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E d i z i o n e
S p e c i a l e
Buon 150 Anniversario Italia!
By Cav. Gilda Rorro Baldassari
011 is a major year in the history of Italy.
Indeed, it is an Italian Year. March 17,th
2011, marked the Anniversary of the unified Kingdom of Italy. With the fall of the Roman
Empire in 476 A.D., the peninsula was disunited,
but the idea of a unified Italy was kept alive for
1300 years. Before the unification, the peninsula
was divided into seven Italian states—the Kingdom of Sardinia, the Lombardo Veneto Kingdom, the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, the Duchy
of Modena, the Duchy of Parma, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, and the Papal States.
In 1861, the Italian peninsula was
united after almost a half-century nationalist
struggle, through the heroism and diplomacy of major patriots: Vincenzo Gioberti,
a priest, writer and politician, envisioning a confederation of the extant seven Italian states,
under control of Pope Pius IX; Giuseppe Mazzini,
the visionary of an independent,
integrated republic; Count Camillo
di Cavour, the brilliant diplomat and
statesman, and the nationalist revolutionary, Giuseppe Garibaldi, who,
among other deeds, ousted the Bourbon Dynasty in southern Italy. This
historic event is known as the Risorgimento (Revival or Resurgence - see
article on Roots).
Italy’s battle for unity and freedom
coincided with that of our nation.
Garibaldi’s fight for the restoration
of the country inspired the 39th New
York Infantry, also known as “The
Garibaldi Guard,” who fought with
distinction during the American Civil
War. President Lincoln offered Garibaldi the command of the Union
Army in the North. The political
unification of both countries signified
a Risorgimento, or reawakening of
the human desire for freedom. In this
effort, Italy and the United States of
America share a common bond.
Once unified, the new country
of Italy had enormous differences in
living standards—as did the United
States, especially evident between the
industrialized North and the agrarian
South. Mass emigration resulted with
the Italian diaspora in many lands.
See ITALY page 9
Roots of the Risorgimento
taly had not been a single political unit
since the fall of the Western Roman
Empire in the 5th century, and from
the 16th through the 18th century foreign
domination or influence was virtually
complete. During the French Revolutionary Wars and the period dominated by
Napoleon I, the temporary expulsion of
Austrian and other repressive regimes
and the formation of new states in Italy
(known as Cisalpine Republic) encouraged
hopes for unification.
In the early years, secret societies such
as the Carbonari appeared and carried on
revolutionary activity after the restoration of the old order by the Congress of
Vienna (1814-15). The Carbonari engineered uprisings in the Two Sicilies (1820),
in the kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont
(1821), and in the Papal States, Modena,
and Parma in 1831. Italian literature
of this period, especially the novels of
Alessandro Manzoni and the poetry of
Ugo Foscolo and Giacomo Leopardi, did
much to stimulate Italian nationalism.
The Risorgimento was primarily a
movement of the middle class and the
nobility; since economic issues were
virtually ignored, the peasantry remained
indifferent to its ideals. Political activity
was carried on by three groups. Giuseppe
Mazzini led the radical faction through
his secret society Giovine Italia (Young
Italy), founded in 1831. Its program was
republican and anticlerical; it vaguely
alluded to social and economic reforms.
