Showing posts with label 1861. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1861. Show all posts

12 August 2019

Luigi Galleani - anarchist

Activist who mainly operated in the United States

Luigi Galleani supported anarchist philosophies from a young age
Luigi Galleani supported anarchist
philosophies from a young age
Luigi Galleani, an anarchist active in the United States in the early part of the 20th century, was born on this day in 1861 in Vercelli in Piedmont.

Galleani was an advocate of the philosophy of "propaganda of the deed" first proposed by the 19th century Italian revolutionary Carlo Pisacane. 

The theory was that violence against specific targets identified as representatives of the capitalist system would be a catalyst for the overthrow of government institutions.

Between 1914 and 1932, Galleani's followers in the United States - known as i Galleanisti - carried out a series of bombings and assassination attempts against institutions and perceived “class enemies.”

The Wall Street bombing of 1920, which resulted in the deaths of 38 people, was blamed on followers of Galleani, who had been deported from the United States to Italy the previous year.

The large following he acquired among Italian-speaking workers both in Italy and the United States stemmed from his brilliant oratory.  He also edited a newspaper, Cronaca Sovversiva - Subversive Chronicle - which he published for 15 years until the United States government closed it down in 1918.  At one point Cronaca Sovversiva had 5,000 subscribers.

Born into a middle-class family in Vercelli, he studied law at the University of Torino but he never graduated. The end of the 19th century was a period of social tensions, marked by the creation of workers’ movements and repressive measures by the state.  Galleani was attracted to anarchist ideology and soon found himself sought by the police in Turin.

The aftermath of the Wall Street bombing of 1920, which was blamed on Galleani's supporters in the United States
The aftermath of the Wall Street bombing of 1920, which
was blamed on Galleani's supporters in the United States
He fled first to France in 1880 and then Switzerland. When he returned to Italy in 1893 he was arrested and sent to prison for three years, found guilty of conspiring against the State. On his release he was exiled to the island of Pantelleria, off the coast of Sicily, where he met he met and married a young widow, Maria Rollo, with whom he had four children.

They escaped Pantelleria in 1900, fleeing to Egypt, which at the time had a large expatriate Italian community. He befriended a number of anarchists but his presence became known to the Egyptian authorities and he was informed that they would soon begin proceedings to extradite him to Italy.

Abruptly, he and Maria left Egypt and went to London. They then emigrated to the United States, arriving in 1901.

Soon after arriving in the US, Galleani attracted attention in radical anarchist circles as a charismatic orator. He settled in Paterson, New Jersey, and became the editor of La Questione Sociale, the leading Italian anarchist periodical in the United States.

The textile mills in Paterson, New Jersey, where Galleani found support among the workforce
The textile mills in Paterson, New Jersey, where
Galleani found support among the workforce
In 1902, during a strike by silk workers at a factory in Paterson of which Galleani had been an agitator, police opened fire on the strikers. Galleani was wounded in the face and later indicted for inciting a riot. He fled to Canada but was expelled.

In time, he settled in Barre, near Vermont, where he found more support among the community of Italian stonemasons. It was there that he founded Cronaca Sovversiva.

It was a result largely of the content of Cronaca Sovversiva, which not only contained articles advocating the overthrow of government but in one issue included bomb-making instructions, that Galleani was deported back to Italy in 1919.

He continued to publish Cronaca Sovversiva but after Benito Mussolini’s Fascists came to power in 1922 he was arrested and sentenced to 14 months in prison. For the second time in his life he was exiled to Pantelleria, then the island of Lipari, and finally to Messina.

Eventually he was allowed to return to the Italian mainland and died in 1931 in the village of Caprigliola, in the area of Tuscany known as Lunigiana, at the age of 70.

Before and after Galleani was deported, America was hit with a wave of bombings blamed on his followers, culminating in the Wall Street attack in 1920, which injured 143 in addition to the 38 deaths. Many other attacks resulted in fatalities.

The Piazza Cavour in Vercelli, where Galleani was born
The Piazza Cavour in Vercelli, where Galleani was born.
Travel tip:

Vercelli, where Galleani was born, is a city of around 46,500 inhabitants some 85km (53 miles) west of Milan and about 75km (46 miles) northeast of Turin. It is reckoned to be built on the site of one of the oldest settlements in Italy, dating back to 600BC, and was home to the world's first publicly-funded university, which was opened in 1228 but folded in 1372. The Basilica of Sant'Andrea is regarded as one of the most beautiful and best-preserved Romanesque buildings in Italy.  Since the 15th century, Vercelli has been at the centre of Italy’s rice production industry, with many of the surrounding fields in the vast Po plain submerged under water during the summer months.

