#81 – A heroic story

#81 – A heroic story

In the shade of a large pine tree, as crickets chirp in the background, a procession of marble sarcophagi restores a sense of peace. Just one, the largest one, is carved from a huge slab of natural, rough, grey granite. It is the tomb of none other than Garibaldi, the “Hero of Two Worlds”. 

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I invite you to set aside five minutes, make yourself comfortable and enjoy this new instalment of #awalkwithMarco: for me, this is the perfect excuse to converse with my community and regale you with my memories, while for you it is an opportunity to enjoy an imaginary journey.

[And I want to make sure you are sitting extra comfortably, because today we’re also going to be talking about history!]

We’re heading to Caprera, part of the Maddalena Archipelago, a handful of incredibly beautiful islands in the turquoise sea of northern Sardinia.

Sea and beaches aside (which deserve a dedicated newsletter of their own... WOW, what a wonderful idea for 2023!), Caprera has two key talking points:

  • firstly, it isn’t technically an island – it is connected by a bridge to La Maddalena, the largest island of the archipelago; 
  • secondly, it is home to the tomb of one of Italy’s greatest heroes and patriots, someone who played a key role in Italian unification: Giuseppe Garibaldi, the “Hero of Two Worlds”*. Have you ever heard of him before?

At the head of the Expedition of the Thousand (a corps of one thousand volunteers, including one woman), Garibaldi succeeded in annexing the southern part of the Italian Peninsula, the then Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, to the newly formed Kingdom of Italy. This two-year expedition ended, victorious, in 1861: the very same year as the founding of the Kingdom of Italy, which finally became a single, unified state from the Alps all the way down to Sicily.
Of course, at that time Italy was still not yet a republic, but the efforts of Garibaldi (and his thousand volunteers!) made a fundamental contribution to Italian history.

But I digress... back to Caprera. When I visited Garibaldi’s tomb and the Garibaldi Museum (the house where our hero lived for over twenty years, until his death), I fondly remember noticing the difference between a destination by the sea (and what a sea it is!) and that house that has stood still since the 19th century, just like the clock, which is forever stopped at 6.20pm – the time of Garibaldi’s death on 2 June 1882.

I remember that, after the museum, we also embarked on our own “expedition”: to climb Monte Teialone, along dirt paths and trails dug into the granite, among myrtle and strawberry trees and the scents of the Mediterranean scrubland. At the summit, we were rewarded with 360-degree views of the entire archipelago, Sardinia and Corsica... Ah, such colours! And that wind!!

We rounded off that day of salt and history with a sunset swim at Cala Coticcio, which is, in my opinion, the most beautiful beach on Caprera: by this time, the cove was bathed in shadow, a pinkish light tinging the sky behind us and the granite boulders all around us – the same granite as that sarcophagus where the protagonist of this story rests in eternal slumber...

And alas, our five minutes of chit-chat are up! Ciao ❤️

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* Garibaldi led military campaigns not only in Europe but also in Latin America, earning him the title “Hero of Two Worlds”.


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