Keywords: Italian History; Liberal Period; Jury System; Public Sphere; Fadda Affair.
The murder of Captain Giovanni Fadda in Rome in 1878 and subsequent trial of his wife and her lover exploded into a prototype "media circus" that exposed fissures in the fragile structure of the young Italian state. Rather than reinforcing a shared consensus through which the model of citizenship envisioned by Italy's founders might take root, the trial enacted the ineradicable conflicts that menaced the nationalist vision. Its result, therefore, was to contribute to the creation of a collective entity paradoxically defined by the recalcitrance of its members. The Fadda Affair evoked and prophesied the unresolved mixture of myth and substance that constitutes the weak but resilient Italian national edifice.