Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Italian VeniceA History$

Richard Bosworth

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780300193879

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300193879.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM YALE SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.yale.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Yale University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in YSO for personal use (for details see http://www.yale.universitypressscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy). Subscriber: null; date: 21 June 2018

Awaiting an Italian Destiny Venice To 1866

Awaiting an Italian Destiny Venice To 1866

(p.1) Chapter One Awaiting an Italian Destiny Venice To 1866
Italian Venice

R.J.B. Bosworth

Yale University Press

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter focuses on Venice under “foreign” French or Austrian rule from 1797 to 1866. More specifically, it examines the physical and spiritual changes that occurred in Venice in the two decades following 1797 which thus shaped its path to 1866 and beyond. It first considers the destruction of the fabric of religious welfare in Venice under France, highlighted by the demolition of churches and the transfer of cathedral status from San Pietro in Castello to San Marco in 1807. It then discusses conscription for Napoleon Bonaparte's wars and the introduction of a taxation system in the city. It also describes the Habsburg Empire's policies in Venice, including measures aimed at stifling the rise of nationalism in Austria's territories in Italy and elsewhere. Finally, the chapter turns to the war between France and Austria that culminated in Venice's unification with Italy in 1866.

Keywords:   wars, Venice, France, churches, conscription, Napoleon Bonaparte, Habsburg Empire, nationalism, Austria, Italy

The architecture of the Hotel San Fantin may broadcast a patriotic history to passers-by; its cannon balls may blazon a claim that Venetians heroically brought themselves into union with the nation, Italy, and urge that the Risorgimento was a popular movement backed by a people who unanimously knew themselves to be Italian and longed to be free of alien rule. On the other side of the Rialto bridge, however, another square carries a more complex message in its very name, ‘Campo Cesare Battisti già della Bella Vienna’ (the square of Cesare Battisti, formerly that of fine Vienna; see map 2). It is a place coursed by histories rather than a single past.

At first sight, all might seem straightforward. Vienna is doubtless a nice place, but it was the capital of that Habsburg Empire whose rule over Venice Italy dislodged in 1866. Moreover, Cesare Battisti was a martyr-hero to the nation in its First World War, an ‘irredentist’ (that is, someone committed to the ‘return’ of Italy's ‘terra irredenta’, or ‘unredeemed’, Italian-speaking lands) and nationalist (although ready to leave the German-speaking parts of the Tyrol outside Italian control, while also trying to remain some form of social democrat). Despite having been born in Trento and therefore being an Austrian citizen, he volunteered to fight for Italy in 1915. He was captured by his enemies, court-martialled and then garrotted and hanged with studied humiliation, not in Italian uniform but in dirty civilian clothes, by the Austrian army on 11 July 1916.

He was not, however, a Venetian. Although he orated in the city during the so-called ‘intervento’ –the period that separated the start of war between the Great Powers in August 1914 and Italian entry into the conflict, at least against Austria-Hungary, nine months later on 24 May 1915 –his concerns were not particularly Venetian. Even his war-front, contested in the high country above Trento, was not as near to Venice's fate as that conducted lower down on the (p.2)

Awaiting an Italian Destiny Venice To 1866

12. Rialto and surrounds

Awaiting an Italian Destiny Venice To 1866

2 Campo Cesare Battisti: multiple histories in a Venetian square

Venetian plain, across the river Isonzo until the Italian defeat at Caporetto (Kobarid) in October 1917 and thereafter beside the river Piave, some forty kilometres to the east. When Fascism took Italian nationalism to an extreme and made memory of the ‘total’ effort in the First World War the historical justification for its own ‘totalitarianism’, Battisti's widow by no means fully or automatically endorsed the dictatorship. It was thus telling that the opening of a strikingly modernist memorial to Battisti above Trento in June 1935 was attended by King Victor Emmanuel III but not by the Duce, Benito Mussolini.1 The ghost of Cesare Battisti therefore carries into the calli of Venice not so much a ‘divided memory’2 as a multiplicity of histories. His name is not a simple patriotic counter to the ‘bella Vienna’ of a defeated ancien régime.

In any case, how should foreign rule over Venice from 1797 to 1866, whether French or Austrian, be judged? The standard nationalist Italian line, endorsed by English historians with romantic inclinations, such as G. M. Trevelyan early in the twentieth century3 and Jonathan Keates in our own times,4 is one of hated misrule and oppression. Such accounts will explain that the Napoleonic extinction of the Republic meant disaster for Venice, the most obvious proof being that the population of the city tumbled from 136,000 in 1799 to 125,000 (p.4) in 1812 and 100,000 in the 1820s5 (by 1871 it had risen back to 141,000, plus 26,000 on the islands, then administered from Murano, and 23,000 in and around what was still the village of Mestre).6

In 1797 the French revolutionary forces had time to pull down the wooden doors of the ghetto, which had confined the two thousand Jews of the city within their part of the sestiere of Cannaregio.7 On 12 July these religious and social barriers were ceremoniously burned in the centre of the ghetto square, where a Liberty Tree was planted in demonstration that liberty, equality and fraternity must now take root in Venice.8 This promise of revolutionary change and the practice of fraternity proved fleeting, however. By the end of the year the Republic's territory, reduced to a pawn in diplomatic dealing, had been handed over to Austrian control by the terms of the Treaty of Campo Formio, Habsburg forces establishing themselves in the city in January 1798.

That solution did not last, either, and seven years later further victories by Napoleon, now French emperor, saw Venice and the Veneto melded into the puppet state of the ‘Kingdom of Italy’ under the Peace of Pressburg. The change was scarcely beneficent. Telling is the visit that Napoleon made to Venice in 1807, his preoccupations characteristically combining Enlightenment science and revolutionary rapine. The cemetery island of San Michele was modernised at his command, so that the dead could rest in order and efficiency. His agents checked the murazzi or sea walls off the Lido for wear and tear, high water or acqua alta having lapped into Venice on 3 December while Napoleon was in residence. Within the city's bounds, the emperor commissioned the covering of the main canal that ran into the sestiere of Castello, opening in its place the spacious Via Eugenia, named in honour of his stepson and viceroy in Venice and Italy, Eugène de Beauharnais. More than seventeen metres wide, it was planned by its local architect to be ‘the most beautiful road in the city’, its form illustrating that even Venice's narrow and twisting, congested ‘medieval’ calli could be readjusted to become as rational and spacious as Enlightenment urban vision demanded. Nonetheless, critics soon condemned the Via Eugenia as un-Venetian and leading nowhere.9 Nearby, Napoleon fostered another Enlightenment urban ideal, a public park, the origin of what was to become the Giardini and from the end of the nineteenth century the site of the Biennale exhibitions. Of similar lasting impact was the reconstruction of the western end of Piazza San Marco, where seven bays of the Procuratie Vecchie and the Sansovino church of San Geminiano10 were demolished and replaced by the Ala Napoleonica, its name indicating that not even the city's most celebrated square had passed into modernity ‘com'era e dov'era’. While French rule prospered, the new wing housed a ballroom and extra office space in Beauharnais's (p.5) palace and administrative centre; today it is the home of the permanent and special exhibitions of the Museo and Pinacoteca Correr.

At the same time as drastically rebuilding the heart of the city in proof that modern times and scientific planning had taken hold in Venice, the French were ruthlessly stripping the city's churches and galleries of such artworks as Veronese's Marriage at Cana, a huge canvas still kept at the Louvre, and numerous beautiful Titians, Tintorettos, Bellinis and Carpaccios. With overweening arrogance, they carried back to Paris the ‘Quadriga’, the four bronze horses that sit above the grand portal of the Basilica di San Marco, sculptures purloined from Constantinople after its brutal sack in 1204 by Doge Enrico Dandolo, who had diverted the Fourth Crusade there.11 For this and other reasons, in 2003 particularist elements in Venice, seeking their own usable past with modish reference to the advantage of historical closure, put Napoleon on trial for political and cultural ‘war crimes’ against Venetians,12 finding him guilty in December of that year.

