Wednesday, March 23, 2011

7. Giuseppe, Anita, Goffredo

Today's photos:


1.  The monument to Giuseppe Garibaldi on the Janiculum Hill.

2.  A close-up of the Garibaldi statue.

3.  The tomb of Anita Garibaldi.

4.  A close-up of the statue of Anita.

5.  The Lighthouse of the Janiculum.

6.  The bust of Goffredo Mameli.

7.  The Mausoleum contains the remains of the fallen.

8.  The tomb of Mameli in the Mausoleum.



Giuseppe, Anita, Goffredo


One of the most important areas of Rome relating to the unification of Italy (the Risorgimento) is the Janiculum Hill.  It was here that the first battles for control of the City of Rome took place in 1849.  The Italian military hero of this period was, of course, Giuseppe Garibaldi, the general who led the Italian forces of unification.  There is not a city or town in Italy which does not have a monument to him or a street or piazza which bears his name.  In Rome, Via Garibaldi was named for the general in 1873; it is a picturesque street which winds down from the Janiculum Hill into Trastevere.


Garibaldi's monument in Rome, erected in 1895, is an enormous equestrian statue which rests on a high base at the peak of the Janiculum Hill overlooking the City.  Along with other monuments of a patriotic nature on the hill, it is getting a lot of attention during this anniversary year.  


A curiosity


Look carefully at the statue and you will see that although Garibaldi's horse is facing straight ahead in the direction of the City, the general himself has his head cocked slightly to his left, towards the Vatican, as if he were keeping an eye out for his old enemy.  This might seem like just an amusing anecdote to us today, but in the 1920's and 30's it was a source of controversy between the Vatican and the Fascist government of Mussolini.  It seems that Vatican officials objected to the "threatening" stare of Garibaldi in their direction.  The Duce made light of the objection and publicly announced that the statue would remain in its original position . . . including the famous "threatening" glare of Garibaldi!


This is a memorial to Garibaldi, but not his tomb.  He died and was buried on the island of Caprera in 1882.  His wife, Anita, a native of Brazil, also has a monument just a few yards down the hill from that of her husband, and she is actually buried at the foot of the monument.  At the base of the tomb can be seen a plaque which reads:







Here are the mortal remains of Anita Garibaldi


The pose of the statue reflects a real incident which took place in the life of Anita, not in Italy but in her native Brazil.  While Garibaldi was away from his camp, it was attacked and overrun by the enemy.  Anita escaped by galloping away on her horse, brandishing a pistol in her right hand and cradling in her left arm her infant child born a few days earlier.  This incident alone was enough to create a legend.


A curiosity


Anita's monument/tomb was dedicated in 1932 with great fanfare.  Mussolini himself gave the dedication speech in the presence of the king and queen and many dignitaries, including Ezio Garibaldi, the general's grandson.  Mussolini gave a stirring speech in which he proclaimed his Fascist Black Shirts to be the natural heirs of the famous Red Shirts of Garibaldi.  The speech whipped the pro-Garibaldi crowd into such frenzy that it began the chant of "Duce!  Duce!" as Mussolini embraced Ezio Garibaldi.


A short distance down the hill from the tomb of Anita is the Lighthouse of the Janiculum.  This monument is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year; it was donated to Rome by Italian immigrants in Argentina in 1911, the same year that the Victor Emanuel monument was dedicated.  The lighthouse is equipped with revolving green, white and red lights which can be seen at night from many vantage points in the City.  Like the other monuments on the hill, it has been given a special cleaning in preparation for the celebrations this year.  I am not optimistic that it will stay clean since it is a favorite target of graffiti writers.


This entire area, from Anita Garibaldi's tomb up past the Garibaldi monument, is lined with marble busts of men who fought with the general during those first battles in the struggle for Rome beginning in 1849 right here on the hill.  One of those busts deserves special attention because it bears the name Goffredo Mameli.  As mentioned in a previous "Sights", Mameli was not a soldier; he was a poet from Genova who volunteered to fight with Garibaldi for the unification of his country.  He was only twenty-one years old when he was seriously wounded and taken down the hill to a hospital where he died about a month later.


