Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour, one of the fathers of the Italian national unit, was born in Turin in 1810. He studied abroad for some years and was influenced by the economic and socio-political principles of the liberal system of British inspiration.
Returning to Piedmont in 1835 he devoted himself first to developing the estate of Leri, to the point of making it a model company, and then founded the newspaper Il Risorgimento in 1847, which also marked the first approaches to the political world.
The cornerstones of his thought were internal liberalism and the start of a change in the international balance in the anti-Austrian sense that favored the creation of a unitary state in the peninsula around the Savoy crown.
Messaged in 1851 as Minister of Agriculture and Trade, he became Prime Minister following the agreement with Urbano Rattazzi of 1852, known as "the marriage", which united the most progressive elements of the right with the moderates of the left in a large center grouping.
Internally, the first decade of Cavourian rule was characterized by the vastness of the reforms. He developed the railway network, promoted new cultivation systems, irrigation channels and started a highly liberal customs policy that fully integrated Piedmont into international trade.
In 1855, despite the opposition of the clergy and King Vittorio Emanuele II, Piedmont was laicized according to the formula "Free Church in Free State", providing one of the fundamental elements that pushed Republicans the likes of Manin and Garibaldi to join the program of national unity of Savoy in the framework of the Italian National Society.
In foreign policy he decided to intervene in the Crimean war by actually including Piedmont in the game of European diplomacies. Thus he succeeded, in the course of the 1856 Paris Congress, to bring the cause of Italian unity to international attention.
Leveraging on the common interest of France, Prussia and Great Britain to downsize the Austrian power, the main obstacle to national unification, Cavour managed to obtain French military support following Plombiers' agreements with Napoleon III in 1858 for the creation of a unitary state in the North of the Peninsula: Rome and Lazio, had guaranteed the Savoy statesman, would remain independent.
In 1859, during the Second War of Independence, the Franco-Piedmontese allies defeated the Austrian troops in Solforino and San Martino and, with the support of the Garibaldini, managed to control Lombadia.
The extension of the national democratic movement in Italy and the requests for annexation to Piedmont from various regions frightened the French, who feared the creation of a unitary national state that was too extensive and powerful on its borders.
The armistice of Villafranca wanted by Napoleon III froze the motions and pushed Cavour to resign from the position of Prime Minister in protest. Returning to the leadership of the government in 1860, Cavour then decided to entrust the unitary initiative to Garibaldi, encouraging the expedition of the Thousand and the liberation of southern Italy.
Thus, in 1861, Garibaldian fidelity under the motto "Italy and Vittorio Emanuele" led to the proclamation of the Kingdom of Italy which, with the exception of Veneto and Lazio, almost entirely covered the "natural" borders of the Italian nation.
Cavour died three months later and dedicated the last phase of his political commitment to what would become the "Roman question", favoring a parliamentary vote that claimed capital Rome. Cavour's work, his tenacity and lucidity of action make him one of the greatest statesmen of the history of our peninsula.