2011 marks Italy’s 150th unification anniversary. In 1861, after decades of struggles, political activitiy and hopes, the so-called Risorgimento, (most of) Italy became a unified State again. For centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire Italy had been divided in small states, regional powers and little cities often under the control of foreign nations (Austria, Spain and France in particular). But 1861 was not the final stage of reunification, there were more wars yet to be fought and other sacrifices to be had for what it is Italy now. Rome, for instance, joined the Italian Kingdom only in 1870 when the Papal state fell and the Pope had to accept the Vatican (currently the world’s smallest country) as his own territory.
And even if 2011 is not the city of Rome’s 150th unification anniversary (it will be in 2020, when Rome could also host the Olympic Games) many of the activites to honour the memory of Italy’s unification will take place in the country’s capital.
The Risorgimento in Color features a hundred paintings, engravings, drawings and sculptures illustrating the most significant events that took place in Rome during the unification process, starting from 1849’s Roman Republic to 1870’s Breach of Porta Pia. Museo di Roma. Until February 13.
The hero of Risorgimento was Giuseppe Garibaldi, a smart, brave and lucky military leader who gave his life for Italy’s freedom and independence. An interesting exhibition mixing contemporary art and 19th century relics is on show in Castel S. Angelo. Garibaldi was dreaming of another Italy will display artworks inspired by Garibaldi’s figure and one of the most important collection of objects related to this Italian hero. The exhibit will run until April 3.
The recently reopened Risorgimento Museum in the Vittoriano Monument is another important landmark to revisit those years, especially from the military point of view. Memorabilia and letters belonging to other major figures of Risorgimento such as the thinker Giuseppe Mazzini and the politican Camillo Cavour are on show. Free visit.
And another free sight is the Mausoleum Ossarium Gianicolense (Tuesday to Sunday, from 9 am to 1 pm) where are the graves of the 2000 people who died for the Roman Republic, a key stage in Italy’s unity.
On March 17, when the Italian Kingdom was proclaimed in 1861, all the Risorgimento inspired monuments and sculptures on the Gianicolo Hill will be on show after restoration works and the San Pancrazio Gate’s Museum will be reopened to the public.
For the occasion, Context Travel has organized a special tour of Rome’s main Risorgimento places. About the Garibaldi, Risorgimento and the Birth of Italy Walk will show you Italy’s capital and its 19th century history under a very interesting and unexpected angle.