Jun 222018
 

Today is the birthday (1805) of Giuseppe Mazzini who was a major force in the unification of Italy and spearhead of the Italian revolutionary movement. I (and Italians) think of him in the same breath with Cavour and Garibaldi, and, in my case, Garibaldi took a more prominent place for years, probably because he visited the town where I lived as a teen in England, and my local pub was named after him. So much for being a rational historian. Now I rank him much higher than Garibaldi and Cavour because he provided the intellectual underpinnings to the Risorgimento. When I lived in Italy I constantly asked my students whether the unification of Italy was “a good thing” or a “bad thing” (echoing 1066 And All That). They all believed it was “a good thing” even though culturally Italy is far from unified nowadays. Palermo and Milan, for example, are both Italian cities, but they could scarcely be more different from one another. The crucial point in favor of the Risorgimento in the 19th century was that before unification the various Italian states were constantly subject to domination by neighboring powers because they were too weak to resist. A strongly unified Italian nation could establish its own destiny. I have spoken repeatedly of the perils of nationalism (Mussolini, for example), but when you have to choose between national unity and fragmentation, national unity tends to have a majority of backers.

Mazzini was born in Genoa, then part of the Ligurian Republic, under the rule of the French Empire. From an early age Mazzini showed a precocious interest in politics and literature. He was admitted to university at 14, graduating in law in 1826, and initially practiced as a “poor man’s lawyer.” Mazzini also hoped to become a historical novelist or a dramatist, and in the same year wrote his first essay, Dell’amor patrio di Dante (“On Dante’s Patriotic Love”), published in 1837. In 1828–29 he collaborated with a Genoese newspaper, L’indicatore genovese, which was however soon closed by the Piedmontese authorities. He then became one of the leading authors of L’Indicatore Livornese until this paper was closed down by the authorities, too. In 1827 Mazzini travelled to Tuscany, where he became a member of the Carbonari, a secret association with a political agenda. On 31st October of that year he was arrested in Genoa and interned in Savona. In early 1831, he was released from prison, but confined to a small hamlet. He chose exile instead, moving to Geneva in Switzerland.

In 1831 Mazzini went to Marseille, where he became a popular figure among the Italian exiles. Mazzini organized a new political society called Young Italy. Young Italy was a secret society formed to promote Italian unification: “One, free, independent, republican nation.” Mazzini believed that a popular uprising would create a unified Italy, and would touch off a European-wide revolutionary movement. The group’s motto was “God and the People,” and its basic principle was the unification of the several states and kingdoms of the peninsula into a single republic as the only true foundation of Italian liberty. Mazzini’s political activism met with some success in Tuscany, Abruzzi, Sicily, Piedmont, and his native Liguria, especially among several military officers. Young Italy counted about 60,000 adherents in 1833, with branches in Genoa and other cities. In that year Mazzini first attempted insurrection, which he hoped would spread from Chambéry (then part of the Kingdom of Sardinia), Alessandria, Turin, and Genoa. However, the Savoy government discovered the plot before it could begin and many revolutionaries (including Vincenzo Gioberti) were arrested. The repression was ruthless: 12 participants were executed, while Mazzini’s best friend and director of the Genoese section of the Giovine Italia, Jacopo Ruffini, killed himself. Mazzini was tried in absentia and sentenced to death.

Despite this setback Mazzini organized another uprising for the following year. A group of Italian exiles were to enter Piedmont from Switzerland and spread the revolution there, while Giuseppe Garibaldi, who had recently joined Young Italy, was to do the same from Genoa. However, the Piedmontese troops easily crushed the new attempt. On 28th May 1834 Mazzini was arrested at Solothurn, and exiled from Switzerland. He moved to Paris, where he was again imprisoned on 5th July. He was released only after promising he would move to England. Mazzini, together with a few Italian friends, moved in January 1837 to live in London in very poor economic conditions.

On 30th April 1840 Mazzini reformed the Giovine Italia in London, and on 10 November of the same year he began issuing the Apostolato popolare (“Apostleship of the People”). A succession of failed attempts at promoting further uprisings in Sicily, Abruzzi, Tuscany, and Lombardy-Venetia discouraged Mazzini for a long period, which dragged on until 1840. His mother pushed Mazzini to create several organizations aimed at the unification or liberation of other nations, in the wake of Giovine Italia: “Young Germany”, “Young Poland”, and “Young Switzerland”, which were under the aegis of “Young Europe” (Giovine Europa). He also created an Italian school for poor people active from 10th November 1841 at 5 Greville Street in London. From London he also wrote an endless series of letters to his agents in Europe and South America, and made friends with Thomas Carlyle and his wife Jane. The “Young Europe” movement also inspired a group of young Turkish army cadets and students who, later in history, named themselves the “Young Turks”.

