Italian Memories.

Elizabeth Butler’s autobiography is a wonderful book. One of the things I found interesting was her recollection of Italy as a young girl. I hope you enjoy it too.

“The war against Austria had been won. Magenta, Solferino, Montebello—dear me, how those names resounded! One day as we were running along the road in our pinafores near the Zerbino palace, above Genoa, along came Victor Emmanuel in an open carriage looking very red and blotchy in the heat, with big, ungloved hands, one of which he raised to his hat in saluting us little imps who were shouting “Long live the King of Italy!” in English with all our might. We were only a little previous (!) Then the next year came the Garibaldi enthusiasm, and we, like all the children about us, became highly exalted Garibaldians. I saw the Liberator the day before he sailed from Quarto for his historical landing in Sicily, at the Villa Spinola, in the grounds of which we were, on a visit at the English consul’s. He was sitting in a little arbour overlooking the sea, talking to the gardener. In the following autumn, when his fame had increased a thousandfold, I made a pen and ink memory sketch of him which my father told me to keep for future times. I vividly remember, though at the time not able to understand the extraordinary meaning of the words, hearing one of Garibaldi’s adoring comrades (one Colonel Vecchii) a year or two later exclaim to my father, with hands raised to heaven, “Garibaldi!! C’est le Christ le revolver à la main!”
Our life at old Albaro was resumed, and I recall the pleasant English colony at Genoa in those days, headed by the very popular consul, “Monty” Brown, and the nice Church of England chaplain, the Rev. Alfred Strettell. Ah! those primitive picnics on Porto Fino, when Mr. Strettell and our father used to read aloud to the little company, including our precocious selves, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Keats, Tennyson, under the vines and olives, between whose branches, far below the cultivated terraces which we chose for our repose, appeared the deep blue waters of the Sea of seas. My early sketch books are full of incidents in Genoese peasant life: carnival revels in the streets, so suited to the child’s idea of fun; charges of Garibaldian cavalry on discomfited Neapolitan troops (the despised Borbonici), and waving of tricolours by bellicose patriots.”

Excerpt from an “An Autobiography.” Elizabeth Butler. Available on Archive.

These must have been exciting times. I wish I could find that sketch of Garibaldi.

Thanks to Materialismo Sacro for translating this post into Italian! http://materialismosacro.blogspot.co.uk/2017/02/italian-memories.html

Josh.

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