|Government type||N/A (1861: HM's Government)|
|Ruling party||N/A (1861: Conservative)|
|Capital||Rome (ID 749)|
|Population||N/A (1861: 4.53 million)|
|Literacy||N/A (1861: 32%)|
|Tech school||N/A (1861: Traditional Academia)|
Italy does not exist as an independent nation from 1836, but does exist in the "A House Divided" Expansion, which starts in 1861.
Italy begins the game split into many mini-states, as it has been through history since the Middle Ages. It is possible, and relatively easy, to unite the Italian peninsula together and form modern Italy.
Although any Italian state can be used to create Italy, the easiest tends to be Sardinia-Piedmont. Sardinia-Piedmont is one of the best Italian minors, as it has reasonably good and readily researchable industrial, diplomatic and military potential (these are the three areas to be focused on for uniting Italy).
If you wish to unite Italy as Sardinia-Piedmont (the most common option, though the other states must follow largely the same procedure) the first objective is to become a Great Power. When trying to achieve this, focus on administration, industrial and military technologies - if needed, form an alliance with a reasonable great power (such as the convenient France) and help them out in a war; the prestige gained will help elevate you to Great Power status.
Once you are a Great Power, the event "Garibaldi's Redshirts" may occur when rebels rise up and take over Italian countries. One can also provoke rebels, by attacking another italian state (reduce prestige is a good CB for this), and occupy them until rebels rise up. Declare any peace when the rebels have taken control over the capital, and wait for them to take the entire country.
It is also an option to sphere the south Italian countries from Austria. However, it may be necessary (or even convenient) to go to war with Austria for sphere control - a large ally such as France would be indispensable in this conflict, as Sardinia-Piedmont's military is inevitably smaller than Austria's. Eventually, once the southern states are owned through Garibaldi's Redshirts or by sphering them (or both) Italy can be formed.
Italy is in a relatively good position to invade Tunis and/or take over some of the Ottoman Africa area. Doing so will result in a fairly good starting point for the colonization of Africa. If It can be useful to annex some of Oman's east African territories, as they also provide excellent starting points for colonization. Invading other European countries unaided is a dangerous course of action for Italy as the Italian military and industrial production is often not high enough to sustain a prolonged total war against another great power. After the 1890s, it is recommended not to start wars of liberation against Austria, as it will likely result in the creation of a Great War. Protracted Great Wars are often difficult for Italy's POPs to withstand, and can lead to communist revolutions (and associated revolutions that occur in reaction to a communist revolution), which will cause Italy's prestige, industrial and military score to fall considerably.
Near the end of the game, Italy has a strong tendency to become fascist.
The 1861 scenario
In 1861, Italy is united, although the Papal States remains in control of Rome. The provinces of the Papal State has Italian cores on it, providing a casus belli for starting a war right away. The only problem is that France is securing its independence and sees it as part of the French Sphere of Influence.
Trying to remove the Papal States from France's sphere will be very hard so your best bet is to join a large war against France or wait for the Papal States to have a revolution. If the latter happens you automatically inherit The Papal States. Venice is still a part of the Austrian Empire but the "Italia Irredenta" decision is available from the start, giving you cores in other regions of the Austrian Empire considered part of Italy (Dalmatia, Istria and Venetia).
After Italy have taken all of its cores it can take the decision The Law of Guarantees, which changes to Capital to Rome. Italy will become strong enough to challenge Austria or France for more land both in Europe as well as in Africa. Time to reclaim Mare Nostrum.