In 1843 he organized another riot in Bologna, which attracted the attention of two young officers of the Austrian Navy, Attilio and Emilio Bandiera. With Mazzini’s support, they landed near Cosenza (kingdom of Naples), but were arrested and executed. Mazzini accused the British government of having passed information about the expeditions to the Neapolitans, and a question was raised in the British Parliament. When it was admitted that his private letters had indeed been opened, and its contents revealed by the Foreign Office to the Austrian and Neapolitan governments, Mazzini gained popularity and support among the British liberals, who were outraged by such a blatant intrusion of the government into his private correspondence.

In 1847 he moved again to London, where he wrote a long “open letter” to Pope Pius IX, whose apparently liberal reforms had gained him a momentary status as a possible nexus of the unification of Italy. The pope, however, did not reply. By 8th March 1848 Mazzini was in Paris, where he launched a new political association, the Associazione Nazionale Italiana. On 7th April 1848 Mazzini arrived in Milan, whose population had rebelled against the Austrian garrison and established a provisional government. The First Italian War of Independence, started by the Piedmontese king Charles Albert to exploit the favorable circumstances in Milan, turned into a total failure. Mazzini, who had never been popular in the city because he wanted Lombardy to become a republic instead of joining Piedmont, abandoned Milan. He joined Garibaldi’s irregular force at Bergamo, moving to Switzerland with him.

On 9th February 1849 a republic was declared in Rome, with Pius IX already having been forced to flee to Gaeta the preceding November. On the same day the Republic was declared, Mazzini reached the city. He was appointed, together with Carlo Armellini and Aurelio Saffi, as a member of the “triumvirate” of the new republic on 29th March, soon becoming the real leader of the government and showing strong administrative capacity for social reforms. However, when the French troops called by the pope made clear that the resistance of the Republican troops, led by Garibaldi, was in vain, on 12th July 1849, Mazzini went to Marseille, and then to Switzerland.

Mazzini spent all of 1850 hiding from the Swiss police. In July he founded the association Amici di Italia (Friends of Italy) in London, to attract consensus towards the Italian liberation cause. Two failed riots in Mantua (1852) and Milan (1853) were a crippling blow for the Mazzinian organization, whose prestige never recovered. He later opposed the alliance signed by Savoy with Austria for the Crimean War. The expedition of Felice Orsini in Carrara of 1853–54 was also futile.

In 1856 Mazzini returned to Genoa to organize a series of uprisings: the only serious attempt was that of Carlo Pisacane in Calabria, which again met a dismal end. Mazzini managed to escape the police, but was condemned to death by default. From this moment on, Mazzini was more of a spectator than a protagonist of the Italian Risorgimento, whose reins were now strongly in the hands of the Savoyard monarch Victor Emmanuel II and his prime minister, Camillo Benso, Conte di Cavour. In 1858 Mazzini founded another journal in London, Pensiero e azione (“Thought and Action”). Also there, on 21st February 1859, together with 151 republicans he signed a manifesto against the alliance between Piedmont and the Emperor of France which resulted in the Second War of Italian Independence and the conquest of Lombardy. On 2 May 1860 he tried to reach Garibaldi, who was going to launch his famous Expedition of the Thousand in southern Italy. In the same year he released “Doveri dell’uomo” (“Duties of Man”), a synthesis of his moral, political and social thoughts. In mid-September he was in Naples, then under Garibaldi’s dictatorship, but was invited by the local vice-dictator Giorgio Pallavicino to move away.

The new kingdom of Italy was created in 1861 under the Savoy monarchy. In 1862, Mazzini joined Garibaldi in his failed attempt to free Rome. In 1866, Italy joined the Austro-Prussian War and gained Venetia. At this time Mazzini frequently spoke out against how the unification of his country was being achieved, and in 1867 he refused a seat in the Italian Chamber of Deputies. In 1870, he tried to start a rebellion in Sicily, and was arrested and imprisoned in Gaeta. He was freed in October, in the amnesty declared after the kingdom finally took Rome. He returned to London in mid-December.