The conservative and clerical elements
among the nationalists generally advocated a federation of Italian states under the
presidency of the pope. The moderatesthe propertied bourgeoisie and the north
Italian promoters of industry-favored
unification of Italy under a king of the
house of Savoy. This monarch, as it later
turned out, was Vittorio Emanuele II of
Information courtesy of
Vittorio Emanuele II: 1st King of Italy
VITTORIO EMANUELE II, 1820-78, king of Sardinia*
(1849-61) and first king of united Italy (1861-78). He fought
in the war of 1848-49 against Austrian rule in LombardyVenetia and ascended the throne when his father, Carlo
Alberto, abdicated after the defeat at Novara. With the skillful
collaboration of Cavour, whom he appointed premier in
1852, he became the symbol and the central figure of the Risorgimento, the movement for Italian unification. Popular in
Sardinia because of his liberal reforms and his respect for the
constitution, he increased Sardinian prestige abroad by engaging in the Crimean War as an ally of France, Britain, and
Turkey. In conjunction with Napoleon III of France, with
whom Cavour had formed an alliance, he fought against Austria in the Italian War of 1859. After the battle of Solferino,
France signed a separate armistice with Austria at Villafranca
di Verona; Vittorio Emanuele was not consulted, but the
terms were ratified in the Treaty of Zürich. When, in 1860,
Tuscany, Romagna, Parma, and Modena voted for union with
Sardinia (contrary to the treaty terms), Vittorio Emanuele
and Cavour secured French consent to their incorporation in
exchange for the cession of Savoy and Nice. He favored the
expedition (1860) of Garibaldi into the kingdom of the Two
Sicilies and joined forces with Garibaldi after crossing the
Papal States and defeating the papal army at Castelfidardo.
Plebiscites in Naples and Sicily and in the Marches and Umbria (two provinces of the Papal States) favored union with
Sardinia, and in 1861 the kingdom of Italy was proclaimed
with Vittorio Emanuele as king. The capital was transferred
from Turin to Florence in 1865. Siding (1866) with Prussia
in the Austro-Prussian War, Vittorio Emanuele was awarded
Venetia in the peace settlement. The remaining Papal States
were protected by the troops of Napoleon III, but when he
fell in 1870, Italian troops seized the Papal States, and Rome
was made (1871) the capital of Italy. Pope Pius IX and his
successors protested, and the so-called Roman Question
remained a serious problem until the Lateran Treaty of 1929.
The remainder of Vittorio Emanuele’s reign was spent in
the consolidation of the new kingdom. His son Umberto I
succeeded him.
Information Courtesy of
*Also known as Sardinia-Piedmont
Mazzini: the Apostle of the Risorgimento
IUSEPPE MAZZINI, (1805-1872) Italian nationalist and
patriot, together with Giuseppe Garibaldi, Camillo Benso
di Cavour, and Vittorio Emanuele II, is considered one
of the “patron saints” of the Italian Risorgimento. While still in his
teens Mazzini committed himself to the cause of Italian independence and unity. Forced into exile in 1831 for his revolutionary activities, he began to recruit followers and organize uprisings against
the rulers of the various Italian states. His association,
Giovine Italia (Young Italy), founded in the 1830s,
attracted adherents throughout the peninsula
and among Italian political exiles everywhere.
With the exception of Giuseppe Garibaldi,
no other Italian Risorgimento leader enjoyed
greater international renown than Mazzini
in his time. His revolutionary vision extended beyond the limited objective of Italian
national unity. Mazzini’s primary goals were
the end of Austrian hegemony in Italy and
of the temporal power of the pope, Italian
unity, republicanism, democracy, and the liberation of all oppressed peoples. Imbued with
a messianic zeal, he believed that, united under
the banner of “God and people”, Italians would
succeed in ridding themselves of their various rulers
and establish a democratic unitary republic with its capital in
Rome. This new Italy would lead other subject peoples to freedom
and liberty and embody a “third” Rome, successor to ancient and
papal Rome. A new Europe, controlled by the people and not by
sovereigns, would replace the old order. By the 1840s Mazzini had
become the recognized leader of the Italian nationalist revolutionary movement. His appeal to Italians, restive under oppressive
governments, was unrivaled, if not unchallenged. Intellectuals and
artisans, men and women, all responded to him. Many lost their
lives in abortive revolts inspired by his teachings.
