David Gilmour

A small, bespectacled hero

United Italy was reluctant to honour authentic heroes of its national struggle. Apart from Garibaldi, its squares and street-names — as well as its bronze statues and marble plaques — commemorate incompetent generals, duplicitous statesmen, serial conspirators, an oafish monarch (Victor Emmanuel) and a number of crazy young patriots who dashed off to Calabria (or wherever), shouted ‘Viva Italia!’ at a bemused populace, and were quickly shot.

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