Mazzini died of pleurisy at the house known now as Domus Mazziniana in Pisa in 1872, at the age of 67. His body was embalmed by Paolo Gorini. His funeral was held in Genoa, with 100,000 people in attendance.

Mazzini rejected the Marxist doctrines of class struggle and dialectical materialism, and stressed the need for class collaboration, making him an enemy of both communism and capitalism. Mazzini also rejected the classical liberal principles of the Enlightenment based on the doctrine of individualism, which he criticized as “presupposing either metaphysical materialism or political atheism.” In fact, Mazzini’s thought was characterized by a strong religious fervor and deep sense of spirituality. Mazzini described himself as a Christian and emphasized the necessity of faith and a relationship with God, while vehemently denouncing rationalism and atheism. He regarded patriotism as a duty, and love of homeland as a divine mission.

Mazzini occasionally criticized the way the Catholic priesthood operated, but was staunchly opposed to Protestanism which he saw as:

divided and subdivided into a thousand sects, all founded on the rights of individual conscience, all eager to make war on one another, and perpetuating that anarchy of beliefs which is the sole true cause of the social and political disturbances that torment the peoples of Europe.

Mazzini formulated a concept known as thought and action, in which thought and action must be joined together, and every thought must be followed by action, therefore rejecting intellectualism and the notion of divorcing theory from practice. He likewise rejected the concept of the “rights of man” which had developed during the Age of Enlightenment, arguing instead that individual rights were a duty to be won through hard work, sacrifice and virtue, rather than “rights” which were intrinsically owed to man.

Mazzini was also an early advocate of a “United States of Europe” about a century before the European Union began to take shape. For him, European unification was a logical continuation of Italian unification. In Doveri dell’uomo (“Duties of Man”, 1860) Mazzini called for recognition of women’s rights. After his many encounters with political philosophers in England, France and across Europe, he had decided that the principle of equality between men and women was fundamental to building a truly democratic Italian nation. He called for the end of women’s social and judicial subordination to men. Mazzini helped intellectuals see women’s rights not merely a peripheral topic but as a fundamental goal necessary for the regeneration of old nations and the rebirth of new ones.

Karl Marx, in an interview with R. Landor from 1871, said that Mazzini’s ideas represented “nothing better than the old idea of a middle-class republic.” Marx believed, especially after the Revolutions of 1848, that Mazzini’s point of view had become reactionary, and the proletariat had nothing to do with it.[16] In another interview, Marx described Mazzini as “that everlasting old ass”. Mazzini, in turn, described Marx as “a destructive spirit whose heart was filled with hatred rather than love of mankind” and declared that “Despite the communist egalitarianism which [Marx] preaches he is the absolute ruler of his party, admittedly he does everything himself but he is also the only one to give orders and he tolerates no opposition.”

Mazzini’s home town of Genoa is well known for many specialties, some of which I have mentioned already. Less well known than those I have mentioned so far is farinata, a baked dish made of chickpea flour, water, and olive oil. It is surprisingly good, even though it is simple to make. In standard Italian, the dish is called farinata (“made of flour”) while in the Genoese dialect it is called fainâ. It is now a common dish – with variations – all along the Ligurian coast, and in places where Genovese people migrated (especially Buenos Aires). In Nice and the Côte d’Azur, it is called socca, in Tuscany, cecina (“made of chickpeas”) or torta di ceci (“chickpea pie”) and in Sardinia fainè. In Argentina and Uruguay it is called (la fainá (feminine) in Argentina, and el fainá (masculine) in Uruguay). In Buenos Aires it is common to find fainá served on top of pizza, which I find to be a bit too much of a good thing.

I used to make farinata in a cast-iron skillet. You need a heavy pan that you can use on the stove top and in the oven. Begin by mixing 1 ½ cups of chickpea flour and 2 cups of lukewarm water in a deep bowl. Whisk well so that the flour and water make a completely homogenous batter. Cover and let sit for 2 hours. After 2 hours the mix will be slowly bubbling and there will be a film of foamy scum on top. Carefully skim off as much of the scum as possible, and then stir in 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and salt to taste.

Preheat the oven to 500˚F/260˚C and put the skillet over high heat. When it starts to smoke, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and let it heat until barely smoking. Dump the chickpea batter into the skillet and quickly swirl it around to be sure it is evenly distributed. Then transfer the skillet to the preheated oven and let it cook, undisturbed, for 35 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven and immediately lift the farinata out on to a cutting board. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and cut into slices (like a pizza) or – more traditionally – into irregular triangular and oblong shapes. Serve warm.