In more academic circles, French revolutionary rule in Italy has been subject to equally withering criticism, current interpretations placing less emphasis on modernity and Enlightenment rationality than on pillage and death.13 Rather than acting as a prompt towards national unification in the Risorgimento, the French are deemed cultural imperialists of the crassest kind, racist in their assumption of Italian inferiority.14 On occasion, revisionism may go too far, however. Certainly, the two decades following 1797 saw many changes in the city and thereby did much to frame Venice's path to 1866 and beyond. Early modern Venice may not have been wrenched into a new Enlightened shape. But it was jostled, physically and spiritually.

Largely destroyed was the fabric of religious welfare that had helped to salve (and to preserve) the gaps between rich and poor in the early modern city, whether provided by the 337 extant confraternities and Scuole Grandi (all were formally suppressed in 1806, while the city parishes were reduced from seventy to thirty) or by the numerous monasteries and nunneries. The number of religious who lived in the city halved and then halved again by the 1850s, when only 471 priests retained office in Venice.15 In addition to San Geminiano, tens of other churches were demolished or transferred to lay control. As befitted an age of war, the house of the Benedictine nuns of Santa Maria della Grazia, occupying its own island between the Giudecca and San Clemente, was converted into a barracks. This process of secularisation, once begun, continued under Austrian and national Italian rule. According to Alvise Zorzi's careful reckoning of 1977, only 101 of the 187 churches that had been open under the Republic were still available for worship by that year, 70 having been razed to the ground (45 in Venice itself, 13 in Burano–Mazzorbo–Torcello (p.6) and 12 in Murano). Seventeen survived in usage that was not religious, San Leonardo having become the practice venue for the municipal band, Santa Marta, Santa Maria Maggiore and San Lorenzo warehouses, Santa Croce alla Giudecca a prison and Santa Margherita a cinema.16 Still mouldering is the Scuola Vecchia della Misercordia in Cannaregio, which no longer serves as a basketball court and gymnastics stadium (its fate before the First World War, when modern sport entered the city), but whose more profitable use still remains unresolved.

Perhaps the most profound alteration in the religious fabric of the city was the transfer of cathedral status from San Pietro in Castello to San Marco in 1807, an action that sparked discussion whether the latter church needed alteration to permit greater numbers access to religious services. After the Austrians took over, the new patriarch, Ján Ladislaus Pyrker, pressed in 1822 for the removal of the fourteenth-century iconostasis, bearing statues of the twelve apostles, the Virgin and St Mark but also blocking visual and physical access to the high altar and the celebrated Pala d'Oro (another gorgeous piece filched from Constantinople, which the guidebooks list as containing 1,927 gemstones).17 As for the expeditious movement of people –so much a priority of all government in that era –a local planner, Luigi Casarini, now argued that only a modern road cut through from Piazza San Marco to the mainland could save the city from complete ruin.18 As Alvise Zorzi has ruefully remarked, Casarini would have many successors anxious to urge that the city had been ‘enslaved by its own beauty’ and should not remain a medieval relic.19

Further repugnant aspects of French rule included conscription for Napoleon's endless and bloody wars and a harsh but effective taxation system designed to pay for them and for costly ‘benefits’ being introduced in Paris and the rest of the empire. Neither was likely to win immediate popular backing from Venetians, rich or poor. The opportunity for the French to more permanently implement revolutionary programmes in the territories once governed by the Republic was quickly thwarted by events, however, the Kingdom of Italy collapsing early in 1814 after Viceroy Beauharnais had taken 27,000 Italian troops with him, most of them to their deaths, on the disastrous invasion of Russia, and after the residue of the imperial French forces had fallen to their enemies at the Battle of Leipzig, 16–18 October 1813. As a result, Venice and Venetia were again passed like a parcel back into Austrian hands, a possession confirmed at the grand peacemaking at Vienna in 1815 by which the revolutionary era was brought to an end.

The Austrian government of Venice has a mixed press. The traditional line has emphasised the general inability of the Habsburg Empire to adapt to the new age of the nation and identified a specific failure to grant Venice serious (p.7) priority in the plotting of imperial policies. Klemens von Metternich, chief minister of Austrian rule and architect of the Peace of Vienna, accompanied his emperor, Francis I, on an exploratory visit to their new lands in December 1815. Venetians greeted their latest rulers with applause and decorum. But Metternich wrote the city off as ‘one great ruin’, not therefore, he implied, worth the cost and effort of resurrection.20

In the decades that followed, Metternich and his emperor, despite some thought that ‘Italy must be Germanised’,21 became preoccupied with stifling the rise of nationalism, both in Austria's extensive Italian territories and elsewhere. Among the victims was Silvio Pellico,22 a Piedmontese writer and patriot, harshly imprisoned by the Austrians for some months in Venice and then from 1822 to 1830 in the bleak and forbidding Spielberg fortress near Brno in what is now Slovakia. On his release, Pellico wrote Le mie prigioni, a book that, whatever its intended or literal meaning, was read by patriots in Italy, before and after the Risorgimento, as a vehement condemnation of Austrian tyranny.23 A plaque in the sestiere of San Marco reminds passers-by of Pellico, his imprisonment in Venice and a visit that he made there while still a free man in September 1820.24 Its patriotic intent, however, forbears to mention that Pellico had been less than flattering about the Venetians, dismissing them as a people who ‘live in idleness, joyously forgetful of any dignity…. They do not think, they do not feel.’25

As Pellico's words implied, Venice was, in quite a few senses, the least of the Habsburg regime's worries. Although the city was meant to be, with Milan, a twin capital of an imperial province grandly called the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia, Milan was the more bustling centre of political and economic activity. More threatening was Venice's increasing subordination to the rapidly growing and notably cosmopolitan port of Trieste, away to the east, where the Venetian plain metamorphised into the rocky hills of the Balkans, a territory that, unlike the rest of Istria and Dalmatia, had never been subject to the rule of St Mark. The Austrian Lloyd shipping company grew rapidly after its foundation in Trieste in 1836, while the Südbahn railway connected the port with Vienna from 1857, underlining that Trieste rather than Venice was the Habsburgs' preferred transit point for all southern trade. Still grander in its capitalist future was the insurance firm, the Regia Privilegiata Compagnia di Assicurazioni Generali Austro-Italiche, or Assicurazioni Generali, as it was more familiarly known, which opened for business in Trieste in 1831 (Venice became its second base).

An image exists, then, of a Venice groaning under grievously incompetent or tyrannous rule. It has recently been given a special cast by the British historian David Gilmour, who has argued that wiser peacemakers at Vienna in 1815 (p.8) would have restored Venetian independence, sparking a process that could have turned it into ‘another Netherlands’.26 More common is the nationalist line, which sees Venetians waiting their chance to become patriotic Italians. That image has been challenged most purposefully by David Laven, who maintains that, although the Italians, somehow defined, were the third biggest linguistic group in an empire trying to chart a nationality policy (Italian remaining the language of command in the Habsburg navy until 1848), the Venetians were the fourth largest. Those who lived in the city and its territories, he is willing to concede, did cherish ‘a vivid memory of independence’. A paradox lurks, however. Venetians, he contends, ‘had good grounds for entertaining a fiercer sense of their own identity than other Habsburg subjects. In fact, … quite the opposite was the case: between 1815 and 1846 Venetia was probably the most politically tranquil area of the whole monarchy.’ There, Emperor Francis's rule was ‘characterized by a bureaucratic and judicial structure that was neither corrupt nor arbitrary, but rigorous, hard-working, fair, and well-meaning, if on occasion annoyingly inflexible and ponderous’.27 The population, Laven insists, were less interested in lofty chatter about an Italian future than in a reliable administration that gave attention to their current ‘needs and aspirations’. By that yardstick, the Austrians ‘stood in stark contrast to the rule of Napoleon’, which had entailed the ‘ruthless exploitation of the region for the benefit of France and its [‘Italian’] Lombard collaborators’.28 For quite a few Venetians, after 1815, the argument is, Vienna was in its way ‘bella’; Paris and Milan were not.

