The lands once crossed by the ancient Roman road "Via Egnatia” had a turning point in their history in mid-19th century. Balkans was definitely subject to the rule of the Ottoman Empire from the starting of the "modern age” in 15th century. The turmoil at the half of 19th century upset the whole of Europe, including Balkan territories. The brief and bloodshed "spring of people” in 1849-1849 posed a serious challenge to the long-standing domain of multinational empires in Europe. Although the Ottomans were not directly affected by the 1848 revolutions, the Turkish rule increasingly declined ever since. The rise of nationalities in Balkans is a part of larger European phenomenon and belongs to European history. Movements of national uprising started to act against Turks in the whole Balkan region: Serbia, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Montenegro. The cultural premise of this new kind of national consciousness was often a quasi mythological memory of a "great” past of an ancient incarnation of the country. Myths and propaganda of "Great Serbia”, "Great Albania”, "Great Romania” inflamed the cultural and military fight against the Ottoman Empire. As the great dynasties declined, the emergence of national programs changed the political landscape of Balkans. As the Turkish rule faded, Western Powers and Russia showed a greater interest to gain influence in the region. After the crisis of 1878 Balkans were substantially freed by the Ottoman Rule. Austria-Hungary, Russia, Imperial Germany, Italy and France were competing to replace the Ottoman Empire as most influential power in the region. Austria-Hungary by annexing Bosnia attempted to establish a new regional hegemony. The national struggle of the new-born States became necessarily anti-Austrian.
The definition of the new borders became the main issue in Balkans from 1878 to the onset of World War I. Borders were hard to be defined given the mixed ethnic configuration of the region. Italy as minor power with strong ties in the region played a crucial role in the borders question. This paper will reconstruct the role of Italy as partner and instrument of the Balkan policy at the end of 19th century.