It is very common in Genoa to add a little fresh chopped rosemary to the batter before baking farinata, but, as you might expect, you can add anything you wish. Chopped onions or artichokes, are common, but the most famous derivative recipe is the fainâ co i gianchetti (“farinata with whitebait”).

Sep 202017
 

On this date in 1870 the 12th battalion of the Bersaglieri stormed Rome through a breach created by Italian artillery in the Aurelian Walls near Porta Pia leading to the capture of Rome and end of the temporal power of the pope, thus completing the unification of Italy.  The unification of Italy, known in Italian as the Risorgimento, was a long, drawn out affair facing numerous obstacles along the way. Capturing Rome and making it the capital of the new Italian state was the final piece of the puzzle.

Rome was a crucial prize for all kinds of reasons. For starters, Rome was of deep symbolic importance because of its historic role as a capital city dating back to the ancient Roman empire.  Second, it had been the seat of the papacy (off and on) for many centuries, and both the pope and the papal states had wielded enormous political, military, and economic power throughout Europe. The fall of Rome marked the end of this power.  Third, the unification of Italy up to that point had been dominated by the north, notably Piedmont, so that the initially unified kingdom of Italy (1861) under Victor Emmanuel II, former king of Sardinia, was a severely fractured nation with ongoing political hostilities and divisions between southern and northern states (that continues to this day). Creating Rome as the capital of the newly formed nation was expected to soften the dominance of the north because of its strategic geographic location (midway between south and north).

During the Second Italian War of Independence (1859), much of the territory of the Papal States had been conquered by the Piedmontese Army, and the newly unified kingdom of Italy was created when the first Italian Parliament met in Turin. On 27 March 1861, the Parliament declared Rome the capital of the kingdom of Italy. However, the Italian government could not take its seat in Rome because it did not control the territory. In addition, a French garrison was maintained in the city by Napoleon III of France in support of Pope Pius IX, who was determined not to hand over temporal power it had in the Papal States. In July 1870, at the very last moment of the Church’s rule over Rome, the First Vatican Council was held in the city – affirming the doctrine of papal infallibility

.

In July 1870, the Franco-Prussian War began. In early August, Napoleon III recalled his garrison from Rome. The French not only needed the troops to defend their homeland, but there was also real concern in Paris that Italy might use the French presence in Rome as a pretext to go to war with France. In the earlier Austro-Prussian War (1866), Italy had allied with Prussia and Italian public opinion favored the Prussian side at the start of the war. The removal of the French garrison eased tensions between Italy and France. Italy remained neutral in the Franco-Prussian War.

With the French garrison gone, widespread public demonstrations demanded that the Italian government take Rome. But Rome remained under French protection on paper, therefore an attack would still have been regarded as an act of war against the French Empire. Furthermore, although Prussia was at war with France, it had gone to war in an uneasy alliance with the Catholic South German states that it had fought against (alongside Italy) just four years earlier. Although Prussian prime minister Otto von Bismarck was no friend of the papacy, he knew any war that put Prussia and the Holy See in opposing alliances would almost certainly have upset the delicate pan-German coalition, and with it his own carefully laid-out plans for national unification. For both Prussia and Italy, any misstep that caused the breakup of the pan-German coalition brought with it the risk of Austro-Hungarian intervention in a wider European conflict.

Above all else, Bismarck made every diplomatic effort to keep Prussia’s conflicts of the 1860s and 1870s localized and prevent them from spiraling out of control into a general European war. Therefore, not only was Prussia unable to offer any sort of alliance with Italy against France, but actually had to make diplomatic efforts to maintain Italian neutrality and keep the peace on the Italian peninsula, at least until the potential of a conflict there becoming intertwined with her own war with France had passed. Moreover, the French Army was still regarded as the strongest in Europe – and until events elsewhere took their course, the Italians were unwilling to provoke Napoleon III.

It was only after the surrender of Napoleon III and his army at the Battle of Sedan the situation changed radically. The French Emperor was deposed and forced into exile. The best French units had been captured by the Prussians, who quickly followed up their success at Sedan by marching on Paris. Faced with a pressing need to defend its capital with its remaining forces, the new French government was clearly not in a military position to retaliate against Italy. In any event, the new government was far less sympathetic to the Holy See and did not possess the political will to protect the Pope’s position.

