2 June 2019

2 June

The death of Giuseppe Garibaldi

Unification hero spent last days on his island off Sardinia

The Italian revolutionary and patriot Giuseppe Garibaldi died on this day in 1882 on the Sardinian island of Caprera.  The 74-year-old former military general and left-wing politician, whose Expedition of the Thousand was a major factor in completing the unification of Italy, had spent much of the last 27 years of his life on the island.  Increasingly confined to bed because of crippling arthritis, he was living on his farm with his third wife, Francesca Armosino, when he passed away.  Knowing he was fading, in the days before his death Garibaldi had asked for his bed to be moved close to a window, from which he could gaze at the emerald and sapphire sea.  He has asked for a simple funeral and cremation, and had even nominated the place on the island where he wished his body to be burned, in an open coffin, with his face to the sun.  He had hoped his ashes would be handed over to ordinary Italians, although in the event his wishes were disregarded. Read more…


Festa della Repubblica

Parades and parties celebrate the birth of the republic

Italy is today celebrating Festa della Repubblica, the anniversary of becoming a republic on this day in 1946. Each year the country has a national holiday to commemorate the result of the referendum which sent the male descendants of the House of Savoy into exile.  Following the Second World War and the fall of Fascism, the Italian people were called to the polls to vote on how they wanted to be governed. The result signalled the end for the monarchy.  A grand military parade takes place every year in Rome, attended by the President of the Republic and the prime minister.  Many cities throughout Italy hold their own celebrations as the day is an official bank holiday.  The last monarch, Umberto II, who took over when Victor Emmanuel III abdicated, has gone down in history as Il Re di Maggio, the King of May, as he reigned for only 40 days before being sent into exile.  Read more…


Roberto Visentini - cyclist

One half of the Giro d’Italia’s most controversial duel

Roberto Visentini, the Italian road racing cyclist who won the 1986 Giro d’Italia but the following year was a central figure in the most controversial race since the historic tour of Italy began, involving a bitter dispute with the Irish rider Stephen Roche, was born on this day in 1957 in Gardone Riviera.  The son of a wealthy undertaker from Brescia, Visentini had been an Italian and a world champion at junior level in 1975 and won the Italian national time-trial championship in 1977 as an amateur, before turning professional in 1978. Despite his success, he was not universally respected by his peers, some of whom felt his penchant for fast cars and a playboy lifestyle were not in keeping with what was traditionally a working-class sport.  Read more…


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