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Garibaldi in America

Dicembre 2007
Da noi è un mito un po’ polveroso legato all’ora di storia, ma in America Garibaldi è celebrato come un eroe. E la pronipote Anita ne tiene ancora viva la memoria.

di Lorenza Cerbini

File audio:

Giuseppe Garibaldi
Giuseppe Garibaldi
Nicole Fenton
Nicole Fenton

Speaker: Chuck Rolando (Standard American accent)

For Italians, Giuseppe Garibaldi, who was born 200 years ago on July 4th, 1807, probably doesn’t need an introduction. But what about for other nationalities? Well, a distinguished British historian, A.J.P. Taylor, once described him as “the only wholly admirable figure in modern history” and the great Italian patriot is remembered fondly the world over. He fought several campaigns in South America and spent time in North America, where he even offered to lend his support to Abraham Lincoln’s Union troops during the Civil War. Prior to that Garibaldi had briefly lived in New York, as the guest of Antonio Meucci, another great Italian who, many people believe, was the “real” inventor of the telephone. Meucci’s house was on Staten Island. Today it is known as the “Garibaldi-Meucci Museum” and is maintained by the “Order Sons of Italy in America.” Speak Up asked the museum’s publicity coordinator Nicole Fenton to explain how Garibaldi had come to live there:

Nicole Fenton (Standard American accent):

The house was built in 1840 and Antonio Meucci and his wife came here in 1850 and learned of its availability and began renting it.
Within the same year, Garibaldi came to New York. He had just lost a battle in Italy and just lost his wife Anita, who died in Italy. So he came to New York, really seeking a place to recover and to… I think he was really depressed when he came to America, to New York. He landed in Lower Manhattan, and there was a very strong Italian community there, a lot of expatriates, political refugees there, but there was so much attention for him in Lower Manhattan, and he did not want that, he wanted more quiet, so he was connected with Antonio Meucci and Garibaldi came here, to the house on Staten Island. It was not located in this location, it was located across the street, originally. So he lived with Antonio Meucci and his wife Ester and began making candles, in Meucci’s candle factory. So he was here with Antonio and made candles and hunted and fished for probably about six months. And then Garibaldi began… I think he left, maybe went to China or to Chile or to the Philippines – he was very antsy! So he left and then came back, I think over the course of two years, he came... you know, he was back and forth. And then when he finally left, I think it was 1854… or maybe I guess it was longer, so in 1854 is when he finally left Staten Island and went back to Italy and that’s when he led his famous one thousand red shirts brigade through Sicily and up the southern part of Italy, to unify Italy, as we know it today.

the red shirt

Legend has it that those red shirts were originally designed to be worn in an Argentinian slaughterhouse! The museum in fact owns Garibaldi’s red shirt, as well as his cap and walking stick, not to mention a large amount of historical documents. The museum also runs an educational program which helps explain the significance of Garibaldi to young Americans:

Nicole Fenton:

It’s important to know that what he did was similar to what George Washington did in America, so, you know, for people to draw those parallels, or the similarities with that, for at least Americans to know the importance of him. He was a real symbol of democracy, so this is really for Americans to know, or I guess for people just to know and honor him. He was a symbol for democracy. He believed in multi-culturalism and had altruistic goals, so it wasn’t about him. I mean, it was about him, it was about the people, like him conquering the southern part of Italy, he could have easily ruled that part and I think people probably wanted him to, but that wasn’t his vision, he wanted it to be united as one, so he gave it over to the King. I mean, I think that shows what kind of man he was. I think he was a very important figure in history.

For further Information:
The Garibaldi-Meucci  Museum,
429 Tompkins Avenue,
Staten Island,
New York 10305.


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wholly - interamente.

fondly - con affetto.

to lend his support - prestare aiuto.

learned of its availability - vennero a sa-pere che era disponibile.

began renting it - la presero in affitto.

seeking a place to recover - in cerca di un luogo in cui riprendersi.

hunted and fished - andava a caccia e a pesca.

antsy - irrequieto.

he was back and forth - andava avanti e indietro.

red shirts brigade - brigata delle camicie rosse.

legend has it that... - secondo la leggenda.

slaughterhouse - macello.

walking stick - bastone da passeggio.

goals - scopi.

he could have easily ruled - avrebbe potuto facilmente governare.

he gave it over - la consegnò.