Al Capone and the Italian Mafia in Chicago

 With the rise of bootlegging at the beginning of the 1920s, there was easy money to be made for gangs and especially organized crime leading to the rise of the Al Capone and the Italian Mafia. With the ratification of the 18th amendment in 1919 and its enactment in 1920 many American citizens began to go against the government with the founding of speakeasies and bootlegging becoming very popular business to make money especially throughout the organized crime community. In 1920 Capone moved to Chicago with his good friend Johnny Torrio shortly after his father’s death and begins his career in the crime industry with Torrio. Together the two were able to create a multimillion-dollar organization through the use of prostitution, gambling, and bootlegging. Although there were many famous bootleggers and people that used prohibition to make money and a name for themselves Al Capone is the most notable and well known of all those that opposed the 18th and crime organizations. An interesting part of Chicago’s history is actually the Italian Mafia and Al Capone into a better light by explaining just who the mafia was, what they did, and how they operated.

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 The works of Al Capone and his career within the Italian Mafia not surprisingly began long before he even moved to Chicago and joined the Mafia. Alphonse Gabriel Capone was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1899 to immigrants Gabriel and Teresina Capone. Growing up Capone lived in a poor family with seven siblings with the average immigrant lifestyle in a New York tenant with his mother making money as a seamstress and his father as a barber. Throughout elementary school, Capone was a good student, until halfway through his schooling career in sixth grade when he began skipping school to hang out by the Brooklyn docks and letting his grades slip until he inevitably had to repeat sixth grade. For Capone, this was a slippery slope that led up until one day when his teacher struck him and he hit back. After the fight with his teacher, Alphonse was beaten by the principle resulting in Capone never returning to school after that day. Shortly after his expulsion a decision to not return to school the Capone family moved from their tenant to a much better home on the outskirts of Park Slope, Brooklyn resulting in the most important part of Capone’s life and career as a crime boss (

 After moving to Park Slope Capone’s life changed drastically whether for the better or worse. Not long after moving to his new home Capone ran into Johnny Torrio, who was running a numbers and gambling operation near the Capone residence and began running small errands for the gangster while eventually becoming good friends. However, Torrio left Brooklyn in 1909 to move to Chicago leaving Capone but still remaining close. Early on Capone attempted to work legitimately in a munitions factory as a paper cutter while also spending a little amount of his time with the street gangs in Brooklyn resulting in a small number of occasional fights. Of which fights Capone in 1917 while working as a bartender and bouncer in Coney Island made an indecent remark to a female at the bar resulting in her brother becoming angry with Alphonse. The dispute ended with Capone being punched in the face and cut leaving his infamous three scars along the left side of his face and neck giving him his nickname “Scarface” (

Later in his life when he was 19 Capone married Mae Coughlin weeks after the birth of their child Albert Francis and naming his good friend Johnny Torrio the godfather of the boy. Not long after his marriage and the birth of his child Capone moved his family to Baltimore where he took a legitimate job as a bookkeeper for a construction company. However, tragedy struck Capone with his father’s unexpected death in 1920 due to a heart attack which in turn influenced him to accept an invitation from Torrio to move to Chicago and help him in his illegal business (

Throughout his time in Chicago Capone and Torrio ruled over a booming business of bootlegging, prostitution, and gambling making them both notorious throughout the city. However, after a failed attempt on Torrio’s life by a rival gang in 1925 Johnny left Chicago and returned to Italy leaving the whole operation and mafia to Capone. In his mentors leave of absence Capone did the opposite of what he was warned not to do and moved his base of operations to a luxury suite in the Metropole Hotel in downtown Chicago and began to live a life of luxury spending money whenever he could while also being careful with his actions to not get caught by doing things such as only making purchases in strictly cash so everything is untraceable (

During his time as a major crime boss in Chicago Capone had the press constantly at his door following his every move which resulted in him being loved but also hated by most of the public at the time. Because of his generous nature, good deeds throughout the Chicago community many people hailed him as a local hero. Throughout his time in Chicago Capone was to the surprise of many people despite his reputation as crime boss worked towards bettering his community in many ways. A good example of such was during The Great Depression when Capone opened a soup kitchen feeding hundreds of Chicagoans who were out of work at the time. However, that does not change the facts about how many murders and horrible acts he and his gang committed during his time as the infamous Chicago crime boss (Bair).

 The most notorious of all crimes committed by the Mafia under Capone was the St. Valentines Day Massacre. On February 14, 1929, Capone’s top hit man “Machine Gun” Jack McGurn attempted to take out Capones longtime rival “Bugs” Moran that had previously tried to assassinate Torrio and Capone but was now after McGurn. Posing as police McGurns hitmen drove to the North Side garage where Morgan was supposed to be and using tommy guns murdered seven of Moran’s men in cold blood without warning. However, now Moran knew about the danger and was able to escape the slaughter of his men. Although staying in his Miami home at the time Capone was blamed for the Massacre which only served to worsen the public view of him (

 As a result of the St. Valentine’s day massacre, there was a public outcry that forced President Herbert Hoover to intervene and ordered the federal government to speed up its efforts in bringing Capone in on tax evasion. Despite his best efforts with the use of bribery and intimidation, the judge switched the jury the day before the final day of the trial. On June 25, 1931, the US government finally were able to bring in Capone on 22 accounts of income-tax evasion thanks to a Supreme Court ruling in 1927 that ruled that income gained illegally was taxable. In 1931 Capone was sentenced to 11 years in prison on 22 accounts of income-tax evasion and sent to a federal prison in Atlanta where he spent the first two years of his sentence (Ocean View Publishing).

 While in federal prison in Atlanta Capone was able to bribe the guards and staff to ensure he got the best stuff and obtained special treatment. However, this only lasted two years as in 1934 he was sent to the famous prison island Alcatraz, or otherwise known as “The Rock”. On Alcatraz Capone wasn’t able to hold a strong influence on the prison’s staff due to Alcatraz’s isolated location and the warden’s refusal to recognize Capone as more than an average prisoner. Moreover, before Capone was even sent to any prison he contracted syphilis as a young man and now suffered from neurosyphilis, which caused dementia. Due to his worsening health condition after serving six and a half years in Alcatraz he was sent to a mental hospital in 1939 in Baltimore where he spent three years. After being released from the hospital in Baltimore Capone spent the rest of his life in Miami with his wife while his health rapidly declined until he died of cardiac arrest on January 25, 1947 (Ocean View Publishing).

Not even a month after Capone’s death the media was swarming the mobster’s death with one New York Times headline proudly boasting “End of an Evil Dream.” ( With the majority of newspapers and media sources writing about Capone as an evil man that ran the most treacherous crime organization America had ever seen no matter how you saw Alphonse Gabriel Capone before his death, the media made it impossible to ever think that he was anything other than evil ever again.

The Italian Mafia in Chicago is a network of organized-crime groups that operated within Chicago with the most notable being within the 1920s into the 1930s. The most infamous Italian Mafia’s network was the Chicago Outfit branch that was the head Italian Mafia group in Chicago and is most famous for its seven years when it was run by Al Capone ( During its time being run by Capone, the Italian Mafia shifted from an organization that was mostly within the shadows doing their dirty work while trying to stay out of trouble into a group that took pride in everything they did while quickly becoming notorious for their bootlegging, gambling, and prostitution operations (

 An important part of the Italian Mafia no matter who ran it during the 1900s was violence, especially during prohibition. While prohibition was in place there was a lot of competition for bootlegging and the business that it brought that in turn led to a lot of rivalries and hatred toward other people that could be possibly stealing one’s business and profit. That being said, this led to an excessive amount of violence and murders within Chicago with Capone being famed for sending flowers to his victim’s funerals and upholding the tradition of wine and dine before killing his victims (

After Capone’s death, there were still many people that felt harshly about him and the things he did while at the same time there were those that still had a place for him in their hearts due to the things he did within the Chicago community such as the soup kitchen for the poor and homeless he opened up:

“Capone’s was at times both loved and hated by the media and the public. When Prohibition was repealed in 1933, some in the public felt that Capone’s and others’ involvement in selling liquor had been vindicated. But Capone was a ruthless gangster responsible for murdering or ordering the assassinations of scores of people, and his contemptible acts of violence remain at the center of his legacy. Capone’s image as a cold-blooded killer and quintessential mobster has lived on long beyond his death in the many films and books inspired by his life as the most notorious gangster in American history.” (

 This quote from does an exemplary job of explaining the public’s view of Capone shortly after his death with the majority of the country believing he was an evil man that worked as a crime boss and a ruthless murderer. However, in Chicago, there was still a small number of people that didn’t hate the famous mobster thanks to the effort he put into improving and making the Chicaogian community a better place. NO Conclusion Yet.


“Al Capone.”, A&E Networks Television, 16 Apr. 2019,

“Al Capone.” FBI, FBI, 18 May 2016,

Bair, Deirdre. Al Capone: His Life, Legacy, and Legend. Anchor Books, 2017.

“Chicago Outfit.” American Mafia History,

Editors, “Al Capone.”, A&E Television Networks, 14 Oct. 2009,

Editors, “Mafia in the United States.”, A&E Television Networks, 22 Oct. 2009,

Ocean View Publishing Company. “Al Capone at Alcatraz.” AZ,

“The Chicago Mafia.” FBI, FBI, 27 June 2011,


How did the Medici Bank become the Greatest and Most Influential Bank during the Italian Renaissance?

 The Medici bank is regarded as one of the most significant banks during the renaissance in Italy in the 1400s. This banking house was founded in the year 1397 when Giovanni di Bicci de’ Medici relocated his bank from Rome to Florence. Under the governance of the Medici, this bank was responsible for the wealth and the power of Florence during this period. But how did the Medici bank rise to become the most influential and wealthiest financial institution in the Italian Renaissance yet the church forbade firms from taking interest rates? The secret is in its structure, operations as a holding company and the banks source of funds. The Medici bank was the most influential and the wealthiest institution in the Italian Renaissance because of its decentralized structure, control mechanism as a holding company, source of funds and participation in international trade using instruments of payment and efficient checks and balances.Decentralized Structure First of all, it is correct to argue that the Medici bank was the most influential and the wealthiest financial institution in the Italian Renaissance because its decentralized the form of management created a competitive advantage for the bank through international branches. There are two types of organizational structures mainly a centralized and a decentralized system. On the one hand, all decisions are made at the executive level under the centralized system. Consequently, the head of any firm has the mandate to hire, fire or transfer employees. However, one disadvantage with this form of government is that if a leader dies, then there is nobody to take up the leadership mantel because it is based on one partnership. For example, the bank of Orlando collapsed because of this form of structure. On one hand the decentralized system of government encourages the collaboration of multiple partnerships. For that reason, the Medici bank under the Medici family embraced this superior organizational structure which gave them a competitive advantage over other banks. How did these partnerships make the Medici Bank a formidable force during the Italian Renaissance? Under these partnerships, branch managers were perceived as governors of the bank. “Seniors” was a title used to refer to the Medici. Also critics may argue that branch managers are ordinary employees, the decentralized structure of the organization perceive them as a junior partners who’s input and ideas mattered in the bank. It is essential to understand that the success or failure of a firm depends on its ability to involve employees in the decision making process. Employees are the greatest asset of a company. They should be viewed as a company’s bloodline because they can make or break a company. When employees feel valued, then they become highly motivated to realize the goals and objectives of the firm. Therefore, the Medici bank became the most influential and wealthiest financial institution in the Italian Renaissance because its structure encouraged the delegation of roles to the branch managers for ease of decision making.

