17th March, not a day like all the others

This country of Southern Europe includes the major differences and characteristics of many European countries. Through invasions that have defined the past and during the centuries the genetic, cultural and linguistic geography is different.

In spite of that, Italy is now a country.

In the history of “Bel Paese”, there is a character who has become the father of our country: Giuseppe Garibaldi. He is known in Italy for his “Expedition of the Thousand”.

On the night of 5th May, 1860, Garibaldi sailed from Quarto (Genoa) with two ships and one thousand men dressed in red. They were all following a common dream: a united kingdom for the whole italic population, which had been divided and underpowered by foreign governments.

They arrived in the land of the Bourbon Family on 11th May 1860, in Marsala (Sicily). The “Thousand” are all volunteers: doctors, lawyers, engineers, farmers, monarchists and republicans; all with the same idea of unity and of Italy. Battles begun with a small army, receiving support from local populations. In the end, they were able to conquer Sicily. The fights continued and the “Thousand” reached the Strait of Messina.

By that time, the Spanish monarch had already given up and the locals decided to join Garibaldi’s side. Meanwhile, the King, knowing about this, began to march towards the south, adding more lands to his domain. As he reached the Papal State, the Marche and the Umbrian provinces are enclosed by the Kingdom of Savoy, thus opening the opportunity to unite both Southern and Northern parts of Italy.

Garibaldi and the King met at the Volturno river, close to Naples. Here, the general Garibaldi presents the conquered land to the King. Through a referendum, on 21st October 1860, the Savoy Kingdom gained all the land that earlier belonged to the Bourbon Family.
Finally, on 17th March 1861, the parliament names Vittorio Emanuele II of Savoy as King of Italy “by grace of God and will of the nation”. From then on, people would talk about a united Italy and of Italian people as a nation. Ten years later, Rome would also be conquered, soon becoming the capital.

152 years have gone by since that 17th March that changed European history. But the political and economic ideas still push us to think locally, tending to leave others to their own problems and to think that unifying is not the right thing to do; this thought might be adapted as well in the European context, where people are afraid of other people’s cultures and are less tolerant to other traditions. This is why I am writing this article; to make people remember the ideas which have brought us forward.

I conclude quoting a proverb: “United we stand, divided we fall”.


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