Italy’s national hero, and freedom fighter, Garibaldi spent his last years on his farm on the tiny island of Caprera. It is part of the Maddalena Archipelago just off the rugged and windy north coast of Sardinia. He bought half of the island in 1855 and 10 years later some English friends gave him the other half. With the help of his family he built a self sustaining farm. It must have been a wonderful refuge from his fighting days.
We arrived at the property to find this sign at the entrance.
I promise that we were well behaved and we avoided useless misunderstandings.
The guide, who spoke only Italian, very quickly, finally arrived and led us into the open courtyard of the group of houses that make up Garibaldi’s compound. There is a huge tree that Garibaldi planted in 1867 on the birth of one of his children, Clelia.
We were taken into the stable where there were lots of reminders of life in Garibaldi’s time there. He was a skilled joiner and blacksmith and his tools are displayed on the walls. His bathtub was here in the stable as it was the warmest part of the house. His beloved horse, Marsala, who died at the age of 30 was buried not far from the house.
Then it was time to go into the house, which was built in 1856.
I wish I could show you inside but it is not possible because photos are not allowed. It is a pity, as the house was full of wonderful photos, memorabilia and contraptions. Garibaldi was fascinated by new ideas. His kitchen had the first running water in an Italian house.
The most touching room was the large bedroom where he spent his last days. The bed faced the sea and I can imagine him lying there gazing out of the window and possibly contemplating his remarkable adventures. He died here on 2nd June 1882 at the age of 75. On the wall you can see the original calendar that still marks the day he died, and the clock that was stoppd at the time he died: 6.21pm. In the right corner there is a medicine cabinet and, on the table near the bed, there is a cradle used to protect his wounded leg from the weight of the sheets.
There is a fitting monument by Luigi Bistolfi to Garibaldi outside the house. He is looking to the sea.
The view is quite good from there.
We walked through the gardens to the burial ground where Garibaldi lies with his family, including his last wife Francesca, Teresita, his daughter by Anita (first wife), Anita, a child he had with one of his maids, Rosa (a daughter who died at only 18 months) his son Manilo and his daughter Clelia.
Garibaldi wanted to be cremated, but that was illegal at the time so his body was embalmed and buried under the granite rock.
The Italian government now owns the property, the only building on the island.
To reach the Caprera, take the ferry from Palau. There is a narrow bridge from La Maddalena to the island.