In 1848 Mazzini’s dreams seemed to be realized, when news
of the successful revolutions throughout Europe reached him in
his English exile. As the revolutions progressed like brush-fires up
the Italian peninsula, Mazzini arrived in Milan. He was greeted enthusiastically by the people, less so by their leaders. Divided among
themselves on whether to accept the invitation of Piedmont-Sardinia to become part of a greater kingdom under its king Charles
Albert in return for the latter’s military help against Austria, they
resented Mazzini’s presence and his advice to set political differences aside for the moment and to cooperate with Charles Albert
in the name of national unity. On April 30, 1848, Carlo Cattaneo,
Giuseppe Ferrari, and other republican leaders of the Milanese
revolt proposed to overturn their pro-Piedmontese provisional
government and request French assistance against Austria. Mazzini
opposed them, urging support for the efforts of the Italian monarch and army, rather than appealing to foreign troops. This drew
angry criticisms from the republican leaders who accused Mazzini
of betraying his republican principles. The quarrel proved futile.
Marshall Radetzky was already regrouping his forces against the
Piedmontese army which he would eventually defeat at Custozza
on July 25, 1848, to reestablish Austrian control over Lombardy.
Meanwhile events in Rome were becoming radicalized. After
the assassination of the papal minister Pellegrino Rossi and the
departure of Pope Pius IX from the city on November 24, 1848,
the Romans proclaimed a republic in January 1849 and
invited Mazzini to join them. Mazzini’s arrival marked
the beginning of the most dramatic period in his
life. Elected to the Triumvirate, the republic’s
executive body, he finally had the opportunity to
participate actively in laying the foundations for
what he hoped would be a new democratic
united republican Italy. His slogan “thought
and action” became reality. Since 1834, he
had planned revolutions from afar, while
others had risked their lives. Now, as Triumvir
of the Roman Republic he became an active
participant in what was to remain his supreme
revolutionary experience.
Like the other insurgent regimes throughout the peninsula, the Roman republic had a brief,
intense life. In response to an appeal by Pope Pius IX,
French soldiers appeared at the outskirts of Rome on April 30,
1849, and there began the city’s futile, brave defense. The various
reforms planned by Mazzini could never be effected as survival became the dominant concern. Finally, the city could no longer hold
out against the French, and Rome opened its gates to the troops
of the Second Republic on July 3, 1849. On July 1, two days before
the entry of the French troops, the Constitution of the Roman
Republic, was passed by the popularly elected Assembly, and it was
solemnly proclaimed in the Campidoglio (City Hall) two days later
while the French occupied the city. A disconsolate Mazzini, unmolested by the French garrison, lingered in Rome until the middle of
July, when he left Italy once more for exile. He continued to conspire, but the revolutionary élan that had inspired Italian nationalists
to follow Mazzini before 1848 faded in the 1850s. The revolutions
of 1848-1849 ended the revolutionary phase of the Risorgimento
and marked the beginning of a realignment of political forces in
Italy and elsewhere in Europe. While Mazzini continued to be held
in high esteem, respect, and even affection, Italian nationalists began to turn to the monarchical leadership offered by Camillo Benso
di Cavour and his king Vittorio Emanuele in Piedmont-Sardinia.
In 1861 the Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed at Turin, capital of
Piedmont-Sardinia, by a Parliament in which sat elected representatives from all of Italy except Venetia and Rome. A disillusioned
Mazzini never accepted monarchical united Italy and continued to
agitate for a democratic republic until his death in 1872.
Article courtesy of Emiliana P. Noether
Giuseppe Garibaldi: The Hero of Two Worlds
GARIBALDI, GIUSEPPE (18071882), Italian revolutionary and irregular
general. Garibaldi began his long and
varied career as a revolutionary striving for the liberation and unification of
Italy by joining in Giuseppe Mazzini’s
unsuccessful insurrection at Genoa in
1834. Forced to leave Piedmont, he fled
to South America where he spent the
next fourteen years, gaining experience
fighting in various wars. First, he fought
as a guerrilla general and privateer for the
province of Rio Grande del Sol against
Brazil. He then served as a commander
of an Italian legion for Uruguay against
When Italy rose in revolt in 1848, he
returned and raised 3,000 men to help
the king of Piedmont, Carlo Alberto.
