Timeline of Italian history

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This is a timeline of Italian history, comprising important legal and territorial changes and political events in Italy and its predecessor states. To read about the background to these events, see History of Italy. See also the list of Prime Ministers of Italy.

19th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1848 ' Fuelled by the revolutionary republican ideology of Giuseppe Mazzini, uprisings lead to revolutionary governments being briefly installed in Rome, Milano and Venezia, and a Constitution being established in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Takeover by reactionary forces and the defeat of Piedmont-Sardinia by Austria lead to a failure in the First Italian War of Independence.
1859 After having allied with France, under the lead of Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour, the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia provokes Austria to war and secure the takeover of Milan and Lombardy (Second Italian War of Independence). Plebiscites subsequently guarantee the annexation of Tuscany, Emilian dukedoms, and Papal-controlled central Italy. Savoy and Nice are ceded to France in exchange for recognition. (to 1860)
1861 17 March Proclamation of Italy, following the Expedition of the Thousand, lead by Giuseppe Garibaldi, and the fall of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies: most of the states of the Italian peninsula are united under king Victor Emmanuel II of the Savoy dynasty, crowned king of Italy.
1865 The capital of Italy is moved from Turin to Florence, in order to approach it to Rome, considered the natural capital, but still under Papal rule and French protection.
1866 19 June Italy declares war on Austrian Empire as alPrussia. It's the Third Italian War of Independence, which paralleled the Austro-Prussian War.
3 October After some heavy losses, like Custoza and Lissa, and few wins (most of them by Giuseppe Garibaldi), thanks to Prussian victories the Kingdom of Italy gains Veneto and western Friuli by the Treaty of Vienna. Trento and Trieste remains “irredeemed”.
1870 20 September Following the defeat of Napoleon III in the French-Prussian War, Italian forces occupy Roma, which becomes the new capital of Italy the following year. The Italian Army breaks into the walls of Rome by the breach of Porta Pia.
2 October Rome replaces Florence as the capital city of Italy.
1878 3 January King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy dies
9 January His son, Umberto I, succeeds to throne
1882 5 July The bay of Assab (Eritrea) becomes officially the first Italian colonial possession in Africa
1889 Somalia is established as the second Italian colony in Africa
1895 21-year-old Guglielmo Marconi invents the radio telegraph

20th century[edit]