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Means of Control Secondly, it is correct to argue that the Medici bank was the most influential and the wealthiest financial institution in the Italian Renaissance because it had a striking resemblance of a holding company. A holding company is a firm that claims ownership over the stock of other companies. Interestingly, the Medici banking house had a 50% capital control of the other partnership companies. This factor meant that the company controlled the stock of these partnerships undoubtedly making the Medici bank not only the most influential but also the wealthiest financial institution in the Italian Renaissance. As if the 50% control over capital was not enough, the Medici banking house still retained the trademark once it dissolved any partnership. Because of the goodwill that came with that title, the banking house could not afford to lose it.
Source of Funds Thirdly, the Medici bank was the most influential in the wealthiest financial institution in the Italian Renaissance because of its source of funding. Firstly, the funds came from accumulated profits that were undistributed. Based on the articles of association, profits were withdrawn once the contract was terminated. Most importantly, the branches in Geneva and Lyon kept reserves to cater for unforeseen events which further consolidated the wealth of the bank. Secondly, the partners invested in money that surpassed the capital. Other than the required investment capital, the partners were at liberty to invest additional funds in boosting the operations of the Medici Bank. Also, the Medici invested in the various branches which further consolidated the wealth in the power of the family. Lastly, the funds were sourced from outsiders’ money held by the bank. Because these were time deposits, the depositors were paid interest once the banking period lapsed.
 It is essential to note that money from outsiders was not from ordinary people. Instead, it came from prominent people throughout Florence that were friends with the Medici. The higher investment returns attracted these influential Florentines to become outside depositors. Foreigners were also not left out as outside depositors for the Medici bank. For instance, one of the depositors at the branch of Lyons was Ymbert de Bartanay who acted as the Chamberlain of the King of France. Politicians soon followed suit by investing in the Medici bank. For them, outside deposit meant that when their political career was over, and they had to flee the country, their investment would be free from confiscation. Therefore, it is correct to argue that these three primary source of funds contributed to the power and wealth of the Medici Bank.
International Trade Most importantly, the Medici bank became the most influential and the wealthiest financial institution in the Italian Renaissance by using instruments of payment and employing some checks and balances through bookkeeping while practicing in international trade of silk and cloth. First of all, as a financer, money had to change hands while conducting international business. For that reason, the Medici bank used the bills of exchange which were acceptable in foreign markets. Secondly, the bank had to ensure that it applied some checks and balances to ensure efficiency during international trade. Consequently, it adopted the bookkeeping method for accurate and efficient recording of financial transactions and to solve the complexities created by the bills of exchange in foreign currency. Two accounts, Nostro and Vostro, were opened where by the Nostro encouraged the transaction of international and local currency. Therefore, this approach not only minimized transaction errors, but it also enhanced the reliability of the Medici bank while recording profits and losses.
 But how did the bills of exchanging boost the influence and the wealth of the Medici bank during international trade? Based on extensive research, it is evident that the bill of exchange was popular in the Medieval period for two primary reasons. The first reason was the ease of carrying out the financial transactions during trade. Interestingly, there was no need to carry gold or silver coins during the whole process. The other reason was that the bills of exchange sped up the transaction process. A bill of exchange may be thought of a piece of paper that holds a little or no value. However, this seemingly worthless piece of paper held value in terms of gold or silver during this period. The idea that gold or silver could be transferred from one party to another boosted the amount of the bills of exchange and the financial institution such as the Medici bank that embraced them. 

Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that just like the glaring differences in the banking system during the medieval times and present times, the international trade during this time was unique. For that reason, merchants had the aim of penetrating the foreign markets and diversifying their investments to reduce risks. The Medici handled aristocratic clientele who traded in silk, jewelry as well as silver plates. Also, the banking house treated in the spices, olive oil, and wool. Therefore, the Medici bank was tasked with protecting such merchants because it played the role of a financer. One of the significant functions that the bank played during this time was minimizing the risks of trade by partnering with other merchants. Because some risks could cripple the bank, the bank was not inclined to engage in international trade. Instead, it sought to rely on commissions by selling goods with minimal risks. Another role was Medici was providing loans to its clientele. However, lending to princes and kings was dangerous because if the loan accumulated, then it became difficult to sell off the security given such as the crown jewel. Consequently, such loans took up a significant percentage of the lender’s resources.
Comparison of the Medici Bank with Commercial Banks However, one may argue that the Medici bank’s operations do not compare with those of the commercial banks today. During this period, banking operations were affected by the doctrine of usury adopted by the church that prohibited interest, unlike today. For that reason, bankers had to operate within the guidelines given by the church unlike commercial banks today, which led to the enactment of the bills of exchange to conceal interest charges and escape usury. On the one hand, the bills of exchange we’re very much prevalent during the Renaissance Period. On the other hand, commercial banks operate using checks. Nevertheless, these bills of exchange not only enhanced international trade operations for the bank, but they also helped the Medici bank to escape exploitation by concealing interest charges in these bills. Further, these bills strengthened financial orders that were made orally rather than written as in the case of checks. For that reason, one may argue that the bills of exchange played a role in making this banking house the most powerful and wealthiest at a time when interest was prohibited. Also, the Medici bank’s operations do not compare with those of commercial banks today because profit during the medieval period was not guaranteed. In fact, during this era, it was difficult to calculate the interest rate that a borrower owed a lender. For that reason, banks such as the Medici bank relied on the fluctuating exchange rates. But how did the Medici bank thrive during this period? It is interesting to learn that the bank derived profit based on the differences in exchange rate rather than the interest charges. Instead of recording the profit from interest charges, the bank filed the profit and loss derived from the difference in the exchange rates. Also, the massive wealth was derived from the commission that was earned from the bills of exchange which acted as the letters of payment. However, commercial banks today calculate interest rates based on percentages. For that reason, their interest charges are guaranteed unlike in Medieval times.
 In conclusion, the Medici bank was the most influential and the wealthiest financial institution in the Italian Renaissance because of its decentralized structure, control mechanism as a holding company, source of funds and participation in international trade using instruments of payment and efficient checks and balances. First of all, it’s decentralized structure with foreign branches gave the bank a competitive advantage over its competitors. Secondly, the bank derived power by operating as a holding company that controlled 50% capital of its partners. Thirdly, the Medici bank got funds not only from accumulated profit, but also from partners that exceeded the capital, as well as money from outside depositors. Most importantly, the bank’s role in international trade as a lender also contributed to it a massive wealth and influence. The bank employed reliable instruments of payment and checks and balances such as the bookkeeping to maintain accurate records of its foreign and local transactions.

Works Cited

1.)   Alessandrini, Pietro, Michele Fratianni, Alberto Zazzaro, The Changing Geography of Banking and Finance. Springer: Berlin Germany, 2009.

2.)   Dobeck, Mark F and Euel Elliott. Money. Westport, Connecticut, Us: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007.

3.)   Larson, Henrietta M, ed. The Rise and Decline of the Medici Bank. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1962.

4.)   Roover, Raymond de. The Medici Bank- Its Organization, Management, Operations and Decline. Ed. Thomas C Cochran. New York, US: New York University Press, 1948.

Tiziano Vecellio’s Art Style and the Italian Renaissance

In history, art has changed frequently. With new concepts and experimental ways, the new art forms slowly become accepted by society, while the previous techniques fade into the background; however, the old techniques are not forgotten. Within every era, the new techniques that come from the creative minds and their ideas, have established more from the inspiration of old skills, like the change from Renaissance to Mannerism; this lead to the furthering of different art styles in the future generations.
Background info on genre, time period and country of origin
The Italian Renaissance was the arising point of modern age. The period stretched from 1400 to 1550, originating from Florence, Italy. It was the revival of scientific and artistic innovations. It was also the revitalization of Greek and Roman learning. This essential time period linked the relation of the middle ages to the modern age.
The Italian Renaissance was split into two phases, the Early Renaissance and the High Renaissance. The High Renaissance, at the climax of Renaissance art from 1500 to 1525, was the result of the culmination of the different artistic progression of the Early Renaissance. During the 1520s of the Italian Renaissance, High Renaissance was exaggerated to Mannerism. The High Renaissance was an era that brought total creative genius to the world in history.
Characterisitcs of art being done during that time and mediums used
The changes in art during the Italian Renaissance were clearly seen in paintings and sculptures. While the artists continued to use religious subject matter, they combined the idea with the principles of the human figure and the appeal in depicting nature. Artists began experimenting with their paintings by using oil-based paints, which were workable for several months due to the slow drying pace of the paints. The “fresco technique”, developed during the Italian Renaissance and used by artists like Michelangelo, involved painting on plasters walls. Light and perspective was familiarized to give a sense of reality through three-dimensional imagery. Artists gained new insight and techniques to their concept of space and form in the Italian Renaissance, which has thus changed art forever.
Background info on artist
Tiziano Vecellio, also more famously known as Titian, was one of the greatest artists of the High Rennaissance. He was born in Pieve di Cadore, Italy. The year of his birth is highly disputed between scholars, but it is believed to be between 1477 and 1488. As a young boy, he was an apprentice to Giovanni Bellinni, another outstanding painter in Italy at the time. In 1508, the now young independent painter, Titian, joined the Venetian painter, Giorgione to beautify the facade of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi in Venice. Titian’s work was mistaken as a new and improved style of Giorgione. The teamwork between the two artists led to more art collaboration; together, they explored oil painting techniques, by ways like directly applying an undiluted medium on the canvas.

