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- +20% Global trade power
- +50% Better relations over time
- -10% Stability cost modifier
- +15% Infantry combat ability
- -15% Galley cost
- +20% Galley combat ability
- +33% National manpower modifier
- +15% National tax modifier
- +1 Yearly prestige
- -25% Core-creation cost
- +20% Fort Defense
Italy is one of the formable countries in EU4 that can be formed by any country with the Lombard (Latin) culture group, most likely Tuscany, Savoy, Milan, or Venice. The Holy Roman Empire and the Papal State can't form Italy. Forming Italy in Ironman mode will give the player the Italian Ambition achievement.
The player's country:
Forming Italy is the only condition to receive the Italian Ambition achievement.
Note: Forming Italy will replace your present nation's unique ideas with Italy's unique ideas. This means that it may be better to remain Venice, for example, than to become Italy, depending on your idea preferences. Forming Italy also changes your government to a despotic monarchy if you are a republic and gives you claims over the whole Italian Region. The player's capital is also moved to Roma. Italy is a cultural union (similar as France, Germany, Spain, Russia or Scandinavia), thus all Latin cultures give no penalties.
- The player has the option to play as Italy, starting in 29 June 1797, or to form it as any Latin culture nation, except for The Papal State.
Tuscany is in many ways an ideal option for forming Italy, as its position within The Holy Roman Empire protects it from its southern neighbors. In addition, Tuscany is located strategically at the HRE's most southern border, and can choose to remain in the HRE if the Shadow Kingdom event fires. This means it has the possibility of expanding into Romagna, which is held by The Papal State, which is not a member of the HRE. They also hold Firenze, which is required to form Italy. Expanding into Papal lands should be the player's top priority, as The Papal State will gain powerful allies quite early, which may hinder your expansion plans over its lands. If Naples breaks its personal union with Aragon, they will also turn into a rival to contend with and grab land from. Regarding Tuscany's northern borders, it is quite tempting just to annex these, and while this will hasten the creation of Italy it will also result in annoying Demands of Unlawful Territory from the Emperor. Instead they should be vassalised whenever possible, either diplomatically or militarily. After this they will serve as an excellent supplement for income and troops, making it easy to attack your southern rival, Naples (provided they are no longer in a personal union under Aragon). Once you've been an overlord of the vassal for 10 years or more, have 190 relations or more with them, and are at peace, you can begin their annexation. When this is completed the player has the possibility of forming Italy (Following this guides can let the player achieve a formed Italy by 1550). This said the biggest downside to forming Italy as Tuscany is that Tuscany is an Oligarchic Republic, and therefore when it reforms into a despotic monarchy the ruler's legitimacy is 0. There are also notable differences in National Ideas between Tuscany and Italy. It may be preferable to remain as Tuscany, however becoming Italy will give you strong militaristic boosts as well as claims on the rest of the Italian area with the downside of immediately leaving the HRE if you have not already left it.
Naples is a bit more of a challenging choice for forming Italy because it does not start as a part of the Holy Roman Empire, which means it would be inadvisable to attack its members, unless you have strong allies, like France or the Emperor himself, or if the Shadow Kingdom event fires, removing Italy from the HRE. Becoming a prince of the HRE is also an option. Secondly, you start in a Personal Union under Aragon, so you need to break free before many options will become available to you; Aragon usually allies with Austria and Portugal and in order to take them down you should make strong allies too. Castile, Hungary and Venice would be good choices. Ask them to support your independence, then pick your moment to declare war on Aragon. As soon as you`re free, you need to start your expansion to The Papal State. Try to avoid gaining too much AE or you may face some nasty coalitions. Don`t forget to conquer Sardinia and Corsica and reclaim your cores in Sicily from Aragon. The next step will be the conquest of the Lombardia region. If you have already joined the HRE, don`t worry about the Emperor (usually Austria). If you haven`t, you'll be wanting to make friends with France or Austria, France is preferable as it is not an HRE member, so it won`t hold a grudge against you for annexing HRE provinces. Expand into Venice and Austria first in order to keep good relations with the French. Then you may take Milan and Savoy`s lands and form Italy.
Milan is a great nation to use to form Italy if you are a player with some experience. Milan owns Lombardia (104), which is one of the goals to become Italy. First as Milan is to ally with France or Austria, it’s better to ally with France because Milan is part of the HRE. The first step is to take over Mantua to gain more of a force limit. Second is to strengthen you gold income by taking Liguria from Genoa. Now you have two options (both of which are required for Italy), invade Tuscany and annex it (who by now has probably taken Siena) or go after the pope and vassalize him because of his three cores (both of which are needed to form Italy). After all this conquering, you should wait for the 10th administrative level which comes at around 1515.