Year Date Event
1906 The poet Giosuè Carducci is the first Italian to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.
1907 Maria Montessori establishes her first Casa dei Bambini in Rome.
Ernestina Prola is the first Italian woman to get a driving licence.
1908 Europe's worst earthquake, centered on the strait of Messina, kills up to 200,000 people in Sicily and southern Italy.
1911 Italy defeats the Ottoman Empire and gain control over Libya and the Rhodes archipelago.
1915 Although it is formerly aligned with Germany and Austria-Hungary, Italy enters World War I on the side of the Anglo-French Allies. After the war, Italy expands his borders well beyond Trento and Trieste, including Bolzano/Bozen and Fiume/Rijeka.
1919 Enzo Ferrari, having no other job perspective, eventually settles for a job at a small car company called CMN (Costruzioni Meccaniche Nazionali) redesigning used truck bodies into small passenger cars.
1922 After the lack of a compromise between socialists and Christian-democrats, and the March on Rome of the fascist militias, Benito Mussolini is named by the King as prime minister of Italy and in 1926 assumes dictatorial powers
1926 The novelist Grazia Deledda is the first Italian woman who is awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
1934 The Italian national football team wins its first FIFA World Cup
1936 Following the invasion of Ethiopia, Italy is expelled from the League of Nations. Mussolini and Hitler signed the Rome-Berlin Axis.
1938 The Italian national football team wins its second FIFA World Cup.
Enrico Fermi is awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on induced radioactivity.
1940 Italy enters World War II by invading Greece from Albania, which had been occupied in 1939.
1941 While they are confined on the island of Ventotene by the Fascist regime, Altiero Spinelli and Ernesto Rossi compile the Ventotene Manifesto, entitled "Towards a Free and United Europe". With his Manifesto, Spinelli gives the major contribution to the formulation of the Federalist thinking, and is later one of the main figures of the European Parliament.
1943 Nazi troops occupy Northern Italy, release Mussolini from prison and have him leading the puppet Italian Social Republic. Anglo-American troops fight in the following two years to free the whole peninsula. The Italian Resistance plays a growing role in harassing German occupation forces.
25 July After the Allied occupy Sicily, the government of Mussolini is overthrown by the same Great Council of Fascism
8 September General Badoglio signs the armistice
1945 Alcide De Gasperi becomes Prime Minister, holding the office until 1953. He is considered one of the founding fathers of the European integration.
25 April Milan is finally liberated on 25 April 1945. Resistance fighters catch Benito Mussolini as he flees north in the hope of reaching Switzerland. They shot him along with his lover, Clara Petacci. The corpses are brought back to Milan and hang in a gas station in Piazzale Loreto.
1946 10 June Birth of the Italian Republic: Italy becomes a republic after the results of a popular referendum. The Constituent Assembly is elected to draft the Republican Constitution. Women are granted suffrage too.
1947 Primo Levi publishes If This Is a Man, based on his experiences in Auschwitz.
1948 The Constitution of the Italian Republic, agreed between Christian-democrats, Socialists and Communists, comes into force. The same year, the general election sanctions the supremacy of the Christian Democracy party, and the belonging of Italy to the Western side. Communists are excluded from governments till 2006, although they episodically support them from the outside (1976–79 and 1996–98).
1949 Italy joins NATO
1952 Italy was a founding member of the European Coal and Steel Community
1953 The national oil company ENI (Ente Nationale Idrocarburi) is established, with Enrico Mattei as his first President. The ENI will become a strong actor in Italian foreign policy towards Arab countries.
1954 The state-owned RAI broadcasts the first Italian official TV program.
1955 The Messina Conference achieves the basic agreement on the European Economic Community
Italy finally joins the United Nations, along with other 15 states, after years of stalemate due to opposed vetoes between USA and USSR.
1957 The Treaty of Rome founds the European Economic Community.
1959 Valentino opens his first atelier, in Rome on Via Condotti.
1960 Italian film director Federico Fellini shoots La Dolce Vita, an episodic study of life along Via Veneto in Rome.
Rightist riots in Reggio Calabria against the regional capital being set in Catanzaro.
Leftist riots in Genoa and Reggio Emilia against the Tambroni Cabinet led by Fernando Tambroni, a coalition between DC and post-fascist Italian Social Movement
25 August The 1960 Summer Olympics opens in Rome
1963 The DC switches to a strategy of alliance with the socialist PSI. Electric energy is nationalised and the high school system is reformed.
30 June Ciaculli massacre: a bomb intended for the mafia boss Salvatore Greco "Ciaschiteddu" explodes in Ciaculli killing seven police and military officers.
9 October 2000 people die when a landslide causes the overtopping of the Vajont Dam north of Venice; the flooding wave completely wipes out several villages.
1964 Sergio Leone directs A Fistful of Dollars, the first of his three 'spaghetti westerns' starring Clint Eastwood.
An attempted coup (Piano Solo) is defused.
Michele, the son of Mastro Pietro Ferrero, modifies his father’s recipe for the “supercrema gianduja” (invented in 1946) and renames it Nutella.
1969 The “Hot Autumn” of 1969 features occupations of factories and universities, and violence between right and left-wing students.
The “Years of Lead” are characterized by bombings and shootings, a “strategy of tension” purportedly aimed at avoiding the “historic compromise” between DC and PCI.
12 December far-right terrorists bomb the Banca Nazionale dell'Agricoltura in Milan (Piazza Fontana bombing), killing 17 people and wounding 88. Four more bombs detonate without victims. Investigations are blurred, and no responsible party has been held accountable.
1970 Another rightist coup attempt is defused (golpe Borghese).
1974 On 12 May, a referendum asking voters to repeal a government law allowing divorce is defeated. The result of Italian divorce referendum, 1974 is the retention of the law allowing divorce.
1978 16 March Kidnapping of the former Prime Minister Aldo Moro by the Red Brigades.
9 May Moro is killed after the government refuses to negotiate with the Communist group. The “historic compromise” is stopped and Giulio Andreotti steps down from government. The Red Brigades begin falling apart.
1980 Umberto Eco publishes The Name of the Rose, a medieval murder mystery.
1982 The Italian national football team wins its third FIFA World Cup in Spain.
1983 Bettino Craxi (PSI) is premier of a PSI-DC coalition until 1987. Under his government, a television reform allows Berlusconi to build up his media empire. The Concordat with the Vatican is revised, and salary indexation is abolished to curb inflation from 12% to 5%, but public debt raises up to 90% of GDP.
1984 At the European Parliament elections, in the wake of the death of the leader Giovanni Berlinguer, the PCI gains 33,3% of votes and overcomes the DC as first party in Italy.
1985 Franco Modigliani receives the Nobel Prize for Economics for his work on household savings and the dynamics of financial markets.
1986 Italy took its most visible steps toward fighting organized crime, convicting 338 Mafia members of criminal activities.
Italy-US relations are strained by the Libyan retaliation after the American bombing of Tripoli, and by the Sigonella crisis following the kidnapping of the Achille Lauro liner ship by the Palestinian Liberation Front.
The neurologist Rita Levi-Montalcini, together with Stanley Cohen, receives the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of Nerve growth factor (NGF). Since 2001, she has also served in the Italian Senate as a Senator for Life.
1987 In the wake of the Chernobyl disaster, a referendum put off the use of nuclear plants. The three working plants are slowly decommissioned. The Green party establishes itself in Italy.
1990 Italy hosts the World Football Cup, but loses in the semi-final against Argentina at penalties.
1991 A man found frozen high in the Alps turns out to be a Neolithic hunter from about 5000 years ago.
1992 Paolo Borsellino and Giovanni Falcone, two Italian anti-Mafia magistrates, are assassinated by the mafia.
Mani pulite (clean hands), a nationwide judicial investigation into political corruption and influence-peddling, leads to the fall and dissolution of the Christian Democracy, and of the Socialist party, which had been the most influential political parties in Italy since 1948. Craxi flees to Tunisia to avoid prosecution.
1994 The Italian film Il Postino depicts poetry entering the life of a postman who delivers mail to the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda.
27 April Media magnate Silvio Berlusconi becomes Prime Minister for a rightist coalition. However, the pact between northern autonomists and southern post-fascists collapsed late in the year, and Berlusconi is forced to resign as prime minister.
1996 17 May Romano Prodi becomes Prime Minister for the Olive Tree coalition, voted into power with the external support of the communists. By 2001, Italy has secured his place in the Eurozone.
1997 Valentino Rossi wins his first (out of 9) World Championship, racing in Grand Prix for Aprilia in the 125cc category.
Dario Fo, an Italian avant-garde playwright, manager-director, and actor-mime, is awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. A theatrical caricaturist with a flair for social agitation, he has often faced government censure.
1998 20 skiers (of which 3 Italians) die in the Cavalese cable car disaster, when a US EA-6B Prowler military jet severed the cables supporting the Cermis mountain cable car. Pilots will be later found not guilty by an American court.
1999 Roberto Benigni’s Life is Beautiful is nominated for seven Academy Awards. The film wins the awards for Best Actor (the first for a male performer in a non-English-speaking role, and only the third overall acting Oscar for non-English-speaking roles), the Best Original Dramatic Score and the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.
Italy takes part in the Kosovo War, a NATO-led aerial operation against Milosevic’s Serbia to prevent genocide in Kosovo. The premier is Massimo D’Alema, of the post-communist Partito Democratico della Sinistra.
Italy is accepted in the eurozone