Finally, with the French government on a more democratic footing and the seemingly harsh Prussian peace terms becoming public knowledge, Italian public opinion shifted sharply away from the German side in favor of France. With that development, the prospect of a conflict on the Italian peninsula provoking foreign intervention pretty much vanished.

King Victor Emmanuel II sent Conte Gustavo Ponza di San Martino to Pius IX with a personal letter offering a face-saving proposal that would have allowed the peaceful entry of the Italian Army into Rome, under the guise of protecting the pope. Along with the letter, the count carried a document setting out ten articles to serve as the basis for an agreement between Italy and the Holy See.

The Pope would retain the inviolability and prerogatives attaching to him as a sovereign. The Leonine City (surrounding the Vatican) would remain “under the full jurisdiction and sovereignty of the Pontiff”. The Italian state would guarantee the pope’s freedom to communicate with the Catholic world, as well as diplomatic immunity both for the nuncios and envoys in foreign lands and for the foreign diplomats at the Holy See. The government would supply a permanent annual fund for the pope and the cardinals, equal to the amount currently assigned to them by the budget of the pontifical state, and would assume all papal civil servants and soldiers onto the state payroll, with full pensions as long as they were Italian.

The pope met San Martino on 10th September 1870 and violently responded, “Fine loyalty! You are all a set of vipers, of whited sepulchres, and wanting in faith. . . . I am no prophet, nor son of a prophet, but I tell you, you will never enter Rome!”

The Italian army, commanded by General Raffaele Cadorna, crossed the papal frontier on 11 September and advanced toward Rome, moving slowly in the hope that a peaceful entry could be negotiated. The Papal garrisons had retreated from Orvieto, Viterbo, Alatri, Frosinone and other strongholds in the Lazio, Pius IX himself being convinced of the inevitability of a surrender. When the Italian Army approached the Aurelian Walls that defended the city, the papal force was commanded by General Hermann Kanzler, and was composed of the Swiss Guards and a few “zouaves”—volunteers from France, Austria, the Netherlands, Spain, and other countries—for a total of 13,157 men against around 50,000 Italians.

The Italian army reached the Aurelian Walls on 19th September and placed Rome under a state of siege. Pius IX decided that the surrender of the city would be granted only after his troops had put up enough resistance to make it plain that the take-over was not freely accepted. On 20th September, after a cannonade of three hours had breached the Aurelian Walls at Porta Pia (Breccia di Porta Pia), the crack Piedmontese infantry corps of Bersaglieri entered Rome. In the event 49 Italian soldiers and 19 Papal Zouaves died. Rome and the region of Lazio were annexed to the Kingdom of Italy after a plebiscite.

The Leonine City, excluding the Vatican, seat of the Pope, was occupied by Italian soldiers on September 21. The Italian government had intended to let the Pope keep the Leonine City, but the Pope would not agree to give up his claims to a broader territory and claimed that since his army had been disbanded, apart from a few guards, he was unable to ensure public order even in such a small territory.

The Via Pia, the road departing from Porta Pia, was rechristened Via XX Settembre (September 20). Subsequently, in numerous Italian cities the name Venti Settembre was given to the main road leading to the local Cathedral. A monument was erected in 1932 in front of Porta Pia to commemorate the event at the same time as the National Museum of the Bersaglieri corps was moved to Porta Pia, where it remains to this day.

By rights I should give you trippa alla romana – a Roman tripe dish I have enjoyed in a little restaurant by the Tiber, but instead I’ll give you another absolutely classic Roman dish, corda alla vaccinara (butcher’s oxtail), an oxtail stew laden with celery. The oxtail is parboiled and then simmered with large amounts of celery (there should be 1.5 kilos of celery for every kilo of oxtail), carrots, and aromatic herbs. Tomatoes and red wine are added, and then the mixture is cooked further with a soffritto of onions, garlic, prosciutto, pancetta and some other ingredients. During the final phase of cooking, a bouquet garni of bay leaves, celery stalks, and cloves is put in the pot for flavoring. The oxtail should be cooked such a long time that the meat easily separates from the bones. It is seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg, and black pepper and garnished with pine nuts.

Coda is usually prepared to taste sweet-and-sour, usually using raisins, or sometimes candied fruit or a small amount of grated bittersweet chocolate. Coda is generally prepared in advance and reheated. Leftovers can be used as a sauce for rigatoni, which is then named rigatoni al sugo di coda.

Here’s an exact recipe if you need one:

http://www.eatingitalyfoodtours.com/blog/coda-alla-vaccinara/