I just started reading The Castle of Fratta/The Confessions of an Italian (same book, multiple titles) by Ippolito Nievo, who was a 19th century writer and member of Garibaldi's redshirts/the Thousand who overthrew Bourbon rule in Naples and Sicily, uniting that area with the rest of Italy. Nievo died in a shipwreck at a young age while traveling back and forth doing related administrative work, but he left behind a massive novel which reminds me of LM and War and Peace in that it is a historical novel set a few generations prior, with Napoleon playing a significant background role, and explains the author's theory of life/politics/God/everything. It follows four people from childhood to death in old age, with the most important part being their adventures following Napoleon's invasion of Italy, the collapse of the Venetian Republic (where they live), and the beginnings of Italian nationalism.
Anyway, I'm not very far in yet, but it's good so far, though you can tell it was written by a young guy who didn't get a chance to edit. The only English version is abridged, so that's what I'm reading.
The first sentence is fantastic and encapsulates the theme: "I was born Venetian on October 18, 1775, the day of St. Luke the evangelist; and I will die by the grace of God Italian, whenever it pleases the providence who mysteriously governs this world."