The sighting tower in Caprigliola may be almost 700 years old
The sighting tower in Caprigliola may
be almost 700 years old
Travel tip

The village of Caprigliola sits on a sandstone rock on the left bank of the Magra river in Lunigiana, an area of northwestern Tuscany known for its great beauty that was a favourite of the poet Dante Alighieri, who enjoyed the peace and solitude of the mountain regions.  Long-term Caprigliola residents still use a unique dialect that is a mix of Tuscan, Emilian and Ligurian words.  Caprigliola has a fine example of the circular sighting towers that were once a feature of the Lunigiana landscape between the 11th and 15th centuries. This one, which rises to a height of 28.8m (95ft), may have been built in around 1230. It is not open to the public but can be visited by contacting the parish priest.

More reading:

How anarchist Gino Lucetti tried to assassinate Mussolini

Why anarchist Giuseppe Pinelli inspired a Dario Fo play

Gaetano Bresci - the anarchist who killed Umberto I

Also on this day:

1612: The death of composer Giovanni Gabrieli

1943: The death of mountain photographer Vittorio Sella

1990: The birth of footballer Mario Balotelli


5 December 2016

Armando Diaz - First World War general

Neapolitan commander led decisive victory over Austria

General Armando Diaz in 1918
General Armando Diaz in 1918
Armando Diaz, the general who masterminded Italy's victory over Austrian forces at the Battle of Vittorio Veneto in 1918, was born on this day in 1861 in Naples.

The battle, which ended the First World War on the Italian front, also precipitated the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, ending more than 200 years of Austrian control of substantial parts of Italy.

The general's announcement of the total defeat of the Austrian Army at Vittorio Veneto sparked one of the greatest moments of celebration in the history of Italy, with some Italians seeing it as the final culmination of the Risorgimento movement and the unification of Italy.

Diaz was born to a Neapolitan father of Spanish heritage and an Italian mother. He decided to pursue his ambitions to of a military career despite the preference for soldiers of Piedmontese background in newly formed Royal Italian Army.

After attending military colleges in Naples and Turin, Diaz served with distinction in the Italo-Turkish War.

In 1914, when the First World War broke out, General Count Luigi Cadorna promoted Diaz to major general and made him Chief of Operations.

Italian troops on the move in Val d'Assa during the Battle of Vittorio Veneto
Italian troops on the move in Val d'Assa
during the Battle of Vittorio Veneto
The disastrous Battle of Caporetto, which took place near what is now the Slovenian town of Kobarid, saw the Royal Italian Army overwhelmed in the face of the Austrian advance, losing 300,000 men. It spelled the end for General Cadorna and Diaz was appointed to replace him as Chief of Staff.

Diaz had to rebuild the army and restore morale after Caporetto, while at the same time making progress against the Austrians.  Yet he proved to be enormously astute. His strategy was defensive but well-timed tactical strikes inflicted significant losses on the enemy.

When the Austrians launched their next offensive, Diaz's forces repelled them and some 150,000 Austrians were killed or wounded.

Diaz was under pressure from the Allies to make gains for Italy to ensure the territorial concessions promised by France and Britain were granted but was determined to bide his time. He did not want to move until what he considered the most opportune moment against a weakened enemy in which unity was beginning to fragment.

That moment came on October 23, 1918, when the Italian offensive was launched against Austro-Hungarian forces at Vittorio - later Vittorio Veneto - the point chosen because Diaz reasoned that the capture of the town, at the midway point of the Austro-Hungarian line across northern Italy, would split the enemy forces in two and make it much more likely their resistance would crumble.

An attack was launched along a line that stretched from Venice through Treviso, Vicenza and Bormio and within seven days Vittorio Veneto had fallen. The Austrians lost 35,000 dead, 100,000 wounded and a further 300,000 to 500,000 were captured as prisoners of war.

By contrast, only 5,800 Italians were killed and 26,000 wounded.

Austro-Hungarian troops captured at the Battle of Vittorio Veneto
Austro-Hungarian troops captured
at the Battle of Vittorio Veneto
As bad as Caporetto had been for Italy, Vittorio Veneto was worse for the Austrians, and not just in terms of casualties. During the offensive, Hungary broke away from Austria and ordered the Hungarian troops on the Italian front to stop fighting.  Czechoslovakia then declared itself independent of Austria, as did Yugoslavia.

