Anita and the others. Stories of women in the Italian Risorgimento

The exhibition, Anita and the others – Stories of women in the Italian Risorgimento, wishes to pay homage to the character of Anita Garibaldi in the bicentenary of her birth. Starting with the uniqueness of her life, which earns her a rightful place in the Garibaldi  myth, this exhibition aims at expanding this perspective taking into account various other female characters who contributed, with different ways of being and feeling, to a new definition of the role of women in the course of the Risorgimento.

The exposition, starting from a significant core of works from the Museum collection, is enriched with loans from other important institutions and tells the history of some of these women while highlighting the high variety of lives and environments in their stories. This story begins with the three-year revolution (from 1796 to 1799) and goes on to weave itself into the crucial events of the Italian Risorgimento.

The Risorgimento accompanied and in many ways symbolized the presence of women in public outside the exclusively private domain. This fed new awareness, developing political conscience and giving life to a new form of social and cultural participation which marked the evolution of Italy. Various social phenomena arouse, including Salotti or living room forums for political and artistic debate, support for the struggles and wars of independence, social assistance, journalism,  education.

This was the result of the concourse of female figures, at times divided from each other by barriers determined by class, education and language, otherwise bound together in a synergy of roles and intentions. Many have disappeared and remain forgotten, while only a few are still remembered and have become part of the myth. Among these is Ana Maria de Jesus Ribeiro da Silva, better known as Anita, companion and wife to Giuseppe Garibaldi. The adventurous fascination of this female fighter and her generous love as wife and mother are captured in her life-like portrait and documented in her most fearless feat, the flight from Rome. Her character stands out in a gallery of faces that are sometimes epic and romantic, sometimes dramatic.

What emerges is an account given by various narrators which witnesses the vitality of the female presence in Italy at the time of the Risorgimento. A rich heritage that goes beyond past and present clichés and certainly gives an essential contribution to a new awareness of women and the creation of a national identity. The exhibition closes with the video, The real face of Anita, curated by Silvia Cavicchioli, which recounts the extraordinary story of the only real-life portrait of Anita Garibaldi.

From 19.11.2021 to 22.1.2022; extended until 20.2.2022