How to research your genealogy in military records of Italy.
Q. My grandfather was in the Italian cavalry. Was military service compulsory in Italy? How do I obtain his military records?
A. Happily for genealogists (if not necessarily for young Italian men), in 1865 Italy instituted conscription of all males at the age of 18. Even disabled men had to report to the draft board for a physical exam, so these records encompass every native Italian male born from about 1850 to the present, except those who emigrated before age 18. These conscription records (registro di leva) and discharge records (foglio di congedo illimitato) contain rich genealogical finds, ranging from birth data and parents’ names to physical descriptions. If you don’t know the exact locality where your ancestor lived—a must for most Italian research, such as in church records—military records can provide this essential information, because the records are grouped by military district and province rather than by town.