Forced to flee the country once again
after defeat at the first battle of Custoza,
Garibaldi soon returned to organize
the defence of the last vestiges of the
revolution—Mazzini’s Roman republic.
He was able to hold off the combined
armies of the French, Austrians, Spanish, and Neapolitans for several weeks.
However, the republic finally fell and
Garibaldi escaped to America.
Although Garibaldi fought for Piedmont
during the Franco-Austrian war of 1859,
he is perhaps best remembered for his
role in overthrowing the monarchy of
the kingdom of the Two Sicilies. In May
1860, he set out to liberate southern
Italy from the repressive regime of King
Francis II. On 11 May, he landed with
his ‘Thousand Redshirts’ at Marsala,
Sicily, and destroyed the Neapolitan army
in several battles. Garibaldi crossed the
Straits of Messina on 22 August and
advanced up the peninsula, being greeted
enthusiastically by the people along the
way. On 7 September, his forces occupied Naples.
In March 1861, Garibaldi surrendered
his conquests to King Vittorio Emanuele of Piedmont in order to realize his
lifelong dream, a united and independent
kingdom of Italy. Although most of
the Italian peninsula was under the rule
of Vittorio Emanuele, the Papal States
remained separate. In August 1862 and
again in January 1867, he attempted to
take Rome. These attempts failed due to
French intervention, and the Papal States
were only incorporated into the kingdom
when the French withdrew their troops
in 1870.
Garibaldi continued his career as a
general by commanding Italian troops,
with some success, during the AustroPrussian war of 1866, which resulted in
Austria ceding Venetia to the kingdom
of Italy. He again commanded an Italian
volunteer force, this time in support
of the new French republic during the
Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1871. After
the latter, Garibaldi’s long career as a soldier came to an end. After serving some
years as a deputy for Rome in the Italian
parliament, he spent his last years on a
farm in Caprera writing novels.
Article Courtesy of Robert Foley
Camillo Benso: Conte Di Cavour
CAVOUR 1810-61, was the Italian statesman and premier (1852-1859, 1860-1861)
of the Kingdom of Sardinia-Piedmont.
The active force behind King Vittorio
Emanuele II, he was responsible more
than any other man for the unification
of Italy under the house of Savoy. Of a
noble Piedmontese family, he entered the
army early but came under suspicion for
his liberal ideas and was forced to resign in
1831. He then devoted himself to travel,
agricultural experimentation, and the study
of politics.
In 1847 he founded the liberal daily,
Il Risorgimento, through which he successfully pressed King Carlo Alberto of
Sardinia to grant a constitution to his
people and to make war on Austria in
1848-49. A member of parliament briefly
in 1848 and again in July of the following
year, he became minister of agriculture
and commerce (1850), finance minister
(1851), and premier (1852). As premier, he
aimed at making the kingdom of SardiniaPiedmont the leading Italian state by
introducing progressive internal reforms.
Having reorganized the administration, the
financial and legal system, industry, and the
army, he won for Sardinia prestige and a
place among the powers through participation in the Crimean War (1855).
Conscious of the failures of the 184849 revolution, Cavour probably did not
believe that the creation of a unified Italy
was feasible within his lifetime; until at
least 1859 he strove rather for an aggrandized Northern Italian kingdom under the
house of Savoy. To achieve this goal he
wooed foreign support against Austrian
domination. In 1858, by an agreement
reached at Plombières, he won the backing
of Emperor Napoleon III of France for a
war against Austria, promising in exchange
to cede Savoy and possibly Nice to France.
Austria was maneuvered into declaring war
(1859) and was forced to cede Lombardy.
But Cavour resigned the premiership when
France refused to continue fighting and
signed the separate armistice of Villafranca
di Verona with Austria.