Savoy is in many ways a great choice of nation to form Italy, aside from Naples it is the largest Italian nation, it starts independent and inside the HRE. Savoy can expand in many directions, however it borders two countries that will at some point start eyeing your lands with envy. If the player wants a challenge they can try to take France head on, if you can get some powerful allies and pick the right moment to strike this is doable. The most reliable way to beat the French is to ally Burgundy and Spain and attack them while they are still in the Hundred Years War, this can let you weaken them significantly and may even stop the BBB (Big Blue Blob [France]) forming. The next most difficult route is to buddy up to France and use them as your personal army, any war France helps you in is pretty much won already so if your main focus in-game is to keep France as your best buddy it allows you to expand into Provence and Avignon. If you choose this path remember to maintain good relations with France, keep it above 100 and they should be your friends for most of the game, let it drop, and you will find yourself in deep trouble. The next option is much slower paced and may not pay off but if you focus all your efforts in becoming the HRE, you can potentially grab the Burgundian lands turning you into a super power, from there it should be easy to expand into Italy. A couple of hints and general tips when playing Savoy: You have a super powerful national idea with the two extra diplomatic slots, this lets you have a huge sphere of influence; it is possible for example, to ally and royal marriage etc. with three electors, vassalise Milan for some Italian land and then ally with two great powers, allowing you a good chance to become HRE, have a large army come to your defense and by annexing Milan you get three rich provinces part of the lands needed to form Italy, and borders with the countries you need to annex to form Italy. Part of what makes Savoy so versatile is their diplomatic slots, these allow very situation specific allies and expansion in almost any direction. Many people complain that they always get steamrolled by the French, but with strategic allies and careful play it is possible to turn the tide.
There are three main points about Italy that you should constantly remind yourself of as you play as Italy.
Italy is situated in between France, the Ottomans, and Austria. These three powers have the potential to completely wipe you out. Especially the Ottomans with their higher naval force limit provided they annexed the Mamluks. This however is possible to avert simply by allying yourself with France. If you have allied France since the beginning as Tuscany or Milan then you should be fine as you likely have already gained their trust and an almost unbreakable friendship. The only thing you have to worry about is the unlawful territory in the case that France decides to expand into HRE lands. Austria has the potential to be a complete powerhouse capable of competing seriously with every great power in the game, to lose their emperor status and be left with nothing. Either way you should still be wary of their expansion, especially if the event that triggers their inheritance of Burgundy fires. And as always France should be used as an ally against as the Ottomans as they will likely rival each other anyway.
The second issue with Italy is their trade nodes. When Italy is formed their trade port is likely still in Genoa. This is bad sometimes. Unless you took Provence fairly early in the game and have earned France's trust, France is the most likely to take control of Genoa and attempting to take control of it with trade ships will only result in losses. Move your trade port to anywhere in the Venice node if this is the case. This gives a stronger incentive to annex Venice. If you were hasty enough in forming Italy there is possible to form multiple trade companies starting from Ivory Coast. The other colonist nations like to take the new world on more and there is plenty of room for a dominant trade company. From here you should prioritize taking the coastline of Ivory Coast and then annexing the Kongo. The Cape isn't necessary to put a trade company into as there are no nations that collect from here. If you can, however, then do so. If you have all of Africa under an Italian coastline then you essentially have a whole continent worth of resources. Zanzibar is an option but this one requires much more thought. It is possible that Kilwa has successfully taken everything it can in this area and is now a protectorate of the Mamluks, Hejaz, or even worse, the Ottomans. Once you've taken Zanzibar however you have taken one of the most important trade nodes in the game. The reason being as this take from the Gulf of Aden (Takes from India) and Malacca (Takes from China, Indonesia, and Australia) and the ducats that come from here are immense. Hopefully you have taken the Expansion idea group for both the permanent casus belli and extra colonist and merchant. From here your trade companies will have to be formed through conquest. The first place you should visit however should be Malacca. The Indian trade nodes have strong competition from the horde and Ottoman merchants and getting your share might be a wasted effort. The Malacca node on the other hand likely has an already annexed Malacca. Beware of the Spanish and Portuguese presence that is usually here before you. They will likely colonize the Philippines first however and then bring money to Malacca so it could be beneficial to you. After pulling the money from Malacca all the way to Ivory Coast, it is probably best to just collect right from Ivory Coast depending on your trade power in Genoa. If it's above 75% then go ahead and transfer it to Genoa. Also, take note of anyone pulling into Timbuktu, especially the Songhai as they have a national idea that improves their caravan power. If it becomes an issue, either force protectorate or annex. Whatever you deem more sensible at the time.
It is important to know which trade node to focus on early in the game. If you want to focus on Venice then do so. If you want to focus on Genoa then do so. This is crucial in deciding how you want to play. If you go with Venice and you start conquering some of the Mamluk lands then you can actually go ahead and take India right away. This puts you at a major advantage over other Western powers in the India trade game. You can then feed trade all the way from Nippon and Australia to Venice and can massive amounts of cash due to no competition and the fact that Venice is an end-node, unlike Genoa (pre-1.12). Whether you want to take the Africa route or the Asia route depends on what you decide to do first and how well the Ottomans do.