21st century[edit]

Year Date Event
2001 11 June Berlusconi's second term as Prime Minister begins.
20 July violence erupts at the G8 demonstrations in Genoa. The police is accused of severe abuses; one demonstrator is shot dead. (to 22 July)
October Italy takes part in the Afghanistan War
2002 1 January The euro begins circulating as new official currency of Italy.
2003 March Italy takes part in the Iraq War, although populations show disapproval through the “peace flags” movement.
2005 4 March Nicola Calipari, Italian secret agent, is shot dead by friendly fire from an US patrol during the rescue of journalist Giuliana Sgrena from kidnappers in Baghdad. US later refused the extradition of the identified shooter, Mario Lozano.
2006 The Italian national football team wins its fourth FIFA World Cup in Germany.
Roberto Saviano publishes Gomorra, where he describes and denounces the system of Camorra criminal organization around Naples and its ramifications.
10 February The 2006 Winter Olympics are held in Turin (to 26 February)
17 May Prodi's second term as Prime Minister begins.
September Italy’s engagement is pivotal in the deployment of the UNIFIL peace force after the 2006 Lebanon War.
2008 Berlusconi's third term as Prime Minister begins.
2009 6 April An earthquake strikes L’Aquila, causing the death of 307 persons and making about 65,000 homeless.

Further reading[edit]

  • Benjamin Vincent (1910), "Italy", Haydn's Dictionary of Dates (25th ed.), London: Ward, Lock & Co.