A curiosity


But what exactly were the circumstances surrounding the wounding and death of Mameli?  At 3:00 p.m. on June 3, l849, the French troops, fighting on behalf of the papacy, attacked in the area of Villa Pamphili and San Pancrazio.  Mameli and about 100 other defenders were forced to retreat from Villa Pamphili to the nearby Villa del Vascello.  Here Mameli received a serious wound to his leg, the result of a direct hit from a musket-shot.  He was taken to the Ospedale dei Pellegrini (Pilgrims' Hospital) near Campo dei Fiori where his wounded leg was amputated.  He never complained about his wound, smiling and saying that he was happy to suffer for his Country.  After his leg was amputated he asked if he could continue to fight on horseback.  He died on July 6 as a result of infection probably caused by poor medical treatment.  He is buried on the Janiculum hill in the Mausoleo Garibaldino.   


On the façade of the former Ospedale dei Pellegrini a plaque commemorates the death of Mameli and other heroes of the war.










In this hospice the poet Goffredo Mameli and many other brave men died of their   wounds in the defense of Rome for the freedom of Italy in the year 1849.


The quotation on the façade of Mameli's tomb is from a speech given by his mother, Adelaide Zoagli Mameli just a few months after his death.


. . . Però il mio dolore è profondo e lo tengo sacro, è tutto per me.  Cerco di essere degna del figlio.  E d'una italiana.  Me lo divinizzo.  Lo considero come un martire.  E come tale non lo piango . . .


. . . However my sorrow is profound and I hold it sacred, it is all for me.  I try to be worthy of my son.  And of being an Italian.  I exalt him.  I consider him like a martyr. And as such I do not weep for him . . .


Mameli is best remembered as the author of a poem, Fratelli d'Italia (Brothers of Italy) which in 1946 became the Italian National Anthem.  The Italians refer to it simply as L'Inno di Mameli (The Anthem of Mameli). (For more about the significance of the Janiculum Hill as it relates to the unification of Italy, see The Sights of Rome, Chapter 11, The Janiculum Hill).


A Sad Anniversary


What follows is an addendum to Chapter 10, Le Fosse Ardeatine, in my book, Rome: Sights and Insights.  To get the full story, read, or re-read, that chapter in the book together with this update.


Tomorrow, March 24, is the 67th anniversary of the brutal Nazi atrocity in Rome known as the Fosse Ardeatine.  As usual there will be a ceremony at the site, which will be attended by the President of Italy, the Mayor of Rome and other dignitaries, as well as family members of many of the 335 people who were executed on that day in 1944.


This year on Sunday, March 27, three days after the official memorial ceremony on the actual date of the slaughter, a private visit to the site will be made by Pope Benedict XVI.  There have been other papal visits to the Fosse Ardeatine in the past; Paul VI visited in 1965 and John Paul II in 1982.  However, this papal visit is particularly significant because it is being made by a German pope.  It will certainly be a dramatic, historic and emotional moment.


But there is yet another reason to pay close attention to this particular papal visit.  It concerns one of the 335 people killed, an Italian army colonel named Giuseppe Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo.  Here, briefly is his story.  When the Fascist regime of Mussolini fell on July 25, 1943, Colonel Montezemolo worked with other patriots to try to save Rome from German occupation.  He also worked to obtain false documents and safe-conduct passes for many of the Jews who had managed to escape the deportation to Nazi concentration camps.  Unfortunately, someone betrayed the colonel and on January 24, 1944, he was arrested by the Germans and imprisoned in the infamous SS prison of Via Tasso where he underwent harsh interrogations and tortures.  Two months after his arrest, on March 24, he was included on the list of those to be executed in reprisal for an Italian partisan attack on German soldiers in the occupied City on March 23.


I am telling you this one man's story because when Pope Benedict visits the site on Sunday, March 27, he will have at his side Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, the son of Colonel Montezemolo.  He was eighteen years old when his father was executed at the Fosse Ardeatine.  It was the pope himself who asked Cardinal Montezemolo to be at his side during the visit.  So we have a German pope whose fellow Germans were responsible for the slaughter, and next to him stands one of his cardinals whose father was a victim in the massacre.  This is what makes this papal visit so memorable this year.


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