France or Italy? Let the people decide!

On 15 and 16 April 1860, just 150 years ago, the people of Nice voted on the sensitive question of union with France. Large crowds gathered in front of the building which is now the Lycée Massena to hear the results announced. A century and a half later, the event continues to make waves in the Bay of Angels. A minority of diehards still disputes the results of the referendum which saw the end of the city’s long association with Italy.

Yet it might not have been so. Until only a few weeks before the crucial vote, the faction in favour of remaining Italian was very powerful. In the end it came down to a number of crucial factors, including the Church – who were much more in favour of unification with France than with fiercely anti-clerical Turin. And the French promise of investment in the economy and quality of life, with roads,railways and other aspects of local infrastructure.placemass1865Place Massena in 1865, shortly after Nice became officially part of France.

Now, the Centre Universitaire Méditerranéen, based in Nice, is commemorating the historic occasion in a series of conferences specially organized between now and June:


Friday 23 April at 4pm
150 years of musical composition on the Côte d’Azur
André Peyregne, journalist and director of the Conservatoire Pierre Cochereau

Monday 26 April at 4pm
Matisse in Nice
Dominique Dupuis-Labbe, chief curator and lecturer at the Ecole du Louvre

Thursday 29 April (all day)
250 years of the British on the Riviera (1760-1960)
Symposium run by the Centre for Studies and History of Tourism in Riviera and the Mediterranean
4pm: Two centuries of British presence on the Riviera, Marc Boyer, historian

Tuesday 4 May at 4pm
Famous citizens of Nice
Jean-Marc Giaume, historian and town councillor

Thursday 6 May at 4pm
The intellectual ferment of Nice in the 19th century
Raoul Mille, writer and town councillor

Monday 17 May at 4pm
Cosmopolitan Nice
Ralph Schor, Professor at the Faculty of Arts of Nice – Yvan Gastaut, University Professor – Stephane Mourlane, Senior Lecturer in Contemporary History at UNSA

Tuesday 18 May at 4pm
The New Realists, the School of Nice
Daniele Bloch, Professor at the Ecole du Louvre

Wednesday 2 June at 4pm
Garibaldi, Hero of Two Worlds
Max Gallo, the Académie Française

Friday 11 June at 4pm
Cavour, architect of Italian unity and the cession of Nice to France
His Excellency Luigi Guidobono Cavalchini, Former Italian Ambassador to France

Tuesday 15 June at 4pm (€10)
The Slavic soul of the Riviera
Entertainment with words and music – Vladimir Fédorovski, journalist, writer and diplomat – Mikhail Rudy, piano