Tag Archives: Italian painting

‘It wasn’t the Italy I dreamed of’… Remembering the Risorgimento 150 years later

‘It wasn’t the Italy I dreamed of.’ 2011 marks 150 years since Italy was unified as a nation, and the words of a disaffected Giuseppe Garibaldi in his later years still seem to cast their shadow over the commemorations. Italy has always had a troubled relationship with nationalism. Unified only since 1861 in a campaign which despite Garibaldi’s best efforts, did little to capture the popular imagination, the creation of the Kingdom of Italy didn’t manage to prise people’s loyalties from their own town, city or region, and onto the nation. The unification was seen as something carried out by politicians and soldiers, which had nothing to do with the lives of ordinary Italians, and the creation of a legal ‘Italy’ in 1861 could do very little to make Sicilians, Neapolitans or Venetians feel ‘Italian’. In the twentieth century, it was only Mussolini who managed to inspire some level of popular patriotism in Italians, and the distaste for his brand of patriotic pomp and where it led, meant that nationalism was once again discredited after 1945. 150 years later, I was interested to see how the Unification would be celebrated, or simply marked, across the country. Would the lack of popular enthusiasm for a united Italy both then and since, and the popular disaffection which followed be forgotten as officials seized the chance to glorify their nation’s past? Or would a more balanced, less celebratory tone be allowed to emerge? Continue reading

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