On 26 April 1915, the Italian Prime Minister signed a treaty with Britain and the other Entente Powers in London. The agreement established that the terre irredente (unredeemed territories) of Trento, Istria, Fiume, Trieste and Dalmatia would be given to Italy at the end of the war on the condition that the latter was ready to join the conflict within one month. Until then, Italy had maintained a neutral position. The decision to join the Entente Powers came after a long period of intense political and social debate that had divided Italy between supporters of neutrality and interventionism. On 23 May 1915, nine months after Britain had declared war on Germany and Austria-Hungary, Italy entered the war on the British side. The following day, the Manchester Guardian newspaper reported:

In the headquarters of the ice-cream business – shy streets that dip down from the tram-ridden Clerkenwell Road – one searched in vain yesterday for war fever. The grizzled men in shirt sleeves sitting out on the soiled doorsteps of dark little shops were as cool about the crisis as the stuff they sell. The notice of the ‘dimostrazione patriocca’ (sic) on the walls did not stir more than a leisurely Southern interest. How different from the ebullient excitement of our Stock Exchange. ‘Little Italy’ was sunning itself within its smeared and cosy limits, only mildly interested apparently in ‘Italy on the brink’, ‘Italy’s fateful hour’, and other signs of agitation in those English newspapers which few Little Italians can read.1