The nation of Italy doesn’t exist at the beginning of Victoria 3‘s campaign. In 1836, the Italian Peninsula is divided into smaller states, with some of the largest cities in the north under Austrian control. If you’ve played a Paradox game before, but are unfamiliar with Victoria 3, forming Italy is a great way to get yourself up to speed.
This guide covers the best way to easily unite Italy, as well as strategies for continuing to grow afterward. Once it’s united, Italy is more than capable of standing alongside the other Great Powers.
Updated on November 23, 2023 by Matt Arnold: We’ve updated this guide to include the basics of the Risorgimento Journal Entry, a new system that allows Italian states to influence one another and even force a coup d’etat!
The Best Nation To Form Italy
Italy can be united by any country with North or South Italian as their primary Culture. At the start of the game, this includes Sardinia-Piedmont, Tuscany, Lucca, Parma, the Papal States, and the Kingdom of Two Sicilies. However, only Two Sicilies starts the campaign in any position to think about unifying the peninsula.
The Kingdom of Two Sicilies is the largest and wealthiest of the Italian states, and is the only one with all the natural resources necessary for early-game industrialization. Sardinia-Piedmont is the second-largest, but lacks some key resources and is sandwiched between France and Austria, limiting their ability to grow.
As a bonus, Two Sicilies’ geography is structured in such a way as to make specializing your states’ production a snap. Campania has a good Urban Center to start with, Apulia gets agricultural bonuses, Calabria has abundant mineral resources, and Sicily is the best Sulfur-producing state in the game. Using your starting ruler’s Authority bonus, you can easily implement Decrees to increase the output of each of these states according to their specialty.
Two Sicilies does lack one key resource. Lead can be hard to come by in the early game, so consider an early play to conquer Piedmont and Savoy for their mineral deposits.
How To Form Italy As The Kingdom Of Two Sicilies
Two Sicilies’ major obstacle in unifying Italy is Austria’s dominance in the north. In most campaigns, Austria will subjugate the smaller Italian states, making it nearly impossible to bring them into your Customs Union to attempt a diplomatic annexation. Your first task, therefore, is build an economy and military that can compete with Austria.
The Armed Forces are an essential Interest Group for the first part of your campaign. Not only do you get massive combat bonuses for keeping them happy and powerful, but they also allow you to implement a Colonial Affairs Institution if they’re part of your government. The earlier this happens, the faster you can join the Scramble For Africa, where you’ll find the resources you need to compete with Austria.
While you’re doing this, do whatever you can to bring any independent Italian states – namely the Papacy and Sardinia-Piedmont – into your Customs Union. Once you research Nationalism, an Italian country in your Customs Union with high Relations has a chance every week of becoming part of your country, saving you the trouble of conquest.
The best way to form a Customs Union with a smaller country is to implement every conceivable import and export route with them. Trade volume goes a long way toward getting a country to accept a Trade Agreement or Union.
Eventually, you’ll need to enter into conflict with Austria to liberate Milan, Venice, and any independent states that are puppets of the Archduke. Keep a close eye on Austria’s relations and ally with their rivals. Prussia is ideal for this since they almost always have animosity with Austria – you can even help them in their bid for German unification by favoring them with trade routes. Russia and France are also useful allies, but they are just as likely to be friendly with Austria as not.
The best time to attack Austria is in the mid-game, when AI-controlled Great Powers often suffer rebellions. Watch for Austria to become embroiled in a civil war, then hit them while they’re occupied with rebels. Alternately, wait for them to get stuck into a large war with another Great Power like Russia or even the Ottomans. Either way, forcing Austria to fight a war on two fronts helps make up for their likely advantage in numbers.
The Italian states received a system to simulate the debate over unification in the Colossus of the South update. Once you’ve discovered Nationalism, you’ll get an event where you must declare your support or opposition to the idea of a unified Italy. Since you’re planning to be the one doing the unifying, you’ll choose to support the Risorgimento in most campaigns.
Once you’ve set your stance, you can influence the politics of other Italian nations through the Risorgimento Journal Entry. By using the decisions there, you can radicalize pops in other Italian countries every three years. Until Italy is unified, any Italian state with more than one-quarter of their population radicalized will suffer a coup. This can help pave the way to unification, but revolution is never easy.
Late-Game Strategy For Italy
Once you’ve formed Italy, you’ll have all the resources you’ll need to create a trade empire backed by naval supremacy. Since nearly all of Italy’s states are coastal, you can build lots of Ports and Naval Bases, which is a key advantage for your fledgling nation.
Continue expanding in Africa throughout the game while advancing your technology and industries in Europe. Since you’re mostly protected by the Alps over land, a strong navy is essential for protecting the coastline – prioritize naval research and upgrades to make sure that your ships are always state-of-the-art.
Having such a powerful navy means that if you decide to do some conquering (particularly once Oil becomes available), you can strike anywhere you like. Naval Invasions are Italy’s key tactic, and can quickly force an unprepared enemy to capitulate.
If you’re fighting one of your neighbors, concentrate the bulk of your army on the home front, while sending a single well-armed General on a Naval Invasion to the enemy’s doorstep. Now, your opponent will be forced to pull troops from the front to defend their capital, or let your soldiers run rampant through their homeland!
Whether you pursue foreign conquests or turn your focus inward to economic growth, united Italy will quickly become one of the top-ranking Great Powers. Benissimo!
Next: Victoria 3: United States Strategy Guide