Making Modern Italy

Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 12281

You might recognize the country of Italy as looking like a big boot kicking a deflated soccer ball. Before Garibaldi, Italy looked more like a jigsaw puzzle. Learn of one man's fight to unite Italy!


World, World

learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Can you locate Italy on this map of Europe? Could you have located Italy a couple hundred years ago?

Each of us has the opportunity to change the world in which we live.

It could be something simple, like an act of charity, or showing kindness to others. It could be a choice of career, like when people choose a job that impacts the world in one way or another.

Some people change the world in bigger ways. They have a vision — a great idea — about the way things should be, and they work persistently over time to make that vision a reality. Giuseppe Garibaldi (pronounced ji-se-pe ga-ri-bal-di) was one such person. Garibaldi was born in 1807, in a time when Italy was in pieces; there was no country of Italy, but only bits and pieces owned by one king or empire or another.

Read more about this important hero below. As you do, write notes on the answers to the following questions:

  • What was Garibaldi’s dream?
  • What is the Italian name for this idea?
  • What kinds of things did he have to go through in order to achieve his dream?
  • What was the end result?

Now, read about the life of Giuseppe Garibaldi in the following passage:

Garibaldi’s great idea was to put all those pieces together as one country. He believed in an idea known as Risorgimento (re-sor-ji-men-to) — the “rebirth” of Italy. He said that a unified Italy would be better for the Italian people than a number of different mini-states. Many people fought against this idea; most kings don’t want to give up their power after all. Garibaldi was even kicked out of Italy for trying to start a revolution, a war to bring Italy together. He spent many years in South America.

Garibaldi returning to Naples

Image [cropped] by Geo. Ward Nichols, c1860 from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division (00650825) with no known restrictions on publication.

In 1848, he returned with a force of just 60 fighters, the Italian Legion. It took him a long struggle and many years of hardship, but by 1861, Garibaldi saw Italy brought together as one single kingdom. Though he was loved by some and hated by others in his lifetime, Garibaldi is now considered a national Italian hero.

Share your answers to the questions above with your parent or teacher, then discuss the following:

  • Why do you think Garibaldi is considered a hero?
  • What does it mean to hold a “vision” or dream, and why is it important?
  • What does the life of Garibaldi teach us about facing difficulties?

The task of bringing a whole country together is very difficult and often violent. Garibaldi and others were trying to bring Italy together around the same time Abraham Lincoln was trying to put America back together during the American Civil War.

In the Got It? section, find out about the different pieces that the Italian revolutionaries had to bring together to make a modern nation.

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