Diaz was given much of the credit and in 1921 was appointed to the Senate by King Victor Emmanuel III and given the title 'Duke of Victory'.  In the same year he became the first Italian general to be honoured with a ticker tape parade in New York City when he and other Allied commanders visited the United States.

Diaz became a somewhat controversial figure in the years after the First World War, persuading Victor Emmanuel III against the military action that might have prevented Mussolini's Fascists coming to power.

The King had wanted his soldiers to be ready to fire on Mussolini's armed Blackshirts if they went ahead with their planned 'march on Rome' in October 1922 but Diaz, aware of significant support for Mussolini's nationalistic ambitions within the army's rank and file, feared there might be a mutiny if the order was given.

As a result, the Blackshirts were unopposed and Mussolini was invited to form a government.

Diaz was then appointed Minister of War in the first Fascist cabinet and later promoted to the rank of Marshal of Italy.

He retired in 1924 in failing health and died in Rome in 1928 at the age of 66.  He was buried in the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri. 

Travel tip:

Vittorio Veneto is a town of some 28,000 people in the Province of Treviso, in Veneto, situated between the Piave and Livenza rivers at the foot of the mountain region known as the Prealpi.  It was formed from the joining of the communities of Serravalle and Ceneda in 1866 and named Vittorio in honour of Victor Emmanuel II.  The Veneto suffix was added in 1923 to commemorate the decisive battle.

Hotels in Vittorio Veneto by

The Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri off Rome's Piazza della Repubblica
The Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri
off Rome's Piazza della Repubblica
Travel tip:

The Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri, which was built inside the ruins of the Baths of Diocletian off Rome's Piazza della Repubblica to a design by Michelangelo, was the official state church of the Kingdom of Italy (1870-1946). It hosts the tombs of both General Armando Diaz and Admiral Paolo Thaon di Revel, the First World War naval commander, and is today used for funerals of Italian soldiers killed abroad.

Hotels in Rome by Expedia

More reading:

Villa Giusti armistice formerly ends the First World War in Italy

Mussolini and the rise of Italian Fascism

The abdication of Victor Emmanuel III

Also on this day:

1443: Birth of Julius II - the pope who commissioned Michelangelo's greatest works

(Picture credit: Basilica by Bgabel via Wikimedia Commons)


29 June 2016

Elizabeth Barrett Browning dies in Florence

Romantic poet produced some of her best work after fleeing to Italy

Hungarian artist Károly Brocky's portrait of  Elizabeth  Barrett Browning
Hungarian artist Károly Brocky's portrait of
 Elizabeth  Barrett Browning
English poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning died on this day in 1861 in Florence.

She had spent 15 years living in Italy with her husband, the poet Robert Browning, after being disinherited by her father who disapproved of their marriage.

The Brownings’ home in Florence, Casa Guidi, is now a memorial to the two poets.

Their only child, Robert Weidemann Barrett Browning, who became known as Pen, was born there in 1849.

Barrett Browning was one of the most prominent English poets of the Victorian era and was popular in both Britain and the United States during her lifetime.

From about the age of 15 she had suffered health problems and therefore lived a quiet life in her father’s house, concentrating on her writing.

A volume of her poems, published in 1844, inspired another writer, Robert Browning, to send her a letter praising her work.

He was eventually introduced to her by a mutual acquaintance and their legendary courtship began in secret.

They were married in 1846 and, after she had continued to live in her father’s home for a week, they fled to Italy. They settled in Florence, where they continued to write, inspired by art, the Tuscan landscape, and their contact with other writers and artists living there.

A plaque above the door of the Casa Guidi in Piazza San  Felice recalls that Elizabeth Barrett Browning lived there
A plaque above the door of the Casa Guidi in Piazza San
 Felice recalls that Elizabeth Barrett Browning lived there
Barrett Browning wrote Casa Guidi Windows in 1851, giving her personal impressions of political events in Italy.

The poets also spent some time living in Siena, where Barrett Browning continued to write poetry expressing her sympathy with the Italian struggle for independence from foreign rule.

When her health began to deteriorate, they moved back to Florence. Barrett Browning died in her husband’s arms on 29 June, 1861 at the age of 55. She is buried in the Protestant English Cemetery in Florence.