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At the death of Giovanni Bellini in 1516, it left Titian with no adversary in Venice, which let him receive his old master’s job as the official painter to the Republic. His first major public commission was the Assumption of the Virgin which was painted for the Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari in Venice. In 1533, he was appointed as the court painter of Charles V, the most powerful man of the century, being Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and the King of Spain. In 1548, he spent nine months in Augsburg with the Imperial Court. After half a decade, he commences a series of “poesie” for Phillip II in 1554.
Although Titian was not a man of much education, he was one of great talent. Titian was an elegant and charming man who was also attractive and interesting in conversation, which made it easy for him to build relationships and connections with powerful people. Over the span of twenty years, Titian created relationships and connections with princely patronage, while continuing work for other Venetian churches.
As he grew older, his eyesight worsened and his hand control was weakening. Unfortunately, during a plague outbreak, Titian died, on August 27, 1576, as a rich and famous man. He was interred into the Church of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari. His universal reputation continues to be known to this modern day.
Styles and techniques used by artist
Titian was an infamous Venetian painter during the High Renaissance. He was known for his bright rich colours and his bold brush work. The bold use of colour and the lush sumptuous layers were the result of much preparation, the medium used and the surface chosen. Mythological paintings, religious paintings, portraits, and churches were just some of the works he accomplished. His artwork should be viewed from a distance to get the as it was desired to be seen. Much of his skills were influenced by Giorgione, where he improved his style with new elements and perfection. From 1530 to 1550, his approach and style became more and more dramatic. The unique practices Titian painted with combined with his great talent were what made him an amazing painter.
As Titian matured as an artist, he had as specific methods to his paintings. First, he sketched his pictures with loads of colour that forms the groundwork of the work of art. For up to several months, without looking, he left his composition facing a wall. He then returned to them to build up figures, make changes, and correct any wrongs. When retouching his working, he dealt with highlights by harmonizing colours and tones by rubbing the composition with his fingers. An alternate way was by adding strokes and bright spots with his fingers to perfect his work. As he grew older, he began to paint with his fingers more. He believed that “It is not bright colors but good drawing that makes figures beautiful.”
Detailed analysis of artwork
Titian’s masterpiece, Bacchanal of the Andrians, shows that it is a complete success through design elements. The composition of the work of art is arranged with the human figures spread out evenly across the horizontal span of the canvas. The colours involved are rich and bold; they are not too bright to be overtaking the whole piece. The harmonic bond between the tones and colour that is used by Titian is infamous. The contrast in colour between the two sides balances each other out. The contrast in colour in the dress of the dancing couple compared to the rest of the drinking people, bring it out two a secondary focal point. With naked woman in the corner as the focal point, it brings the eyes throughout the painting, from the focal point to the dancing couple to the other people.
Bachannal of the Adrians seems to be interpreting a message of celebration. This may be the possibility of a marriage due to the dancing couple in bolder colours and the amount of activities (drinking, partying, and sheet music) involved. However, these actions could also indicate a celebration due to the homecoming of an important person.
The characters involved in the work of art have great meaning too. The woman in the white dress may represent innocence; the other ladies may represent vulnerability and jealousy as seen from their positioning and facial emotions. The nude men surrounding the other women may represent lust and want, as they are in some way in contact, physically or optically, to the women.
New art techniques were and still are developed through time. Titian, one of the greatest artists of the high Renaissance, was one who established new skills and techniques from others through his life that inspired others to create more throughout history. There are many steps involved in art to fuel to this advancement. According to Titian, “Painting done under pressure by artists without the necessary talent can only give rise to formlessness, as painting is a profession that requires peace of mind.”

Impact of Giuseppe Garibaldi on the Italian Unification

 ‘Giuseppe Garibaldi was the most significant figure in Italian Unification between 1796 and 1900.’ How far do you agree?


As the question states, the fact that Garibaldi was undoubtedly a significant individual in the process of Italian Unification, should not be overlooked. However, he was not the only figure to achieve this, as it would not be possible for him to have had the influence to single handedly unify Italy. Therefore, it reasonable to propose that the four dominant figures that facilitated Italian Unification were Napoleon Bonparte, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Camillo Benso di Cavour and Francesco Crispi- all of whom have differing levels of significance. Consequently, it is reasonable to suggest that the most important figure in getting Italy to be one Kingdom was Cavour. The army officer, had many political accomplishments such as advocating for constitutional monarchy, creating tactful diplomatic alliances with France, and defeating Austrian forces in 1859. The Italy that was a result of unification, was more-so the Italy that Cavour envisioned; rather than that of the likes of Garibaldi like the statement favours.

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The process to Italy’s final stage of unification, was an ultimate result of years of political fragmentation and confusion. During the 18th Century, Italy was a collection of seven states, with only Piedmont having a ruling monarch. The Risorgimento was what developed the small, seven autonomous states and to have interactions between them all.  Napoleon’s Italian invasion in 1796, is thought to have been the catalyst of which started the political, institutional and ideological foundations for Italy’s future. After the Napoleonic rule had ended in Italy, the Congress of Vienna in 1815, was what was widely accepted by the leaders who restored the states in the different Italian Kingdoms; it bought a collective thought, that a centralised administration was the most effective way of controlling society. In 1830, there were a series of uprisings along the Italian peninsula, which consequently resulted in outcry for different Italian territories from within the peninsula, to merge and become one unified nation. The principle of Italy being one amalgamated state was again shown as a result of revolts, through the 1848 insurrection failures. This prompted more moderate political thinkers to advocate a unified Italy; an idea of which becomes increasingly popular and realistic. In March 1861 the ‘Kingdom of Italy’ was declared, with Victor Emmanuel II as its king; however, this did still not include the Papal States and the Republic of Vienna. The 1880s and 90s were a time of crisis regarding agriculture and economy; both of which would have not portrayed, the still new country, well on a global scale. 

The individuals that facilitated Italian Unification have subsequently had a number of historical interpretations and primary sources, such as journal articles written about them. However, their validity and reliability is varied due to the fact that they are particularly opinionated; therefore, they can be biased in order favor their own personal views on Italian Unification. Therefore, it is reasonable to state that sources written throughout 1796 and 1900, for example a speech or letter from one of the figures of significance, may be considered to be more reliable due to their accuracy and the fact that it is a personal account. An example of this is Cavour’s speech to the Piedmont Chamber of Deputies, 1858,[1] in which in itself emphasises the influence and power that Cavour had on his peers, enabling for him to be arguably, the most memorable candidate in the unification of Italy.

On the other hand, it is also reasonable to enquire the importance of sources of a more modernised origin. Martin Clarke’s 2013 edition ‘The Italian Risorgimento’[2], mentions numerous documents regarding Cavour’s significance; such as Document 21, which contains one of Deputy Giorgio Asproni’s diary entries, on how it would be difficult to find a successor to Cavour that had the same prominent qualities as him. Clarke’s book also mentions why Garibaldi was seen as a hero in Document 17, further emphasising Garibaldi’s pivotal political impact on the Italian population. People saw Garibaldi as a hero in Italian Unification, not just an individual who was blindsided by military influence; but someone who had the ability to be a political saviour. Another example of modern literature that is massively beneficial in its representation and interpretation of Italian Unification, is Christopher Duggan’s ‘A Concise History of Italy’ from 2014. [3]

To adequately examine the whole period that was the process to Italian Unification, it is necessary to address it in several sections and individuals, due to the inability to cover the whole period if this is not done. This being said, the main focus of the essay will be Cavour’s influence over Italian Unification, with reference to the argument that he holds more significance over Garibaldi. The fact that Garibaldi was also a prime driving force in making Italy one ‘Kingdom’, will not go unacknowledged. Francesco Crispi and Napoleon Bonparte can be seen at the figures to seemingly ‘open’ and ‘close’ the whole process of Italian, so their influence too, should not be disregarded.

Prior to what developed into French rule in Italy, there was constant revolutionary unrest; the political shape of the Italian peninsula, derived large parts from the influence of Papal diplomacy over the previous millennium. Preceding Popes had tended to strongly support the existence of a number of small states in the north of the peninsula, therefore seemingly rejecting the proposition of Unification, such that no strong power might presume to try to overshadow the papacy. Napoleon Bonparte’s significance in regards to Unifying the Kingdom of Italy, can be disputed in many ways; one being that Napoleon was the catalyst, so to speak, in starting off Italian Unification. This being said, it is reasonable to also argue the counter argument; that he did not do as much as Giuseppe Garibaldi, as stated in the question for example.

After conquering Italy, Napoleon left several legacies that support his importance to Italian Unification; that being an efficient government, practical demonstrations of the benefits of a ‘Kingdom of Italy’ and a hatred towards foreign influence, much like Garibaldi. Napoleonic rule laid the political, institutional and ideological foundation of Italy’s future. The process of Napoleon’s occupation of the majority of Italian states did not take particularly long, however after years of failing to occupy the Republic of Venice, he succeeded, thus placing humiliation on a once proud and energetic state; but now worn out and enfeebled, oligarchy. It was a miserable end to the Republic of Venice, but it should be considered that if they had not been brought under Napoleonic control, it would have made unifying them in conjunction with the rest of Italy, significantly more difficult in later years. Having already lost their independent sovereignty, the Republic of Vienna may have been more willing to form with the kingdom of Italy; in comparison to if they still maintained independence.

 Napoleon introduced Napoleonic Code[4] in Italy, which was the first time Italy has written constitution to therefore abide, and had a bureaucratic political system. Napoleonic Code was one of the great contributions Napoleon had made to Italian civilisation and a good government; although its it should be noted that it meant a consequent result of his code was a lack of egalitarianism; the code did not extend to emancipating women, who were subjugated to fathers and husbands. The Civil Code signifies a typically Napoleonic fusion of liberalism and conservatism, although most of the basic revolutionary gains, such as equality before the law, freedom of religion and the abolition of feudalism, were consolidated within its laws. However, it should be noted with the inspiration of Napoleonic code, a number of European and Latin American countries, most notably, Italy, created their own versions of Code Napoléon. The Italian Civil Code of 1865-enacted after the unification of Italy- had a close but indirect relationship with the Napoleonic Code. The new Italian code of 1942 departed to a large extent from that tradition.

Furthermore, as the Napoleonic period progressed, many people grew increasingly resentful of French Rule. The fact that France conscripted men from Italy to fight and die for the French empire, was hated by many Italians. 27,000 Italian men went to fight in Napoleon’s invasion of Russia, yet only 1000 returned; consequently, enraging Italians further to a point of little return. High tax was also placed on Italy to pay for French wars; with 60% of the tax raised in Italy being spent on militant means. 

It can be concluded that Napoleon Bonaparte himself didn’t had much influence on Italian Unification, due to the fact that most Italians despised the Austrians more so than the French. Furthermore, central and southern Italy were scarcely struck by Napoleonic warfare and regarding the Papal state, the French occupation did have much influence. The fact that Napoleon started the process to Italian Unification through the legacy of his political administration, should not be disregarded.  In any case, the administration that Napoleon started in Italy was unconditionally and without much question, positive. The endorsement of the industrial capitalism in the north, the rationalisation of public administration, and the concentration of the properties and overall the law which erased feudalism in August 1806, are just a few of Napoleon’s achievements, thus emphasising his importance and significance in the process to Italian Unification. It should also be noted that these were changes which remained also after Napoleon’s power left the peninsula. However, the fact that he did not have the most importance in regards to Italian Unification should be reiterated; Napoleon inspired several leaders, both political and militant, in continuing the long process that was Italian Unification.

It is reasonable to argue that Camillo Benso di Cavour was perhaps the most significant figure regarding the importance of Italy’s Unification, in comparison to Giuseppe Garibaldi as otherwise stated in the questions statement. He was a pragmatist, and a man who practiced politics of a similar nature. He created alliances with countries such as France and Prussia, when it was politically required and necessary. He used international power to achieve his domestic goal and prestige.  Giuseppe Garibaldi on the other hand, was a man who was forced to rely his own national popularity through previous militant success, to make a similar indent in the political progression of Italian Unification. The question’s statement is particularly favourable of Giuseppe Garibaldi’s participation regarding unification, however it should be considered that Cavour understood the association between national and international events, and was thus able to manipulate foreign policy for his gain, thus emphasising his competence. Garibaldi was a democrat and soldier, was without question foreboding a future of conflict with the monarchs of Europe. Cavour, with additional credibility of representing a monarch, made the blend of having a successful political career, all that more applicable to the political situation of Italy in the mid- 1800s. With this being taken into great consideration, it is quite doubtful that Garibaldi would have ever been able to gain the upper hand in Italy, in relation to Cavour.