Not that tourists minded. They were soon evident in the city again once peace had broken out. In 1818 an English visitor was predictably struck by the beauty of Piazza San Marco. It was, he told his diary, ‘unique; rich, venerable, magnificent’. There, he found ‘the congregation of all nations, in their various costumes’ (no doubt less skimpy than on a May day now). They ‘lounge under the purple awnings of the cafés –smoking, playing at chess, and quaffing coffee –[and] add much to its embellishment’. In their variety, they were ‘in character with the buildings; where all orders of architecture seem jumbled together’, the Basilica itself being evidently of ‘mixed breed’. As for the locals, this visitor observed, they were enduring that destiny which decreed that a Republic ‘falls like Lucifer, never to rise again’, given that it naturally lacked any ‘public spirit’.29

From 1820 the Austrians did impose conscription on the populace, if with less rigour than the French,30 and the ‘Quadrilateral’ of fortresses –at Mantua, Peschiera, Verona and Legnago –was reinforced so as to overawe any objection in northern Italy to Habsburg control. In the process, the military became a public part of the new system, and in the following decades Piazza San Marco (p.9) was a setting where German-speaking officers sought relaxation, a good coffee and the sound of music. Austrian education policy was by no means benighted, although it scarcely rescued the peasantry on the mainland, for whom starvation remained a recurrent threat should harvests fail, as they did during the wet 1840s.31

The greatest symbol of Habsburg modernisation was the railway bridge borne on a harmonious 222 arches that the government of the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia began to finance in 1837 and to construct five years later. It opened on 11 January 1846, reducing to a few minutes what had previously been a tedious transit of some hours from Mestre. The Ferdinandea, as the railway was named in honour of the intellectually handicapped Emperor Ferdinand, who had succeeded to his father's throne in 1835 with debilitating effects on Habsburg administration, connected Venice with Milan, and from there potentially the world. A new terminus was completed in 1852. The message of modern change reaching the city was reinforced by the construction of an iron bridge allowing alighting passengers to cross the Grand Canal by foot from the station to the church of San Simeone Piccolo and the sestiere of Santa Croce. The bridge was erected through British finance and technology provided by the Neville company, the same concern constructing a further crossing, also made of iron, outside the Accademia two years later.

To be sure, not everyone was happy. The young John Ruskin, who, with unwonted concession to modernity, had brought a ‘cynometer’ on his first trip to the city in 1835 so that he could scientifically measure the blissful, un-English, blueness of the sky,32 now lamented that a Venice with trains resembled ‘as nearly as possible Liverpool at the end of the dockyard wall’.33 Despite his exquisite sensibility, Ruskin preserved the most vulgar tourist habit of regularly comparing the ‘foreign’ to ‘home’. Even today, those who, with or without the Englishman's refinement, fear Venice's imminent environmental death date the city's decline from the opening of the railway connection to the mainland (and bewail the allure and sins of foreign modernity imported from there).34

If, in 1846, administrators thought they were permitting Venice to reboard the locomotive of history, the city as always retained both local and cosmopolitan features. Together with the railway and its facilitation of tourism, other modern comforts arrived to make life easier for those viewing the traditional cultural sites. In 1833 the city opened its first organised swimming baths on the lagoon, while two decades later the entrepreneur ‘Fisola’ (Giovanni Busetto) built the initial bathing huts on the still largely deserted Lido, although the beach was taken over for Austrian military use between 1859 and 1866.35 From (p.10) 1843 gas lighting rather than moonlight or torches illuminated Piazza San Marco (Ruskin feared the new-fangled equipment made the square look like Birmingham).36 By 1846 visitors were serviced by eleven reasonably modern hotels, mostly located in converted, historically redolent palazzi.37 From 1842 the well-connected Venetian architect Giovanni Battista Meduna began increasingly controversial efforts to ‘restore’ San Marco, acting with the blessing of the celebrated French urbanist and theorist of the Gothic revival Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, who had made a first trip to Venice in 1837. The Frenchman liked the Palazzo Ducale, branding it ‘the Parthenon of the Middle Ages’. He deemed the Basilica ‘a crude coarse factory’, however, badly transformed from its purer origins.38 Yet another foreigner to have an impact on Venice, he advised that massive reshaping should cleanse its exterior and interior of those excrescences that were hiding the beauty he wanted to see.

Soon after the end of the Napoleonic wars, in 1816, the new administration had established a Commissione Civica per le Case Rovinose to examine and amend hopeless cases of decay in city housing.39 One result was demolitions, which in 1818 opened a path between the Ponte delle Guglie and Campo dell'Anconetta. The purpose was to raise the depressed economic state of that part of Cannaregio and check the area's insalubrity. Yet poverty lingered. In the city as a whole, in 1827 44,630 citizens out of a total of 100,566 were defined as ‘wretchedly poor’.40 The urgency of the matter increased when a major cholera epidemic struck both the city and the province in 1835 and returned in 1837. Of 43,482 Venetians who caught the disease, 23,123 died.41

In 1844 a further widening of city pathways was sanctioned near to what would become the railway station. Running from the Scalzi church to Campo San Geremia, the Lista di Spagna eliminated some tortuous alleyways and dead-end canals. It is a track that today merges into what Venetians call Strada Nova (New Road), at any season crammed with tourists and likely to block altogether at peak times. It is lined with shops selling cheap imported glass, masks and other bric-à-brac directed at satiating visitors' desire for souvenirs and seconded by outlets proffering Coca Cola, pizza and other kinds of fast food with no historic basis in Venetian cuisine. Apart from its guileless customers, it has few fans. In the 1840s, however, a number of locals wanted more, Jacopo Pezzato advocating the construction of a horse-drawn tramway on the other side of the Grand Canal, with a single track but, at its edge, asphalted pavements. The tram could run from the designated station across to Santa Croce and get back to the Grand Canal via Rio San Polo, before again crossing certainly to Campo Santo Stefano and perhaps to San Moisè and Piazza San Marco. With the enthusiasm for mathematical precision and progress that had washed into the nineteenth century from the Enlightenment, Pezzato (p.11) reckoned that the journey of 1,622 metres could be completed in nine minutes. He was certain that such celerity could only benefit Venice and Venetians.42