Travel tip:

A plaque marks Casa Guidi, the home of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and her husband Robert in Piazza di San Felice in the Oltrarno district of Florence.  The house in Piazza San Felice, close to the Pitti Palace, now houses a museum dedicated to the lives of the literary couple.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning's tomb in the Protestant English Cemetery in Florence
Elizabeth Barrett Browning's tomb in the
Protestant English Cemetery in Florence
Travel tip:

Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s tomb, which was designed by Frederic, Lord Leighton, is frequently visited by her admirers in the picturesque setting of the English Cemetery in Piazzale Donatello in Florence.

(Photo of Casa Guidi plaque by Robert Greenham CC BY-SA 3.0)


6 June 2016

Camillo Benso, Count of Cavour

Prime Minister died after creating a united Italy

Painting of camillo cavour
Camillo Benso Count of Cavour, depicted by
Michele Gordigiani in a painting circa 1850

The first Prime Minister of Italy, Camillo Benso Count of Cavour, died on this day in 1861 in Turin.

A leading figure in the struggle for Italian unification, Cavour died at the age of 50, only three months after taking office as Prime Minister of the new Kingdom of Italy. He did not live to see Venice and Rome become part of the Italian nation.

Cavour was born in 1810 in Turin, the second son of the fourth Marquess of Cavour. He was chosen to be a page to Charles Albert, King of Piedmont, when he was 14.

After attending a military academy he served in the Piedmont-Sardinian army but eventually resigned his commission and went to run his family’s estate at Grinzane in the province of Cuneo instead.

He then travelled extensively in Switzerland, France and England before returning to Turin where he became involved in politics.

Photo of Cavour statue
The monument to Cavour in front of the
Palace of Justice in Rome
Originally he was interested in enlarging and developing Piedmont-Sardinia economically rather than creating a unified Italy.

As Prime Minister he took the kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia into the Crimean war hoping it would gain him the support of the allies for his plans for expansion.

But he became expert at playing off the French against the Austrians, charming the British and making use of Garibaldi. As a result, Cavour became the architect of the Risorgimento that eventually led to the creation of a united Italy ruled by the House of Savoy.

When the Kingdom was finally created in 1860 he became Victor Emmanuel II’s first Prime Minister.

But worry and hard work took their toll on Cavour and he became ill with malaria. He died while he was at the height of his career in 1861.

Today many Italian cities have streets and squares named after Cavour, who is considered to have been the person responsible for establishing the new unified Italy.

Photo of Grinzane Cavour
The Grinzane Cavour, near Turin, which was Cavour's
home from 1830 until his death in 1861

Travel tip:

The 13th century castle of Grinzane Cavour near Turin is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Camillo Benso Count of Cavour lived there from 1830 until his death in 1861. During his stays there he restored the building and improved the cultivation of the vines in the area. The castle has rooms dedicated to Cavour as well as the Cavour Regional Enoteca, which showcases the best wines produced in the region.

Travel tip:

Turin, where Cavour was born and died, is the capital city of the region of Piedmont. It is an important business centre and also has architecture demonstrating its rich history, which is linked with the Savoy Kings of Italy. Piazza Castello, with the royal palace, royal library and Palazzo Madama, which used to house the Italian senate, is at the heart of ‘royal’ Turin.

More reading:

Victor Emmanuel II - first king of the united Italy

Giuseppe Mazzini - hero of the Risorgimento

(Photo of Grinzane Cavour by Sbisolo CC BY-SA 3.0)

17 March 2016

Kingdom of Italy proclaimed

First King of Italy calls himself Victor Emmanuel II

The painting by Dutch artist Pierre van Elven is on display the at Museum of the Risorgimento
The inauguration of the first Italian parliament, as
depicted by the Dutch artist Pierre van Elven
The newly-unified Kingdom of Italy was officially proclaimed on this day in 1861 in Turin. 

The first Italian parliament to meet in the city confirmed Victor Emmanuel as the first King of the new country.

It was the monarch's own choice to call himself Victor Emmanuel II, rather than Victor Emmanuel I. This immediately provoked criticism from some factions, who took it as implying that Italy had always been ruled by the House of Savoy. 

Victor Emmanuel I, with whom Victor Emmanuel II had ancestral links, had been King of Sardinia - ruled by the Dukes of Savoy - from 1802 until his death in 1824.
Victor Emmanuel II had become King of Sardinia in 1849 after his father, Charles Albert, abdicated. His father had succeeded a distant cousin, Charles Felix, to become King of Sardinia in 1831.

The Kingdom of Sardinia is considered to be the legal predecessor to the Kingdom of Italy.

