Garibaldi in Tunis

This article is also available in: Italiano

Giuseppe Garibaldi, “The hero of the two worlds”, was always very close to the Tunisian capital, so much so that it was his first choice for the exile of 1849. Curious that Bettino Craxi himself wrote a book on the subject.

The first travel

Tunisia, starting from 1820, had increasingly become a real refuge for Italian patriots in exile, also combined with a historic Italic presence in the African country. Its proximity to the coasts of the Bel Paese and the neutrality of its Bey, had led more and more Mazzinians and revolutionaries to take refuge right there, also pampered by the possibility of an immediate return to the motherland. Giuseppe Garibaldi will also join these, who, sentenced to death by popular uprising, first escaped to Marseille, then headed for the Tunisian coast.

Giuseppe Garibaldi

He arrived in Tunis between the end of 1834 and the beginning of 1835, staying in Palazzo Gnecco with some companions, including Gaetano Fedriani, to whom he will remain deeply connected over the years and with whom he will always maintain a great friendship. After a few months he had to leave, but his heart never forgot Tunisia, so much that he wanted to return to it in the most difficult moment for him.

The (missed) return

1849 was a very heavy year for the Italian hero, having to digest the defeat of the Roman Republic by the French hand and the death of Anita, his beloved wife. Forced into exile by all Italian and foreign authorities, Garibaldi chose to return to Tunis, a place that, even 15 years later, remained in his heart; unfortunately this time the Bey proved less lenient, not allowing the Patriot to even touch the ground. This was not so much out of antipathy towards the leader for whom, on the contrary, it seems he had great esteem, but more because of the political tensions that this would have generated.


As already mentioned, in fact, Garibaldi was sought after all over the Peninsula, especially by foreign governments who, worried by the proximity of the Tunisian coasts, put pressure on the Bey so that he would not venture to offer him protection. This will push the hero of the two worlds to take refuge in Morocco, in Tangier, without however forgetting his past in Tunisia, suffering greatly from the French occupation. According to some letters, he was so angry at the news that he wanted to take up arms again to end his life as a revolutionary; hypothesis, however, discarded quickly because of his health.

Given the passion for this character, Craxi was not only fully aware of it, but even wrote a book on the story, unfortunately almost impossible to find.

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