One part of the city where the contradictions of Austrian rule and its timid offer of an economic revival from the 1830s could be seen was the great naval fortress of the Arsenale that occupied half of the eastern sector of Castello (see maps 1 and 7). Some modernisation had commenced there and in other shipyards in the sestiere, even if the workforce, then and for many decades to come, scarcely apprehended itself as an undifferentiated modern working class. More telling of the future was the decision in 1825 to convert one of the old Sale d'Armi, or armouries, into the first museum on the site, offering a collection of relics both from the Republic and from Austria's more recent naval campaigns. In charge of the initiative, with its message that leisure and tourism rather than high policy should be the city's mission, was the Venetian engineer Giovanni Casoni.43 As the mid century approached, however, Casoni's life and attitudes took a different direction, one that prompts consideration of another interpretation of Venetian history. In recent decades, Alberto Banti, though no romantic nationalist, has revived the thesis that the Risorgimento had a popular base. In his account, words especially mattered. Those who wanted political change in Italy as if by osmosis expressed ancient ideas in modern phrasing, the ancient perhaps having more influence here, at least in the short term, than any comprehension that the future was inexorably leading to a nation. National ‘prophet’ Giuseppe Mazzini and his comrades drew a response from the people when they talked about a national family in which all were ‘brothers’, or when they condemned the corruption and injustice of the present rule by comparison with some lost golden age and suggested that past innocent happiness could be revived.44 Banti underlines the role and power of a sense of history in this process, the poet Ugo Foscolo (1778–1827), who acquired a national reputation but sprang from an impoverished Venetian patrician family, urging that ‘a decadent people like the Italians has a special need to reflect on the glories and examples of their fathers’.45 Equally powerful in Banti's view was the trust still placed in religion (with its own powerful and enduring historic sense), transmuted by Mazzini and others into words about national martyrdom and resurrection, as exemplified by the term ‘Risorgimento’. This implied amalgam of religion and the nation derived additional impetus from the accession to the papal throne of Giovanni Maria Mastai Ferretti as Pius IX in June 1846, a pontiff deemed by some to be a liberal and friendly to the national cause. In Venice and its diocese, though firm in its piety, quite a few priests could now bless the prospect of political change.46

Significant therefore in Venice's history was the convening in September 1847 of the ninth in a series of ‘scientific congresses’ that had for some years (p.12) been engaging in conversation men of ideas from throughout the peninsula. More than eight hundred showed up in a city that would never thereafter lose its appeal as a congenial setting for intellectual conferencing and diplomatic parleying. Among the locals present was Casoni, who urged in a lavish three-volume work, Venezia e le sue lagune, launched at the event, that the Arsenale be revived to match the Venetian military glories it had once armed, while more generally he bewailed the errors and inadequacies of ‘alien’ Austrian rule.47 Present, too, were Daniele Manin and Niccolò Tommaseo, destined to be rival leaders of the Venetian revolution of 1848–9.48

This is not the place to narrate the stirring and violent events of the Venetian revolution, a task that Jonathan Keates graphically fulfilled in 2006.49 But it is important to discount exaggerated readings of what the inhabitants of the city thought they were doing in mounting an attack on Austrian rule and sustaining their resistance with great bravery and suffering until overthrown by a pitiless combination of cholera and Austrian bombardment of the city centre in July–August 1849. Modern scholarship is clear that metanarratives are out of place in summation of this ‘revolution’. Whatever Marx and Engels perceived to be happening in Paris that year, the mass of the Venetian population showed little sense of initiating a class struggle. In January 1849 the spokesmen of the city's assembled gondoliers stated that they had no captious desire to grab what was not theirs: ‘The rich should remain rich so that they can give us work, and we will always have respect for our masters.’50 Neither Manin nor Tommaseo (who was soon sent off to Paris to negotiate ineffectually there rather than pursue his conflicts with Manin in Venice) nor any of the other leaders favoured class conflict. Rather, they believed ‘the classes had been divided by a mere misunderstanding’ (and did little to salve or even admit the desperate needs of peas-ants on the mainland).51

Perhaps another Italian future may be glimpsed in Manin's readiness to assume the title of ‘dictator’ (as Garibaldi wanted to do in Rome). But rather than dreaming of a Mussolinian regime, Manin was recalling ‘history’ as narrated by Livy in regard to the classical Roman Republic (thereby providing an early example of the fusion of the Roman and Venetian pasts by city spokespersons). Before the tyranny of the Caesars, Manin knew, a heroic Cincinnatus or Fabius Maximus had accepted the responsibility of supreme rule in an emergency in order to give greater thrust to present decision making, but always with the assumption that, when victory came, he would renounce his immediate authority and return to a humble life.

Most problematic was the national issue, exemplified in the Venetian Republic's use of the ‘Italian’ green, white and red tricolore but with the Lion of St Mark from the old pennon of the Republic at the corner. David Laven is (p.13)

Awaiting an Italian Destiny Venice To 1866

3 Luigi Querena, Explosion of a Mine at San Giuliano (1849)

convinced that, in March 1848, ‘Italy’ to most Venetians meant the French puppet Kingdom of Italy and the cruelties and exploitation of that time. Venetians, he says, rose for Venice, as was proven by the lukewarm nationalism of most when Austrian rule returned from 1849.52 It is certainly a relief that nothing came of Tommaseo's hankering for a final act, in which the revolutionaries would fight from monument to monument to win immortality through their deaths and to ensure that the urban ruins gave better counsel to a new generation than had their earlier existence.53 Manin had always been more tractable in his views, to some extent reflecting the fact that his Jewish grandfather had changed the family surname from Medina when converting to Christianity under the last doge, Lodovico Manin. After 1849, when he fled from Austrian troops to Paris, Daniele Manin became if anything more moderate. By the time he died in 1857, he was a monarchist and an organiser of the Società Nazionale Italiana (Italian National Society), pledged to a liberal but not radical nation and particularly averse to the social intransigence and national religiosity or fundamentalism of Mazzini.54

Given the desperation with which the revolutionaries had defended Venice and the use by the Austrians of modern military means in their prolonged assault,55 it is surprising how quickly normal life resumed, even though an estimated 4,500 Venetians fled the city to fight elsewhere for the national cause.56 Observers admittedly noted that the number of beggars in the place had risen, and the Austrians set up a government committee to review Venice's (p.14) ‘decadence’ in 1850, while instituting a free port of a limited kind to act as an economic stimulus a year later.57 They also ignored the blithely reactionary view of Ruskin's wife Effie –who, in the winter of 1849, was enjoying dancing her nights away with uniformed Austrian officers –that it would be best to demolish the railway bridge and return Venice to being insulated from modern transport, its cost and its ugliness.58 The locals she found content if feckless people, with no real politics:

Many of the Italians here appear to have no homes at all and to be perfectly happy. At eight o'clock in the evening when we return from hearing the Band we see them all lying packed together at the edge of the bridges, wrapped in their immense brown coats and large hoods as warm as friars. Then in the morning there are little stands on all parts of the Quay where they can eat hot fish, rice, soup, hot elder wine, all kinds of fruit, cigars, and this eating al fresco goes on the whole day, with the occasional interruption of Punch or a Juggler or a storyteller when immediately an immense crowd is collected.59

Effie Ruskin was scarcely the most discerning of observers. It is nevertheless true that disputes over modern ideologies had again sunk beneath the surface of city life. City merchants saw little to regret in revived Austrian rule, the Salviati family choosing 1859 (the beginning of the Franco-Piedmontese war that led to the Risorgimento) to initiate a new system of glass making on Murano with an international clientele, formalising their governing company in 1866. The poorer segments of society went back to managing their own lives and social relations, while being ever willing to participate in any feste organised by richer Venetians.60 A state visit by the new young emperor, Franz Josef, in the winter of 1856–7 went off well, and he courteously gave imperial support to the restoration fund for San Marco, a project still in Meduna's hands.61

The emperor was accompanied by his wife, Elizabeth (‘Sissi’), who had just given birth to the first of their children to survive, a daughter. Sissi returned to Venice for seven months in 1861–2 when the marriage was beginning to fail, shortly after momentous events had culminated elsewhere in Italy –a romantic troubled empress in a romantic troubled city, living alone in the imperial rooms of the Ala Napoleonica.62 ‘Love’, very frequently love in anguish, would never cease to be part of Venice's attractions, and the highest society as well as more ordinary mortals joined Sissi in contemplating its meaning there.

