Italy and Puglia, The Inevitability of Giuseppe Garibaldi

Giuseppe Garibaldi Molfetta Puglia Italy

Garibaldi is the only wholly admirable figure in modern history.”                 A.J.P. Taylor (English Historian)

It was the last full day in Puglia and our plan was to stay at the hotel garden and swimming pool for the morning and then go sightseeing in the afternoon.  It was Monday and I guessed that the garage shop that was closed yesterday would be open today so I ventured out again onto the dangerous road and carefully negotiated the short walk and bought some wine and beer to see us through the last day and evening.

There were even fewer guests at the hotel today than there had been the day before so finding a perfect spot to sit and read presented no problem at all and we let the morning slip away in virtual solitude.

An hour or two of sitting on a sun bed doing nothing is quite long enough I find so shortly after midday we left the outdoor terrace, changed into our walking about clothes and called for a taxi.  It was cheaper than yesterday at only €13 but I still resented paying out such a huge sum as the driver dropped us off at the central train station.

Our intention now was to take the train in a westerly direction and visit the fishing port of Molfetta a few kilometres along the coast.  So far on these travels the Italian trains had been completely reliable and punctual but this time there was a fifteen minute delay and although the station address system provided some information in English I couldn’t understand a word of it as it crackled horribly through the overhead speakers.

Finally the big electric engine hummed into the station and after a few moments we were upstairs in a double-decker carriage and on our way through the untidy industrial zones of the city and out towards the coast and we arrived in Molfetta after about a thirty minute ride.

We didn’t have a map of course but we were fairly certain of the right direction towards the harbour and we confidently set off in our chosen direction and within a few moments came upon a leafy square and the inevitable statue of Italy’s great hero, Giuseppe Garibaldi who we have come across previously in (no exaggeration here) every town and city that we have visited in Italy.

After the creation of the Kingdom of Italy in 1861 the state worked hard at making sure Garibaldi would be perpetually remembered and the number of streets, piazzas and statues named after him makes him probably the most commemorated secular figure in history.  Such was the romance of his story of revolutionary heroism and daring-do that Garibaldi was at one point possibly the most famous man in Europe.

In London in 1864 for example people flocked to see him as he got off the train. The crowds were so immense it took him six hours to travel three miles through the streets. The whole country shut down for three days while he met the great and the good.  Literary figures including the poet laureate Alfred Lord Tennyson and Sir Walter Scott lauded him as the “Italian lion” and the noblest Roman of them all”.

Statues of his likeness stand in many Italian squares and in other countries around the world.  A bust of Giuseppe Garibaldi is prominently placed outside the entrance to the old Supreme Court Chamber in the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC, a gift from members of the Italian Society of Washington. Many theatres in Sicily take their name from him and are ubiquitously named Garibaldi Theatre.

Five ships of the Italian Navy have been named after him, among which a World War II cruiser and the former flagship, the aircraft carrier Giuseppe Garibaldi.

When I went on holiday to Sorrento in 1976 I took a bus ride along the Amalfi Coast the coach stopped at one dangerously precipitous hairpin bend so that the tour guide could point out to us an outcrop of rock in the sea which is said to show the profile of the great man.

Garibaldi Rock Amalfi Coast

The English football team Nottingham Forest designed their home red kit after the uniform worn by Garibaldi and his men and have worn a variation of this design since being founded in 1865 and there is a Nottingham Forest team magazine called the ‘Garibaldi Gazette‘.  Rather interesting that they choose Garibaldi and not Robin Hood in my opinion.  A college in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire is also named in his honour.

The Garibaldi biscuit was named after him, as was a style of beard, a pop group in Mexico and in Italy there is a cocktail drink called the Garibaldi (based almost inevitably on the Italian drink Campari). The Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy has been awarded annually since 2007 in the European Six Nations rugby union competition to the winner of the match between France and Italy.

