The formation of the modern Italian state began in 1861 with the unification of most of the peninsula under the House of Savoy (Piedmont-Sardinia) into the Kingdom of Italy. Italy incorporated Venetia and the former Papal States (including Rome) by 1871 following the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71). Prior to Italian unification (also known as the Risorgimento), the United States had diplomatic relations with the main entities of the Italian peninsula: the Kingdom of Sardinia, the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, and the Papal States.
With the exception of the World War II years when Benito Mussolini’s government declared war upon the United States (1941-43), the United States has had warm relations with the Kingdom of Italy and, after 1946, its successor, the Republic of Italy. Currently, the United States and Italy share strong bilateral relations. Italy is a member of NATO and is a founding member of the European Union.
Modern Flag of Italy
The United States officially recognized the Kingdom of Italy when it accepted the credentials of Chevalier Joseph Bertinatti as Minister Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Italy on April 11, 1861.
Prior to the Risorgimento of 1861, the Italian peninsula was fragmented into different kingdoms, city-states, duchies, etc. The U.S. established a presence at virtually every seaport because trade, shipping, and seamen protection were all major functions in protecting and enhancing American interests. This explains why there were numerous U.S. Consulates General, from the late eighteenth century through the mid-nineteenth century, scattered throughout the region. Below is a list of U.S. Consulate Generals that were located within what today would be the borders of Italy.
The United States currently has Consulate Generals in Florence, Milan and Naples.
The United States established diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Italy in 1861 when it accepted the credentials of Chevalier Joseph Bertinatti as Minister Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Italy on April 11, 1861.
Prior to the 1861 unification of Italy, the Italian peninsula was fragmented into several kingdoms, duchies, and city-states. As such, since the early nineteenth century, the United States maintained several legations which served the larger Italian states. In 1831 the United States established a legation to the Two Sicilies at Naples in 1831, while in 1840 the United States established a legation to the Kingdom of Sardinia at Turin. Finally, in 1848, the United States established a legation to the Papal States (later the Pontifical States) in Rome.
On April 11, 1861, following Italy’s unification, former Minister Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom on Sardinia, Chevalier Joseph Bertinatti, presented his credentials to the United States as Minister Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Italy.
During the period of Italian unification, George P. Marsh, as Minister Plenipotentiary, oversaw the move of the U.S. Legation from Turin to Florence in 1865 and from Florence to Rome in 1871.
The legation was elevated to an embassy when James J. Van Allen was appointed ambassador on October 23, 1893, though he declined the appointment. Wayne MacVeagh became the first official U.S. Ambassador to Italy when he presented his credentials in Rome on March 11, 1894.
The Italian Legation to the United States became the Italian Embassy to the United States when Rome elevated Minister Baron Saverio de Fava to the rank of Ambassador on June 14, 1893.
Diplomatic relations were severed and the American Embassy in Rome was closed on December 11, 1941, after Italy declared war on the United States.
Diplomatic relations were reestablished on October 16, 1944, when the Acting Secretary of State announced the decision in a statement released to the press.
Ambassador Alexander C. Kirk re-opened the U.S. Embassy in Rome when he presented his credentials on January 8, 1945.