During the summer of 1859, after bloody victories at Magenta and Solferino, the combined forces of Piedmont and Napoleon III's France had driven Austrian armies back to the Quadrilateral, and by March 1860 the Kingdom of Sardinia of Victor Emmanuel II and his able and ruthless chief minister Camillo Benso (p.15) di Cavour had taken over the whole of northern Italy except Venetia. In May Garibaldi led his ‘1000’ volunteers against Sicily, which fell during the summer, while the Hero reached Naples in September. Soon afterwards, this ‘dictator’ surrendered his powers to King Victor Emmanuel and returned to an ostentatiously humble dwelling on an island off the Sardinian coast. In February–March 1861 a national parliament met in Turin, the new country's temporary capital, and Victor Emmanuel accepted nomination as king of a liberal nation.

This ‘making of Italy’ on the surface and in the short term largely passed Venice and Venetians by, hemmed in or cocooned as they were by the still powerful Quadrilateral. War and high politics did little to discourage foreign visitors from taking residence in the place, two of the more prominent being the Comte de Chambord, the Bourbon Pretender to the throne of France as ‘Henri V’, and his mother, the Duchesse de Berry, in origin a Neapolitan princess. Despite his exile, ‘Henri V’ maintained a formal court at Palazzo Cavalli-Gussoni beside the Grand Canal, his mother taking pains to rise and then sit every time he entered a room where she was.63 The Pretender commissioned the construction of a garden and other major alterations to his palace, untroubled by the demolition of existing structures that it required and utilising the architectural services of the ubiquitous Giambattista Meduna.

The French royals would soon by joined by Don Juan, the brother of the Carlist candidate to the crown of Spain, after his followers' defeat in sporadic civil war against Queen Isabella in that country. With her controversial second husband, the Duchesse de Berry had in 1844 bought Palazzo Vendramin Calergi on the Grand Canal from a decayed local patrician family, and it was to remain a place of social significance into the next century. In 1959 it became the venue of the city casino, and from 1995 it has also housed a major Wagner museum (the German composer died there in rental accommodation in February 1883). For less elevated if still respectable visitors, the number of elite hotels in the city grew to sixteen in 1855.64

Yet with Italy made and its aggressive intention to round out its territories with Venetia and Rome obvious and unappeasable, life during the first half of the 1860s became ever more sombre in a Venice whose economy stuttered and whose population had declined by 10,000 since 1848.65 Even tourists, now reckoned at 20,000 per year,66 had reason to be gloomy, since the Fenice opera house had closed in 1859 and did not reopen until Venice became Italian.67 ‘Carnevale’, or Carnival, which had never regained its eighteenth-century glories, also languished. As the local historian of Austrian rule has put it, Venice was waiting out time in expectation of an event that now finally seemed inevitable.68

The foreigner who has provided the deftest portrait of the lights and shadows of Venice during these years is William Dean Howells, an aspiring (p.16) American writer who managed to get himself appointed to the sinecure of consul in Venice in 1860 and did not return to the USA until after the end of its Civil War in 1865. Howells wrote evocatively about economics, social life, religion and politics. ‘Commercial decay’, he reckoned, had sapped the city for at least ‘four hundred years’; in his time, he joked, the ‘most active branch of industry’ was ‘plucking fowls’. True, on Murano, improved glass making was being attempted but it did little to salve the inhabited area of that island, where the population amounted to one-sixth of what it had been in its grandeur under the Republic; it was now ‘a poor, dreary little town, with an inexplicable charm in its decay’.69

Venice itself had scarcely been updated into a vibrant modern metropolis; rather, the habits of early modern times lingered. Perhaps Venetians were not even properly thought such. ‘Each campo in Venice’, Howells mused, was ‘a little city, self-contained and independent. Each has its church of which it was in the earliest times the burial ground; and each within its limits compasses an apothecary's shop, a mercer's and draper's shop, a blacksmith's and shoemaker's shop, a caffè, more or less brilliant, a green-grocer's and fruiterer's, a family grocery –nay, there is also a second-hand merchant's shop where you buy and sell every kind of worn-out thing at the lowest rates. Of course there is a coppersmith's and a watchmaker's, and pretty certainly a woodcarver's and gilder's, while without a barber's shop no campo could preserve its integrity or inform itself of the social and political news of the day.’70 Modern homogeneity was, in sum, absent. The dialect that people used in Castello or Cannaregio was different from that to be heard in Piazza San Marco, the ‘heart’ of the city, ‘[whose] ground-level, under the Procuratie, is belted with a glittering line of shops and caffè’, perhaps ‘the most tasteful and brilliant in the world’, but not quite the emporia of London, Paris or New York.71 Moreover, despite efforts at mondanity, the quality of restaurants throughout the city was poor.72 There were always boundaries that were better not crossed; the Giudecca, Howells warned, ‘produces a variety of beggar, the most truculent and tenacious in all Venice, and it has a convent of lazy Capuchin friars, who are likewise beggars’.73

Gender difference was also massive: ‘it is still quite impossible that any young lady should go out alone. Indeed, she would scarcely be secure from insult in broad day if she did so.’ Throughout the city, ‘a woman has to encounter upon the public street a rude license of glance, from men of all ages and conditions, that falls little short of outrage’. Even austere greybeards offer ‘a gross and knowing leer’.74 With such work as there was done ‘patiently’ but with no sense of purpose, locals occupied themselves in gossip, all the more since the standards of ‘sincerity’, ‘honesty’ and ‘morality’ throughout Italy scarcely reached the heights expected in English-speaking countries. ‘There is no (p.17) parallel to the prying, tattling, backbiting littleness of the place, elsewhere in the world.’75 Blasphemy was habitual and no Venetian would dream of sleeping with a window open to be braced by nature's breeze.76 Few joined Howells in his athletic walks around the campi at 4.30 a.m., when, in his view, Venice looked at its best, with its mystery preserved.77

In Howells' mind, Catholicism was much to blame for these venal sins. Younger Venetians, he believed, were abandoning Mass, properly so given the tyranny of Church administration. Priests were ‘enslaved to their superiors and to each other. No priest can leave the city of Venice without permission of the Patriarch. He is [thereby] cut off as much as possible from his own kinspeople, and subjected to the constant surveillance of his class.’78 In the Basilica di San Marco, Howells could rejoice at the ‘sublimity of the early faith’, while disdaining the ‘superstition which has succeeded it’. Every church came with ‘sleek and portly cats … on terms of perfect understanding with the [equally well-fed and lazy] priests’.79 The indolence had some advantages. ‘The Catholic Venetian certainly understands that his Jewish fellow-citizen is destined to some very unpleasant experiences in the next world, but Corpo di Bacco! that is no reason why he should not be friends with him in this.’ Such tolerance, Howells mused with a hint of anti-Semitism of his own, meant that ‘the Jew is gathering into his own hands a great part of the trade of the city, and has the power that belongs to wealth’, a situation given special slant since the Jews were ‘educated, liberal and enlightened’. ‘The Jew's political sympathies are invariably patriotic, and he calls himself, not Ebreo, but Veneziano,’ Howells observed.80