Cavour returned to office in 1860. In
that year Tuscany, Parma, Modena, and
the Romagna voted for annexation to
Sardinia, and Giuseppe Garibaldi overran
the Two Sicilies. Cavour, taking advantage
of the auspicious circumstances for Italian
unification, sent Sardinian troops into the
Papal States, which, with the exception of
Latium and Rome, were soon annexed to
Sardinia. By his superior statesmanship Cavour convinced Garibaldi to relinquish his
authority in the south and avoided foreign
intervention in favor of the dispossessed
rulers and of the pope, whose interests he
professed to be safeguarding. The annexation (1860) of the kingdom of the
Two Sicilies was consummated with the
abdication (1861) of Francis II. Cavour’s
labors were crowned two months before
his death, when the kingdom of Italy was
proclaimed under Vittorio Emanuele II.
Information Courtesy of Columbia Encyclopedia
La Pagina Italiana
La situazione dell’Italia dopo il congresso
di Vienna è quella di un paese smembrato
tra vari stati e controllato, direttamente o
indirettamente, dall’Austria.
Ma la Restaurazione voluta dai re
dell’ancient regime è in realtà fragile e già
nel 1820-21 in Italia e in altri stati europei si
verificano i primi moti rivoluzionari, sedati
però nel sangue dall’ intervento degli stati
che si erano stretti nella Santa Alleanza. Solo
la Grecia riesce a conquistare una sua indipendenza dall’Impero Turco.
Dopo 10 anni, nel 1830-31, sempre
organizzate da movimenti clandestini segreti
scoppiano altre rivolte in Italia e in Europa,
anche questa volta senza successo, se si eccettuano le trasformazioni politiche in Francia e la riacquistata autonomia del Belgio.
Il 1848 è un anno denso di eventi sia a
livello italiano sia a livello europeo.
Per l’Italia, con l’elezione a pontefice di
Pio IX sembra iniziata una nuova stagione
giacché il papa fa caute aperture nei confronti dei liberali avviando tutto un ricco dibattito
tra correnti di pensiero repubblicane e
moderate liberali sulle possibilità e le strategie
di unificazione d’Italia.
Sia il regno di Napoli sia il Piemonte sia il
regno della chiesa concedono delle Costituzioni.
Intanto scoppia una rivoluzione in
Francia che infiamma tutti i movimenti di
opposizione europei.
Anche Milano si rivolta agli austriaci e
il Piemonte corre in suo aiuto portando
allo scoppio della prima guerra di indipendenza. Ma gli austriaci, dopo un iniziale
sbandamento, reagiscono e sconfiggono i
piemontesi. Anche le altre rivolte scoppiate
nel regno di Napoli e nel regno della Chiesa,
con la repubblica Romana, sono soffocate
nel sangue e tutto torna alla situazione precedente se si esclude il fatto che il Piemonte,
unico tra gli stati italiani, mantiene in vigore
la costituzione concessa prima della guerra:
lo statuto albertino.
Intanto le discussioni tra varie correnti
politiche indipendentiste italiane si intensifica
a causa del fallimento delle guerra e sempre
più da qualsiasi partito si guarda al re di
incontra Vittorio
Emanuele II
a Teano e
consegna al
Re il regno
delle Due
Sicilie che
ha appena
Savoia come all’unico in grado di unificare la
In effetti Vittorio Emanuele II e Cavour
attuano una strategia internazionale per
consolidare la posizione del Piemonte in
Europa con la guerra di Crimea e stringono
poi patti di alleanza segreti con Napoleone
III, imperatore di Francia che si impegna a
sostenere militarmente il Piemonte qualora
sia attaccato da potenze straniere. Poco
dopo, nel 1859, a causa di reiterate provocazioni piemontesi ai confini con la Lombardia
austriaca, l’Austria dichiara guerra all’Italia.
