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1862, 100 centesimi = 1 lira.


Following the unrest of the preceding period, culminating in the unsuccessful War of Independence in 1848-9, the leading protagonist, Sardinia, made peace with Austria on 9 August 1849. However, the currents which had led to the earlier uprising still existed. They were aimed largely at the occupation of northern Italy by the Austro-Hungarian Empire (see Loinbardy-Venetia), which in turn led to Austrian dominance of the Italian peninsula. The prime minster of Piedmont, part of Sardinia, was Count Cavour, whose interest was to increase the power of his small country, but who became the architect of the new state of Italy. He was ably supported by the Italian patriot Garibaldi.

Cavour joined with Britain and France in the Crimean War (1854-6). Having gained their good will, he secured a secret treaty which ensured that France would assist Piedmont in driving the Austrians out of Italy and support the federation of the Italian states. In return, France would receive Savoy and Nice.

n April-June 1859 war was fought in Lombardy-Venetia. As a result, Sardinia gained most of Lombardy but Venetia remained in Austrian hands.

Following the suppression of a major uprising in the Neapolitan states in 1860, Garibaldi invaded Sicily in May, and, having defeated the army of the king of Naples, crossed the Straits of Messina with British assistance. On 7 September 1860 Naples fell and Garibaldi prepared to march on Rome and to liberate Venetia.

Meanwhile, unrest in the Papal States gave Cavour the excuse he needed to assemble a Piedmontese army. It crossed the border on 10 September and marched south to link with Garibaldi, but the French occupied Rome and the French fleet took station off the coast to prevent any further Italian attack against the papal domains. The Neapolitan forces under their king made a last stand against the united Italian armies at Gaeta from 3 November 1860 to 13 February 1861. The withdrawal of the French fleet in January made bombardment from the sea possible and the final surrender of the Neapolitan army followed.

On 17 March 1861 the Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed with Victor Emmanuel as its first constitutional monarch. Unification was now complete except for Venetia and the papal territory around Rome. Occupation of these areas was foiled by the continued presence in Rome of French forces. In 1862 Garibaldi marched on Rome from Sicily but the Italian government could not allow a major act of war while the French were still in Rome, and defeated Garibaldi with government troops at Aspromonte on 29 August 1862.

In May 1866 Italy, with the approval of France, made an alliance with Prussia, and when the AustroPrussian war broke out in June 1866, Italy declared war on the Austrians on 20 June 1866. After the defeat of the Italians by the Austrians there was a hiatus until the Austrians were withdrawn to defend Vienna against Prussian attack in July 1866. Venetia was annexed by the Italians later in July and this was ratified by the Treaty of Vienna on 12 October.

In December 1866 the French withdrew from Rome and Garibaldi attempted to seize the territory; he was defeated and the pressure by Italian forces to overthrow the Papal forces led to the return of the French in October 1867. Garibaldi renewed his invasion but was defeated at Mentana by a combined French and Papal force.

On 20 September 1870, French forces having been withdrawn to assist in the Franco-Prussian War, an Italian army bombarded Rome and Pope Pius IX surrendered. Following a plebiscite, the region was declared the capital of Italy and the area was formally annexed on 20 October 1870. The unification was complete.

FIRST STAMPS ISSUED 24 February 1862.

The unification of Italy gradually assimilated the independent states which had been issuing stamps since 1850. The Kingdom of Italy was proclaimed on 17 March 1861 and the states of Lombardy, Sardinia, Naples, Sicily, Modena, Romagna and Tuscany ceased to issue their own stamps. First Italian stamps were similar in design to those issued by Sardinia in 1855 but were perforated. The first complete issue inscribed 'Poste Italiane' was released on 1 December 1863. Venetia joined Italy in 1866 and the Papal States in 1870.


Having established the nation as a single entity, the government wished to establish its place among other Western nations. This led to the expansion of Italian interests in East and North Africa and the issue of overprinted stamps for various locations where other powers had offices.

In 1874 a general issue was made for POs in the Turkish Empire and POs were opened at Alexandria, Assab, La Goletta, Massowah, Susa, Tripoli and Tunis. The stamps were also used at the consular POs at Buenos Aires and Montevideo. On 10 July 1900 further overprints were issued for the Italian POs in Crete (q.v.). These were worded 'La Canea' and remained in use until the POs were closed on 30 December 1914.

Italian forces assisted in the relief of Peking during the Boxer Rising in China and unoverprinted Italian stamps were used from 21 January 1901. At the same time Italy was looking to increase its influence in the Levant area and further overprinted stamps for use in Albania were issued on 1 September 1902.

In 1908 Italy reorganized postal arrangements in the Levant. The Albanian surcharges were withdrawn and a general Levant surcharge replaced them. Further surcharges appeared for Constantinople and for other POs in Levant and Albania - Durazzo, Jamina, Jerusalem, Salonika, Scutari, Smyrna and Valona.

During the Italian-Turkish War of 1911-12 the Italians occupied the Dodecanese Islands (q.v.) in May 1912 and further overprinted stamps were issued for each of the 12 islands and Rhodes (Rodi). The islands were awarded to Italy, but this was not finally recognized until 1920.


