Anna Maria Ribiero Da Silva

A.K.A. Anna Maria Duarte de Aguiar

A.K.A. Anita Garibaldi

To the authorities of her time, she was a notorious outlaw and adventuress. She and her consort were hunted through several Latin American countries during the 1840's. Today, in her native Brazil and in surrounding countries, streets, plazas, schools, whole towns are named after her. And yes, she may have eventually married the Italian she lived with.

Anna Maria was born of fisher-folk in 1817 in the coastal village of Morinhos in Santa Catarina, Brazil. Nothing is known of her childhood, but in 1835 she married Manuel Duarte de Aguiar another fisherman of the same village. In 1939, the schooner Rio Pardo sailed past the village. It had been captured by the navy of the Rio Grande del Sul, a small state, which attempted unsuccessfully to secede from the Brazilian Empire.

In 1834, Giuseppe Garibaldi, who had imbibed the political theory of Giuseppe Mazzini and of the French Socialist theorist, Saint-Simon, participated in an unsuccessful attempt at revolution in Piedmont, in whose navy he then served. Under sentence of death he escaped first to France and then, in 1836, to South America, where he remained in exile until 1848. His experiences in South America determined his future career. It was there that he learned the skills that enabled him to resist the foreign occupiers of Italy. But in 1939, Garibaldi was the semi-mercenary Captain of the Rio Pardo. By his own account, when he saw the beautiful Anna Maria Duarte de Aguiar on shore, it was love at first sight.

Garibaldi rowed ashore and said one sentence to Anna: "Angela, tu sarai inia" -- "Angel, you will be for me." She got into his rowboat and never turned back, adopting his life of revolution and adventure as well as his name. There was a marriage ceremony in 1842 -- Giuseppe and Anna Maria swore Manuel was dead, but there were grave doubts -- and she was thereafter accepted as his wife.

After they had many Latin American adventures and three children together (a fourth had died), Giuseppe Garibaldi was allowed to return to Italy in 1848. Anna Maria packed up the family and went back with him and about 80 of his red-shirted followers. He quickly reintegrated himself into Italian revolutionary circles and by June of 1849, he and Anna and their, by now, large band were in Rome defending the short-lived Roman Republic of 1849. Anna reportedly fought at Giuseppe's side and "fired a rifle like a man" at the Battle of Porta San Pancrazio. But the defense was foredoomed. Garibaldi himself, according to contemporary news accounts, finally walked into the fledgling Italian assembly and announced the fall of the Republic.

Then began the legendary retreat from Rome and into the countryside, with Papal and Austrian troops in pursuit. Near Ravenna, in a farmhouse outside the village of Guiccioli di Mandrioli, Anita Garibaldi, exhausted from the battle and the retreat, died. Some accounts say she died during the premature birth of a fifth Garibaldi child and that the baby also died almost immediately. She was (or they were) buried in a shallow grave at the farm. Garibaldi was grief stricken, but he had to continue his retreat to save the remnant of his force.

By this time, the adventures of the Garibaldis were being widely covered by the international press. The death of Anita was a world-wide sensation. Giuseppe Garibaldi had many more years of well chronicled adventures (and another short term wife -- really only several hours -- and a long term mistress in his later years), but his and the public's memories of Anita never quite faded away.

In 1889, a highly romanticized biography of Anita Garibaldi, by Giuseppe Bandi, renewed interest in her. The cover had a picture of Giuseppe Garibaldi carrying Anita on his back during the retreat from Rome: the pose is an obvious (but very badly executed) reference to the famous Bernini sculpture of Aeneas carrying away his father, Anchises, in the retreat from Troy (now in the Galleria Borghese). A small photographic medallion of the cover picture is displayed on the Garibaldi monument and family tomb in the Campo Verano Cemetery in Rome. The book was reprinted in 1932, and was a great success in Italy as well as Latin America. Revolutionary-minded and radical women in both places started adding the "-ita" suffix to their names in emulation of Anna/Anita.

Both editions of the book are extremely rare.

The republication of the Bandi book was timed to coincide with the unveiling of Mario Rutelli's Brazilian-funded equestrienne statue of Anita Garibaldi on the Janiculum. It stands in a little square off the Passeggiata di Gianicolo only about fifty meters north of the monument to her husband in Piazzale G. Garibaldi. He is in repose on his horse, perhaps in meditation. Her animal is rearing and lunging. She brandishes a pistol in her right hand and clutches an infant in her left. Her remains were moved to the bronze sarcophagus base of her statue before its unveiling. Note the timing: Mussolini was looking for heroes and heroines.

A 1994 historical novel, Anita, Anita : Garibaldi of the New World, by Dorothy Bryant is available from

Internet links: Italy Cyberguide note on Anita includes the 1932 book cover and description has a strange anti-papist introduction, but a good Garibaldi timeline and a picture of Anita her and his statues on the Janiculum -- photos and descriptions Amazon order link for the 1994 historical novel Anita and other "Women of the Risorgimento" (scroll down about half way) Claude Henri de Rouvroy, Comte de Saint-Simon

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