This essay analyzes one of the pivotal moments of Italy’s foreign policy in the years after its unification: King Victor Emmanuel II’s official visit to Austria and Germany with Prime Minister Minghetti and Foreign Minister Visconti Venosta (1873). Among the sources presented are, in addition to newspapers and published diplomatic documents of the three involved countries, unpublished primary sources from archives in Rome, Vienna and Berlin. The event is analyzed not only in his diplomatic consequences, but also from the ceremonial and celebrative point of view, particular attention being devoted to the nationalization of public opinion in the three involved countries. The essay shows how the big events that changed international relations in the middle of the 19th century (German and Italian unification, the Austro- Hungarian Ausgleich, the birth of the French Third Republic) were still precarious at the time of the visits. New documents on Bismarck’s real attitude towards Italy, finally, end up reconsidering the foreign policy moves of the Italian Historical Right in a more positive way, and discrediting the positions held by its opponents, chiefly by Francesco Crispi.
Keywords: United Italy, Italian foreign policy, Historical Right, celebration, State visit, German-Italian relations