Historical background

The history of Italian spiders formally begins with the publication of the first Italian spider Catalog “Araneidi Italiani” by Canestrini and Pavesi (1868), followed by its re-edition (Canestrini and Pavesi, 1870). The authors reported a list of 404 species (corresponding to 285 currently valid species) occurring in Italy at that time. The Catalog summarized all previous knowledge (1599-1870) about the regional distribution of Italian spiders and added numerous data provided by the authors themselves. The picture emerging was highly unbalanced between northern and southern Italy, with several regions in the South lacking information about spiders living therein.
During the next year, knowledge on Italian spiders increased rapidly, especially thanks to the follow-up works of Canestrini and Pavesi and their contemporary Italian colleagues. A plateau was reached at the beginning of XX century, with nearly 600 species recorded.

During the XX century, several arachnologists contributed to widen the knowledge about Italian spiders. Lodovico di Caporiacco (1901-1951) stands among others for his brilliant academic career and his wide scientific and humanistic culture. During the first years of 1900, he published a great number of publications, 39 of them focused on Italian spiders, including the description of 48 species. He studied material from all over Italy, especially Carnia, Puglia, Emilia-Romagna, Umbria, Veneto and Toscana, and a general overview on the Italian arachnid fauna (di Caporiacco, 1940).
The most important Italian arachnologist was indeed Paolo Marcello Brignoli (1942-1986). He played a major role in scientific arachnology at the international level, with more than 200 authored publications, more than 370 species and 25 genera described from all over the world. Concerning Italy, between 1966 and 1986 he published 53 scientific works and described 40 new species, 39 of them Italian endemic, with a particular focus on Agelenidae Araneidae, Theridiidae and Leptonetidae.

From the late 50s to 2000, several authors provided important contributions to the study of Italian spiders. In particular Pietro Alicata (Dysderidae), Teresa Cantarella (Salticidae), Francesca Di Franco (Gnaphosidae), Fulvio Gasparo (Dysderidae), Harald Hansen (Salticidae), Barbara Knoflach (Theridiidae), Richard Maurer (Cybaeus e Coelotes), Carlo Pesarini (several families) Konrad Thaler (Linyphiidae) and Paolo Tongiorgi (Lycosidae). Since the end of the 90s, the most important contributions to the knowledge of Italian arachnology were given by Francesco Ballarin, Simone Ballini, Marco Isaia, Stefano Mammola, Paolo Pantini, Karl-Heinz Steinberger and Alessio Trotta.

During the years, only a few works aimed at reviewing the general knowledge about Italian spider fauna. In 1994, after 124 years since the publication of the first Italian spider Catalog, Carlo Pesarini published a recapitulatory checklist, resuming one century of data on Italian spiders (Pesarini, 1994). In his work, the author listed 1406 species, indicating for each species their occurrence in northern and southern Italy, Sicily and Sardinia. The list is presented by a short introduction and a few bibliographic references. Pesarini’s list was later updated by Alessio Trotta in 2005, reporting a list of 1534 species occurring in Italy and a brief list of references (Trotta, 2005). The only further review paper on the Italian fauna is the Catalog of Italian cave dwelling spiders, published by Brignoli (1972 and 1985). At the regional level, several publications synthetised the regional knowledge on spiders in Alto-Adige (Noflatscher, 1996), Valle d’Aosta (Isaia, 2005; Paschetta et al., 2016), Piemonte (Isaia et al., 2007), Lombardia (Isaia et al., 2007; Pantini et al., 2016), Veneto (Ballarin et al., 2011), Calabria (Pantini & Mazzoleni, 2018) and Sardegna (Pantini et al., 2013).


Ballarin F., Pantini P., Hansen H. (2011). Catalogo ragionato dei ragni (Arachnida, Araneae) del Veneto. Memorie del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Verona, 2° serie, sezione biologica 21: 151pp

Brignoli P.M. (1982). Ragni cavernicoli italiani. Lavori della Società italiana di Biogeografia (n.s.)7: 57-92

Brignoli P.M. (1985). Aggiunte e correzioni al "Catalogo dei ragni cavernicoli italiani". Memorie del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Verona 4: 51-64

Canestrini G., Pavesi P. (1868). Araneidi italiani. Atti della Società italiana di Scienze Naturali, Milano 11(3): 738-872

Canestrini G., Pavesi P. (1870). Catalogo sistematico degli Araneidi Italiani. Archivi per la Zoologia Anatomia e Fisiologia Bologna 2(2): 1-44

di Caporiacco L. (1940). Stato attuale delle nostre conoscenze sulla aracnofauna italiana. Relazioni della XXVIII Riunione della Società italiana per il progresso delle scienze. (Pisa, 11-15 ottobre 1939 - XVII) 13-24

Isaia M. (2005). Check-list delle specie di ragni (Arachnida, Araneae) della Valle d'Aosta con una nuova segnalazione per la fauna italiana. Revue valdôtaine d'histoire naturelle 59: 25-43

Isaia M., Pantini P., Beikes S., Badino G. (2007). Catalogo ragionato dei ragni (Arachnida, Araneae) del Piemonte e della Lombardia. Memorie dell'Associazione Naturalistica Piemontese 9: 9-161

Noflatscher M.T. (1996). Aranei - Spinnen, Webspinnen. In: Hellrig K. (eds), Die Tierwelt Südtirols. Naturmuseum Südtirols, Bozen 211-228

Pantini P., Isaia M., Mazzoleni F., Oneto C. (2016). Nuovi dati sui ragni di Lombardia (Arachnida, Araneae). Rivista del Museo civico di Scienze Naturali "E. Caffi" di Bergamo 29: 21-44

Pantini P., Mazzoleni F. (2018). I ragni di Calabria (Arachnida, Araneae). Rivista del Museo civico di Scienze Naturali "E. Caffi" di Bergamo 31: 11-70

Pantini P., Sassu A., Serra G. (2013). Catalogue of the spiders (Arachnida Araneae) of Sardinia. Biodiversity Journal 4(1): 3-104

Paschetta M., Christille C., Marguerettaz F., Isaia M. (2016) Regional catalogue of the spiders (Arachnida, Araneae) of Aosta Valley (NW Italy). Zoosystema 38(1): 49-125

Pesarini C. (1994). Arachnida Araneae. In Minelli A., Ruffo S. & La Posta S. (eds.) Checklist delle specie della fauna italiana. Calderini, Bologna 23: 1-42

Trotta A. (2005). Introduzione ai ragni italiani (Arachnida Araneae). Memorie della Società Entomologica Italiana, Genova 83: 3-178