- Emanuele ll, Vittorio
(1820-1878) was from 1849 King of Piedmont, Savoy, and Sardinia. In 1861, he became the first king of a united Italy. He was King of Italy until his death in 1878. Vittorio Emanuele took part in the First Italian War of Independenceunder his father, fighting in the front line. He became King of Piedmont in 1849 when his father had abdicated the throne after a humiliating military defeat by the Austrians at Novara. In 1852, Victor Emmanuel II gave Count Camillo di Cavour the title of Prime Minister. This turned out to be a wise choice because Cavour was a political mastermind and a key player in Italian unification, in his own right. Victor Emmanuel II soon became the symbol of the Risorgimento.
In 1860, Victor Emmanuel II sent his forces to fight the papal army and drove the Pope into Vatican City. He supported Garibaldi‘s Expedition of Thousand(1860-1861), which resulted in the rapid fall of the Kingdom of the Two Siciliesin southern Italy. In 1861, the Kingdom of Italy was officially established and Victor Emmanuel II became its king. Turin became the capital of the new state. Only Rome, Veneto, and Trentino remained to be conquered. In 1866 Vittorio Emanuele allied himself with Prussia in the Third Italian War of Independence. Although not victorious in the Italian theater, he managed anyway to receive Veneto after the Austrian defeat in Germany. In 1870, after two failed attempts by Garibaldi, he took advantage of the Prussian victory over France in the Franco-Prussian War to capture Rome. He entered Rome in 1870 and set up the new capital there in 1871.
- Calzolari, Oreste
This double equestrian statue was erected in Fiesole near Florence to memorize the historical meeting between Garibaldi and Vittorio Emanuele, then King of Sardinia. This meeting took place in 1860 in Teano, a little town between Naples and Rome. Having wrested the Kingdom of the two Sicilies from the Neapolitan Bourbons, Garibaldi shook Vittorio Emanuele’s hand and hailed him as King of Italy. Thus, Garibaldi sacrificed republican dreams for the sake of unity under a monarchy.