The Heroes Way: Walking With Garibaldi From Rome to Ravenna, by Tim Parks (Harvill Secker 2021)

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The very colourful Giuseppe Garibaldi is considered to be Italy's greatest national hero for his contribution to the unification of Italy in 1861. However, earlier in his campaign, in 1849, he abandoned his defence of Rome against the superior French forces, and escaped overland with 4000 troops to both evade capture, and to rally support in the regions. They walked and rode hundreds of miles across the Appenines to reach the Adriatic Sea. In this book, old Italy hand Tim Parks and his wife decide to retrace his steps on foot. Through July and August 2019 they keep up with the garibaldini, and report on the way what is known about Garibaldi's tactics to evade the pursuing Austrian and French forces, how he fed his troops, and state of Garibaldi's pregnant wife Anita, the skirmishes they had with their enemies, and the landscapes and villages they passed through. It's a compelling and engaging book, evocatively written and informative. Another addition to Tim Parks's excellent books on Italy and the Italians.