6 July 2016

Goffredo Mameli - writer

Young poet wrote the stirring words of Italian national anthem

Goffredo Mameli, as depicted in a portrait on display in the Museum of the Risorgimento
Goffredo Mameli, as depicted in a portrait on
display in the Museum of the Risorgimento
Patriot and poet Goffredo Mameli died on this day in 1849 in Rome.

A follower of political revolutionary Giuseppe Mazzini and a supporter of the Risorgimento movement, Mameli is the author of the words of the Italian national anthem, Fratelli d’Italia.

Mameli was the son of a Sardinian admiral and was born in Genoa in 1827 where his father was commanding the fleet of the Kingdom of Sardinia.

As he grew up he became interested in the theories of Mazzini and he joined a political movement that supported the idea of a united Italy.

Mameli was a 20-year-old student when he wrote the words that are still sung today by Italians as their national anthem.  They were sung to music for the first time in November 1847 to celebrate the visit of King Charles Albert of Sardinia to Genoa.

The anthem is known in Italian as L’inno di Mameli or Mameli’s hymn.

Mameli became involved in the movement to expel the Austrians from Italy and joined Garibaldi’s army. He also became director of a newspaper that launched a press campaign urging the people to rise up against Austria.

He died after being accidentally injured in the leg by the bayonet of one of his colleagues during a battle. The wound became infected and his leg had to be amputated. He died as a result of the infection two months before his 22nd birthday.

Mameli’s Hymn, or Fratelli d’Italia as it is sometimes referred to because of its opening line, is played on Italian state occasions and embraced by Italian sports fans and competitors with great enthusiasm at events all over the world.

Football commentators noted how passionately Italy's footballers sang the words before their matches at Euro 2016.

After Italian unification, the official hymn of the House of Savoy, Marcia Reale - Royal March - was adopted as the Italian national anthem.

But after Italy became a republic in 1946, L’inno di Mameli was chosen as the new national anthem. This was made official by a law passed in November 2012.

Mameli's original manuscript for Fratelli d'Italia
Mameli's original manuscript
Travel tip:

The first manuscript of the words to the anthem is preserved at the Istituto Mazziniano, part of the Museum of the Risorgimento which is located within the house where Mazzini was born in Via Lomellini in Genoa. It appears in a book belonging to Mameli in which he recorded his notes, thoughts and writing. There is also a copy of the first printed version of the hymn with hand annotations by Mameli himself.

Travel tip:

Mameli’s tomb is in the Cimitero Monumentale del Verano in Piazzale del Verano near the Basilica of San Lorenzo fuori le Mura in Rome, but his remains were transferred during the Fascist era to the mausoleum for Garibaldi soldiers on the Gianicolo hill in Rome.


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