Though the American consul may have thought he was describing the entire city, his words often indicate that he saw what his background and assumptions made it likely he would perceive in Venetian society, scarcely penetrating the lives of the very poor. So, too, his account of politics must be treated with scepticism when it depicts a city in which ‘all classes’, since 1859, had grown ‘marvellously unanimous and bitter’ in opposing the survival of Austrian rule. Venetians, he argued, detested their rulers ‘with a rancour which no concession short of absolute relinquishment of dominion would appease’. Any local woman who married an Austrian was at once rejected by her friends, ‘as they cast off every body who associates with the dominant race’. The Venetians were ‘a nation in mourning’, he concluded (with still innocent choice of noun), a situation demonstrated at every coffee shop every day. ‘In regard to the caffè, there is a perfectly understood system by which the Austrians go to one, and the Italians to another’, Florian's being the only exception. ‘This is because it is thronged with foreigners of all nations, and to go there is not thought a demonstration of any kind.’ Foreigners were nonetheless ‘obliged to (p.18) take sides for or against’ the national cause, English speakers perforce being split into ‘Austriacanti’ and ‘Italianissimi’. Venetians were ‘content to wait for ever in their present gloom’ for liberation, Howells declared, but they possessed ‘indomitable perseverance’.81

In 1866 their waiting ended, if in the event it was scarcely with operatic fanfare. By the summer, a deep crisis was brewing between the Habsburg Empire and its allied nationalist challengers, Italy and, in its Germanic territories, Prussia, led by the adaptable and ruthless Junker Otto von Bismarck. The Italian government, making no bones about its aggressive intent, was the first to attack on 20 June, the day when the then prime minister, General Alfonso Ferrero La Marmora, escorted King Victor Emmanuel II to the front, to be technically replaced as governmental chief by the moderate civilian Bettino Ricasoli. All educated opinion, it was said, favoured the war, viewing it as a mandatory trial for the young nation, testing the truth of period rhetoric about a stalwart inheritance from the Roman and perhaps Venetian empires.82

Alas for such illusions. In practice, Austrian forces, although outnumbered, won on the Italian front, by land at the Battle of Custoza (24 June) and by sea at the Battle of Lissa (20 July). Between the two, however, Prussia and its German allies routed their opponents, notably at the Battle of Sadowa (Königgrätz) on 3 July, and in a rapid seven weeks Austria was forced to the peace table. Even though a military historian has judged the Italian effort at Custoza, where their army had a marked numerical superiority, to have been ‘as artless and ineffectual a battle as was ever fought on the north Italian plain’,83 the fruits of victory fell into Italy's lap. By the terms of the Treaty of Vienna, signed on 12 October, the Austrians agreed to hand over Venetia to Napoleon III in the knowledge that he would pass the territories on to Victor Emmanuel II and his government.

On 20 October the Austrian commandant withdrew his garrison from Venice, the departure carefully timed to allow the Habsburg soldiers to be replaced in the short term by an armed municipal guard, pledged to preserve order. On 21–2 October the population voted overwhelmingly to accept unification with Italy, the evening of the 21st marked by ‘a file of citizens, carrying gigantic “Yes!” signs on their hats, passing across Piazza San Marco and acclaiming the king and the army’.84 By 7 November, when Victor Emmanuel arrived for a week-long official visit, Venice had at last, for the first time in its history, become Italian, if by that term was meant a nation state that ran from the Alps to Sicily.

How had Venetians responded to the cascade of events since war had been declared? Was the plebiscite proof of official claims that the novel merging into (p.19) Italy was greeted with unanimous local joy? It is hard to be certain, although critical accounts of the Risorgimento have long been sceptical about the plebiscites that had similarly endorsed the political changes of 1859–61 and soon would again after Rome fell to Italian invaders on 20 September 1870. Certainly the correspondent of what was then the world's most authoritative newspaper, the London Times, noticed the ‘gentleness’ with which the populace treated the departing Austrians, praising Venetians as thereby showing that ‘their long submission to the yoke of Austria has neither uncivilised nor unmanned them’.85

A more significant portrayal of the spirit of 1866 can be found in the diary of Letizia, the teenage daughter of the patriotic Jewish economist Isacco Pesaro Maurogonato, who was accorded a celebratory plaque in the city just behind Piazza San Marco in 1894 for having assisted Venice when it ‘resisted an empire alone’.86 In April Letizia had already noted her pleasure that ‘what we have longed for is occurring. War is about to start.’87 Two months later, she recalled the happy anniversaries of the victorious battles of 1859. ‘God, how my heart is beating,’ she wrote as she waited for news of what was in fact the disaster of Custoza, and then what ‘universal desolation’ she and her city endured as the calamity there became apparent, an outcome, she knew, that was all the more serious since Italy needed ‘glories to become stronger, more redoubtable’ and honoured.88 A month later, the news from Lissa provoked ‘universal consternation’, as she noted on 27 July, a situation that was only exacerbated when encomia to the victorious Admiral Wilhelm von Tegetthoff appeared in the pro-Austrian local paper, La Gazzetta di Venezia, sarcastically damning the Italians as ‘a slave people’.89

Gradually, however, it emerged that these defeats were not the end of the story, even if Letizia hoped for a more potent national army in the future and pledged herself and her city never to reconcile themselves with the Austrians.90 When September arrived, she was growing impatient for the Austrians to leave. The city, she said, was joyously preparing to celebrate that event, tickets for a reopened Fenice selling like hot cakes, and portraits of Victor Emmanuel being distributed everywhere, even among the humblest classes, who were buying cheap photos for two soldi. Her wealthy father had set up a ‘grand and magnificent portrait’ of the king in their home, standing above ‘the Savoy coat of arms supported by the Lion of St Mark’.91 The bourgeoises of the city loved to wear national emblems as they strolled through a Venice about to be liberated, while on a Saturday the banda municipale performed a patriotic repertoire that embraced the Bersaglieri fanfare, the March for Prince Umberto, extracts from the opera Alzira (an early and less than successful work by Giuseppe Verdi) and the Garibaldi march. When such (p.20) tunes resounded, Letizia claimed, people leapt to their feet and cheered ‘all our liberators, all our martyrs, all our dead’, while also exulting in Prussia and the Prussian alliance. The only small cloud she noticed was that fake Garibaldini were circulating in the city and trying to rob people even as they celebrated, although it was also true that Venetians were well enough informed not to cheer La Marmora or Napoleon III, reserving their salutes for the king and Ricasoli and such dead heroes as Charles-Albert (Victor Emmanuel's father), Cavour and Manin.92

Yet the final act had not yet played out. Letizia began to be depressed at the inaction and to claim that her own views were shared by all, especially since rumours spread that cholera had returned (she blamed it on Austrians arriving from Trieste).93 Finally, however, the moment of apotheosis arrived with 20 October and its plebiscite. Letizia told her diary it was ‘the most solemn and blessed day’ imaginable. Then everyone rose at dawn and flooded into Piazza San Marco, adorned with their own national symbols and greeted by others in a totally beflagged and brilliantly illuminated city; one standard paraded across the square was the flag of ‘Garibaldini veneziani’. Bands played fortissimo, yet their music was often drowned by the cheers and applause of the crowds going to vote or returning from the ballot box.94 Officially, in the province as a whole 647,246 voted for Italy and 69 against.95

All that was now left was the king's visit, an event Letizia judged the culmination of ‘the greatest period of modern history and perhaps also the greatest fact of all history’, since, of the various Italian peoples, Venetians had suffered the most and sacrificed the most. Not even a persistent fog could dampen the glory of proceedings on the day and evening of 7 November, when a great many foreigners had joined the locals in filling every vantage point, balcony and roof along the Grand Canal and in Piazza San Marco. ‘The communal palace, the Rialto bridge, the Foscari palace, the two [iron] bridges of the Neville company, were decorated in such a way as to become jewels of good taste and elegance.’96

