A third Jesus Christ for Italy? Italian Heroes and the Risorgimento.

Whilst doing some reading for this blog – I intend to restart the podcast this summer and complete it as soon as I can, I started thinking about similarities between the Italian politician Bepe Grillo and Garibaldi.  Grillo’s wikipedia page lists him as ‘an Italian comedianactorblogger and political activist. He has been involved in political activity since 2009 as founder of the Five Star Movement, [who] does not hold any public office”.

I came across this article :We need a surreal fantasist like Beppe Grillo to rescue Italy, says Nobel-winning playwright Dario Fo | World news | The
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/02/beppe-grillo-dario-fo-italy

In which Dario Fo, Italian left wing playwright, sets Grillo up as Italy’s saviour (and makes some very interesting use of the fractured nature of Italy’s past).  I wondered whether anyone else had started to think about the nature of Grillo’s campaign in the light of history.  Turns out Grillo himself was already using Italy’s troubled past to make his own political points, and perhaps to improve his own political future:

Beppe Grillo’s Blog
http://www.beppegrillo.it/en/2012/10/_ive_landed_in_sicily.html

Grillo held a high profile election rally in Sicily in March 2013, after swimming to the island. It seems that Grillo is aware of the PR power of masculine feats of endurance, but also aware of the importance of Sicily in the history of the unification of Italy.  In his blog, Grillo writes of three visits to Sicily, the first by Garibaldi – which brought in the Piedmontese (it’s really interesting that he still refers to this as a victory for one of the Italian states, instead of celebrating the unification of Italy), the second by the Americans, who brought the mafia; and the third by himself, bringing a new kind of hope for Sicily based on development of the island’s economy.  The power of celebrity in Italy’s politics is also interesting, especially for us AS and A level historians who study the impact of one man in particular – Giuseppe Garibaldi.

Searching around brought me to this really interesting article, by Lucy Riall in History Today.

Garibaldi: The First Celebrity | History Today

http://www.historytoday.com/lucy-riall/garibaldi-first-celebrity

Riall’s main point is that Garibaldi’s celebrity was, like its modern version, consciously created and nurtured, in order to contribute to the aim of a united Italy.   Riall tells us how Mazzini noticed the potential that Garibaldi presented as a symbol of Italian-ness.  Garibaldi was therefore a poster-boy for the idea of Italian unity, an idea which lacked many other positive symbols, traditions or even a common language.   She also points out how Mazzini’s campaign involved radicals in Britain, mainland Europe as well as in Italy itself.

Beppe Grillo’s Blog
http://www.beppegrillo.it/en/2012/10/_ive_landed_in_sicily.html

We need a surreal fantasist like Beppe Grillo to rescue Italy, says Nobel-winning playwright Dario Fo | World news | The Observer
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/02/beppe-grillo-dario-fo-italy

PoliticaPrima: Grillo as Garibaldi?
http://www.politicaprima.com/2012/11/grillo-come-garibaldi.html

Comedian Beppe Grillo makes a splash in Sicily election campaign | World news | The Guardian
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/oct/10/beppe-grillo-sicily-election-campaign

Don Murray: Fractious Italy votes to send in the clowns – World – CBC News
http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2013/02/25/f-vp-murray-italy-grillo.html

Garibaldi: The First Celebrity | History Today
http://www.historytoday.com/lucy-riall/garibaldi-first-celebrity

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