David Gelber

The Gaucho Who Unified Italy

Garibaldi in South America: An Exploration


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Where might you expect to find a Casa Garibaldi, an Avenue Garibaldi, a Pizzeria Garibaldi and a towering bronze statue of Garibaldi? Not only in Rome and Palermo, but also in Montevideo, capital of Uruguay. Long before Giuseppe Garibaldi landed with his thousand Redshirts at Marsala and began his triumphant march through Sicily and Calabria, the spearhead of Italian unification fought his way across southern Brazil and Uruguay, learning the guerrilla’s trade. In this book, Richard Bourne, a veteran foreign correspondent, follows the Garibaldi trail from Rio de Janeiro to Uruguay, via the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul.

Garibaldi’s transatlantic voyage was an act of desperation rather than idealism. Born to an Italian family in Nice in 1807, he started out as a merchant seaman. In his twenties he fell under the influence of the Young Italy movement and imbibed the nationalist, anti-monarchical ideas of its founder, Giuseppe Mazzini. He joined a secret society but an attempt in 1834 to orchestrate a mutiny in the Piedmontese navy fell apart. Sentenced to death in absentia, Garibaldi fled to Rio de Janeiro, capital of the Brazilian Empire.

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