The Families of Acri, Italy

By Edward Bronejko

Comune di Acri

Acri CrestThe town of Acri is located in the mountains in southern Italy within the modern province of Cosenza and region of Calabria - the southernmost region of mainland Italy (pre-unification district of Cosenza, province of Calabria Citra). The town is adjacent to the Sila National Park. Population-wise, Acri is the sixth largest town in the province.



Acri was founded in pre-history upon three mountain tops (a strong defensive position) at an elevation of 2,360 feet overlooking the Mucone and Chàlamo rivers. There are indications it may have originally been a Greek settlement. The name Acri is likely derived from the Greek term Akra referring to a fortress or mountain top.

Some historians believe the modern town of Acri is the ancient town of Pandosia Bruzia mentioned by Livy. If true, during the Second Punic War Acri defied the Roman Republic by siding with Hannibal and the Carthaginians. As punishment, the town was besieged by the Roman Republic in 203 BCE.

Over the centuries, Acri has been sacked several times during the various wars as kingdoms came and went after the fall of the Roman Empire. In one savage instance after the town was sacked, many of the town nobles were sawed in half while still alive.

Acri has been controlled by the Roman Republic, the Roman Empire, the Byzantines, Lombards, Normans, Anjou, Aragonese, Austrians (the Holy Roman Empire), and Bourbons to name a few. It was part of the Kingdom of Naples until the French Napoleonic invasion.

Napoleon Bonaparte launched his Italian campaigns in 1796 and 1799. The 1799 campaign put the French in control of southern Italy. They soon withdrew, but returned in 1806 when Napoleon set up his brother, Joseph, as the King of Naples. Napoleon's brother-in-law, Joachim Murat, took the crown when Joseph became King of Spain.

After the defeat of Napoleon, Acri became part of the Kingdom of Two Sicilies in 1816 before that kingdom was overthrown by Giuseppe Garibaldi and his thousand red shirts in 1860. This led to Italian unification and the creation of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861. The Kingdom of Italy lasted until 1946 when post war Italy became the modern Italian Republic.

Your Acri ancestor could have been born in the Kingdom of Naples, married in the Kingdom of Two Sicilies, and died in the Kingdom of Italy — all without ever leaving the town of Acri!

Modern Acri

Present day Acri has a population of about 20,000. It also oversees the administration of over thirty nearby frazioni (tiny villages too small to perform their own government functions).

The town's patron saint is Beato Angelo ( - ) whose body is preserved in the local church bearing his name. There is a Sausage and Meatball festival in February, a car rally during the summer and a Chestnut festival in October. Acri is also the birth place of Angelo Siciliano - better known as the famous American body builder, Charles Atlas.

Virtual Tour of Acri

Take a virtual airborn Tour of Acri (This is a link to an external Website).