Scoppia così la seconda guerra di indipendenza che conquista al Piemonte non solo la
Lombardia ma anche l’Emilia e la Toscana
che, nel frattempo si sono ribellate ai loro
governi e hanno votato l’annessione allo
stato sabaudo.
In questo periodo si aprono trattative con Garibaldi, che era stato, insieme a
Mazzini, uno dei protagonisti della repubblica romana del 1848, il quale nonostante sia
di fede repubblicana, accetta di collaborare
con Cavour pur di raggiungere l’obiettivo
dell’unificazione d’Italia. Il Piemonte infatti
non avrebbe potuto dichiarare direttamente
guerra ai Borboni del regno di Napoli senza
che questa azione fosse letta, sul piano
internazionale, come un’aggressione gratuita
che avrebbe avuto ripercussioni sul versante
delle alleanze. Invece, con il contributo di
Garibaldi e dei Mille la rivolta del sud sembra
dimostrare lo spontaneo desiderio di unificazione delle popolazioni meridionali.
Garibaldi in pochi mesi arriva dalla Sicilia
a Napoli e tenta di marciare verso Roma.
Ma Napoleone III fa sapere che se si tocca
Roma lui dichiarerà guerra ai Savoia. Vittorio
Emanuele quindi scende col suo esercito
a verso sud per fermare Garibaldi. Non
passa sul Lazio ma su Abruzzo e Marche
che, insieme all’Umbria, subito chiedono
Nel 1861 viene quindi proclamata
l’unificazione d’Italia, cui mancano però
Lazio, Veneto e Trentino.
Il Veneto sarà poi preso, nel 1866, nel
corso della terza guerra d’indipendenza, cioè
il conflitto tra Austria e Prussia, nella quale
l’Italia si schiera a fianco della Prussia che
vince la guerra.
Per l’annessione del Lazio invece bisognerà aspettare la guerra tra Francia e Prussia
nel 1870.
La Francia infatti sarà sconfitta e quindi
non avrà la forza di andare in aiuto del papa
quando l’esercito italiano marcerà contro
Roma e contro quello che restava dello Stato
Pontificio, questa volta senza ricorrere ad altro pretesto che quello di dare compimento
Il Papa non accetterà nessuna trattativa
con gli occupatori ma anzi scomunicherà
tutti e inviterà i cattolici a non partecipare alla
vita politica del nuovo stato.
Nel 1871 Roma diventa quindi la nuova
capitale del nuovo stato italiano, al quale
manca ormai solo il trentino. Ma per annetere anche quel territorio si dovrà aspettare il
massacro della prima guerra mondiale.
Information Courtesy of
Women of the Risorgimento
Great Italian women, even if their names are unknown
to most people, risked their lives to contribute to the Risorgimento and help bring about the unification of Italy. Among
the many Risorgimento commemorative events taking place
in Italy, there are quite a few dedicated to the women of the
Risorgimento. Several to whom history has given some credit
include Felicità Bevilacqua LaMasa (1822-1899).
Felicità was a patriot and benefactor for
Italy and its unification cause. She left her mark
on Italian history when in 1848, in the town of
Valeggio del Mincio, she opened a hospital for
wounded Italian soldiers of the failed 1848 rebellion. She also established a women’s corps to
accompany the Garibaldi 1000-man campaign.
She married one of Garibaldi’s most noted supporters, Baron LaMasa, who contributed heavily
to many of Garibaldi’s initiatives. She and her
husband also donated the bulk of their property
to young upstart artists. Eventually they fell into debt, but
a special loan was authorized to cover the monies they lost
during the period they were providing financial aid to Italy’s
cause for unification.
