Tuesday, June 26, 2012

grave post - Mazzini

Last Sunday I was wandering around the Staglieno Cemetery (in Genoa, Italy), in sheer and absolute awe of the statuary and views. Content to just be aimless and not seek out anyone famous since I had such a short time in Genoa, the several signs I found pointing to Mazzini had me curious. Some were hand written, some were photocopies. This was the most official looking one.
At one point, someone carrying a flower, whom I had seen wandering around, asked me something in Italian which I did not understand. Then, seeing another sign pointing to Mazzini, I realized that was what she was looking for, so together we walked up the many, many (oh dear lord, many steps) while I asked her who this person was. He is the Father of Italy, she explained in halting English. With Garibaldi, who I had heard of. We both agreed that Mazzini would be weeping to see how his beloved Italy (and perhaps the EU?) was having so many problems now.



Giuseppe Mazzini started his life in Genoa in 1805 and died of pleurisy in Pisa at age 66 in 1872. In between, he was a journalist, politician and activist for Italian unification/independence while spending a considerable amount of time in exile for his revolutionary activities. He would promote the idea of creating a 'United States of Europe' long before the European Union was designed. According to one source, though his actions were sometimes politically indiscreet, he was a man of attractive character and strong personal magnetism, distinguished throughout his career for disinterested patriotism and the highest moral standards of conduct. No man won so many admirers as Mazzini and yet secured so few friends. There was hardly a human being whom long familiarity had not estranged from Mazzini. With manners consummately affable and courteous he combined an overweening conceit and a narrowness and bigotry of view which hardly tolerated independent minds.
I could find no mention of any romantic interests or family.
I must say, apart from the fact that this seems to resemble a cave the way it is dug into the hillside, I found it a bit anti-climactic after seeing the other tombs with their detailed carvings. It was the only one that warranted signs, so must be a popular pilgrimage for many Italians, but I was too hot and thirsty by then to try to figure out who the other people were in the fenced in area of his tomb. More elaborate tombs will follow in the coming weeks.


to see other tomb discoveries, (including possibly more from this cemetery via Biebkriebels and sc who were there just before I was) follow the signs to Taphophile Tragics

18 comments:

  1. This is most interesting. My choir is singing Verdi's Requiem, and an impetus for its composition was the death of Mazzini, who was so influential in the unification of Italy.

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    1. I find it interesting that with everyone I have told this tale to, we have all heard of Garibaldi, but none of us were familiar with Mazzini.

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    1. it is impressive - I was perhaps expecting a statue, which seems to be absent.

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  3. A very impressive tomb none the less.

    Herding Cats

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    1. by this time, my standards had become pretty high! ;)
      but seeing it now, it is quite the tomb.

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  4. I see you found the cemetery, it is huge isn't it? There is too much to see it all. This one I haven't even seen, was it all the way up to the right? We haven't been there. We watched the galleries and the lower parts.

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    1. yes, it was way up at the top. there were some nice views!
      I liked that elevator :)

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  5. Perhaps his 'overweening conceit' is the reason he is not well remembered and thus better known outside Italy. Certainly that tomb makes a statement about his importance. The cemetery sounds an intriguing place to visit.

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    1. the cemetery is an amazing place - if you ever get the chance do not miss it.
      you may have a point about that conceit!

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  6. Certainly an impressive resting place. Nothing nearly as grand here in Birmingham! This was a most interesting post!
    V

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    1. I also found it interesting that he lived so much of his life in exile yet was buried in his place of birth - yet is way up the top of the hillside!

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  7. It's interesting that no one is endeared to one with conceit, yet it stops few from being conceited. Perhaps narcissism one of those personality flaws one does not recognize in oneself. As information becomes more readily available we learn that even our heroes and great achievers were not necessarily pleasant people. Even if this burial was anti-climactic for you, I'm happy you were not disappointed by your visit to this cemetery. Look forward to seeing more from you and biebkriebels.

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    1. sometimes I think it is best if we do not know too much about our 'heroes'. then again, I doubt they really care if they are liked or not.

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  8. I would not expect a statue for one such as Mazzini, because why have a bland replica when the real deal is there in the casket! Not having his likeness cast in marble is the ultimate in conceit.

    Somehow, I do not think we should single out our heroes for who they are, but for what they achieve. Often high-achievers have to overcome such nearly insurmountable odds, that the develop personal characteristics of perseverance, pig-headedness and an inability to compromise that would put the rest of us off.

    I had heard of Mazzini, but not as much as I knew of Garibaldi. I studied the unification of Italy for my high school finals.

    It is quite delicious that you, Marianne and SC went to the same cemetery in Italy, albeit at differing times.

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    1. It was a shame they were not there a week later and we may have run into each other!

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    2. Julie, I totally agree, in the end it's the achievement or ability, and its (positive?) impact on our world, not the personality, that matters. To illustrate, should I ever need a by-pass, I'd choose a brilliant yet crabby surgeon over the competent doctor with pleasant bedside manners. Yet I do not accept that brilliance excuses a bad character (think: DSK). Nor does it necessarily take obnoxiousness to achieve (think: Gandhi, although he had his own quirks). And let's not forget that a hero to one is a villain to another (think: Genghis Khan). Each case will be different. Hah! Maybe I am just thinking too hard... LOL!

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    3. When you think about it, such people are not in this world to make friends, but to make the world, or their bit of it, a better place as they see it. One cannot achieve this by being too nice. I am sure there must be a certain amount of impatience with people who have such high goals and ideas.

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