Street Smarts: Piazza Cavour

 

Street Smarts is a series in which we find some of the most common and popular street names in Italy and explain why they are so popular, and give some history behind them.

In many an Italian city, or town large enough to merit the necessity of a large plaza, you will find a Piazza Cavour. Who was Cavour? And why is he so important that he has a piazza in a vast majority of cities throughout the country of Italy?

Rome’s Piazza Cavour. Other Piazza Cavours can be found in Rimini, Como, Foggia, Naples, and many more cities || PC: Alessio Damato – © Creative Commons

Cavour is not the full name of the man that has earned so much prestige; his full name is Count Camillo Benso of Cavour. What he is commonly referred to in modern times though is Count Cavour, or just Cavour.

Cavour was born in northern Italy in Torino on August 10, 1820 to a family who had benefited greatly from the Napoleonic occupation and even after its collapse. He attended military training but found the environment to be too restrictive, and sought out an education and a career in politics.

He served politically in his home country, which was the Kingdom of  Sardegna. This included the island of Sardegna and northwestern sections of Italy such as Piedmont, Genova, and what was once called Nizza, now known by the name of Nice in France. He held many different offices from the years of 1850 to 1861, including Prime Minister of Trade and Agriculture, Prime Minister of Finance, as well as prime minister of the Kingdom of Sardegna itself.

During this time period, it became apparent that the only way to keep a country safe was to obtain as much land as possible, and to use said land and resources to make the kingdom powerful. Cavour understood this principle and used many political maneuvers to trick land out of the hands of the Austrians who had a considerable stake in northern Italy through a treaty with France.

Cavour and the king Vittorio Emanuele worked with Giuseppe Garibaldi in liberating parts of southern Italy, including Naples and the southern parts of the peninsula, as well as the island of Sicily.

Camillo Benso di Cavour
|| PC: Antonio Ciseri © Creative Commons

On March 17th 1861 the Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed by Cavour, and he was voted as the prime minister. He was only able to serve for three months before he died. At this point, the only parts of modern day Italy that were missing were the Region of Venice and Rome. He never lived to see a fully united Italy. Although, he was not interested in creating a “united Italy”, but in expanding the borders of the kingdom of Sardegna. He did achieve that without a doubt, but it is usually his hand in the unification of Italy for which many remember him.

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