The Greatest Show in Town

In truth for all his boasting that 300,000 soldiers were ready to rise at the snap of his fingers, Gabriele d’Annunzio had no idea what to do with this power. When visited by Dr. Orestes Ferrara, he commented offhand that once, “our question is settled I shall direct the Rome-Tokio flight, after that I shall […]

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The Selective Blockade

The impresa di Fiume was turning Nitti’s government into an international laughing stock. Somehow, a small group of disgruntled officers led by Italy’s foremost celebrity had marched into a city guarded by 20,000 soldiers and taken the place over. Either the Italian leadership was thicker than a sack of bricks, or, as many pundits believed, […]

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To Out-Byron Byron

Hearing the news from Fiume, Prime Minister Nitti punched a table. That done and likely still purple with rage he began the painful process of containment. The challenge was not just d’Annunzio, but the clear number of military and political figures who preferred this military adventurer to the Prime Minister. Nitti’s first speech explicitly links […]

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The March on Fiume

Compared to the rest of central Europe in 1919, Fiume was downright peaceful. The drama on display was certainly impressive, but compared to the civil wars in the Baltics and Russia, or the Hungarian-Romanian war it was more public interest than potential flashpoint. In the New York Times, Fiume warranted near daily coverage somewhere in […]

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The Summer of Daggers

The knives were out for Vittorio Orlando in summer 1919, and the man to drive in the killing thrust seemed obvious. Postwar, Gabriele d’Annunzio was the most prominent man in the country. Especially among the Arditi, the poet was an almost mythic leader and some took to calling themselves d’Annunzians. He spoke of them mythically […]

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The Mutilation of Versailles

Against a backdrop of food shortages, riots, and ballooning inflation Orlando and the somehow still empowered Foreign Minister Sidney Sonino arrived in Paris to negotiate the coming peace. Their opening pitch was all the territory promised in the Treaty of London. Essentially this meant a 40-kilometer slice of western Slovenia, the Dalmatian coast south to […]

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