Garibaldi Six Nations Rugby Trophy

Other places and things named after Garibaldi include the Garibaldi National Park including Mount Garibaldi, Lake Garibaldi and a Volcanic belt  in British Columbia in Canada; the city of Garibaldi in Oregon, USA; a town and a gold mine in Victoria, Australia and a town in Brazil (his wife, Anita, was Brazilian).

There are Hotels in Naples, Palermo, Venice and Milan, but only a bed and breakfast in Rome. In England there are streets and squares named after him in London, Scarborough, Grimsby, Bradford and St Albans and a hotel in Northampton.  There is a Pizzeria in Memphis, Tennessee and in the Pacific Ocean near California there is a scarlet fish and a marine reef called Garibaldi. There is a museum on Staten Island, New York; stations on the Paris metro and in Mexico City; a café in Madrid, an area in Berlin, restaurants in Vienna and Kuala Lumpur, a Street in Moscow, a Museum in Amsterdam and a block of high-rise Social Housing flats in my home town of Grimsby.

If I have missed anything important out of my list then please let me know.

I have got rather a lot of photographs of Garibaldi statues from my Italian city visits but I took some more here and then we continued our stroll to the old town and harbour.

“We were for centuries
downtrodden, derided,
because we are not one people,
because we are divided.
Let one flag, one hope
gather us all.
The hour has struck
for us to unite.”

Italy National Anthem

  Garibaldi Fish  Garibaldi Metro Station   

Giuseppe Garibaldi Italian Navy   

Garibaldi Oregon

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11 responses to “Italy and Puglia, The Inevitability of Giuseppe Garibaldi

  1. That biscuit looks yummy! 🙂

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  2. Entertaining, as ever Andrew.
    A few reflections from me now.

    First, your joke re Nottingham Forest favouring Garibaldi over Robin Hood. I’d expect nothing less, since Mr Hood was always on the run from Nottingham’s sheriff !! And anyway, Forest would not look the same in GREEN shirts, as they would have had to have been, if they had adopted Robin’s colours.

    Mind you, I have never understood why Lincoln City never chose to play in Lincoln GREEN. After all, was not Mr Hood a forerunner of your modern military strategist who favours camouflage as an effective way to wage war? I always understood he chose to wear green as it made his men more difficult for the Sheriff to spot in Sherwood Forest.

    And that then invites the question: why do not more soccer teams play in all green? Surely they will blend in with the grass! Imagine if they body painted their thighs, hands and faces green too?! They would be harder for opponents to spot.

    [I think for 10 seconds, and then the penny drops: they’d be harder for teammates to spot also! D’oh!]

    Second, the plethora of Garibaldi piazzas in Italy. Yes you are right. They surely rival the degree of omnipresence of MLK Avenues/Boulevards in the USA, since his murder in 1968. And I am tempted to add that only the number of Nelson Mandela Ways in what are/were New Labour heartlands here in the UK, run them close when it comes to ubiquity!

    And finally, I have twice dined at Tennyson’s old home, Farringford, on the IOW. There is a giant Wellingtonia tree there, planted by Garibaldi to mark his stay there with the poet in 1864.

    See you soon.

    KIndest,
    Dai Woosnam
    Grimsby,UK.

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    • Thanks for your contribution Dai. Of course Forest could still have played in red if they had used Will Scarlet as their role model! According to Wiki he had “a love of fine elegant clothes and is often seen wearing red silk. He was the most skilled swordsman of the merry men…”

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  3. Your dead fly biscuit is my biscuit of choice!

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  4. Ah, to be so famous would probably be a burden like the six-hour travel of three miles you mentioned. 🙂

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  5. The football facts are flowing this week, Andrew. 🙂
    Those rocks in Amalfi Bay don’t look a bit like him!

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  6. Well, perhaps a little bit like him don’t you think. I can definiteIy see his hat and his beard. I went down some caves in Spain a couple of years ago and the guide claimed all sorts of rock likenesses but you had to have a very vivid imagination to see them!

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  7. Pingback: Sardinia, In Search of a Beach and on Safari looking for an Elephant | Have Bag, Will Travel

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