Another heroine whose story is most unusual is that of
Tonina Marinelli. Such was her desire to be a combat Garibaldian that she disguised herself as a man and along side
her husband, was the only female in Garibaldi’s 1000-man
A third woman was not only an outright revolutionary,
but an educated writer. Her name was Cristina Trivulzio
Belgiojoso (1808-1871). As a journalist she used her position
to report the events of the Risorgimento in the revolutionary
journals of the period. She is also credited with authoring
and documenting much of the Risorgimento’s history. However, her most important role in history earned her the title
of Florence Nightingale of Italy. She earned this for her role
on the front lines during the early 1848 and 1849 insurrections. She was assigned the job of organizing combat zone
hospitals, which she carried out with a strong dedication and
great competence.
Ana Maria de Jesus Ribeiro di Garibaldi, best known as
Anita Garibaldi, (August 30, 1821 – August 4,
1849) was the Brazilian wife and comrade-in-arms
of Italian revolutionary Giuseppe GaribaldI.
Their partnership epitomized the spirit of the
19th century’s age of romanticism and revolutionary liberalism.
Anita accompanied Garibaldi and his redshirted legionnaires to Italy to join in the revolutions of 1848, where he fought against the
forces of the Austrian Empire. In February 1849,
Garibaldi joined in the defense of the newly-proclaimed Roman Republic against Neapolitan and
French intervention aimed at restoration of the Papal State.
Anita joined her husband in the defense of Rome, which fell
to a French siege on June 30. She then fled from French and
Austrian troops with the Garibaldian Legion. Pregnant and
sick from malaria, she died on August 4, 1849 at 7:45 pm in
the arms of her husband at Guiccioli Farm in Mandriole,
near Ravenna, Italy, during the tragic retreat.
Anita remained a presence in Garibaldi’s heart for the
rest of his life. It was perhaps with her memory in mind
that, while traveling in Peru in the early 1850s, he sought out
the exiled and destitute Manuela Sáenz, the fabled companion of Simón Bolívar. Years later, in 1860, when Garibaldi
rode out to Teano to hail Victor Emanuel II as king of
a united Italy, he wore Anita’s striped scarf over his gray
South American poncho.
Information Courtesy of
The gifts of the Italians 150 years after reunification
This year marks the 150th anniversary
of Italy’s Risorgimento -- the rebirth of a
polity that first came into existence more
than 200 years before Christ. Italians have
been celebrating all year, but everyone
should hail the great gifts of Alma
Mater Italia: capitalism, the Pax Romana,
modern science, the Renaissance, atomic
energy, the age of exploration and the
rule of law.
When Garibaldi, Cavour and Mazzini
brought the Kingdom of Italy to fruition
on March 17, 1861,
they reanimated the
nation-state that the
Romans had forged
in defeating an
invading army of
Gauls at Telamon
(Talamone). Historian Will Durant
recounts that by
March 1, 222 BC,
“protective colonies
were established at
Placentia and Cremona -- and from
the Alps to Sicily,
Italy was one.”
By the time of
Christ, this political
unity had become a
cultural one as well.
Historian Michael
Grant tells us that the Emperor Augustus
“felt and encouraged a new patriotic feeling for Italy, echoed by Virgil’s insistence
on the country’s identity.” Grant details
how the emperor’s “pro-Italian, proRoman” outlook resulted in Augustus’s
title: “It was pater patriae, father of his
“To create Italy was the first great
historical achievement of Rome; to make
a political and cultural unity of the whole
Mediterranean world was to repeat this
task on a larger scale,” explains Donald R.
Dudley, another historian.
The Augustan Age also marked the
start of the Pax Romana (27 BC-180 AD)
-- a two-century period of peace and
prosperity that has yet to be equalled -- as
well as widespread reforms in the laws,
civil administration and governance of
Italy. The Roman Peace stretched from
Scotland to the Persian Gulf.
The western Roman Empire collapsed
in 476 AD, and Italy fell prey to foreign
occupation and centuries of division. But
the flame of patriotism was rekindled by
the likes of Niccolo Machiavelli -- whose
“The Prince” echoed Petrarch’s verse that
“ancient and heroic pride in true Italian
hearts has never died.”