As King of Sardinia, Victor Emmanuel II had appointed Count Camillo Benso of Cavour as Prime Minister of Sardinia-Piedmont, who had then masterminded a clever campaign to put him on the throne of a united Italy.

Victor Emmanuel II had become the symbol of the Risorgimento, the Italian unification movement in the 19th century. He had supported Garibaldi’s Expedition of the Thousand in 1860, which resulted in the fall of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, giving him control over the southern part of the country.

But when he ascended the throne there were still two major territories left outside the new Kingdom, Rome and the Veneto.

The Palazzo Carignano was the house in which Victor Emmanuel II was born and where the first Italian parliament met
The Palazzo Carignano, the house in which Victor Emmanuel II
was born and where the first Italian parliament met
Travel tip:

The first Italian parliament met in Palazzo Carignano in Turin, the house in which the first King of the new, united Italy, Victor Emmanuel II, was born. The baroque palace in Via Accademia delle Scienze which dates back to 1679, now houses a Museum of the Risorgimento.  The painting of the inauguration shown above, by the Dutch artist Pierre van Elven, is on display there.

A remarkable early photograph shows the point at which the walls of Rome were breached, to the right of the Porta Pia gate
A remarkable early photograph shows the point at which the
walls of Rome were breached, to the right of the Porta Pia gate

Travel tip:

Rome remained under French control after the first Italian parliament proclaimed Victor Emmanuel II the King of Italy, despite attempts by nationalists to liberate it. But after the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war, Napoleon III withdrew some of his troops. Italian soldiers seized their chance in 1870 and after a brief bombardment entered Rome through a breach in the walls at Porta Pia. Victor Emmanuel took up residence in the Quirinale Palace, the tricolore was hoisted and Italy was declared officially united. A marble plaque commemorating the liberation of Rome was placed near Porta Pia where the Italian troops first got through on 20 September.

Rome hotels by

More reading:

Why Giuseppe Mazzini was the ideological inspiration behind the Risorgimento

The birth of the Italian constitution

The first King to be called Victor Emmanuel

Also on this day:

1826: The birth of inventor Innocenzo Manzetti

1925: The birth of acclaimed actor Gabriele Farzetti

1939: The birth of football coach Giovanni Trapattoni


19 December 2015

Italo Svevo – writer

Author who became the main character in someone else’s novel

The novelist Italo Svevo was born Aron Ettore Schmitz on this day in 1861 in Trieste, which was then part of the Austrian Empire.
The Italian coastal town was home to James Joyce and Italo Svevo
The harbour at Trieste

Schmitz took on the pseudonym, Italo Svevo, after writing his novel La Coscienza di Zeno, Zeno’s Concience.

The novelist himself then became the inspiration for a fictional protagonist in a book by someone else. James Joyce, who was working in Trieste at the time, modelled the main character in Ulysses, Leopold Bloom, on his friend Svevo.

Svevo’s own novel, which revealed his deep interest in the theories of Sigmund Freud, received little interest at the time and might have sunk without trace if it had not been for the encouragement of Joyce, who regarded him as a neglected writer. Joyce helped Svevo get the novel translated into French and, after the translated version was highly praised, the Italian critics discovered it.

Svevo always spoke Italian as a second language because he usually spoke the dialect of Trieste where his novel is set and the story never looks outside the narrow confines of Trieste.

In the novel the main character seeks psychoanalysis to discover why he is addicted to nicotine and each time he declares he has smoked the ‘ultima sigaretta’  he starts to smoke again.

Svevo, like his character, smoked all his life. After being involved in a serious car accident in 1928 he was taken to hospital. As he neared death he asked for a cigarette. When it was refused, Svevo said: “That really would have been the last cigarette.” He died later that afternoon, at the age of 66.

Travel tip:

Trieste is the main city of the region of Friuli Venezia Giulia and lies close to the Slovenian border.

It was once the main seaport of the Austro-Hungarian empire and is a fascinating mix of styles, with the seafront, canals and imposing squares reminiscent of Venice, and the coffee houses and architecture showing the Austrian influence dating from the era of Hapsburg domination.
The museum commemorates two writers who helped put Trieste on the map.
The Joyce e Svevo museum in Trieste

Travel tip:

Find out why the Irish writer James Joyce enjoyed living in Trieste for so many years by visiting the Museo Joyce e Svevo in Via Madonna del Mare at number 13.

Created in 1997 by Italo Svevo’s daughter, the museum provides the opportunity to study the work of both writers through their manuscripts, photographs, books and letters.