Italy did not enter the war immediately. In theory since 1882 it had been part of the Triple Alliance with Germany and Austria, but it wished to gain more territory in Trentino (South Tyrol). Italy entered the war on the side of the Allies on 23 May 1915.

N.E.Italy 1914-20
Click map for larger view

After a series of minor offensives against the Austrians in the Trentino and Venezia Giulia areas, Italy was defeated by a combined German-Austrian force at Caporetto and its armies fell back to the line of the River Piave. The area north of this used stamps of Austria overprinted from 1 June 1918 to October that year.

British and other Allied forces were sent to assist, and in 1918 after the decisive victory of Vittorio Veneto the Allies occupied Trentino and Venezia Giulia (q.v.). Trentino was occupied by the Italians and overprinted stamps were used from 11 November 1918. A general issue for all occupied Austrian territory appeared in January 1919, but this was withdrawn in Trentino when the territory was awarded to Italy in September 1919, and Italian stamps were used thereafter. In September 1917 overprinted stamps were issued for use in China, at Peking and Tientsin.


After World War I, Italy gained territory from Austria, particularly in the area of the Tyrol (Trentino) and Venezia Giulia. Stamps for these areas were issued on 11 November 1918. Trentino was awarded to Italy by the Treaty of St Germain on 10 September 1919 and Italian stamps were then used.

Italy closed its POs in China on 31 December 1922.

Although a monarchy since unification in 1862, Italy was the first major European power to become a fascist dictatorship following the 'March on Rome' in October 1922.

In 1935, as part of plans for expansion in Africa, the Italians invaded Abyssinia (q.v). The war was successful but costly to Italian prestige, and in October 1936, after British pressure following Italy's action in Spain, the Italian-German Agreement was signed. Although this specifically related to Austria, it can be seen as the start of the Axis and, at this time, Germany recognized the conquest of Abyssinia.

On 7 April 1939 Italy invaded and captured Albania to consolidate control of the Adriatic Sea.

During the inter-war years Italy maintained control of the Dodecanese Islands and its occupation was recognized by the Greeks in August 1920. At the same time the island of Castelrosso was also transferred to Italy and overprinted stamps were issued on 11 July 1922.


As Germany's ally, Italy declared war on 10 June 1940, just after France had retreated from the north-east of the country. Mussolini immediately attempted to gain control of the Mediterranean by an assault on Malta.

In October 1940 Italy invaded Greece from Albania and was driven back. As a result the Germans attacked through the Balkans and occupied Yugoslavia and Greece. Italy was given responsibility for part of this occupation and Italian overprints were issued for Slovenia, Fiume and Kupa, Brac and the Gulf of Kotor (q.v.). In Africa, Italian forces were gradually defeated and would have been destroyed but for German assistance in 1941. Following the collapse of the resistance in East Africa, the fall of Tunis and the invasion of Sicily and the mainland, Italy signed a secret armistice on 3 September 1943, which became effective on 8 September

Italy was invaded by the Allies on 3 September 1943, but the Germans advanced south to meet their forces in the region of Naples and a prolonged action continued throughout the war. British, American and other Allied forces POs continued to operate until 1945.

On 17 September 1943 stamps for the Allied Military Government were issued in Sicily; further issues were released on 10 December 1943 for use in Naples. The Royal Italian Government was re-established at Brindisi in 1943 and moved to Salerno on 11 February 1944. At that time the control of the southern regions was transferred to them by the Allies. Stamps of Italy issued prior to this date were used.

On 23 September 1943 Mussolini proclaimed the Italian Social Republic at Salo on Lake Garda. The Republican government administered those parts of Italy north of the fighting zone which was occupied by Germany. Overprinted stamps were used from February 1944. Various overprints were used and these were withdrawn in April 1945 when the Royalist government was re-established.

Campione 1939-52

A small town on the shores of Lake Lugano, surrounded by Swiss Territory. It declared for the royalists in 1943, but could not obtain stamps from the south. Stamps for the territory were issued in 1944. They were valid for use in Campione and Switzerland only. Withdrawn in 1952 and since then Campione has used Swiss or Italian stamps depending on the route which the letter is to take.

1945 to date

After the end of World War II, Italy lost some territory to France in the Savoy area and at the head of the Adriatic Sea (see Venezia Giulia and Trieste).

To obtain support from the western powers, Sardinia supported Britain and France against Russia during the Crimean War. A convention was signed in April 1855 and 10,000 troops were sent to the Crimea.

The Dodecanese Islands were transferred to Greece on 31 March 1947; Castelrosso was also transferred on 15 September the same year.

In June 1944 King Victor Emmanuel, who had reigned since 1900, abdicated in favour of his son Umberto, who became Regent and then King of Italy. On 10 June 1946 a republic was formed and Umberto abdicated. The first stamps of the republic were issued on 31 October 1946.

Italy is a member of NATO and of the EEC, which it joined on its formation.

Italian issues for occupied Austrian territory



1918, 100 heller = 1 krone.

1918, 100 centesimi = 1 lira.

1919, 100 centesimi = 1 corona.

