In 1839, young Italian revolutionary Garibaldi sailed to Brazil and joined the rebels known as the Ragamuffins in their attempt to separate from Brazil. One day, shaken by the loss of a close friend in a battle at sea he suddenly saw a girl on the beach. He ordered to be rowed ashore, approached her and said: “You must become mine”, in greeting her. Garibaldi later wrote: ‘and with this I had tied a bond which only death could sunder! I had discovered a hidden treasure, a treasure of incredible value, to be sure! If there was guilt in it, it was exclusively mine, and certainly I was guilty, for the love in which our hearts united broke the heart of a poor innocent person who had more rights than I!’.
So began one of the most famous war love stories. Anita joined Garibaldi and fought on his side. She came from a family of herdsmen and was a skilled horsewoman with the strength of a man and the tenderness of a woman. Anita and Giuseppe were married in 1842, in Montevideo. They traveled back to Italy with Garibaldi’s red-shirted legionnaires to fight against the Austrian Empire. Anita participated in the defense of Rome, which fell to a French siege on June 30 1849. She managed to flee from French and Austrian troops but later died sick from malaria, pregnant, in Garibaldi’s arms. When Garibaldi went to hail the king of the united Italy in 1860, he did so wearing Anita’s scarf, honoring her memory.
Sources: Marjan Schwegman (2005) In Love with Garibaldi: Romancing the Italian Risorgimento, European Review of History: Revue europeenne d'histoire, 12:2, 383-401, DOI: 10.1080/13507480500269282