Italy Enters the War
When the First World War began, Italy was a second-order European power, allied to Germany and Austria-Hungary through the Triple Alliance of 1882. While Italy had no serious differences with Germany — indeed, she formally renewed the Triple Alliance in 1912 — she had irredentist claims stretching back to the 1860s to the Italian-speaking Austro-Hungarian region of Trentino/ South Tyrol which soured the Triple Alliance. Italy also claimed Istria and Trieste (citing the presence of Italian speakers) and wanted the Dodecanese islands, occupied in 1912, to be recognised as Italian. The differences with Austria-Hungary meant that Italy remained neutral in 1914. Italian socialists and pacifists opposed the war, and she was militarily weak; she had a largely agrarian economy, a shortage of raw materials (especially coal), deep internal social divisions, a weak army and a disinterested population. So, on 2 August 1914, the Italian government seized on the lack of consultation by the Central Powers formally to declare its neutrality, a decision that surprised no one.