On the following evening, the beaming king attended a ceremony at the Fenice, accompanied by his family and court, and was greeted with ‘delirious’ applause, especially from the women there. On the 9th he went to the Arsenale to hail its past and guarantee its future. On the sunny 11th he presented the whole city with a flag recording its valour, and presided over a spectacular regatta conducted ‘in the Venetian fashion’.97 On the 12th it was the turn of the Accademia, the Frari and Murano, while a ‘galleggiante’ (barge) floated up and down the Grand Canal, stopping now and again so that the orchestra on board could play ‘choruses and anthems’. Nothing, Letizia ended her diary account by stating, could have been better than that.98

(p.21) A rival diarist whose observations continued after these exciting events was less euphoric. In October 1866 he too had felt ‘delirium’ at the thought that Venice was now free in a liberal and united Italy. Four months later, however, he was complaining that all had been seized by ‘abject cupidity’, and that ‘the honest man and the philosopher are forced to live in retirement almost as it was when Austrian spies predominated’; the national financial situation, he feared, was a ‘cancer for young Italy’.99

The destiny of Venice and Venetians under Italian rule will be the chief topic of this book. For the moment, however, it is worth underlining that the Venice that conjoined itself to the new nation was drenched in histories that did not necessarily fuse into one grand, national, story. All nations seek to maximise the lessons that can be drawn from the past, ideally one of great antiquity and rampant glory. But the actual histories of Venetians, whether those that remained or could be reinvented from before 1797, or those that had been experienced under ‘foreign’ French or Austrian rule since that time, were scarcely automatically or singularly ‘Italian’. Exemplary was the fact that Venice's ‘empire’ would prove a natural attraction to Italian imperialists, despite the fact that its past was barely Italian. That situation would be rendered more complex by the lingering power of the myth of the Roman Empire, already an often malign influence on Italians and soon to be drastically reinforced by the determination from 1870 to place the national capital in Rome (in ambiguous relationship with the existing capital of a Catholic Church ‘eternally’ equipped with a spiritual imperium on which the sun never set). For very many reasons, then, a historian must ask, would not national and nationalising Italians in Venice prove as ‘foreign’ as their immediate predecessors? What, too, about liberalism, with its earnest promise of ‘improvement’ for all, and therefore of the translation of many enlightened ideas about the need to organise space and time mechanically and mathematically, and to build a future based on efficiency, statistical accuracy and good order? How could such a prospect be applied to an urban area that was presently still ‘medieval’, its people necessarily crammed into buildings blatantly in need of modernisation? How could Venice's timeless beauty and old history adapt to new times?

It was ironical that, during those years in which the Italian flag began to flutter in Piazza San Marco, Napoleon III in Paris and Franz Josef in Vienna were presiding over the massive reconstructions of their capital cities wherein the boulevard would triumph over the lane and ancient walls were bulldozed into nothingness. But Venice was walled in by a sea that not even nineteenth-century science could altogether curb, and the city-space was too confined to be wrenched into providing much room beyond that available in Piazza San Marco and the other grander campi. None fitted the military display that was a (p.22) key part of the design of the Champs-Élysées or the wide Rings in Vienna (or the eventual Via dell'Impero –Empire Street –in Rome). In these circumstances and given these multiple living pasts, in the decades that followed 1866 trying to work out what Venice ‘really’ was and how it might remain a ‘living city’ would prove to be a most vexing issue, whether for locals, Italians or the city's many devoted and interfering foreign admirers.


(1) . For background, see R. J. B. Bosworth, Mussolini's Italy: Life under the Dictatorship, 1915–1945 (London: Penguin, 2005), 326–7.

(2) . For background, see John Foot, Italy's Divided Memory (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).

(3) . See especially George Macaulay Trevelyan, Manin and the Venetian Revolution of 1848 (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1923).

(4) . Jonathan Keates, The Siege of Venice (London: Chatto and Windus, 2005).

(5) . Ibid., 36.

(6) . Emilio Franzina, ‘L'unificazione’, in Emilio Franzina (ed.), Venezia (Bari: Laterza, 1986), 41.

(7) . In 1871 there were 2,667. See Simon Levis Sullam, Una comunità immaginata: gli ebrei a Venezia (1900–1938) (Milan: Unicopli, 2001), 49. The Republic had toughened its anti-Semitic legislation in 1777. See Cecil Roth, Gli ebrei in Venezia (Rome: P. Cremonese, 1933), 397.

(8) . Simon Levis Sullam and Fabio Brusò, Il Ghetto. Piazza Barche (Padua: Il Poligrafo, 2008), 14–5.

(9) . Giovanni Sbordone, Giorgio Crovato and Carlo Montanaro, Via Garibaldi. La Regata Storica. I Cinema ‘Peocéti’ (Padua: Il Poligrafo, 2005), 11–13.

(10) . The original of this church was said to date from the seventh century. For its history, see Alvise Zorzi, Venezia scomparsa, vol. 2: Repertorio degli edifici veneziani distrutti, alterati o manomessi (Milan: Electa, 1977), 332–4.

(11) . The Byzantines had in their turn stolen them from somewhere, since they were made in Greece in the fourth century BCE. In the 1980s, in view of the damage caused by pollu-tion, the horses were moved inside the Basilica and replicas put in their place outside.

(12) . Daily Telegraph (London), 10 January 2003. One trigger was the rediscovery of a Venice-made statue of the emperor that stood in Piazza San Marco between 1811 and 1814.

(13) . See, for example, François Furet, Revolutionary France, 1770–1880 (Oxford University Press, 1995).

(14) . See Michael Broers, The Napoleonic Empire in Italy, 1796–1814: Cultural Imperialism in a European Context? (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005).

(15) . Bruno Bertoli, ‘La Chiesa veneziana dalla caduta della Repubblica alle soglie del Novecento’, in Silvio Tramontin (ed.), Patriarcato di Venezia (Padua: Gregoriana Libreria, 1991), 195.

(16) . Alvise Zorzi, Venezia scomparsa, vol. 1: Storia di una secolare degradazione (Milan: Electa, 1977), 22.

(17) . Richard J. Goy, Venice: An Architectural Guide (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2010), 208.

(18) . Luigi Casarini, Sulla origine, ingrandimento e decadenza del commercio di Venezia e sui mezzi che nella presente di lei situazione praticare potrebbonsi per impedirne la minac-ciata rovina: memoria (Venice: Picotti, 1823).

(19) . Zorzi, Venezia scomparsa, vol. 1, 190.

(20) . Keates, The Siege of Venice, 36–7.

(21) . Paul Ginsborg, Daniele Manin and the Venetian Revolution of 1848–9 (Cambridge University Press, 1979), 6.

(22) . Pellico is remembered on city walls with two memorial plaques. One appears outside the Hotel Luna Baglioni, a building that will play a further part in this book. The other is located on the cemetery island of San Michele (see map 1), where the Austrians had imprisoned him en route to Spielberg. It was affixed to the island's wall in 1916, when war against the Austrians raged. Aldo Andreolo and Elisabetta Borsetti, Venice Remembers: The Faces, Lives and Works of the Venetians and non-Venetians Whom the City Has Wished to Commemorate in Marble (Venice: Le Altane, 1999), 229–30.

(23) . It is available in English translation as Silvio Pellico, My Prisons (London: Oxford University Press, 1963).

(24) . Andreolo and Borsetti, Venice Remembers, 29–30.

(25) . Quoted in David Laven, Venice and Venetia under the Habsburgs, 1815–1835 (Oxford University Press, 2002), 211.

(26) . David Gilmour, The Pursuit of Italy: A History of a Land, Its Regions and Their Peoples (London: Allen Lane, 2011), 112.

(27) . Laven, Venice and Venetia under the Habsburgs, 20, 25.

(28) . Ibid., 25.

