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Garibaldi and the 'Pizziconi' of Talamone

Historical Curiosities

Garibaldi and the 'Pizziconi' of Talamone

Even if your reminiscences of history are not up to scratch, there is no doubt the Expedition of the Thousand is a topic well known to all: in 1860 Garibaldi set off from Quarto, a district of Genoa, heading to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, with the aim of supporting the riots that broke out in the island and topple the Bourbon government. We all agree so far. What do we Tuscans have to do in all this? Quite a lot – as a matter of fact, if it were not for us, Garibaldi would not even have made it to Sicily... or at least he would have arrived with no supplies or weapons!

Legend has it that amidst the confusion of the departure, Genoa smugglers managed to steal the only boat carrying the ammunitions. That was a large problem for someone who wanted to go to battle! Giuseppe Bandi, a journalist from Gavorrano who had joined the volunteers, knew the area of Talamone very well and advised Garibaldi to stop there. And that is what happened. The 'red shirts' created quite a stir in the small port inhabited by charcoal makers and fishermen. It is also said that after having one too many glasses of wine, the 'partisans' had set about groping both ladies and young girls, sparking scuffles with the local lads, altered after seeing their territory be trespassed. This is why in Talamone red shirts are called 'pizziconi' (literally, ‘pokers’). Inarguable reaction.

Anyway, once in Talamone, they managed to stock up on food, coal and ammunitions, thanks to the indulgence of De Labar, commander of the Port, and Colonel Giorgini, commander of the Port of Orbetello. After using the Aldobrandesca Fortress Rocca as an enlisting point for new volunteers, who came from as far as Livorno, the ‘pizziconi’ set off again for Marsala, letting the small port revert to its tranquillity. A worse fate occurred to De Labar and Giorgini: they had in fact been duped by Garibaldi to stay on his side. De Labar in particular was not happy at all. But in the end, he was convinced that King Vittorio Emanuele supported the expedition and had set about doing his best to help Garibaldi! It was therefore a terrible injustice when both Giorgini and he were arrested for high treason and imprisoned in Florence at the Fortezza da Basso. But don’t worry, this is not how the story ends! After Garibaldi’s victory, in fact, the two men were released and allowed back into the ranks.

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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