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Gianicolo Busts

I had never seen anyone stop in front of one of those busts that accompany

Garibaldi, up there on his horse, in the Gianicolo. They surround him and they sit

on their pedestals along the grand, sycamore-lined streets that lead to him: Luigi

Bartolucci, Ugo Bassi, Gustavo Modena, Angelo Tittori, Tomasso Salvini, Mattia

Montecchi, Riciotti, Bruno and Costante Garibaldi, Maurizio Quadrio, Achille

Sachi, Quirico Filopanti, and maybe 50 or 60 more fighters for nationhood,

freedom, and independence. There are busts, too, that line walks and roads in

the Villa Borghese, above the Piazza del Popolo: national heroes, painters,

musicians, scientists, aviators, poets, sculptors and architects, athletes. No one

stopped in front of them, either, except for a second or two. At least I’d never

seen anyone stop. Then, one Saturday morning, early, before the bus-loads of

tourists arrived, a lady stopped in front of General Avezzana. She was slight,

erect, well dressed, mostly in black, with an expensive-looking tailored coat, and

she had with her a small terrier on a leash. She stood in front of the bust, looked

at it two or three times, looked down and then back up into his face, crossed

herself and walked away, in the direction of Porto San Pancrazio.