Didem Doğan

A surprise in the streets of Havana: Italian political figure Garibaldi

As I’m walking in the old town in Havana from the Plaza Vieja to Plaza de las Armas along the Calle Mercaderes road I see this text on the way written on a stone at the entrance of a building: “In the memory of 130 years of Italy’s liberator Garibaldi’s stay in Havana the city of Rome dedicates this commemoration to José Marti, who encouraged the idea of independence of Cuba.”… Here is an interesting life story…The political leader, Garibaldi Giuseppe, the founder of the Italian Union has an interesting life story: from Nice to Istanbul, from Istanbul to Russia, from Russia to South America, then to Havana, it’s the story of a traveler. It’s always curious to learn what the famous people were doing long before they became ‘famous’. He is known as the father of the Italian Union. He lived in Istanbul from 1828 to 1831, during his trip to the Black Sea, when he was in a ship, he stopped in Istanbul, settled down here for a couple of years. He lived in the district of Pera, at that time, in late Ottoman era, most of the non-muslim population used to live there (his house is situated in the blind alley of Deva). The house known as Cash Garibaldi later turned into the House of the Union of Italian Workers. Garibaldi did not only dreamt of one Italian State, he also provoked the Balkan people towards the Ottoman Empire. He later went to South America, stays for a while in Brazil, in the State of Rio Grande de Sul, he then continues his trip to North America. You may see his name is also written on a street wall in Havana (he lived in Havana in 1835).