The article delivers a historical analysis of the State as public power. Although the State has experienced an incredible development in the last five centuries, it has witnessed three crises in the 20th century alone. In addition, for over ten years there has been a crisis of studies on the State. After examining the main institutional transformations triggered by these crises, and namely the one — still ongoing — caused by globalization, the article focuses on the Italian State, its history and its inadequate historiography. Amongst the traits that mark the history of Italy, there are a huge distance between the State and public opinion, several contradictions in the State-building process, a turnover between continuity and discontinuity. The State should be characterized according to how it regulates its relationships with citizens: in Italy, State and society are constantly separated.