As Italy you're going to have a strong Mediterranean presence, which may increase tensions with some of your neighbors. While Italy gets boosts to its military, they aren't the absolute best. The +33% manpower and 15% infantry combat ability are quite nice and can fend off units crossing into your mountains or coastlines with ease. The lowered Galley cost and combat ability are superb for your location and it is preferred to attempt to hold off on amassing a major fleet until you get this idea. Another idea that helps with military, albeit more offensively, is the lowered core creation cost. Although at this time perhaps the quantity of minor nations to annex is lower so you may just be stuck with overseas/colonial expansion. This can be used to help dampen the +100% core creation cost of the Berber states and grant you the Tunisian trade node however. The high base tax and, if you took them, the Italian provinces quality are perfect to fund a strong army. It's not as insane as say France or a formed Germany but it takes a very close 2nd/3rd place against them. The second you form Italy your first enemy should be Austria for the title of emperor. By fighting Austria and annulling their alliances with the electors this gives you a chance for their votes. Another option is forcefully vassalizing the electors or revoking their status and granting electorate status to an OPM vassal such as Urbino (once you add their province to the HRE), Siena, Mantua, etc.
As Italy it is best if you keep a couple vassals with certain ideas to aid you in your game. Prussia/Brandenburg has the best land based military ideas while Venice holds strong naval power. Venice however should be chosen with the knowledge that they will take most of the trade income. Aragon would also be a fine choice if looking for an extra naval vassal. If Spain hasn't already been formed, however... Whichever you decide to vassalize keep these choices in mind. Having a permanent ally that's land based and another that's water based could prove beneficial in protecting the HRE lands should you become emperor. The weakness in Italy is that its generic ideas force it to be average in all aspects. Offset this with vassals to cover your weaknesses.
The first idea group will depend on what nation you chose to start with. From the four listed above, Savoy should have defensive, Tuscany with Diplomatic, Naples with Quality, and Milan with Diplomatic as well. After that you should go with these.
2. Exploration. Starts your African colonies.
3. Expansion. Extra colonist, merchant, reputation.
5. Defensive. A maintained 20 army tradition plus stronger forts. (Naval if Savoy)
6. Trade. To take advantage of both Genoa and Venice.
7. Naval. To maintain Mediterranean dominance (Diplomatic if Savoy)
8. Any military idea group that suits your fancy. To stay relevant.
As of 1.7 there is a much more streamlined list of ideas to go with that can be chosen regardless of which nation you choose.
1. Defensive. Starting out you will have less men and will be timing your wars with sometimes decades of waiting. The first idea will at least maintain 20 army tradition at all times.
2. Administrative. Cheaper cores, cheaper mercenaries, better loans. Italy is a war machine. This is vital.
3. Exploration. Control of Genoa means control of Africa. Reap the riches for yourself.
4. Naval. Stronger galley strength is perfect for Italy.
5. Trade. Expanding your grasp of the Mediterranean is important. You can switch this with Maritime.
6. Religious. At this point you should be at full strength. Ready to take on the Ottomans head on. Converting their lands will be beneficial.
7. Maritime. Expand your navy with this. Can be switched out with trade if needed.
8. Anything you want that you deem is important.
This order is very flexible except for the first two. In order to colonize most of Africa Exploration is a must. You can hold off on this however due to the other nations tending to favor the new world much more. Trade should be taken indefinitely. Whether you want that before Defensive is up to you. Defensive is a near must for Italy. There are many powers surrounding Italy and you're in the middle of it. Keep it this way. Naval is good for naval powers, of course. Italy is a naval power so this is a good idea to pick up. It is sometimes better to pick this up before trade if you haven't set up all of your trade companies fully yet.
When you have everything set up pretty well you should have: an army of ~50 troops in your homeland mixed in with mercenaries, ~20 troops running through Africa and Asia protecting your companies and conquering land to make new ones, a ~20/0/0/~30 navy carrying these troops along with an 80 strong navy in your homeland, 50–70 ducats a month with full maintenance and lvl 3 advisers, France at your side, emperor of the HRE, Prussia as a vassal, trade companies going from Ivory Coast all the way to Beijing/Australia, complete control of the Venice trade node drawing money from Constantinople>Ragusa>Venice, Alexandria, and Wien, the title of the Holy Roman Emperor, 10 nations improving relations with you at a time, 6 nations rivaling you, the Ottomans closing in, France getting antsy, and the Commonwealth never being formed.
Remember. You're in a fragile position, but the best kind. The kind that keeps you on your toes. Keep your wits about you, your blade sharp, and the money flowing. tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito, quam tua te fortuna sinet.