Vittorio Emanuele II follows in his father’s footsteps. He declares the second war of independence against Austria, this time with the strong support of the French, and he wins it in 1861. This is the year of the “Spedizione dei Mille” (expedition of the 1,000 soldiers), and this is the year Italy becomes a kingdom with its capital in Turin. These are also the years of Giuseppe Mazzini, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Giuseppe Verdi, and Alessandro Manzoni. Turin continues to grow in importance. From 1860 to 1867, Alessandro Mazzucchetti and Carlo Ceppi build the station of Porta Nuova, based on the King’s Cross in London. This train station will serve as a departure point for the railroad track connecting Turin and Genoa.
Due to French pressure, the capital of Italy is transferred to Florence, but Turin is already an established protagonist in the life of the newly born Italian state. Now that it has lost the administrative end of things, Turin dedicates itself to the industrial revolution and hosts the great exposition of 1884. These years also attest to the cultural open-mindedness of the metropolis – in 1851 the Valdese Temple is built, and in 1884 the new synagogue by architect Petiti is inaugurated. Carlo Alberto also calls upon Palagio Palagi to decorate the palazzo Reale and to build a monument to Conte Verde in piazza Palazzo di Città.
These are radiant years for Turin, literally. Turin is the first Italian city to experiment with public electric illumination (in piazza San Carlo and at the Valentino park). And intellectuals/ writers De Amicis, Bersezio, and Calandra begin to publish their works. Then in 1862 Antonelli begins to work on a monument which will in time become the symbol of Turin: the Mole (finished in 1889). The Mole, the tallest brick building in the world, is originally commissioned by the Jewish community of Turin, but is subsequently bought by the city. The spire collapsed in 1953, and today a metal structure stands in its place.
Engineer Carrera designs the lovely Galleria Subalpina in 1884, and that same year the Borgo Medievale (Medieval Village) is constructed for the General Italian Exposition. Around the year 1880 the Murazzi go up. The Liberty style of architecture, or rather the Italian version of the Nouveau Art, comes to Turin in 1902, following the second General Italian Exposition.
During this same period in 1899, an interesting company is put together: the Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino, or FIAT for short. Before long a number of other car companies spring up, such as Lancia and L’Italia. And the new century only brings more modernity to Turin. The first Italian company with a patent for reinforced concrete opens shop in Turin. Thanks to this innovation in construction, FIAT is able to build the Lingotto complex/car factory (1915-1923), and later the Miarfiori factory (1939). But Turin is more than just cars. In 1914 the great film “Cabiria” hits the theaters, a moving picture directed by Pastrone, with inter-titles by Gabriele d’Annunzi. Turin thus becomes the capital of Italian cinema as well.
On the political front, the Fascist Party of Turin is founded in 1919, and in 1922 the central office for the magazine “Ordine Nuovo” (New Order), run by Antonio Gramsci, is burned. Mussolini comes to power in 1922. The first world war depresses many sectors of the economy, but the car and steel industries boom. During the 1930's state architect Marcello Piacentini redesigns via Roma. The second world appears imminent, and the industrial sectors consequently turn to war productions. The bombings of 1942 destroy much of the industrial area of town, and in 1943 the starving factory workers decide to rebel. In September of 1943 the Germans arrive in Turin, and the partigiani (partisans) take to the hills. On April 18, 1945 a strike paralyzes the city, and on April 26, the partisans begin their campaign to liberate Turin. They succeed on April 30, and on May 3 the Allies arrive to find an already liberated Turin.