Venezia Giulia, Dalmatia and Trentino, which had been occupied by the Italians in 1918, all used the same issue of overprinted Italian stamps from January 1919 until their allocation was decided by the Peace Treaties. These stamps were withdrawn from each territory in turn and the last were withdrawn in Dalmatia when it re-issued its own stamps in February 1921.



1919, 100 centesimi = 1 corona.

Before 1939

Province of the Austrian Empire occupied by the Italians in 1918. It included the port of Zara.

Stamps were issued for the Italian occupation in May 1919. These were replaced amost immediately by the general issue for the Italian occupation of Austrian territory (q.v.). In November 1920 Italy gave up the area except for Zara, and in February 1921 issued stamps for Zaro only, overprinted in local currency. These stamps were withdrawn in 1923, after which Italian stamps were used. The balance of the area was awarded to Yugoslavia. (See also Dalmatia under Yugoslavia).

Venezia Giulia

FIRST STAMPS Austria up to 1918.

FIRST STAMPS ISSUED 14 November 1918.


1945, as Italy.

Area which includes the cities of Trieste, Gorizia, Fiume and the Istrian peninsula; it was part of the Austrian Empire and was occupied by the Italians after the defeat of the Austrians at the battle of Vittorio Veneto and the armistice of 3 November 1918. The area was awarded to Italy in 1919.

Overprinted Austrian stamps were used until 1919 and Italian stamps for the occupation of all occupied Austrian territory were issued in January 1919. From April 1919 until the end of World War II the area used Italian stamps.

1945 to date

Following the withdrawal of Yugoslav forces and the agreement of Belgrade on 9 June 1945, the area came under the control of the Supreme Allied Commanders and was administered by the Allied Military Government.

Overprinted stamps were issued on 22 September 1945 and remained in use until 10 February 1947, when the area, except Gorizia and the Free State of Trieste (q.v.), became part of Yugoslavia.

Further south, the area of Fiume and all the Istrian peninsula, excluding Pola, were placed under Yugoslav military control and special stamps for this region were released on 15 August 1945. The area was returned to Yugoslavia in February 1947 (See also Fiume and Kupa under Yugoslavia).


FIRST STAMPS Austria up to 1918.

FIRST STAMPS ISSUED 3 December 1918, overprinted on stamps of Hungary.


1918, 100 truer = 1 krone.

1919, 100 centosmi = 1 corona.

1920, 100 centesimi = 1 lira.

Austro-Hungarian seaport and naval base on the Istrian Peninsula. Occupied by Allied forces after the collapse of the Austrian Empire on 17 November 1918.


Austro-Hungarian seaport and naval base on the Istrian Peninsula. Occupied by Allied forces after the collapse of the Austrian Empire on 17 November 1918.

Austro-Hungarian seaport and naval base on the Istrian Peninsula. Occupied by Allied forces after the collapse of the Austrian Empire on 17 November 1918.

Incorporated into Italy from 22 February 1924 and, to commemorate this, stamps of the Free State were overprinted and issued on the date of incorporation. After this set the stamps of Italy were used until July 1945.

During the Regency of Camaro, stamps were also issued in November 1920 for the islands of Arbe and Veglia (now Rab and Krk). Withdrawn on 24 December 1920.



Italian naval base captured by Yugoslav patriots in 1944-5.

In July 1945 stamps of Italy were issued overprinted for use in Fiume.

Stamps withdrawn when the stamps of the Allied Military Government, Venezia Giulia, were issed in September.


FIRST STAMPS Austria to 1919 and Italian 1919-1945.

FIRST STAMPS ISSUED Italy overprinted 15 June 1945.

Used until stamps of Trieste were issued in 1947.


Zona A: 1947, as Italy.

Zone B: 1948, as Italy.

1948, as Yugoslavia.

Part of the Austrian Empire until after World War I. In 1919 the province of Istria, which included the town of Trieste, was ceded to Italy.

Yugoslav partisans attacked cities in Venezia Giulia and Istria in the last days of the war. Trieste was captured on 30 April 1945 and was finally liberated for the Allies by the New Zealand Division on 2 May.


Created a Free Territory by the Treaty of Paris in February 1947, it consisted of two zones.

Zone A included the City of Trieste and was administered by an Allied Military Government.

FIRST STAMPS Austrian to 1919, Italian 1919-45, Italian overprints 1945-6.


Stamps of Italy overprinted AMG VG were used until the AMG FTT overprints were introduced on 1 October 1947. These were withdrawn in November 1954.

Zone B included the remainder of the region and was controlled by a Yugoslav Military Government. Initially in 1948 stamps with Italian currency were issued but overprinted Yugoslav stamps were introduced in 1949.

Trieste 1920-54
Click map for larger view

FIRST STAMPS Austrian to 1919 and Italian 1919-47.


Yugoslav stamps were first issued on 15 August 1949. Use of these stamps ceased on 25 October 1954. The following day, under a Four Power Agreement, Zone A (except for three small villages) became Italian and Zone B (and the three villages) became Yugoslav. This final agreement was confirmed by Italy and Yugoslavia in 1974.

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