As a nation state, Italy has emerged only in 1871. Until then the country was politically divided into a large number of independant cities, provinces and islands. The currently available evidences point out to a dominant Etruscan, Greek and Roman cultural influence on today's Italians.
I have found the passenger lists for relatives who came to the United States in 1920. In the column where it asks "who paid for ticket", is listed the Italian government. Does anyone know why they would have been doing this at the time?
Hope this isn't too late for you! It is possible that it could be like with my grandfather (nonno) Ship Manifest: When he came back in 1919, from serving in WWI - on page 2 had: "passage paid by the Italian Government" He was a major in the Italian Army - coming back with others below him. I don't know if he or the others said their passage was paid by the IT Govt. but their "rank" was added above his & their occupations!