Garibaldi, Giuseppe

“Recently restored, the monument is made of bronze and weighs 60 tons. It is one of the few equestrian statues in the world with a prancing horse, standing only on its hind legs. The placement of the statue, at the time of its construction, was a reason for some controversy. So much so that the statue, completed in 1911, was inaugurated only two years later. The choice finally fell on the public gardens where some orange trees where cut to give space to the statue. A party like that you can’t forget. And I actually remember well, even if many years have passed since 1913, now. The inauguration of the monument to Garibaldi was scheduled for Sunday, June 1, but already on Saturday, the city was crowded with Garibaldi partisans. It seemed that the world suddenly had decided to visit La Spezia.
“A train arriving from Parma!”, “Here’s one from Pisa!” And then Bologna, Genoa, Turin: at the station trains kept coming. So go on, blowing in the brass instruments and – they were not one, but two days of celebration – cycling and rowing races.
A statue like that, well none of us had ever seen it, what do you think? It seemed like they never wanted us to see it: we knew that it had been ready for two years, but for one reason or another, we had not seen it yet. And what a surprise: a horse rearing up into the sky and, riding it– with the sword pointed towards the sun – the Hero of the Two Worlds. We all knew the sketch by Antonio Garella, the sculptor, and all we had discussed the choice of the place where the statue would be set. My father, for example, did not agree with the cutting of the orange trees. “Garibaldi must be a great man, but what did the orange trees do wrong?!” He said. And yet, when the cloth fell, he was astonished indeed.”

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