Cavour’s speech to the Piedmont Chamber of Deputies in 1858[5], only emphasises his influence on fellow peers regarding the support of his views, in Unifying the division of the Italian States. Unlike Napoleon, Cavour recognises the importance of receiving acceptance from foreign powers and their benefits. In his speech Cavour emphasises the success of the Crimean war[6], and that as a whole, it was a policy in which their “hopes were not disappointed[7]”. This is in regards to the Sardinia-Piedmont, and their allies’, victory. With Cavour strategically creating alliances with Britain and France, he established a relationship with nations of vast military strength, which could be beneficial when unifying Italy or if there were any further conflicts. In his speech Cavour also states whilst “declaring our firm intention to resect treaties[8]”, they must “maintain in the political sphere the enterprise which was defeated in the military sphere[9]”. It is section of his speech, Cavour makes clear that there needs to be changes in the attempts of making Italy a unified nation. This shows Cavour’s emphasis on the fact that war and conflict- trying to achieve unification regarding militant means- were not working; but by perhaps being politically proficient, unification would be more likely. The fact that this was a speech to the parliamentarians of Piedmont, making it a matter of public record, accentuates the accuracy of this source. The speech is a relatively precise translation which further emphasises its accuracy. Cavour is trying to convince the parliamentary diplomats to continue in their support for an amalgamated Italy and how if done politically and with acceptance of foreign power, unification would be easier. However, the fact that it was a speech made to only the deputies, those of an authoritative status, could perhaps be to seemingly eradicate opposition from those of a lower class, in which unification might not perhaps greatly effect. However, it does need to be recognised that in 1858, Italy is not yet unified, it had been attempted several times but failed. Cavour’s attempts to convince the chamber of deputies on the advantages and ways to politically unify Italy, only makes the idea of Italian unification more possible than it had been previously. 

The Historical Journal[10], appears to mention and interpret historian Harry Hearder’s, book ‘Cavour’[11]. It mentions that Hearder seems to take a ‘great man’[12] theory regarding Camillo Benso di Cavour, in which he sympathetically portrays Cavour’s character. Hearder believes Cavour to be perhaps the key figure in the process of Italian unification, if not “one of the major figures of the nineteenth century[13]”. On the other hand, Revisionist historian Denis Mack Smith appears to favour Garibaldi and his influence towards the Unification of Italy. Mack Smith described Cavour as a man who was “dishonest, a coward, and anti-unificatory”, which emphasises his unpopular opinion on the Piedmontese statesman. Fellow Revisionist Historian LCB Seaman stated that “As a parliamentary liberal, Cavour did not believe in Italian unification. For him the idea was too radical and there were too many obstacles in the way”[14], which emphasises the idea that Cavour was not interested in the benefits of Italian Unification for the different Italian States, but only Piedmont.

With the differing opinions about the Piedmontese statesman taken into account, it is still reasonable to conclude that Cavour was more significance in his importance and role regarding Italian Unification, in comparison to Giuseppe Garibaldi.  This is due to the fact that Cavour recognised the changes that needed to be done in order to progress the idea of Italian Unification on, regarding the shift of militant means to that of which is more political. Cavour also knew the importance of creating tactful diplomatic alliances with countries with strong militaries, and how creating these alliances would benefit unification.

The questions statement introduces Giuseppe Garibaldi to be the most significant figure in Italian Unification. This can easily be disputed due to the vast credible works of figures such as Camillo Benso di Cavour, who arguably did more in terms of pushing the process of Italian Unification. Cavour was mindful of the different political strategies that were needed for Italy to unify, in addition to military approaches. On the other hand, Garibaldi was seemingly focused on only the military tactics to achieve unification, for example, he used guerrilla warfare to win control of southern Italy. It can be argued that Garibaldi used conflict to enable him to gain credibility regarding his successes, but also his failures to emphasise his deterministic nature. Garibaldi was a democrat and soldier, which without question, gives a foreboding sense of a future full of conflict with the monarchs of Europe, which is why it can be argued he wasn’t the most significant individual. However, Garibaldi’s heroic like status emphasised his pivotal political and military impact on the Italian population, and this should not be overlooked. People saw Garibaldi as a hero in this   particular process; not just an individual who was focused on military influence, but someone who had the ability to be a political saviour to the separated Italian States.

In Lucy Riall’s 2009 book of the Risorgimento[15](pp 33),  it is stated that “few political leaders have captured the public imagination much like Garibaldi”[16]. This emphasises the power and respectable reputation Giuseppe Garibaldi had; the extent in which he could influence and encompass the minds of the people, were beyond the capability of other political pragmatists that have ever lived.

Document 22 of Martin Clarke’s “The Italian Risorgimento”[17], stresses the ways in which Giuseppe Garibaldi was not perhaps the hero or successful military leader, he was often made out to be[18]. This particular document is titled “Garibaldi failed to take Rome”[19], which further highlights his failures, and therefore goes against the principle that Garibaldi was consistently admired and successful in militant tactics throughout the Italian States. The document notes of Garibaldi and his volunteers of troops’ failure to take the Papal state of Rome. In Document 22 it is stated in regards to Garibaldi’s makeshift army of troops, that “most of these bands were people jumbled together at random, many of them barely able to handle a gun”[20], thus indicating the idea that  Garibaldi was seemingly incompetent to withhold  a stable military front. With this particular inability, it is difficult to envision Garibaldi to be the main protagonist of the Italian Risorgimento; someone who would bring a sense of collective patriotism to the once divided states, if he cannot stabilise an army. However, it should be noted that the document goes on to say “they showed that patriotic fervour had spread from the democratic circles down to the lowest classes…”[21] in regards to the army of volunteers. This further alludes the idea that Garibaldi was seemingly a hero in the eyes of the people. Thus the argument that Garibaldi was a highly influential figure regarding Italian unification-as he could popularise his policies and tactics through his admirers-is brought to the forefront. Due to the fact that this particular document is from a German observer in Rome, accentuates its accuracy. It is a direct account of what this person witnessed, that being both Garibaldi’s military blunder and the sense of jingoism portrayed those devoted to his heroic status. However, Garibaldi’s attempt to take the Papal territory of Rome, was in 1867, several years before Rome was named the capital of the Kingdom of Italy and Italy was established to be one unified nation. Therefore, this makes it difficult to argue Garibaldi’s military influence to be the driving force which would consequently make him the most significant figure in Italian Unification. This particular source, a document derived from Clark’s “The Italian Risorgimento”[22], is vital its portrayal of those who did not see Garibaldi to be so heroic, and thus disagreeing with the statement of Giuseppe Garibaldi being the most significant figure in Italian Unification between 1796 and 1900.’

With the two varying opinions concerning Garibaldi’s influence of Italian Unification, to be either that it was rather weak or that it was the main catalyst in achieving its finality, it is reasonable to conclude that Garibaldi was not the most significant figure in establishing the Kingdom of Italy. Even though he was not arguably the main protagonist, it should still be stressed that Garibaldi’s military powers and convictions, in addition to his popularity, were highly beneficial in progressing the process of Italian Unification to its final form. However, it must be emphasised that Garibaldi’s reliance on his popularity and militant means of achieving power, were not always the most successful or amendable. Change was needed in order for Unification to progress to its finality, yet Garibaldi was not adapting to this particular change, unlike Camillo Benso di Cavour. This stresses why Cavour was of more significant individuals in the process of Italian Unification from the years 1796 and 1900, than that of Giuseppe Garibaldi, as the questions statement advocates.

In comparison to Giuseppe Garibaldi, Francesco Crispi is arguably one of the least significant out of the four main protagonists in their influence in the Italian Risorgimento. This is mostly due to the fact that Italy was already unified state when he was in an authoritative power and in a position in which he could make governing decisions. Crispi was Prime Minister in 1887 and in 1893, yet the stage in which the Italian Unification process was completed, was 1871. However, it is reasonable to state that Crispi was a key figure in terms of the fact that he was able to maintain Italy as being one amalgamated nation; under his government rule, Italy did not go back to its former division of separated states. Duggan (pp 166)[23],  states that “Crispi was the dominant political personality in Italy during the last years of the century” [24], which only accentuates further, Crispi’s success in maintaining the amalgamated nation. It can also be argued that due to the fact that Crispi was a supporter and close friend of Garibaldi, his influence over things such as Garibaldi’s expeditions, highlight that he was still a key figure in Italy’s Unification; however, just still not as much as his associate, Garibaldi.

Francesco Crispi admired Giuseppe Garibaldi for his military work and politics, which is perhaps why Crispi became such a keen supporter and friend of Garibaldi. The friendship between the two allowed for their influences to merge. Historian Duggan[25] (pp 455-457), stated that Crispi “may have made his greatest contribution to unification in his relations with Garibaldi”, thus emphasising his political and militant reliance on the successes and attainments of Giuseppe Garibaldi. Duggan also stated that “Crispi was to stay in the shadows” (pp 455)[26], alluding that Crispi was a seemingly backbench politician; someone who would be dependent on other peoples triumphs. Nevertheless, Francesco Crispi helped persuade and plan Garibaldi’s Expedition of the Thousand, often nicknamed “Garibaldi and the Thousand”. This particular expedition was vital, though as risky as this particular venture was, it helped bring Naples and Sicily to the Kingdom of Sardinia, which was the last territorial conquest before Italy became one kingdom. Without Crispi’s heavy influence in Garibaldi’s tactful and very much successful expeditions, the process in which Italy became a Kingdom, would have been significantly longer; if not, it would have not happened at all.

However, with the overwhelming authoritative power he had ascribed, Crispi soon became much like a dictator. Duggan specified that Crispi was “too headstrong a character” (pp 166)[27], which came to be his political hamartia.  He was repressive and he brutally crushed socialist states like Sicily. This goes against the indication that Francesco Crispi was one of the leading influences in the Italian Risorgimento as he is now creating divisions, and subsequently against the argument that Crispi himself, maintained the newly unified states. The dictator like leadership only established further, the already pre-existing North and South divide regarding the social and economic problems. Piedmontese statesman Massimo d’Azeglio stated that “L’Italia è fatta. Restano da fare gli italiani“[28], which translates as “We have made Italy. Now we must make Italians”[29], which is far from what Crispi seemed to have achieved; he arguably divided them further.

In conclusion, it is reasonable to state that Francesco Crispi did have a level of influence in terms of Italian Unification, in regards to his ability to seemingly maintain the Italian states and also his influence on one of the main protagonists, Garibaldi, to some degree. However, his dictatorship style of leadership is brought to the forefront, and consequently puts his positive influence in the background. Crispi created division both economically and socially, which were hard to fix; which is why it can be argued that in this particular circumstance, Giuseppe Garibaldi is of more significance, than that of the likes of Francesco Crispi.

Of the sources used, some particularly noteworthy include; Christopher Duggan’s ‘A Concise History of Italy’[30], Martin Clarke’s ‘The Italian Risorgimento 2nd Edition’[31], and Lucy Riall’s ‘Risorgimento: The History of Italy from Napoleon to National State’[32]. These sources provided the key historical background and interpretations, needed to adequately analyse the importance of the different individuals that facilitated the process of Italian Unification, from the years 1796 to 1900. Arguably, the most useful primary source when answering the question, was Cavour’s speech to the chamber of deputies in 1858[33].This source provided the vital information that the idea of unification is no longer impossible, and how the combative strategies that had been used previously, were not working. In his speech Cavour identified the need of change from the failing attempts of unification through military force, to that of additional political potency, which could make the thought of unification more realistic. Cavour’s speech is particularly useful due to the fact that it is a direct dialogue from arguably the most influential figure in Italian unification, to parliamentarians of Piedmont, accentuating the accuracy of this source. The ability to access different primary sources in relation to Italian Unification, can be argued to be limited. This is due to the fact that a significant amount of reliable, accurate data such as speeches, or journal articles from the period 1796-1900, are not always readily translated from Italian or French to English. The research for Italian Unification used in this particular piece of work, may also be unintentionally limited due to the sources available online or in libraries.

