commemoration
who in his august person
harbored every Italic merit
of civil virtue
— · —

Set into the medieval walls of the town near its main gate, this marble plaque with its bronze trim is a wonderful witness to the great wave of Italian immigration to the New World: but you should never believe everything you read — or you should at least read it very carefully indeed.

Fossato is at 43°17 N Latitude, thus slightly farther north than Milwaukee (43°02), Portsmouth, NH (43°03) and Casper, WY (42°51); and much farther north than Boston, New York, Detroit, Chicago, and the northernmost point of California. The northern lands are in fact this part of Umbria, which are farther north than four-fifths of the area, and almost all the population, of the continental United States. And yes, Fossato is even farther north than parts of Canada: London, Ontario is at 42°59 N. . . .

That said, I am grateful to Richard Frajola (who has helped once elsewhere on my site, in a strikingly different connection) for pointing out that many Fossatani emigrated to the iron-mining district around Gilbert, MN: which at 47°29 N is not only farther north than their home town, but, if only by less than a degree, than any place in Italy.

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Page updated: 2 Sep 08