At Italy On This Day you will read about events and festivals, about important moments in history, and about the people who have made Italy the country it is today, and where they came from. Italy is a country rich in art and music, fashion and design, food and wine, sporting achievement and political diversity. Italy On This Day provides fascinating insights to help you enjoy it all the more.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Capture of Rome

Troops enter the capital in final act of unification


Bersaglieri soldiers storm through the walls of Rome in this 1880 painting by Carlo Ademollo
Bersaglieri soldiers storm through the walls of Rome in
this 1880 painting by Carlo Ademollo
Crack infantry soldiers from Piedmont entered Rome and completed the unification of Italy on this day in 1870.

Rome had remained under French control even after the first Italian parliament had proclaimed Victor Emmanuel of Savoy the King of Italy in 1861.

The Italian parliament had declared Rome the capital of the new Kingdom of Italy even though it had not yet taken control of the city.

A French garrison had remained in Rome on the orders of Napoleon III of France in support of Pope Pius IX.

An 1860 portrait of Victor Emmanuel II
An 1860 portrait of
 Victor Emmanuel II
But after the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war, Napoleon III had to withdraw many of his troops. Italian soldiers from the Bersaglieri regiments in Piedmont led by General Raffaele Cadorna seized their chance and after a brief bombardment were able to enter Rome through a breach in the Aurelian Walls near Porta Pia.

King Victor Emmanuel II was then able to take up residence in the Quirinale Palace and Italy was declared officially united.

The date of 20 September, which marked the end of the Risorgimento, the long process of Italian unification, is commemorated in practically every town in Italy with a street named Via XX Settembre.

Porta Pia, designed by Michelangelo in 1564, stands at the  end of Via XX Settembre, not far from the Villa Borghese
Porta Pia, designed by Michelangelo in 1564, stands at the
end of Via XX Settembre, not far from the Villa Borghese
Travel tip:

Porta Pia is a gate in Rome’s ancient walls, named after Pope Pius lV, who commissioned Michelangelo to design it just before his death in Rome in 1564. You will find it at the end of Via XX Settembre, which goes off Piazza di San Bernardo, not far from the Quirinale Palace and the Trevi Fountain. A marble and brass monument - the Monumento al Bersagliere - commemorating the liberation of Rome was erected near the place the Italian troops breached the walls, opposite the external fa├žade of the gate.

Travel tip:

One of Italy's many Via XX Settembre can be found in the beautiful city of Bergamo in northern Italy. Bergamo's Via XX Settembre is one of the main thoroughfares in the lower town and has been dubbed ‘the shopping street’ by the locals because of the wealth of smart shops that line both sides, from department stores, book and gift shops to jewellery and fashion stores. Top names gracing the elegant street include Calvin Klein, Stefanel, Benetton, Max Mara, Luisa Spagnoli, Marina Rinaldi and Sisley.

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