Insight


Goffredo Mameli and the Canto degli Italiani

A special space is devoted to Goffredo Mameli, young poet and Young Italy patriot who wrote the words of the Canto degli Italiani, better known as “Mameli’s Hymn” or “Fratelli d’Italia”, which, after World War II, would become the Italian national anthem.
Born in Genoa on 5 September 1827 (Piazza San Bernardo, n.30), son of Giorgio, Sardinian military office, loyal to House of Savoy, and Adelaide Zoagli Lomellini, marchioness and childhood friend of Giuseppe Mazzini, whose aspirations she admired and supported. At thirteen he was enrolled in the Pious Schools of the Piarist Order, where he received a liberal education – as opposed to the canonical Jesuits rule. He then began studying Philosophy at university until he was admitted to the degree course in Law, where he was enrolled until 6 December 1847.
He initially joined the Entelema Society (founded in Chiavari in 1846, it then spread to university circles in Genoa) due to his interest towards history and literature first, then towards politics. Mameli soon became a leading figure for many young people fascinated with the ideals of national unity and republican government advocated for by Giuseppe Mazzini, as well as a protagonist of the first demonstrations aimed at obtaining constitutional reforms from King Carlo Alberto.
In March 1848, he left Genoa with three hundred volunteers and headed to Milan to support Italian patriots who were arising against the Austrian government, actively taking part in the first War of Independence. After Pope Pius IX’s escape to Gaeta, he was among the first to reach Rome in 1849, where the Republic was declared on 9 February 1849 and where he died defending it on 6 July, at only 21 years of age. 
In the area devoted to him, the Museum displays the first handwritten draft of the Canto degli Italiani, as part of a notebook containing poems and notes. Written in the autumn of 1847 by a 20 years old Goffredo Mameli, on November of the same year the poem was set to music in Turin by the fellow Genoese Michele Novaro. The hymn was played in public for the first time in Genoa, on 10 December 1847, during the first major public demonstration of the Risorgimento; it thus rose to become a symbol of national unity together with the tricolour flag, and spread across Italy. When he composed his Hymn of the Nations in 1862, together with La Marsellaise for France and God save the Queen for England, Giuseppe Verdi chose the Canto degli Italiani as representative for Italy, despite the official national anthem at the time being the Marcia Reale (Royal March) – in use since King Carlo Felice of Sardinia’s reign, and then extended to the Kingdom of Italy.

 
 
Giuseppe Mazzini, from Genoa to Europe

Heart of the exhibition, the rooms of the apartment once inhabited by the Mazzini family offer visitors an important insight into the long and intense life lived by the “Apostle” of the Italian Risorgimento.
Born in Genoa on 22 June 1805 – technically a “French citizen”, as Liguria had just been annexed to the French Empire – from his earliest years he embraced ideals of independence and unity, and throughout his life he strived to achieve them.
His relationship with both parents was crucial: his mother, Maria Drago, greatly influenced Giuseppe’s spiritual education, and provided him with both moral and material support during the most difficult stages of his human and political life – as can be inferred by their frequent correspondence. His father Giacomo, a doctor, supported him just as much, although divergences arose over the years regarding his son’s political activity.
The exhibition space devoted to him is particularly focused on his youth and his cultural and political education. Mazzini’s profound cultural and personal growth was largely determined and stimulated by his dedication to studying, which culminated in a Law degree at the University of Genoa in 1827, his historical and literary readings, as well as the friendship with a circle of like-minded fellows – Giuseppe Elia Benza, Filippo Bettini, Federico Campanella, the Ruffini brothers Jacopo, Giovanni and Agostino – with whom he shared ideals, passions and life stories.
Initially a “Carbonaro”, in 1831 in Marseille he founded Young Italy, a secret society fighting for “one, independent, free, republican” Italy and explicitly addressed to the youth, in the belief that “only they, untainted by political systems, are capable of enthusiasm”.
An ardent patriot, Mazzini rejected Nationalism as exclusive care of one’s own nation’s interests, in the name of universal profit. During his long years of exile as a revolutionary – first in France and Switzerland, then in England, where he lived almost forty years – he experienced hardship firsthand, and actively strived to fight material and moral poverty, especially that of young Italian immigrants in London. He also devoted energies to humanitarian causes, such as political independency of all oppressed nations, abolition of slavery, emancipation of women, liberation of minorities.
Yet above all Mazzini was a republican, and the brief but intense experience of the Roman Republic (1849) became one of the most important moments of both the Italian Risorgimento and his political experience, even though its tragic epilogue had determined a shift in the Risorgimento movement towards more realistic and moderate monarchic stances.
After a long and troubled life, he died in Pisa on 10 March 1872; he managed to witness Rome finally becoming capital city in 1870, but regretted seeing Italy united under the Savoy monarchy and not under a republican government. However, his thoughts and actions contributed to lay the foundations for the solution of the national question and were fully carried out in 1946, when the Italian Republic was proclaimed.
The museum displays the famous portrait painted by one of Mazzini’s friends, English artist Emilie Ashurst, a faithful depiction and Mazzini’s personal favourite; in a letter to his mother, he deems it “extremely good likeness”.
The Museum also keeps and displays the guitar that belonged to Giuseppe Mazzini, made by luthier Gennaro Fabricatore of Naples in 1821; it was played by the “Apostle” of the Italian Risorgimento during the long years spent in London as an exile. In 1933 the guitar was donated by Josephine Shaen – daughter of William, one of Mazzini’s English friends – to the Municipality of Genoa in order to be preserved and exhibited in the Museum of Risorgimento.
Giuseppe Mazzini cultivated his interest in music from a young age, becoming a musician himself. His musical interests, guitar in particular, are reflected in his writings, in the rich correspondence with his mother and friends, and in his Filosofia della musica, published in Paris in 1836.
Mazzini believed that music should play an essential role in the education of young individuals and peoples, and he himself acquired great knowledge of the musical repertoire of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.