Mattio Pirona used to be a humble Venetian cavafango: a craftsman specialized in digging canals. But then, in 1754, he emigrated to Trieste: the thriving Habsburg port city , which in the mid-eighteenth century attracted a growing number of foreign merchants and migrant labourers, becoming a tough competitor of the Republic of Venice in the Adriatic Sea. In Trieste, he obtained profitable construction contracts, invested his gains in mercantile enterprises, became rich and got involved in patronage networks reaching as far as the imperial court of Maria Theresa in Vienna – before suffering a harsh and dramatic fall. Intrecci di vite reads like a detective story. As he follows clues and traces through a vast array of judicial, diplomatic and police records held in Italian and Austrian archives, Daniele Andreozzi unravels the many threads of the (often ambiguous) evidence on this parvenu entrepreneur and reconstructs the social milieu of his partners, protectors and opponents. Through this microhistorical inquiry, Andreozzi sheds new light on the history of Trieste during the roaring decades of its rise as a hub of Mediterranean trade, on the contradictions of Habsburg mercantilism, and on the emergence of new elites in an Old Regime society on the margins of the Italian peninsula.
Daniele Andreozzi, Intrecci di vite. Pratiche, mercantilismi e razionalità economiche nella Trieste del Settecento, New Digital Press, Palermo 2020.