Italy is a nation of great historical significance and cultural heritage. Yet this developed country has not always been so unified and strong. Unification for much of Italy’s history has been fraught with struggles, revolutions, and even division. In this article, we will take a look at the challenges Italy faced after unification, the revolutions that ultimately transformed the country, and the reflections it engendered among the Italian people.
The process of unifying the many regionally distinct provinces that make up the Italian nation was not an easy task. Before the country was unified, it was divided into numerous smaller duchies, republics, and papal states. This state of division created a powerful patchwork of localism and regionalism that was resistant to national unification. Even after the country was unified, Italy remained divided by culture, language, and beliefs.
In addition to cultural and political divisions, Italy’s relatively young nationhood also presented unique economic challenges. Italy and its newly unified states were stricken with poverty and a lack of adequate resources. This lack of resources was primarily due to a reliance on agricultural production for the majority of the population, low taxation, and high military expenses associated with the nation’s unification process.
However, although Italy’s unification process and newly acquired nationhood was riddled with obstacles and challenges, it spawned significant political, social, and economic revolutions. The most notable of these was the Garibaldi Revolution of 1860. This revolution was sparked by a hero and revolutionary figure named Giuseppe Garibaldi. Garibaldi’s campaign for a unified Italy was successful due to his courageous efforts, as well as support from monarchs and liberals throughout the country. His soldiers, referred to as the Redshirts, liberated powerful regions such as Sicily and Naples, bringing them into the unified Italian state in just two months.
This revolution ultimately transformed the newly unified Italy. It helped to erase old political divisions and created a sense of national belonging among Italians. In addition to increasing nationalistic sentiment, the Garibaldi Revolution also helped to reform Italy’s taxation systems and boosted politics, economics and the infrastructure of the country.
In the wake of the Garibaldi Revolution, Italians reflected on the nation-building process and its implications for the future of the country. This reflection sparked an artistic and philosophical movement known as the Risorgimento. This movement blended political liberalism, popular democracy and European culture into a new Italian identity.
Through this identity and a commitment to progress, Italy was able to further progress and improve its economy, thus moving away from the poverty and financial struggles faced in the two decades prior to unification. This progress was accompanied by an increased emphasis on education, promoting universal education and literacy among the population.
Today, Italy continues to face unique challenges, such as weakness in the global economy and a disruptive political atmosphere. Yet the legacy and lessons of the Garibaldi Revolution and the subsequent Risorgimento movements still remain and are a reminder of the meaningful changes that can be brought about by courage, dedication, and perseverance.
Did you know Italy’s national flag was designed by a teenager in 1796? A teenager named Emanuel D’Itri was feeling creative and was inspired to design the red, white, and green flag for his home nation. The red and green came from the flag of Milan, while a white star was added to represent unity among the provinces of Italy.