Overall, the argument regarding Camillo Benso di Cavour to be the main protagonist between 1796 and 1900, in regards to Italian Unification still stands; consequently, disagreeing with the questions statement of Garibaldi being the most influential. He recognised that if the process of unification was to eventually finalise, it had to be looked at from the addition of a political perspective; other than that of military standpoint that Garibaldi famously took. As stated previously, the Italy that came as a result of unification, was most like the Italy Cavour had envisioned, rather than that of Garibaldi; emphasising Cavour’s impact. However, the combined influence of Crispi, Napoleon and Garibaldi, should not be overlooked. Each individual mentioned, benefitted unification in some way, and that if one individuals’ impact was not mentioned, there would be difficulty in explaining the various reasons the Italian Risorgimento came to be.  Nevertheless, it should still be stressed that Cavour’s influence over Italian Unification was the most prominent, with reference to the argument that he holds more significance over Garibaldi as otherwise stated in the question.


Carter, N. (1996). The Historical Journal. Nation, Nationality, Nationalism and Internationalism in Italy, from Cavour to Mussolini, pp545-551. Retrieved from JSTORE:

Clark, M. (2008). Modern Italy 1871 to the Present Third Edition. Pearson Education Ltd.

Clark, M. (2013). The Italian Risorgimento 2nd Edition. Routledge.

Duggan, C. (2014). A Concise History of Italy. Caimbridge University Press.

Hearder, H. (1994). Cavour (Profiles in Power. Routledge.

Killinger, C. L. (2002). The History of Italy. Greenwood Publishing Group.

Modern History Sourcebook: Documents of Italian Unification, 1846-61. (n.d.). Retrieved from Internet History Sourcebooks Project:

Research Subjects: Government and Politics . (n.d.). Retrieved from Napoleon Series :

Riall, L. (2009). Risorgimento: The History of Italy from Napoleon to Nation State. Palgrave Macmillan .

Seaman, L. (1964). From Vienna to Versailles. Routledge.

Stuart, E. M. (1919). Fine Arts Journal, Vol. 37, No.3. Modern Italy and Her Struggle for Liberty (Chapter l), pp. 30-39. Retrieved from JSTOR.

[1] (Modern History Sourcebook: Documents of Italian Unification, 1846-61, n.d.)

[2] (Clark, The Italian Risorgimento 2nd Edition, 2013)

[3] (Duggan, 2014)

[4] (Research Subjects: Government and Politics , n.d.)

[5] (Modern History Sourcebook: Documents of Italian Unification, 1846-61, n.d.)

[6] (Modern History Sourcebook: Documents of Italian Unification, 1846-61, n.d.)

[7] (Modern History Sourcebook: Documents of Italian Unification, 1846-61, n.d.)

[8] (Modern History Sourcebook: Documents of Italian Unification, 1846-61, n.d.)

[9] (Modern History Sourcebook: Documents of Italian Unification, 1846-61, n.d.)

[10] (Carter, 1996)

[11] (Hearder, 1994)

[12] (Carter, 1996)

[13] (Carter, 1996)

[14] (Seaman, 1964)

[15] (Riall, 2009)

[16] (Riall, 2009)

[17] (Clark, The Italian Risorgimento 2nd Edition, 2013)

[18] (Clark, The Italian Risorgimento 2nd Edition, 2013)

[19] (Clark, The Italian Risorgimento 2nd Edition, 2013)

[20] (Clark, The Italian Risorgimento 2nd Edition, 2013)

[21] (Clark, The Italian Risorgimento 2nd Edition, 2013)

[22] (Clark, The Italian Risorgimento 2nd Edition, 2013)

[23] (Duggan, 2014)

[24] (Duggan, 2014)

[25] (Roberts, 2003)

[26] (Duggan, 2014)

[27] (Duggan, 2014)

[28] (Killinger, 2002)

[29] (Killinger, 2002)

[30] (Duggan, 2014)

[31] (Clark, The Italian Risorgimento 2nd Edition, 2013)

[32] (Riall, 2009)

[33] (Modern History Sourcebook: Documents of Italian Unification, 1846-61, n.d.)

How Has Italian Culture Developed Through Its Places and Spaces?

When we think about Italian culture what comes to mind? You might think about the famous landmarks associated with Italy, the incredible food, the beautiful nature of the people that inhabit the country. But, unless you are aware of the deep and elongated history of Italy as a country not many people realise that the Italian culture has in fact faced many challenges, and these challenges still exist today through the division between the North and the South of Italy.

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From antiquity through to the 20th century, Italy was at the forefront of Western cultural development and the foundation and origin of the Etruscan civilisations, the Roman Empire and the Italian Renaissance to name a few. All of which influenced and impacted the development of the Italian Peninsula. However, the unification of Italy was an extremely long process that didn’t take place until 1861. It also took about 400 years for the common language to become the language of all Italians. But although Italy unified in 1861 there is still a questione meridionale ‘southern question’ which continues to influence and shape the cultural identity and history of Italy.

Let us first consider the division between North and South in purview of its historical context. The Italian state as we know it today was formed on the back of an extensive and extended reorganisation, or, Risorgimento. During the second half of the eighteenth century, a Bourgeoisie revolution was underway in Italy’s North and South, displacing its aristocracy and exploiting large masses of peasants. By the end of the eighteenth century, this wealthy middle class ensured that capitalism was prevalent in both the Northern and Southern regions of Italy.

In the immediate Post-War period, Italy was left impoverished. In the Northern region’s productivity was reduced, whereas in the significantly worse-off South, problems mounted. The South was severely underdeveloped relative to the industrial North. The mafia regained substantial power in some of the regions of Southern Italy, first in Sicily and then in Calabria and Campania. Efforts at reconstruction post-War and a recalibration of society away from the horrors of an autocratic regime were ironically hindered by the emergence of democratic organisations that dallied over divisions between Communism (considered a post-Mussolini refuge) and the Christian Democrats. However, the North-South separation maintained its supremacy in broad practice. This was reflected in the on-going debate that continued to characterise the Questione Meridionale among public opinion makers and scholars. So too did the depictions of the South find their way into popular culture and Giovanni Comisso describes the arrival of Southern Italian migrants to parts of the North:

“È difficle riuscire a capire cosa trasportino questi piccoli uomini della Luciana e dalla Calabria, forse coperte, cuscini, forse addirittura i loro materassi arrotolati, come i beduini le loro stuoie per giaciglio”.

Efforts to re-establish an equitable division of resources across the country were chided given the lack of Southern output and so long as policy was geared this way, the gap between North and South was cast as a national issue – not just a question of reducing the economic division, but of the unification of the social, cultural and municipal life of the two Italies. The Christian Democrat party attempted to bridge the gulf between North and South by adopting policies based on the solidarity principal derived from Villari’s criticism that Italian unity would be threatened if the North continued to neglect the South, a view that sits at the centre of this essay insofar as the Northern neglect because less of a problem for the South and more a problem for the North itself.

From 1958 to 1962 there was a huge move in modern Italy’s economic and social structure otherwise known as the miracolo economico and this period of growth resulted in transformation across the country, even in parts of the South.27 The country was expanding its industrial status and power at an amount previously unseen. Before this time, the nation was still in vital stages of improvement, with agriculture being its largest segment of occupation, particularly in the Mezzogiorno28. Italy’s north was gaining significantly from national and international manufacturing investment, including, notably, FIAT’s new production line based in Italy, as well as many other new investors wishing to take advantage of Italy’s general low costs of labour and need for work.29 This was known as the “Economic Miracle” and it was about to rapidly change Italy, not just economically, but socially.

While the populace of North Italy were undergoing benefits from this industrial serge, those in the south of the country were still disadvantaged. The South had gained little during the “miracle”, and so, many Southerners decided to emigrate overseas or towards the North in search of work, and an improved quality of life for themselves and their families.

Reactions to these immigrants among Northern Italians showed how deeply popular attitudes had been informed by the North-South dichotomy which underpinned the ‘Questione Meridionale.’ This was the era when the derogatory use of the epithet terroni30 became common throughout the North to signify Southern Italians solely by their specific backgrounds.

Italy experienced its last industrial revolution, the Third Italy, from 1982-1995 and was described by Arnaldo Bagnasco, who has recorded in the centre northeast a widespread industrialisation based on small and medium enterprises and industrial districts. From Rome northwards, due to its standard of living, productive infrastructure and quality of services, Italy was deemed finally unified, and became the world’s fifth industrial power. But the South became marginalised, a burden, a place of the infamous mafia and cronyism, an “inferno” as defined by Giorgio Bocca33. Above all, the South was no longer functional to the economic development of the country.

A more contemporary film which contains a representation of the South in contemporary Italy is ‘Benvenuti al Sud’40 . The movie revolves around stereotypes of both the North and South, but mainly follows a postal worker’s expectations of what the South will be like and how his new life changes those stereotypes. From the perspective of the protagonist, and all of his friends in the North, Naples is essentially a run down, crime-ridden area filled with low class and nefarious types. These stereotypes contrast starkly with the truth revealed in this films. ‘Benvenuti al Sud’ is a common example of the cultural tensions that have been brought about by the divide in Italy. Whilst Northern Italy is very industrial, many parts of Southern Italy still remain poor and underdeveloped. People of the South continue to hold on to their traditional family values and customs whilst those in the North believe in an ‘every man for himself’ approach. With this has come complications, as the South remains backward and unwilling to let go of their provincial identity.

Vast quantities of Italian taxpayer funds are dispensed to development in the South, through programs that begin with optimism, but that develop into an economically worse off Southern Italy as nothing is achieved. What the South require is infrastructure and industry not associated with agriculture thereby increasing employment and attracting a more skilled workforce, The South does not need to be financially supported through government programs; rather it needs to be integrated into the modern ways of the North. Only then will the divide that separates the two Italies be reduced.

From a social perspective, discrimination of Southerners by those from the North still exists. Gradually, migration of Southerners to the North is reducing the threat as they become integrated in the North. The fact that many Northerners will now ‘vacanze’ in the South also shows a softening in their attitude towards Southern culture. Whilst these positives exist, many from the North will still not venture south because of the fear of criminal activity exhorted by the Mafioso. Therefore, despite few cultural improvements between the North and the South of Italy, the extent to which the ‘Questione Meridionale’ has been solved is little to none, and in the future there will be no hope for Italy to re-unify itself as a nation thriving economically and socially unless programs are implemented not to ‘fund’ the south, but instead to assimilate the South effectively into what Giuseppe Garibaldi initially envisioned in 1861.



Dunnage, J, Twentieth century Italy. In, Oxon, Routledge, 2002, pp. 148-230.

Ginsborg, P, A history of contemporary Italy, 1980-2001. in, London, Penguin, 2003, pp. 298-349.

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Sagna, G, “Riflessioni sulle “due Italie”: Le radici del dualismo e dell’arretratezza economica e culturale.”. in Grafo, 1, 2012, 105-110, [accessed 4 March 2017].

