The Garibaldi Statue, two days of celebrations
A party like that you can’t forget. And I actually remember well, even if many years have passed since 1913, now. The inauguration of the monument to Garibaldi was scheduled for Sunday, June 1, but already on Saturday, the city was crowded with Garibaldi partisans. It seemed that the world suddenly had decided to visit La Spezia.
“A train arriving from Parma!", “Here’s one from Pisa!" And then Bologna, Genoa, Turin: at the station trains kept coming. So go on, blowing in the brass instruments and – they were not one, but two days of celebration – cycling and rowing races.
The statue is revealed – the parade.
A statue like that, well none of us had ever seen it, what do you think? It seemed like they never wanted us to see it: we knew that it had been ready for two years, but for one reason or another, we had not seen it yet. And what a surprise: a horse rearing up into the sky and, riding it– with the sword pointed towards the sun – the Hero of the Two Worlds. We all knew the sketch by Antonio Garella, the sculptor, and all we had discussed the choice of the place where the statue would be set.
My father, for example, did not agree with the cutting of the orange trees. “Garibaldi must be a great man, but what did the orange trees do wrong?!" He said. And yet, when the cloth fell, he was astonished indeed.
Now everybody goes like: “It is one of the few equestrian statues in bronze in the world that only stand on the hind feet of the animal." “Well of course," – I have always thought – " if it stood on the front ones, Garibaldi would be tossed." But Garibaldi cannot be tossed anywhere.
And even if the speech was not great, what a show the crowded parade on the Savoia avenue! 870 associations had given their support to the town and such a crowded caravan of joy and banners had never been seen in town.
Garibaldi in La Spezia, a long story
Giuseppe Garibaldi walked many times the streets of La Spezia, three stops on the city ground are reported: first time in 1849, the second one (to the Varignano base) was in 1862 after he got injured in Aspromonte, and the third one in 1867 after the battle of Mentana. The town’s will to commemorate the General with a monument started since 1882, but it only took shape June 1, 1913, when it was inaugurated the equestrian statue by Antonio Garella placed in the public gardens.
The monument and the sculptor Antonio Garella
Recently restored, the monument is made of bronze and weighs 60 tons. It is one of the few equestrian statues in the world with a prancing horse, standing only on its hind legs. The placement of the statue, at the time of its construction, was a reason for some controversy. So much so that the statue, completed in 1911, was inaugurated only two years later. The choice finally fell on the public gardens where some orange trees where cut to give space to the statue.
Antonio Garella is a sculptor from Ferrara, where he was born in 1863.