a measure of weight = about 0.45 grams (or
0.016 ounces). The word, itself, means a
single “grape”; thus, it was used for
(barrel): a measure of liquid volume still
used to measure petroleum, although
today's Joe Six-Pack doesn’t know how much
“one barrel” is except that it probably
looks like a barrel. In old Neapolitan
usage, one barile contained 60 caraffe.
was about 0.72 liters (about ¾ of a
quart). (Today's 1 barrel of oil = ca. 160
liters = ca. 42 US gallons/ca. 35 imperial
gallons. And it depends on the brewery,
but Joe's surname in the metric system is
about two liters.)
A maritime unit for tonnage of vessels. It
was based on the botte, a wine container.
Roughly, one botte = about 500
liters; it contained 12 barili
(see above). For purposes of measuring
wine or vegetable oil, two botti
(i.e. 1000 liters) made up one carro
(wagon). One botte was subdivided
into the salma and the staio
in the same way as English measurement
still speaks of gallons being divided into
quarts and pints. One salma
was ca. 160 liters and, itself, was
subdivided into 16 staia.
(arm): Unit of linear measurement = about
half a meter. There was also a longer
maritime braccio equal to ca. 1.6
(mile): a Neapolitan mile was 1,000 paces;
that is, 7000 palms or about 1850 meters
(ca. 6,070 feet, curiously close to the
English nautical mile of 6,076 feet).
(league): not common in Naples, but if
found it probably referred to the Spanish
ca. 2.6 miles. The unit was abolished in
the Spanish empire (which Naples was part
of) in 1568.
The standard unit of linear measurement in
commerce (measuring textiles, for example)
and construction. It was just over 2
meters and was divided into 8 palmi
Unit of heavier weight common in maritime
usage = about 90 kilograms (almost 200
pounds). It was divided into rotoli
(plural of rotolo, see below).
(pound and ounce): Units of weight. There
were 12 ounces in the pound. The
subdivision of the ounce was the trappeso.
The pace. A unit of linear measurement =
about 7 “palms” (above); i.e., just under
2 meters. There was an older maritime passo,
Foot. Approx. one English foot or 1/3 of a
Unit of weight, somewhat lighter than 1
kilogram or a bit more than 2 pounds.
A unit of measure for dry volume such as
grain = ca. 55 liters (about one and
The smallest unit of weight in the old
Neapolitan system and defined as the
1/1000 part of a rotolo or 1/20 of the acino.
These were silver and gold coins minted
for the monarch, Charles of Anjou,
starting in 1278 in Naples at the
beginning of the Angevin (from Anjou)
dynasty. The coin was called a “carlino, ”
a diminutive of Carlo/Charles. The
used by the Bourbons in the 18th and 19th
centuries was one-tenth of a ducato.
Smaller coins than the carlino
were the tarì, grano,
These were silver or bronze. At the time
of the unification of Italy (1861), the
Neapolitan ducat was the unit used to
convert to the new Italian currency. The
exchange was 4.25 lira to 1 ducat. (Very
roughly, that would be a unit of about 10