Italy

Italy is the most special country on the board. It does not belong to either the southern (Russia, Turkey, Austria) or northern (England, France, Germany) triangle. By many statistics, Italy is also the least favorite country to play, often in close competition with Austria.

My main advice to any player having drawn Italy: be patient. Do not panic if you see countries around you growing to 5,6,7 supply centers. You might only have 4 supply centers, but that does not tell the whole story.

The advantage of Italy in the early game is that you really only need to focus on two countries. Next to France and Austria, it could be very wise to understand what is happening around the Black Sea with Turkey and Russia.

Italy – France relationship

France is your neighbor in the west. It is very likely France would like a DMZ in Piedmont and surroundings, to start grabbing neutral supply centers. Here is the first piece of patience that you will need: just take the DMZ and keep Piedmont free. An attack on France requires minimally two fleets, which you do not have (yet).

If you want to play aggressive, an attack on France would also not be my personal choice, as I believe you could grow more aggressive by moving east.

Italy – Austria relationship

Italy and Austria are direct neighbors, and in this case, Direct with a capital letter D. You have two units next two each other in their home supply centers at the start of the game. Please notice this is a unique situation on the board. I believe there are only two possible strategies to deal with Austria when you play Italy.

Option 1: you become allies, usually also with Germany involved, and plan a combined attack on Turkey and later you move west as Italy towards France (or you could stab your former ally).
Option 2: you move hard on Austria, get the Russians to attack from the east towards Galicia.

Option 2 is one of the reasons people do not like playing Austria, as these combined moves from Russia and Italy almost guarantee a quick (but not painless) Austrian defeat. The reason option 2 can be risky for Italy is that Russia and Turkey usually gain a strong strategical advantage as they have no opponent in their backs, whereas you still have France to watch. If Italy grows to aggressive, France could send one or more fleets in the Mediterranean, causing you a very dangerous problem.

Via Tyrolia Italy is also quite close to Germany. Although in principle you could conquer Munich in Fall 1901, it is not an option I usually recommend. It could be a good start for an alliance with France, but usually you lose Munich later as an Italian because other forces (French, Russian, British) will come and kick you out. On top of this, if you manage to take Tyrolia in Spring 1901, having a closer look at some Austrian supply centers could bring you more gains.