Garibaldi and Cigars

Garibaldi was a heavy cigar smoker- "Toscani" naturally, which he preferred cut in half. Garibaldi was rarely found without a cigar; they were with him through all sorts of situations, from comical to dramatic, as well as serene ones (though during his tumultuous life these were few and far between).
photo One of these tranquil interludes took place in Nice in 1854: [His was] "a calm life. Garibaldi used to get up at dawn and after thorough ablutions he would shoulder his rifle and go hunting for partridges or maybe fishing. At noon, using one of the many French terms with which he liked to color his language, he would have his "déjeuner"- lunch. Then it was time for his nap, and towards evening he would go out for a stroll, usually along the port, smoking his half cigar. He used to dine early, at about six, and didn't tend to eat very much: a tomato dressed with oil and salt and a piece of "cacio" cheese were enough- as long as there was plenty of bread and half a liter of red wine." But Garibaldi remained a simple man, and his good old "toscano" halves never abandoned him- not even during his most glorious and festive moments, as in Palermo in 1860: "He had moved into the royal palace, but its elegance did not affect him. When General Letizia and Colonel Buonopane arrived to discuss the conditions of the armistice, they noticed that he had taken quarters in the most modest, three room apartment. The dictator, seated on a small armchair, received them cordially. Documents and a couple of half cigars were lying on a chair between his legs. He was peeling an orange with a small dagger and used it to proffer a few slices to his guests who had been invited to sit down next to him. Even during the moment of his greatest triumph, when he turned all the Chancelleries of Europe upside down and his name could be heard resounding in every corner, he remained the simple, rustic man that he had always been." On the Aspromonte on the 29th of August 1862, a dramatic incident: He ordered his men to go out shouting "Viva l'Italia!" But shouting had no effect.
The words were buried beneath the Bersaglieri's gunfire- even the Garibaldini disappeared. It lasted no longer than ten minutes, but this was more than enough. Twelve dead lay on the ground- five Garibaldini and seven regulars- and thirty-four men were wounded- fourteen regulars and twenty Garibaldini. After the ambush they all gathered under a tree where Garibaldi was lying with his half cigar still in his mouth. Three doctors of his regiment- Ripari, Basile and Albanese- were inspecting his wounds. ("Seven soldiers and five volunteers were killed. They must have deliberately aimed at Garibaldi, as he had been hit twice. He sat down, lit a cigar and calmly told the doctors to amputate his seriously wounded foot at once if necessary." From Denis Mack Smith: Garibaldi. A Great Life in Short. Bari, 1960) "...The descent on Scilla, on the night between the 29th and 30th, was wearisome. The general lay on a rudimentary stretcher and was covered with several jackets. He smoked one cigar after another; an officer poured fresh water over his wounds. The procession was preceded by a few torch-bearers, who lit the way." Two years have elapsed. In April 1864, during his triumphant journey through England, Garibaldi is in London, where he is the guest of the Duke of Sutherland. "A docile and gentle Garibaldi let his host lead him through a series of parties and ceremonies that were not congenial to his reserved nature. Everyone applauded his simple and dignified demeanor. However, this spontaneous man knew how to "act" when it was necessary. He accepted gifts as if he had been doing it all his life. He had a kind word for everybody. Garibaldi- a person used to eating dried codfish, tomatoes, broad beans and cheese- even pretended to relish the intricate English cuisine. Only once did he cause a bit of a stir: surrounded by duchesses and countesses, he pulled his half cigar out of his jacket pocket and lit it enveloping the noble ladies in a cloud of smoke that nearly made them faint. No matter at what time they let him retire to his room, he would always be up by six in the morning. And he made his own coffee, because he did not like the Duke's." This brings us to the end of this brief excursion into the life of Garibaldi and his cigars. The excerpts on the hero's life have been taken from the biography written by Indro Montanelli and Marco Nozza. (Montanelli-Nozza, GARIBALDI- Milano, 1982.)