The Renaissance sparked the rebirth
of classical Italian humanism, which led
to Galileo’s scientific method, da Vinci’s
wondrous technologies, Michelangelo’s
epochal art and the rise of capitalism.
Columbus, Caboto, da Verrazzano and
Vespucci opened up the new world in the
15th century.
And on Dec. 2, 1942, a new Italian
“navigator” -- the physicist Enrico Fermi
-- produced the first controlled, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction, providing
America with the key to atomic energy.
Even the dark days of World War II,
when Italy was an Axis power, are cause
for some pride -- for the Italian people,
including military and government officials, defied their genocidal German
allies to provide succor, shelter and safety
to Jews.
For example, soldiers of the Italian
Fourth Army surrounded the French
police of Annecy and forcibly prevented
the gendarmes from deporting Jews. Italian carabinieri guarded Jewish synagogues
in Nice to ensure that the Vichy police
could not enter. And Italian generals
rescinded the French order to force Jews
to wear the yellow
star -- deeming it
“inconsistent with
the dignity of the
Italian army.”
This fierce Italian resistance to the
Holocaust repeated
itself in other
areas under Italian
(Greece, Dalmatia,
Croatia and Serbia)
-- enraging the likes
of von Ribbentrop,
Himmler and Hitler
As Jonah
Goldberg notes in
“Liberal Fascism”:
“Not a single Jew
of any national origin under Italian control anywhere in the
world was handed over to Germany until
1943, when Italy was invaded by the Nazis. Mussolini actually sent Italian troops
into harm’s way to save Jewish lives.”
Ultimately, the Italians saved 10,000
Jews in Yugoslavia and Croatia; 15,000 in
Greece, and 25,000 in France.
While others vacillated in the face of
evil, the people of the Magic Boot rose
up against the Holocaust.
Viva l’Italia!
Rosario A. Iaconis is the chairman
of the Italic Institute of America.
United Italy Celebrates 150th Anniversary - cont. ITALY from page 1
The bridge uniting our two countries continues to expand. Italian
Americans love this country and they
also love Italy. The citizens of the
peninsula are among the truest friends
and strongest allies of the United States.
Parallels abound as both countries currently experience new waves of immigration and concomitantly encounter
people who bring diverse world views,
traditions and languages to their shores.
Italians worldwide are celebrating this
notable anniversary to reconfirm their
identity by showcasing events in art, history, theater and music.
On 17 March 2011, President
Barak Obama presented a Proclamation declaring March 17, 2011, as a day
to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of
the Unification of Italy. In his words,
…”As we mark this important milestone in Italian history, we also honor
the joint efforts of Americans and Italians to foster freedom, democracy, and
our shared values throughout the world.
…I encourage
all Americans to
learn more about
the history of
Italian unification
and to honor the
enduring friendship between the
people of Italy
and the people
of the United
By celebrating the Risorgimento, we broaden and deepen
the historic bond
between Italian heritage and American.
Article Courtesy of New Jersey
Italian-American Heritage Commission.
Design & Layout Courtesy of:
Italy’s 150th Anniversary a colorful one
Italy never saw so many national flags
waving in the air as on March 17, 2011.
Posted across windows and balconies
all over the country, thousands of green,
white and red flags celebrated the 150th
anniversary of the country’s unification.
A number of events have marked the
anniversary, including parades, fireworks,
jets streaming green, white and red
smoke trails across the sky, and historical
re-enactments recalling the campaign of
Risorgimental hero Giuseppe Garibaldi
to bring Italy’s deeply different states
“Without unity our nation would have
been swept away by history,” said Italian
President Giorgio Napolitano.
Despite heavy rain in many cities,
hundreds of thousands celebrated singing the national anthem, “Brothers of
Italy,” as green-white-red light projections covered the facade of the main
“From North to South, all proud of
the three-color flag,” wrote the daily La
Information courtesy of