“Garibaldi is the only wholly admirable figure in modern history.” – A.J.P. Taylor (English Historian)
On our second day in Naples we made an early start because we were taking a train journey to nearby Herculaneum, a Roman City destroyed at the same time as more famous Pompeii by the eruption of Vesuvius in A.D 79.
We didn’t have a proper map of course but we were fairly certain of the right way towards the railway station and we confidently set off in our chosen direction and within a few moments came upon a huge piazza 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.
Every town and city in Italy has a statue of Giuseppe Garibaldi.
This one was an especially fine statue, high on a column with an additional frieze depicting him alongside other Italian heroes. I couldn’t get a very good picture because this would have involved standing in the middle of the road where I would certainly have been run down several times and so become a permanent addition to the tarmac!!
A few years ago I wrote a post in which I speculated on whether Giuseppe Garibaldi may be the most celebrated secular man ever to be recreated in statue form across the World. You can read the post here.
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.
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 but then they would have had to play in green shirts which is not a popular football shirt colour. A college in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire is also named in his honour.
Garibaldi is like a rash, he is everywhere. 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.
Other places and things named after Garibaldi include a National Park in British Columbia in Canada including Mount Garibaldi, Lake Garibaldi and an entire Volcanic belt; the city of Garibaldi in Oregon, USA; a town and a gold mine near the city of Ballarat in Victoria and a dirt road in Melbourne, both in Australia and a medium sized town in the very south of 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 walk to the railway station.
“We were for centuries
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
More Garibaldi Statues…
He was a busy man.
Forest are still called the “Garibaldi Reds” quite frequently, although their supporters believe it is because the team always seem to crumble like a packet of biscuits. Back in Clough’s time, they were better and were nicknames “The Tricky Trees” because of their shirt badge.
Green is usually seen as an unlucky colour. It is rooted in the early Christians wanting to put down the nature worshipping people whose colour was green like their gods.
My dad always told me that teams don’t play in green because they don’t show up against the grass. Rather like that infamous grey kit of MU that didn’t stand out against the crowd!
I hadn’t known about Nottingham forest or the Six Nations trophy. This post takes the biscuit – well, someone had to do it 🙂
What I find interesting (or Ironic) is that Italy, and Germany have only really existed as nations for such a short time. – less than 150 years.
But there have always been German and Italian people. Is State status important?
No, they were always different . Lots of small groups that were always fighting against. There were Bavarians and Saxons etc etc and the same in Italy each with a king or Prince and different languages. They might have had some things in common but not a lot.
Probably true. Last week in Naples I was aware of just how different the north of Italy is from the south. Same in the UK actually!
That’s my point Andrew, There are regional difference everywhere but England – and France – was united as a country for a lot longer that Italy or Germany.
If I was being pedantic I would say that modern France only became so in 1918 with the addition of Alsace and Lorraine!
I always wondered why the name is ubiquitous and now I know — the power of Italian PR.
I think you missed out Garibaldi Balls, a favourite sweet when I was growing up. Then there are the trees he planted whenever he stayed over at a place with a field or a garden. He planted two on the Isle of Wight, one at the home of the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson with whom he stayed, and one at the home of the Liberal MP of the time, Charles Seeley. Sadly, both were destroyed in the great storm of 1987 but I believe a damaged trunk still exists at Brooke House (Seeley’s home). He was so mobbed on the Isle of Wight by well-0wishers that Queen Victoria was upset enough to cut everyone dead who had the temerity to invite him for tea! She feared his revolutionary ideas would infect her subjects.
Lots of great facts in here I didn’t know and I love the information about Notts. Forest. Can’t wait to pass that on.
Brilliant, thanks for the additional information. I had heard the tree story but never the Garibaldi Balls!
Don’t say Notts Forest, they hate it, it has to be Nottingham Forest. Notts County is ok however!
LikeLiked by 1 person
A mobile hero! I do like your Garibaldi tales, Andrew. 🙂 🙂
Italian history and the unification was one of my favourite history subjects at school!
LikeLiked by 1 person
I didn’t realise quite how far his influence reached. I’ve been to Garibaldi in BC (it’s a provincial park, not a national park) and eaten the biscuits, but beyond that I cannot go!
Thanks for the additional information. Quite a man and a hero!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Bet this was more than 800 words 😈
Catching up on posts, just read your comments on disperser
LikeLiked by 1 person
Laughing at your description of the “dangerously precipitous hairpin bend”! My late husband occasionally drove tour buses and he used to tell about thrilling the passengers who sat right over the front wheels. Apparently the front end of the bus sticks way out on some models (I never asked). So the folks in front had the sensation of hanging clear over the edge. Chills and thrills, eh?
LikeLiked by 1 person
Pingback: Travels in Italy, Garibaldi in Milan | Have Bag, Will Travel