(29) . Henry Matthews, Diary of an Invalid: Journal of a Tour in Pursuit of Health, 1817–1819 (Stroud: Nonsuch, 2005), 209, 212.

(30) . Laven, Venice and Venetia under the Habsburgs, 130–1.

(31) . Ibid., 113.

(32) . Alexander Bradley, Ruskin and Italy (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Research Press, 1987), 8.

(33) . Sarah Quill (ed.), Ruskin's Venice: The Stones Rediscovered (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000). Ruskin gave no thanks for the chance now to avoid his earlier complaint that his inn at Mestre equipped itself with ‘a dirty table cloth’ and soured its more genteel visitors with ‘a close smell of garlic and crabs’. John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice, vol. 1: The Foundations (London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1851), 346.

(34) . See, for example, Piero Bevilacqua, Venezia e le sue acque: una metafora planetaria, rev. edn (Rome: Donzelli, 1998), 133.

(35) . Ernesto Corti, Lido di Venezia (Venice: C. Ferrari, 1919), 21–2.

(36) . Jeanne Clegg, Ruskin and Venice (London: Junction, 1981), 57. As far as Ruskin was concerned the increased number of hotels resembled ‘Margate boarding houses’.

(37) . Ginsborg, Daniele Manin, 31.

(38) . Mario Dalla Costa, La basilica di San Marco e i restauri dell'Ottocento: le idee di E. Viollet-le-Duc, J. Ruskin e le ‘Osservazioni’ di A. P. Zorzi (Venice: La Stamperia di Venezia, 1983), 11–12.

(39) . Elia Barbiani (ed.), Edilizia popolare a Venezia: storie, politiche, realizzazioni per le Case Popolari della Provincia di Venezia (Milan: Electa, 1983), 12.

(40) . Alvise Zorzi, Venezia austriaca, 1798–1866 (Bari: Laterza, 1985), 49.

(41) . Ibid., 46.

(42) . Zorzi, Venezia scomparsa, vol. 1, iii.

(43) . Filippo Maria Paladini, Arsenale e Museo Storico Navale di Venezia: mare, lavoro e uso pubblico della storia (Padua: Il Poligrafo, 2008), 23–4.

(44) . See, notably, Alberto M. Banti, La nazione del Risorgimento: parentela, santità e onore alle origini dell'Italia unita (Turin: Einaudi, 2000).

(45) . Ibid., 74.

(46) . Ginsborg, Daniele Manin, 66.

(47) . Paladini, Arsenale e Museo Storico Navale di Venezia, 24. See also Keates, The Siege of Venice, 61–4. The standard English-language study of the congresses is Kent Roberts Greenfield, Economics and Liberalism in the Risorgimento, rev. edn (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1965).

(48) . As we shall see, each acquired a statue in a prominent city campo that was renamed in his honour. Two further plaques celebrate Manin, one affixed to a house where he lived near the bridge of San Paternian in the sestiere of San Marco, and the other recording his birthplace at Ramo Astori in Santa Croce. Tommaseo is memorialised in the house in Calle del Remedio in Castello where he was living when arrested in 1848. Many other plaques celebrate other ‘heroes’ of the Risorgimento, especially those of 1848–9. Nine plaques elevate seventeen to hero status in the Calle Larga de l'Ascension, among them the Jewish economist Isacco Pesaro Maurogonato (see further below). Andreolo and Borsetti, Venice Remembers, 9, 23–6.

(49) . Keates, The Siege of Venice.

(50) . Ginsborg, Daniele Manin, 315–16.

(51) . Ibid., 114, 176.

(52) . Laven, Venice and Venetia under the Habsburgs, 224–30.

(53) . Zorzi, Venezia austriaca, 105.

(54) . Other exiles included Domenico Giuriati and his father, whose family was destined to possess a long political history in Venice. See Domenico Giuriati (ed.), Duecento lettere inedite di Giuseppe Mazzini con proemio e note (Turin: L. Roux, 1887). See also his Memorie d'emigrazione (Milan: Treves, 1897). When Garibaldi died in 1882, Giuriati gave the eulogy for him at the Ateneo Veneto. See L'Ateneo Veneto, June 1882, 345–62.

(55) . For some graphic visual evidence of the siege, see Margaret Plant, Venice: Fragile City, 1797–1997 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2002), 138–45.

(56) . Vincenzo Marchesi, Settant'anni di storia politica di Venezia (1798–1866) (Turin: L. Roux, [1894]), 209.

(57) . Ibid., 185–7.

(58) . Mary Lutyens (ed.), Effie in Venice: Unpublished Letters of Mrs John Ruskin Written from Venice between 1849–1852 (London: John Murray, 1965).

(59) . Ibid., 69–70.

(60) . Zorzi, Venezia austriaca, 111–12.

(61) . Dalla Costa, La basilica di San Marco e i restauri dell'Ottocento, 10.

(62) . The Comune opened her rooms to the tourist gaze in 2012. See La Repubblica, 6 July 2012.

(63) . Zorzi, Venezia austriaca, 362.

(64) . Ibid., 109–10.

(65) . Ibid., 135.

(66) . Franzina, ‘L'unificazione’, 27.

(67) . For a lavish pictorial history, see Anna Laura Bellina and Michele Girardi, La Fenice, 1792–1996: Theatre, Music and History (Venice: Marsilio, 2003).

(68) . Zorzi, Venezia austriaca, 145.

(69) . William D. Howells, Venetian Life (Leipzig: Bernard Tauchnitz, 1883), 10, 15, 161, 304.

(70) . Ibid., 58.

(71) . Ibid., 49–51, 298.

(72) . Ibid., 79.

(73) . Ibid., 154.

(74) . Ibid., 321.

(75) . Ibid., 303, 322–3.

(76) . Ibid., 342, 378.

(77) . Ibid., 124.

(78) . Ibid., 336.

(79) . Ibid., 143, 149–50.

(80) . Ibid., 184.

(81) . Ibid., 16–25.

(82) . Marco Gioannini and Giulio Massobrio, Custoza 1866: la via italiana alla sconfitta (Milan: Rizzoli, 2003), 11.

(83) . Geoffrey Wawro, The Austro-Prussian War: Austria's War with Prussia and Italy in 1866 (Cambridge University Press, 1996), 116.

(84) . Comitato Regionale Veneto per la storia del Risorgimento italiano (ed.), L'ultima domi-nazione austriaca e la liberazione del Veneto nel 1866: memorie di Filippo Nani Mocenigo, Ugo Botti, Carlo Combi, Antonino Di Prampero, Manlio Torquato Dazzi e Giuseppe Solitro (Chioggia: Giulio Vianelli, 1916), 256–9, 266–7, 329. This volume was published during the First World War to celebrate fifty years of liberation from Austrian tyranny.

(85) . The Times, 29 October 1866.

(86) . Andreolo and Borsetti, Venice Remembers, 9.

(87) . Mario Isnenghi (ed.), Il diario di Letizia (1866) (Verona: Novacharta, 2004), 2.

(88) . Ibid., 12–14, 32.

(89) . Ibid., 50–2.

(90) . Ibid., 78–80.

(91) . Ibid., 108–10.

(92) . Ibid., 112–20.

(93) . Ibid., 128, 140.

(94) . Ibid., 164–70.

(95) . Franzina, ‘L'unificazione’, 22.

(96) . Isnenghi (ed.), Il diario di Letizia (1866), 190.

(97) . Ibid., 192–6.

(98) . Ibid., 204–6.

(99) . Carlo Leoni, Cronaca segreta de’ miei tempi, ed. Giuseppe Toffanin (Cittadella (PD): Rebellato, 1976), 620, 628.