This week, our appointment takes us to the heart of Catania’s historic centre, precisely where Via Etnea cross Via Caronda, to talk about the Monument in honor of Giuseppe Garibaldi, patriot and leader who led the annexation of the Kingdom of Sicily to the Kingdom of Italy, leading us to became a united Nation.
The history of this bronze monument dates back to 1890 when Uruguay, an independent and constitutive Republican country, commissioned the Italian artist Ettore Ferrari (Rome, March 25, 1845 – Rome, 19 August 1929) to create a statue in tribute to the Heroes from two worlds.
Why a monument in honour of Garibaldi? The noble leader was one of the Italian volunteers who, together with other foreign legions, supported Uruguay in its struggle for independence, particularly during the so-called “Guerra Grande” (“Great War”).
Ferrari’s choice was not casual. The Roman artist was the author of numerous statues depicting Garibaldi and currently visible in several Italian cities such as Vicenza, Pisa and Rovigo. The seven-foot-high monument was built in the historic Fonderia Bastianelli of the San Lorenzo district of Rome and was shipped to Uruguay by ship according to the possibilities of the time.
The statue arrived in Montevideo after a long crossing but the work failed to arouse the consent of citizenship. Ferrari’s work was then sent back to the sender and placed again in the foundry premises. The statue was subsequently put on sale with the approach of the celebrations of the fiftieth anniversary of the Unification of Italy.
The most concrete offer came from the city of Catania then administered by the Mayor Giuseppe Pizzarelli. The purchase proposal was made by the first ethnic citizen as a tribute to the artist who had made it and died in 1897. The work was purchased at a very reasonable price by the organising committee of the Sicilian Farm Exposition, presided by the entrepreneur and MP Pasquale Libertini, and offer it to the Municipality of Catania.
The Garibaldi Monument should have been placed at Piazza Università, but the municipal council rejected the hypothesis. The statue was then placed to the north, on a marble base at the junction between the streets Caronda and Etnea (formerly known as “Rinazzo”) where it is still today, instead of an old news-stand. The “unveiled” monument to the Catania’s folks is linked to a hilarious episode: a violent thunderstorm swept through the temporary tarp covering the statue and the citizens of Catania could admire the imposing bronze character well before the official inauguration.
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Written by Salvatore Rocca
Photos by Francesco Pellegrino