Giuseppe & Anita: A Love Story

In Rome I spent a lovely evening on Gianicolo (in English: Janiculum) Hill at the lookout eating suppli.  While enjoying the sunset and the rising of the full moon I barely noticed the imposing sculture behind me of a bloke on a horse. (There were a few tall handsome Americans throwing a frizzbee,… I was distracted).

giuseppe garibaldi

As I strolled back down the path towards the bus stop to get back to the centro storico I passed a striking monument just after the Fontana dell’Acqua Paola.

Fontana dell’Acqua Paola

Fontana dell'Acqua Paola

I didn’t know what it was. With a bit of research I now know it is the Mausoleum Ossuary Garibaldi. This is the Mausoleum to honour the dead from the 1849 battle between those fighting for the unification of Italy: the Roman Republic and French forces who were fighting to retain the power of the Pope in Rome. It was Garibaldi on the horse back up the hill and Garibaldi who led the army against the French on this hill in Rome. He was lucky enough to survive the battle, and was integral in choosing the Janiculum as the place to site this place of remembrance.

Credit for this imageof the  Mausoleum Ossuary Garibaldi to the website:

The mausoleum has enscribed: ‘To those who died for Rome, 1849-1870’,  and ‘Rome or death’.

Gianicolo_Mausoleo_Ossario_Garibaldino Q


After my return back home to New Zealand I was browsing in a second hand bookshop in a tiny town and found a special 100 year old book.

It was written by George Macaulay Trevelyan and was published in 1911, only 40 years or so after the unification become complete with Rome as the new capital of the Kingdom of Italy. I love it.

Garibaldi and The Making of Italy.


There’s great maps in the back showing the pre 1860 structure of the various Kingdoms and states that made up the Italian peninsula, maps of Garibaldi’s routes through Calabria, Basilicata, and the Naples region.


A nice plate of Naples.


And some plates of the uniformed men who faught for the cause.


By the age of 17 Giuseppe Garibaldi was working as a sailor throughout the Mediterranean, and at 29 he set off for Rio de Janeiro on a sailing ship. It was there that he met his exotic and bravely fierce wife Anita who was born in Brazil. It is said upon meeting her that he whispered to her that she must be his; ‘Tu devi esser mea .’ Being a speaker of Portuguese I don’t know if she understood the words but must have figuered out the sentiment. Theirs is a story of true love. She fought by his side in several battles in Brazil, and in 1849 they travelled together to Italy to fight again in the battle against the French. They went on to have 4 children.  This same year, Anita died in Garibaldi’s arms, pregnant with their 5th child and suffering from Malaria at Ravenna.

anita garibaldi

He went on to live for a period in Tangiers, and visited New York and London and then settled in Peru for a while.  On his way to Peru in 1853 he visited China, Australia and New Zealand!  By 1859 he was back at the helm of waring forces in Italy against the Austrians in the north, then in 1860 against the Bourbon rule in Sicily and Naples.

At one event in 1860, he went to hail Victor Emmanuele II as the King of the united Italy, and he wore Anita’s stripped scarf and the poncho, representative of her Brazilian heritage. It had been 11 years since her death by now but she was still clearly in his heart.

In the late 1860s there were further battles against the Austrian and Papal forces. But by 1870 Rome finally became the capital of the newly unified Italy.

Giuseppe has several further wives. His second wife was only 18 when she wed him, he was 53. It lasted one day until he found out she was pregnant to another man but it took 20 years to get a cancellation of the wedding. Incidently that baby did not survive, nor the father.

At 73 he married his third wife with whom he had already fathered three children while waiting for the 2nd marriage to be undone.

There is reference in several places to his womanising, and lovers. Apparently him and Anita were known to have had occational rows over his women. He fathered 8 children in total. However it appears Anita was his true equal and the love of his life.



6 thoughts on “Giuseppe & Anita: A Love Story

  1. Good post. Garibaldi is one of my favourite characters from history. At university I studied Italian Unification and I fell I fell in love with the legend. I am certain that I read that book in the College library. Last year I went to Sardinia and the island of Caprera where he lived out his life. When I am in Italy I always look out for the inevitable statue –

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Interestingly, except for Caprera there appears to be no other statue of Garibaldi in Sardinia. I asked why and was told that it is because they don’t care so much for Garibaldi and they would prefer not to be part of united Italy!

        Liked by 1 person

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