Turnaturi, G, G Lodi, & P Tummons, “Classes in Southern Italy: Salvemini’s, Dorso’s, and Gramsci’s Analyses.”. in International Journal of Sociology, 4, 1974, 85-147, [accessed 26 June 2017].

Villari 1886 essay. Dickie, J., Darkest Italy: The Nation and Stereotypes of the Mezzogiorno, 1860-1900, 1990, p 61. [accessed 18 July 2017].


Bohlen, C, “North-South Divide in Italy: A Problem for Europe, Too.”. in, , 1996, [accessed 20 February 2017].

Lottieri, C, & C Stagnaro, “North and South: The Tragedy of Equalization in Italy”. in Frontier Background Brief Analysis, 2007, [accessed 13 May 2017].

Yoeli, A, “Cultural Tensions in Italy.”. in Painting Bohemia | a Digital Humanities Project, , 2015, [accessed 22 February 2017].


Benvenuti al Sud. in , Italy, Medusa Film, 2010.


Italian Immigration to Canada

Canada’s Southeast coast was discovered on June 24th, 1947 by an Italian explorer named John Cabot. John Cabot is the first influential Italian who contributed to Italians immigration to Canada. Cabot was an Italian navigator and explorer. In May of 1497 Cabot set out West to explore what he thought was Asia. He sailed from Bristol, England to Eastern Canada. The landfall is unknown, but studies show that he could have landed in Newfoundland, Cape Breton Island or Southern Labrador in June of 1947. Cabot took possession of the land and named a few areas. He returned to Bristol and reported his findings. Cabot met his fate when he set out for his second voyage across the Atlantic. Cabot not only established the groundwork for British land claims in Canada, these expeditions proved a shorter route across the Northern Atlantic Ocean. This allowed the British Colony to facilitate their establishment in Canada. He was the first Italian, and among the first Europeans to have visited and settled in Canada.

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There was a mass migration of Italians to Canada between 1870-1970 as a part of the Italian Diaspora. Due to the poor Italian economy, many people immigrated to Canada in search for work and a new start. This migration lasted over a century with immigrants settling mostly in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.  Over 60,000 Italians immigrated to Canada between 1900 and 1930 for inexpensive labour with Canadian industries. Canada needed workers for construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Canadian National Railway, bringing in thousands of Italians for seasonal labour. The majority of these labourers ended up settling in Canada, establishing many small Italian communities known as “Little Italy’s”. Approximately 40,000 Italians migrated to Canada during the interwar period from 1924-1947, due to economic depression. Canada’s economy started to decline in 1930 and the government implemented strict regulations on immigrants. Approximately 31,000 Italian Canadians were classified as “enemy aliens” under the War Measures Act. Between 1940-1943 over 600 Italian Canadians were arrested and sent to internment camps. Mussolini was the Fascist leader in Italy during this time; Canada feared Italians were potentially dangerous enemy aliens who supported fascism and Mussolini’s leadership. After the Second World War, in the late 1940s, the “enemy aliens” list was abolished.

As Italians continued to immigrate to Canada, they faced many difficulties and hardships adjusting Canadian’s lifestyle. In 1952, Italian Canadians established Italian Immigrant Aid Society to assist the immigration transition from Italy to Canada. By the 1960s, more than 15,000 Italian men were working in Toronto Construction industry.

Immigration has slowed down in the past century. According to the most resent census conducted by Stats Canada, the population of Italians by mother tongue in Canada is 375,640 as of 2016. This has dropped from 455,040 in 2006.  Italy ranked 8th in the top 20 ethnic origins in Canada.

In 2011, 67% of Italian immigrants resided in Ontario. There was a population of 105,060 in Toronto, making Italians the fourth largest foreign-born group in the Greater Toronto Area. 22% resided in Quebec, 6% in British Columbia, and 3% in Alberta.

From 2006-2015 there were a total of 4,714 new Italian permanent residences in Canada. This number is continuously increasing each year. In 2006 there were 325 new permanent residences from Italy in Canada; in 2015 there were 831.

Selected places of birth for the Italian population in private households:

Toronto – 45,515

Canada – 236,640

Italian spoken most often at home for the total population excluding institutional residents:

Toronto – 27,130

Canada – 115,415

Total Mother Tongue for the Italian population excluding institutional residents:

Toronto – 62,640

Canada – 375,635

Canada has its own Italian Canadian Sports Federation. This is an Italian soccer federation that develops players, coaches, and referees. It was founded to bring together the Italian community through soccer. ICSF hosts an annual tournament with over 50 teams.

Football is Italy’s most popular sport. Italy won the world cup in 2016 and has one of the best soccer teams in World Cup history, winning a total of four cups. Italy has it’s own professional soccer league, Italian Serie A, and they host their own Italian football annual cup competition called Coppa Italia. Serie A has dominant teams who play in UEFA Champions League, including: Juventus F.C., Inter Milan, and S.S.C. Napoli.

Bicycling is another popular sport, with Italians winning more World Cycling Championships than any other country, aside from Belgium. They host the Giro d’Italia, which is one of the three Grand Tours held every May.

Italy has hosted the 1956 Winter Olympics, 1960 Summer Olympic, and most recently, the 2016 Winter Olympics in Torino.

Other popular sports include rugby, volleyball, and basketball. They are also well known for skiing, hiking, and swimming.

Italy is considered as a high-context culture. They emphasize their speech with physical cues and tend to be direct communicators; explanations aren’t needed as often as other cultures like the United States, where they tend to be low-context with specific, analytical, verbal communication. Italians tend to be bold and open with their emotions when communicating; they are eager to give their opinion and advice. Non-verbal cues include standing within close proximity during conversation. They are tactile and affectionate towards one another.

Family is an extremely important value in Italian culture. They have many family gatherings and enjoy spending time with each other; this is generally the base of their social circles and networks. Parents tend to have a lot of authority on their children, maintaining their respect throughout their childhood. Italians have one of the highest percentages in Europe of children moving out at an older age.  These families are very tight knit with deep connection and dedication towards each other. Parents raise and support their children as they grow up, and they expect to receive the same dedication and assistance from their children as they grow older.

Italians are well known for their cuisine and eating habits; many consider Italian cuisine an art. Italian cuisine has influenced the food culture around the world and is seen as a way of life. Family gatherings are centered around food and entertainment. Each geographical region uses different styles of cuisine. Meals generally consist of wine, cheese, and many different kinds of pasta.

Roman Catholicism is the major Italian religion. Italians celebrate most Christian holidays. They celebrate what’s called “Pasquetta” the Monday after Easter to mark the beginning of springtime. They also celebrate Saints day on November 1st, a religious holiday which family will visit and decorate the graves of loved ones who have passed away. Liberation Day is celebrated on April 25th, marking the end of World War II in Italy in 1945. 

Italians have had an impact on Canada, from John Cabot discovering the Southeast coast of Canada and establishing an easy route across the Northern Atlantic Ocean, to Italian communities contributing to Canada’s diverse culture; popularizing Italian cuisine and increasing the fan base of European Football.

Today, Italians are successful in Canadian society. Contributing to our economic growth as strong business men, skilled professionals, innovators, and artists.  Canadians must embrace the Italian culture as it flourishes in major cities such as Montreal and Toronto. Italians were an important asset to Canada’s growth and helped shaped the country we are today. Italian culture will live on forever in Canada.


Languages Essays – Italian Economic Miracle

The “Italian Economic Miracle” Exposed: The Use of Comic Effects and Irony in Calvino’s Marcovaldo.
The “Economic Miracle” that is said to have swept across post-war Italy in the 1950s has been attributed by many scholars to the decision to open up the economy. This, in turn, gave Italy the chance to undergo a growth spurt that would help it keep pace with the rest of the world. According to Foot, “the decision, made in the 1950s, to open up the country to trade and to let it integrate into the world market allowed it to catch up rapidly with the leading economies” (2001:110). The growth spurt in the economy had wide-reaching effects. It changed the lives of the Italian people, many of whom found themselves transplanted from familiar rural areas to modern urban environments – essentially a brand new way of life. As Foot asserts, “Italy’s economic miracle transformed the country’s cultural landscape” (2001:19).

