Author(s): Tim Parks
This is a widely appealing idea for a travel/history book from the bestselling author of Italian Ways, in which Tim follows the hair-raising journey of Garibaldi, revolutionary and future architect of a united Italy, 250-miles on foot from Rome to Ravenna across the Appenines, to look at Italy past and present.In the summer of 1849 Giuseppe Garibaldi, legendary hero of guerrilla wars in South America, and future architect of a united Italy, was finally forced to concede defeat in his defence of a revolutionary Roman republic. After holding the city for four long months against overwhelming foreign forces, it was clear that the only surrender could prevent slaughter and destruction at the hands of a huge French army. But Garibaldi was determined to turn defeat into moral victory. On the evening of July 2 he led 4000 men out of the city to continue the struggle for national independence elsewhere. Hounded by both French and Austrian armies, constantly changing direction and often marching at night, he crossed the mountainous Appenines and after endless skirmishes and adventures arrived in Ravenna on August 2 with just 250 survivors. Despite a well-advanced pregnancy, his Brazilian wife Anita insisted on accompanying him and by the time the group commandeered fishing boats on the Adriatic coast in an attempt to reach the revolutionary republic of Venice, which was still holding out against the Austrians, she was seriously ill. When the boats were intercepted by the Austrian navy and forced to beach, Anita died and had to be hurriedly buried in a shallow grave. Garibaldi's companions split up. Most were rounded up and executed, but the hero himself escaped, travelling back across Italy in disguise until he could finally embark from Genova, first for Africa, then the USA. Ten years later, his revolutionary campaign in Sicily would be the catalyst that brought about the unification of Italy.