Giuseppe Garibaldi, professional revolutionary and all-round Italian hero, bought half of Caprera in 1855 (he got the rest 10 years later). He made it his home and refuge, the place he would return to after yet another daring campaign in the pursuit of liberty. The Compendio Garibaldino is an object of pilgrimage for many Italians. Visits, by guided tour in Italian only, take in the rustic elegant rooms, the garden cemetery and a small but touching collection of Garibaldi memorabilia.
The red-shirted revolutionary first lived in a hut that still stands in the courtyard, while building his main residence, the Casa Bianca. You enter the house proper by an atrium adorned with his portrait, a flag from the days of Peru’s war of independence and a reclining wheelchair donated to him by the city of Milan when he became infirm a couple of years before his death. You then proceed through a series of bedrooms where he and family members slept. The kitchen had its own freshwater pump, a feat of high technology in such a place in the 1870s. In what was the main dining room are now displayed all sorts of odds and ends, from binoculars to the general’s own red shirt. The last room contains his death bed, facing the window and the sea, across which he would look longingly, dreaming until the end that he might return to his native Nice.
Outside in the gardens are his rough-hewn granite tomb and those of several family members (he had seven children by his three wives and one by a governess).