Torelli, the Neapolitan who founded the Corriere della Sera

by Federico D'Addato

The most relevant Italian newspaper, the Corriere della Sera, owes its birth to an idea of the Neapolitan Eugenio Torelli Viollier.

Who was Eugenio Torelli Viollier?

The personal history of Eugenio Torelli Viollier is intertwined with the events of his time. Born in Naples by the jurist Francesco Torelli and his second wife Josephine Viollier in 1842, he lost his father at 8 and his mother at 14.

It was his older sister, He knows, born from a previous marriage of her father, to take care of him and the other half-brothers: Carlo e John the Baptist.

The Torelli family had always had an inspiration liberal, while remaining faithful to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Except Eugenio who, as we shall see, while believing in Risorgimento he was disappointed by the drifts.

In fact, when he was hired as an employee at the Parliament after the restoration of the institutions of Francis II of Bourbon in 1860, despite being Neapolitan, Torelli decided to join the Garibaldini and even if he did not fight he contributed to the birth of'Unification of Italy, exactly as Raffaele Conforti.

Torelli, the Neapolitan who founded the Corriere della Sera
Garibaldi's triumphal entry into Naples was also (and above all) due to many citizens such as Torelli who pushed for Unity

He continued to work in the ministries as a clerk until he received news of the birth of the "Independent“, A newspaper very close to Garibaldi's supporters and directed by Alexandre Dumas father. The articles were written in French and then translated, not without errors, so Torelli, being bilingual thanks to his mother, decided to join the staff as a translator.

Despite the opposition of his sister Luisa, who ordered him not to give up his post to the ministry, Eugenio managed to exercise both professions at the same time, completely giving up his free time.

After gaining Dumas' trust he followed him to Paris and called himself "his personal assistant". However, his cursus honorum for a journalistic career had only just begun.

Torelli, the Neapolitan who founded the Corriere della Sera
The first "teacher" of Torelli was the French author Alexandre Dumas father

A few years later, in fact, the Milanese publisher Edoardo Sozogno, met in the French capital, decided to offer him the direction of the illustrated periodical "The Universal Illustration“.

The first years a Milan they were not particularly lucky since the newspapers where he was editor-in-chief were soon closed. Later he collaborated with "The century" And "The Gazzettino Rosa" Of Felice Cavallotti.

However, relations soon cracked due to ideological and political issues Cavallotti e Young bulls many issues ended up in court and even the Milanese poet challenged to a duel the Neapolitan chronicler, only to fail to show up and send a swordsman in his place.

Torelli Viollier therefore began to work at "The Corriere di Milano"Of the brothers Treves before and for "Lombardy" then.

The Italian context

As already said, Eugenio Torelli Viollier is perfectly a man of his time and his life choices intersect with the events ofItaly. First its accession to the garibaldini while he was a direct employee of the bureaucratic machine of the Bourbon, then his abandonment of some newspapers because they were taking a turn "Mazzinian" And anti-monarchical, until to elections of 1874.

In 1874 the country split in two again: al North won the right, to the South there Left. Moreover, while in the Center North there was a strong component reactionary, in the South the "Southern question"Had resulted in cases more extreme to the phenomenon of banditry. Then, as today, such a wide polarization of Italy and the Italians could have led to catastrophic consequences for the nation.

Track down the Savoy king Vittorio Emanuele II he was carrying out a particular operation thanks to the help of many bourgeois, industrialists and leaders of the Left: a maneuver of internal confrontation between the two poles which would then lead to transformation. A phenomenon that led the various political souls to dialogue, putting in place the pragmatism before values.

Corriere della Sera is born

As in every political season, citizens' requests are not always intercepted in one area or another, to calm the spirits and to introduce a new way of thinking, a need for moderation of tone and content begins to arise.

An ideological vein invades internally the Village that Torelli manages to interpret and shape: the moderatism, a current that maintains a right-wing value base but which acts as an interlocutor with the Left, with which it confronts itself on many issues.

It was with this expedient that Eugenio Torelli Viollier, together with the publisher Riccardo Pavesi founded in 1876 “The Corriere della Sera“.

In his first editorial of the new Torelli he wrote:

«Public, we want to speak clearly. In seventeen years of free regime you have learned of many things. Now do not let yourself be fooled by sentences. You can read between the lines and you know the value of the swollen declarations and solemn declamations of the past. Your political education is mature. The wit, the esprit still fascinates you, but the emphasis leaves you cold and the violence bothers you. You want us to say bread to bread and not make a beam of a crack. You know that a fact is a fact and a word is but a word, and you know that in politics, more than in other things in this world, from word to fact, as the saying goes, there is a great deal. We therefore let's leave the rhetoric aside and come to speak to you clearly".

Even today, the relationships between information, politics and publishing are closely linked and the journalist's words seem more relevant than ever.

Torelli, the Neapolitan who founded the Corriere della Sera
Eugenio Torelli Viollier, co-founder of Corriere della Sera and precursor of the Italian moderates

The sad end of the life of Eugenio Torelli Viollier

Stabilized a Milan, married with Maria Antonietta Torrianni, who was said to have had a love affair with Giosuè Carducci.

However, continuous internal disputes within the family, which led to the suicide of Torelli's niece and later to divorce from his wife, particularly marked Eugenio, who decided to not remarry never again.

The liberal sympathies of Torelli Viollier did not leave him indifferent when, in 1898, during the riots in Milan, the rule of law in which he believed and hoped to quell the rebels with fire and blood.

From that moment he decided to leave the management of the “Corriere”, which had had the honor of founding and leading since 1876, for 22 years.

Eugenio Torelli Viollier, the inventor of the “Corriere della Sera” and precursor of the Italian moderates, died in his Naples in 1900.


Corriere del Sera, the story of the newspaper founded in Milan by a Neapolitan

The history of the Courier

Treccani: Eugenio Torelli Viollier

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