Sunday, November 17, 2013


Garibaldi watches over Rome.


On top of the Janiculum Hill in Rome, it's difficult to avoid reminders of a grim time in 1849, when Garibaldi and his Garibaldini fought for the "freedom of Rome" against troops, mostly French, who had mustered at the behest of the Pope to prevent the city being taken over by the political faction that wanted to "unite Italy." They lost the battle, but - eventually - they won the war, and modern-day Italy's "risorgimento" ("revival") began.

The Janiculum Hill was the battle site, and today you can find all kinds of reminders, from a cannonball embedded in the wall of a church, to a fine white marble commemorative monument, to rows of busts of the "patriots" who died, to a massive equestrian statue of Garibaldi himself.

Porto San Pancrazio
The Porto San Pancrazio (once called the Porta Aurelia) stands at the highest point on the Janiculum Hill, and now houses a small museum dedicated to the exploits of Garibaldi and the fortunes of the Roman Republic of the19th century.

Garibaldini uniforms (he wore the one on the left).
Inside you can see a jacket that Garibaldi wore, the recognisable Garabaldini caps, relief maps of the Hill to trace the battle lines, and details of the excellent though short-lived Constitution declared by the so-called 'Triumvirate': Mazzini, Saffi and Armellini (in early 1849). The whole 19th century Italian risorgimento makes a complicated story, but is covered in detail by the Wiki entry, here, if you're interested.

Armellini, Mazzini, Saffi.
A Constitution is declared.
An excerpt from the short Constitution: " defends the Italian."

Anita rides again.
Rome has a massive statue of Mazzini on the slopes of the Aventine Hill, looking across the Campus Maximus towards the Palantine. But The Janiculum Hill, with its gorgeously unparalleled views of the city, is Garibaldi's memorial. His massive equestrian statue sits atop the Hill, and dozens of white busts of the patriots line the edges of the parks. There are memorial walls, a small monument to the youngest patriot, a boy from the back streets of Trastevere, and -- my personal favourite -- a smaller equestrian statue of Garibaldi's young South American wife Anita: in her twenties, clutching her new-born baby to her bosom and waving a pistol. She fought alongside Garibaldi on the Janiculum, and died soon afterwards.

Dramatic times. 2011 was the 150th anniversary of the Risorgimento and here's a news report about the restoration work that was done on the Hill in time for the celebrations:

The monument to Giuseppe Garibaldi on Rome’s Janiculum hill is being restored in time for the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy, and will be unveiled by the president of the Italian republic Giorgio Napolitano on 17 March. The statue of Garibaldi on horseback, which dates to 1895 and is the work of Florentine sculptor Emilio Gallori, is among 100 works on the Janiculum being restored in an €18.5 million programme. 
Also being restored is the bronze of Garibaldi’s Brazilian wife Anita, depicted on horseback with a baby in one hand and a pistol in the other. It was sculpted in 1932 by Mario Rutelli, the grandfather of former mayor of Rome Francesco Rutelli. Other works include the landlocked Manfredi lighthouse, which was a gift to the city from Italians living in Argentina in 1911, and 83 marble busts along the Janiculum Walk, some of which were vandalised last summer.  
The three-month restoration of the 25-metre monument proved a challenge for the six experts. They found the Baveno granite to be contaminated with limescale which they treated with antioxidants and they discovered that water had seeped inside the statue and was slowly corroding the interior. One brave member of the team worked from inside the stomach of the 800kg horse, applying layers of paint and wax to seal it from further leaks.
The monument will be covered until the day of the ceremony in order to prevent vandalism from graffiti artists. 
A very Roman report. I can advise that Garibaldi's monument stands today free of graffiti and looking out across the city for which he fought.

The Patriots.
It was a serious business.
Guiseppe Garibaldi.

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