|Ana Maria de Jesus Ribeiro di Garibaldi, best known as Anita Garibaldi, (August 30, 1821 – August 4, 1849)|
|In 1931 Mario Rutelli designed and cast this equestrian statue in tribute to the Heroine of the Two Worlds stands in the Piazza named after her on the Juniculum Hill overlooking Rome.|
Of all the monuments to the Siege that dot the Juniculum today - and a phalanx of busts of Garibaldini ring the paths in the park - perhaps the most powerful and touching is one nestled in a grove of trees that could be easily overlooked. It marks the resting place of this remarkable woman. The story goes that when the young Garibaldi - tall, fair and imposing - saw the tiny dark but strangely beautiful 18 year old all he could murmur was "Tu devi essere mia" (You must be mine). And his she became and was to remain for the eleven years she fought beside him in both the Old and the New Worlds.
The bas-reliefs at the base of the statues elaborate on the dual image of Anita - as fighter and as helpmate. She is shown beside Garibaldi in a charge which it appears she might well be leading.
On September 16, 1840 their first child was born and given the name Dominic after Garibaldi's father, but he was nicknamed "Menotti" in honour of Ciro Menotti a patriot and beloved friend. On September 28 - 12 days after - she evaded capture and escaping through a window and grabbing a horse of the Imperial Guard fled to the woods. She remained hidden for four days without food and nursing a newborn until her anxious lover/husband/leader found her. It was not to be an unusual story for the couple. Their life was to be stuff of adventure novels and in many cases its difficult to separate the historical fact from the romantic fiction.
In the second tableau Anita is seen on the battlefield tending to the needs of the wounded and the dying - the warrior queen now the caring mother.
In April of 1849 when Garibaldi headed to Roma Anita, in her fourth month of pregnancy went to Nice to stay with his mother. Even at that point she was suffering from what was quite possibly malaria and in a weakened state. However on hearing of her husband's latest fight she left her four children with her mother-in-law and joined him in Roma in June. She witnessed the fall of the Republic and was once again was with him and his followers on a forced march through Italy. They crisscrossed the country on foot and on horseback, across mountains and rivers - getting food where they could and hiding when necessary. Her condition worsened and in the area of Mandriole Garibaldi and his faithful adjunct Captain Leggero took her by skiff and then on an old mattress to the farmhouse of a patriot name Guiccioli. A doctor was called but she was beyond help and died in Garibaldi's arms on August 4th at the age of 28.
|Perhaps the most touching image amongst the crowded scenes of the battlefield that surround the defiant Anita leading the charge are these two solitary figures: the grieving Garibaldi in flight with the dying Anita in his arms.|
In the following decade Anita's body was to be exhumed 7 times until in 1859 she was moved, at Garibaldi's request, to the Garibaldi family grave in Nice. Finally in 1932 her remains were laid to rest at the base of the statue that had been erected to honour her on the Juniculum Hill in the city where she had fought her last battle along side her husband.
02 giugno - Sant'Erasmo di Formia