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This is the world that was the setting for Italo Calvino’s collection of stories, Marcovaldo, ovvero,Le stagioni in città (Marcovaldo, or The Seasons in the City). The protagonist of these stories, Marcovaldo, appears to be a good-hearted, hard-working man. He ekes out a living as a day laborer, providing for his wife and children, but it is clearly a marginal existence. The struggle of his daily life is eased by his imagination, which leads him to become entangled in a number of amusing adventures. Marcovaldo has been described by one scholar as a man with “the hero’s nostalgia for nature and open spaces,”  whose “sensitivity to the changing seasons in a cityscape polluted by all kinds of objects and living things, make sense only within the context of an urban setting” (Jeannet 1977:26).
These stories, or fables, as they are sometimes called, can be read on a surface level as a delightful collection of misadventures by a well-meaning but misguided individual. However, when considered in the light of this stark urban setting, they stand out as comical and ironic, a vehicle used by Calvino to expose the negative sides of this so-called “economic miracle.” It has been suggested that “alongside the depiction of urban corruption and pollution, Calvino also, through the lovable but haplessly inept protagonist, undermines the Romantic notion of a ‘return to nature'” (Gabriele 1994:21–22). Thus, it seems that Calvino has transplanted Marcovaldo – this high-spirited, though misguided, representative of rural life – into the hostile new terrain of urban life. In so doing, he wrote a book that can be read as a volume of entertaining tales, and at the same time an ironic critique of the results of the economic boom.
Calvino’s use of comedy and irony is present throughout the book, and starts at the beginning. In the initial story, Calvino’s description of Marcovaldo is wry and amusing, and it sets up the contrast between Marcovaldo’s simplistic nature against the backdrop of the strange new city: “Aveva questo Marcovaldo un occhio poco adatto alla vita di città: cartelli, semafori, vetrine, insegne luminose, manifesti, per studiati che fossero a colpire l’attenzione, mai fermavano il suo sguardo che pareva scorrere sulle sabbie del deserto” (7). Apparently, Marcovaldo is oblivious to the eye-catching distractions of the modern city; to him, they are non-existent. Instead, he is alert to the signs, however few and however bleak, of the natural world. In fact, he spends his time searching them out. The paucity of these signs does not deter him or detract from his enthusiasm. This suggests that he longs for his former, simpler life, and that he misses the rural background that he knows best.
The search for signs of the natural world is rewarded when Marcovaldo discovers, to his delight, the first mushroom: “Si chinò a legarsi le scarpe e guardò meglio: erano funghi, veri funghi, che stavano spuntando proprio nel curoe della città” (7). The discovery of the mushroom fills him with hope. Suddenly the drab grayness of the city melts away, and the drudgery and struggle of his daily life becomes less oppressive: “A Marcovaldo parve che il mondo grigio e misero che lo circondava diventasse tutt’a un tratto generoso di ricchezze nascoste, e che dalla vita ci si potesse ancora aspettare qualcosa, oltre la paga oraria del salario contrattuale, la contingenza, gli assegni familiari e il carpane” (7). The exaggerated happiness at the discovery of a mushroom serves to highlight the stark contrast of the urban world with his rustic background.
The double reversal that follows the discovery of the mushrooms is another example of the comical irony that Calvino employs to expose the negative aspects of the economic boom. We note that Marcovaldo carefully guards the location of his discovery until Sunday, when, wife and children in tow, he heads for the mushroom site to pick them – only to learn that there are bigger, better mushrooms, and that he is not the only one who is gathering them. This is the first disappointment, followed by an evening in the hospital, because it turns out the mushrooms are poisoned!
Although Marcovaldo here may simply appear to be a bumbling fool, it seems plausible that Calvino is demonstrating the potential for disaster that is a result of uprooting people from the country and setting them down into a new and unfamiliar environment. Gabriele asserts that “Marcovaldo knows nothing about the natural world, as is evidenced by his mishaps with the mushrooms and the pigeons. Marcovaldo has not been transplanted from a rural environment into an urban one; rather, he chases a rather indefinite dream of paradise” (Gabriele 1994:21–22).
Calvino might also be suggesting here that the time Marcovaldo has lived in an urban environment may have obliterated the common country logic he once had. Alternatively, perhaps this incident is used to demonstrate that Marcovaldo is, after all, a simpleton who simply does not know a good mushroom from a poisonous variety. Another possibility is that Calvino is trying to say that Marcovaldo, now an urban dweller, has taken on the greed associated with the rise of the city, and that this greed overpowers his natural instincts. The move from country to city, then, is portrayed as having deleterious effects on new urban dwellers. As Olken suggests, Calvino implies here that “all growing things undergo corruption in the noxious atmosphere of the city” (1984:121).
Starting with the first story and continuing throughout the book, Marcovaldo embarks on a variety of ill-fated adventures, and each of them ends with a reversals or double reversal. Thus, it appears that Calvino reinforces the message – albeit in a comical way – that the financial prosperity that has been called the “economic miracle” is not a miracle for everyone – indeed, it has a dark side. The final story has a twist that goes beyond this, suggesting that although Marcovaldo’s integration into urban life has been less than successful, that the lives of his children show a level of promise.
Calvino describes a typical urban Christmas with clear irony: “Tutti erano presi dall’atmosfera alacre e cordiale che si espandeva per la città festosa e produttiva; nulla è piú bello che sentire scorrere intorno il flusso dei beni materiali e insieme del bene che ognuno vuole agli altri: e questo, questo soprattutto – come ci ricorda il suono, firulí firulí, delle zampogne–, è ciò che conta” (118). Rampant materialism is juxtaposed with the feeling of good will it supposedly inspires, and the ugliness of the city clearly debases the sentiments of good cheer.
In this story, Marcovaldo’s children must complete a school project that requires them to bring gifts to a “poor child” When Marcovaldo comes upon them in the midst of their preparations, he asks what they are doing and they respond “Dobbiamo cercare un bambino povero e fargli dei regali” (119). It occurs to him to remind them that they are “poor” children themselves, but apparently the spirit of materialism overcomes him and he responds “Bambini poveri non ne esistono piú” (119). When the children do eventually find a “poor” child upon whom to lavish their gifts, it turns out to be none other than the child of  the president of the Union for the Implementation of Christmas Consumption (“il presidente dell’Unione Incremento Vendite Natalizie”). This very spoiled child, dissatisfied with the hundreds of toys he has already amassed, is delighted by the gifts of Marcovaldo’s children, and he embarks on a wave of destruction that culminates in the burning down of the family home.
Calvino turns the horror and humiliation that Marcovaldo feels when he learns of this incident into a clever and telling reversal. When Marcovaldo shows up for work the next day, he is certain there will be repercussions from the exploits of his children. After all, it was their actions that led to the mischief of Gianfranco and the ensuing destruction. In addition, although Marcovaldo is correct in his assumption that there will be fallout to contend with, he is wrong about the nature of that fallout. Therefore, when approached by high company officials the next day, he is not surprised, and girds himself for the worst-case scenario.
However, when he arrives, he is told by the officials that there has been a change in the gift-giving program. Apparently, Gianfranco’s destructive deeds have been seen in a far different light by his father: in the act of destroying everything in his wake, Gianfranco finally appeared, for once, to be happy. This has inspired the president to change the course of the gift-giving campaign. The officials inform Marcovaldo of this, exhorting him to hurry, because  “L’Unione Incremento Vendite Natalizie ha lanciato una campagna per il lancio del Regalo Distruttivo” (123). Thus the actions of his children, for which he expected a certain and swift punishment, have actually turned around into a new commercial venture based on destruction.
Calvino’s portrayal of Marcovaldo as a bumbling peasant in the city can be seen as a vehicle through which he presents the negative aspects of the “Italian economic miracle.” He does this by setting this transplanted character into the foreign and often hostile urban environment. This volume is versatile: the adventures of Marcovaldo can be read as a series of delightful children’s tales or as a treatise exposing the dark side of the “miracle.” Cannon points out that “Calvino had high aspirations for a literature autonomous but not divorced from political concerns” (1989:33). The duality of Marcovaldo suggests that was his intention with this book. “The image projected b the fiction of Calvino,” suggests Cannon, “seems to have become that of an increasingly indecipherable world” (1989:38). She discusses “the crisis of reason” that is a recurrent theme in Calvino’s fiction (1989:39).
Oaken suggests that Marcovaldo “represents the modern immigrant who tries desperately to adapt and conform. He will never really succeed, as his children may do; he is too divided between the two worlds, ill-prepared and therefore victimized” (Olken 1984:122). The victimization of Marcovaldo, however amusing and ironic, is a tool Calvino uses to bring to light the negative repercussions that the sudden growth of prosperity brought with it. The final chapter does offer a glimmer of hope, in that the adaptability of Marcovaldo’s children, and of children in general, will better equip them to integrate into the new world. They have already done so, in fact, and with much more facility – success, even – than their parents. Whether Calvino believes this is positive or negative, he does not indicate here, perhaps because that has become a moot point. Change, for better or for worse, is inevitable. References
Bloom, Harold, ed. 2001. Modern Critical Views: Italo Calvino. Broomall, PA: Chelsea        House Publishers.
Calvino, Italo. 1963. Marcovaldo, ovvero,Le stagioni in città. Giulio Einaudi editore s.p.a.,   Torino.
Cannon, JoAnn. 1989. Postmodern Italian Fiction: The Crisis of Reason in Calvino, Eco,   Sciascia, Malerba. London: Associated University Presses, Inc.
Foot, John. 2001. Milan Since the Miracle: City, Culture and Identity. Oxford: Berg.
Gabriele, Tommasina. 1994. Italo Calvino: Eros and Language. London: Associated University Presses, Inc.
Jeannet, Angela. 1977. “Italo Calvino’s Invisible City”. Pp. 25–36 in Bloom, Harold, ed.            2001. Modern Critical Views: Italo Calvino. Broomall, PA: Chelsea House    Publishers.
Olken, I.T. 1984. With Pleated Eye and Garnet Wing: Symmetries of Italo Calvino. Ann    Arbor, Michigan: Universit of Michigan Press.
Signorini, Luigi Federico. 2001. “Italy’s economy: An introduction”. Daedalus, Spring.  

Differences between French and Italian Operas in the 17th and 18th Century

There are many different countries where Baroque Opera thrived however, two of the main countries that proved vital for the development of baroque opera, were Italy and France. At around 1650, opera became a commercial success throughout Europe however the first opera house in Italy was built in 1637 and France’s wasn’t built until 1662.  This shows that the opera scene in Italy was years ahead that in France. There are also differences in the musical themes used within the operas. In this essay I will explain the history of French and Italian opera and also the differences in the development of the two countries’ style. I will also detail the differences and development of recitatives and arias within the different genres.

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 Italian opera first started in the late 1500s in Florence. However the first operatic work is ‘Dafne’, composed in 1597 by Jacopo Peri (1561-1633). Peri was born in Rome but he relocated to Florence to study music. There, Peri met up with Jacopo Corsi, who was the leading patron of music in Florence at the time, and together, they worked to recreate a form of Greek tragedy. The pair also enlisted the help of the poet Ottavio Rinuccini to write a text (known as a libretto), and Dafne was created. However, as time went on, most of the music for Dafne was lost but the libretto still survives to this day. Peri later composed another opera, Euridice, written in 1600, with the help of Giulio Caccini. This is the earliest surviving opera and was originally performed during a Merdici wedding celebrations and as a result, opera became part of mainstream Italian court entertainment.

 Over the following few decades, opera transformed and progressed until towards the end of the 17th century, a new genre of opera known as opera seria became popular not only in Italy but throughout Europe. Opera seria composers used classical styles, simple themes and optimistic outlooks to build the genre’s popularity.  However, the main operatic genre that thrived in Italy Is ‘Opera Buffa’ which first became popular in the mid-1700s. Opera Buffa is the complete opposite to Opera seria. Where opera seria was traditional with many stories taken from Greek mythology, Opera Buffa was based off of an acting style known as Commedia Dell’arte (the pantomime of its day). Opera Buffa used simple plots, small casts and orchestras, colloquial language, humour, action and plays on words. The first opera buffa that is still performed to this day is Giovanni Battista Pergolesi’s ‘La Serva Padrona’ (1733).

 Comic operas in the early 18th-century started out as short, one-act interludes that took place in between the acts which were called intermezzi. These provided the gateway to the full operas later in the 18th century and ‘la serva padrona’ (Pergolesi – 1733) is one of these intermezzis. Pergolesi paved the way for other composers such as Alessandro Scarlatti (1660-1725) who wrote opera buffas including ‘Tigrani’ (1715) and ‘Griselda’ (1721), Nicola Logroscino (1698-1765) who composed ‘L’inganno per inganno’ (translated to ‘The deception of deception’ written in 1738). Both Scarlatti and Logroscino were based in Naples and Venice, and therefore, were in very influential parts of the country where opera buffa therefore the popularity for the genre soared. As I mentioned before, Opera seria used stories based on Greek mythology, however, opera buffa were based upon and comically used the main news stories of the time and therefore popularity further increased.

 Over in France, Opera had a completely different origin story. The first operas to be performed in France were actually imported from Italy, the first of which being Francesco Sacrat’s ‘La Finta Pazza’ (1645). These operas started off as quite unpopular because of political complications. At the time, these operas were promoted by Cardinal Mazarin (who was born in Italy in 1602) who, at the time was first-minister during the regency of King Louis XIV; Mazarin was also an unpopular figure at the time with many sections of the French society.

 Another reason why Opera didn’t take off right away, is because at the time, the French court already had a genre of stage production known as ballet de Cour which consisted of dance, speech and also some sung elements. Even though Italian operas didn’t receive much love from the French public, it caused composers such as Jean-Baptiste Lully to bring their own ideas to opera creating France’s operatic tradition.

 Jean-Baptiste Lully was born in Florentine, Italy in 1632 and in the late 17th century, he moved to France to work for the court producing music. In France, Lully developed his trade and slowly worked on reducing Italian operatic themes within French opera. In the early 1670s, Lully collaborated with Phillipe Quinault (he wrote the libretti) and as the years went on, the pair continued to work together on operas such as ‘Cadmus et Hermione’ (1673). ‘Cadmus et Hermione’ was the opera that acted as a catalyst for developing the French Operatic Genre that we know today as tragédie en musique.

 ‘Cadmus et Hermione’ was written in 1673 made up of a prologue and five acts. Even though this was a tragedy opera, there were hints of Italian opera buffa throughout due to hints of a comedy taken from Venice where there was a love-triangle side plot which centred on a nurse who is played by a man. The Prologue also praised King Louis XIV casting him as Apollo and also involved ballet to appease the King’s love for dancing. All Tragédie Lyrique has a prologue and five acts and the prologue is preceded and followed by an overture which was generally separate from the main plot of the opera. Lully’s opera mostly consist of recitatives which is a sung conversation between characters that tell the narrative of the plot. They are also accompanied by a continuo part (typically played on a harpsichord) and with little or no ornamentation in the voice, making the vocal part seem more like a conversation.

Tragédie en musique (also known as tragédie lyrique) is based upon stories from classical mythology. Operas within this genre tend to be of a serious and tragic nature. The operas consist of scenes of sacrifice, combat and funeral ceremonies. The composers of the tragédie en musique operas also use librettos and the significance of these librettos in Lully’s work was summed up in Abbé Malby’s comment that ‘an excellent poem is absolutely essential for the long range of success of an Opera. The Music, considered by itself, can have only a passing vogue’. Malby was basically saying that to produce a good opera, you first need a good libretto. Once you have that, the music is secondary to the text. 

 Other than the differences in the development of opera in France and Italy, there were also differences in the actual operas. For example, in Italy around the 17th century, the vocal soloists were starting to be introduced and da capo arias were used so that the singers could show their talents. This meant that the vocal ensemble cast, which were used in the first half of the 17th century, were being used less and less. The recitative imitated speech with little concern for musical parameters such as melody, rhythm and phrasing and was completely different to the aria which was much more song-like. The ritornello principle (an orchestral introduction to the aria repeated at the end) became firmly established and also included short instrumental interludes between the sections.

 In Italy, a young composer named Claudio Giovanni Antonio Monteverdi (1567-1643) became a pioneer for opera seria and became one of the most influential composers of his time. In 1606, Francesco IV Gonzaga commissioned Monteverdi to produce the opera L’Orfeo, using a libretto by Alessandro Striggo, for the carnival season of the following year.  L’Orfeo is based upon the Greek myth of Orpheus and it tells the story of his descent to Hades in an attempt to rescue his dead bride, Eurydice, to bring her back to the living world. L’Orfeo was well received by the public at the 1607 premier. Cherubino Ferrari, a court theologian and poet at the time, said that “both poet and musician have depicted the inclinations of the heart so skillfully that it could not have been done better… the music, observing due propriety, serves the poetry so well that nothing more beautiful is to be heard anywhere”. This opera was highly influential but largely forgotten when Monteverdi died in 1643.

The Arias and Recitatives

 In opera, there are two main types of vocal song: arias and recitatives. Arias only really started to be used more commonly later on in the 17th century and took the form of da capo arias. This type of aria is sung with a small accompanying orchestra and was used to ‘show off’ the vocalist and was used as a solo emotive piece within the narration. The main cast of the opera would generally sing arias but the more complex the arias became as time went on, the higher the demand on performers became to keep up with this. This could be considered a weakness of da capo arias because the simplicity of arias at the start of the genre changed over time and this led to singers requiring a higher standard of performance to keep up with the genre.

In Italy, the arias eventually became a big part of any opera as the Italians started to favor the singer and the arias over the music, drama or spectacle. The French however, preferred short and simple songs that were more dance-like arias rather than elaborate arias like the Italian variety. This meant that the Italian singers needed a higher skill set than the French singers and the French singers used less improvisational techniques. Arias didn’t just have to be a solo vocalist as sometimes duets or trio arias were even composed.

Lully developed the French recitative as an attempt to notate the rhythms, inflections and accents of the French language. The recitative was used to tell the story of the opera and created the narration and is more like a dialogue compared to the arias that were more exclamatory statements through music. The recitatives helped to move the story forwards. He also developed the overture for his ballets which were later incorporated into his operas. The overtures in both French and Italian opera were used to create an atmosphere for the opera or ballet that was to follow.

As I have previously mentioned, Italian opera was a model for composers throughout Europe, however France developed their own operatic style.  Tragédie lyrique is usually made up of five acts (compared to the Italian’s three) and had stories of more dramatic interest.  There were also elaborate ballet scenes. A large portion of the opera is made up of ballet, choruses and lavish scenes in general. There was also a bigger emphasis on the music throughout the opera and rather than the subordinate nature of music in Italian opera.

As you can see, the development of baroque opera was widely different between French and Italian opera, from not only the different genres that were produced within each country but also the differences within the style of music that is composed within each country, for instance, the differences between the arias and recitatives.

Opera went on to become a very dominant role in both Italy and France from the start of the genre and is still even performed in modern day. Opera buffa, opera seria and also tragédie en musique became the pivotal genres that helped to shape opera into the phenomenon that it is to this day.  


Beard, N. (2018). The Differences between French & Italian Opera. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Nov. 2018]. (2018). Italian Opera – A Brief History Of Italian Opera. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Nov. 2018].

Wikipedia. (2018). Opera buffa. [online] Available at: [Accessed 21 Nov. 2018].

Houser, R. (2018). the origin and development of the italian aria in baroque period. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Nov. 2018]. (2018). French versus Italian Opera, 1702. [online] Available at: [Accessed 18 Nov. 2018].

Troy, C. (1971). The Comic Intermezzo. 1st ed. Michigan: University Microfilms International, pp.91-130.

Sadie, S. (1990). History of opera. London: Macmillan, pp.31-36, 78-81.


Rhetorical Analysis and Italian Subculture

Rhetorical Analysis and Italian Subculture

There is only one thing that truly unites every person on this planet. There is only one thing that allows expression and connection. There is only one thing that breathes through each of us, and truly defines who we are: language. Language allows us to communicate with one another, and it also helps us identify with our culture and our roots. In Italy, language plays an incredibly important role as it has turned into something that unified a once divided nation. Stefano Jossa, an Italian author, describes the importance of language in Italy in his book titled La Più Bella del Mondo: Perché Amare la Lingua Italiana, which translates to “the most beautiful in the world: why we love the Italian language.” In his book, Jossa uses the four rhetorical appeals – ethos, pathos, logos, and kairos – to convince his readers that Italian truly is a beautiful language and is an important part of Italian Culture.

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 Ethos is defined as being an appeal to ethics. Ethos establishes credibility of the author or speaker in a rhetorical situation and proves to the audience that the author/speaker is worth listening to, as they know what they are talking about. While most authors will simply put a short blurb at the beginning of their books that provide background information on themselves to establish this credibility, Stefano Jossa takes a different approach. At the very beginning of his book, he has an introduction in which he discusses language and what it really means, and he provides examples of why language is something that defines us. He opens up with a rather beautiful quote that reads, “Language development is part of personality development because words are the natural means of expressing thought and establishing understanding and among men” (Jossa, 2018, p. 1). From there, Jossa describes several situations in which people experienced foreign accent syndrome. In these rare cases, people who experience accidents or trauma had suddenly began speaking with an accent they had no prior knowledge of and can no longer get rid of. When these people lost their accents, they felt deeply disturbed and separated from their own culture. Jossa uses these experiences, which he showed that he researched heavily, to preface his argument. In order to let his readers know that they should listen to his argument and believe what he says, he establishes that he knows what language means to people, and how deeply it affects them and their identity if it is somehow lost.

Unlike ethos, pathos, the appeal to emotion, is laced throughout Jossa’s argument. In order to make his readers relate to him, and feel what he feels, he often expresses his love for language. He shares what it is to love something, and why language itself is no exception. He also says that because Italian is his native language he loves it the most, and that all of us should love our own language the most as well. In one particularly defining line, Jossa (2018) writes, “For each of us, then, the most beautiful language in the world will be yours. Beauty is soft and tastes are not discussed. But actually the language is…a partner to whom we entrust our secrets and together with whom we face life” (p. 7). Jossa seems to compare language to a loved one or a significant other, which as a result makes his readers understand the feelings he has for language, and the feelings they should have towards language. In his emotional appeal, his readers are able to sympathize and feel the same feelings he experiences toward language, which are those of great love. His feelings also make his argument more relatable. Because we know what it is to love something, we know that his love for language would mean he wants to do it justice in his writing. He does not want to show his love for Italian just to sell books, but instead wishes to share something beautiful and real with his readers. He wishes to convince us that a language is more than what we previously thought it to be.

Logos, the appeal to logic, essentially is the use of facts and evidence to make an argument more convincing. Jossa uses factual evidence to enhance his argument multiple times throughout his work. At the beginning, as mentioned previously, he uses actual stories of people with foreign accent syndrome. He even provides a direct quote from an interview at one point of someone expressing their feelings of loss of identity after dealing with this syndrome. Later on in his writing, Jossa describes how the Italian language came to be. He explains, “It is not only because it was built almost at the table over time by three great men…who at different times took charge of thinking of a national language for Italians” (Jossa, 2018, p. 23). The Italian language is actually something that was created fairly recently. Before Italy was unified, it was divided into separate small regions, each with its own culture and dialect. Because of this, Italians learned to use hand gestures and signals in order to communicate with each other. When Italy was unified, however, a language was created and caught on quickly. While in the various regions there are still separate accents and slang used, the new method of communication proved to be successful and loved all around. Any Italian would express their love for their language, and Jossa is certainly no exception. In using this fact, and mentioning a lesser known aspect of Italian history, Jossa provides sound reasoning to his readers. His argument, which is that Italian is a beautiful language, is even more believable now that his audience knows that it was made to bring the Italian people together.

The final Aristotelean Appeal, called kairos, is seen more indirectly in Jossa’s work. While it seems like Italy has been around forever, it was actually unified fairly recently in 1871. For some perspective, the University of Arizona was established in 1885. Kairos, the appeal to timeliness, revolves around the idea of “striking the metal while it’s hot.” When kairos is most effectively used in a rhetorical argument, the argument will address something that occurred recently to make it more relevant for an audience. Despite the fact that it has been over 100 years since the unification of Italy and the creation of the Italian language, it is still relevant for readers today. At this point in time, with the internet allowing things to be easily accessible, Jossa will be able to make an argument that everyone could potentially listen to. Jossa has a much wider audience that he could reach, and he can use it to his advantage. Jossa is also reaching an audience at a time in which acceptance and cultural understanding is very important. More and more people are trying to understand various cultures so that they do not accept incorrect stereotypes or negative misconceptions about people from different backgrounds. Jossa will be able to reach this audience, and teach them about his language, which is something that they might know nothing about, but something they are willing to learn. Jossa truly does appeal to timeliness, as quotes such as, “Language is therefore a refuge, a home of the heart, where it finds all that we do not find in the world” (Jossa, 2018, p. 14), will reach the ever-changing and more accepting people of the present.

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Stefano Jossa’s book, La Più Bella del Mondo: Perché Amare la Lingua Italiana, contains all of the elements that allow for an effective rhetorical argument. He appeals to ethos both in his own speaking of Italian, and in his research to preface his main points. He appeals to pathos in his poetic, descriptive analyses of what language is to him, and how it should make all of us feel. He appeals to logos in his use of facts about the language itself, and in his evidence of how loss of language can negatively affect lives. He appeals to kairos in reaching an audience that is willing to learn and willing to understand. Jossa, by the end of his work, truly has his readers convinced that Italian is, truly, a beautiful language, and an important aspect of Italy’s culture.  


Jossa, Stefano. (2018). La più bella del mondo: Perché amare la lingua italiana. Italy: EINAUDI.