A Rose for a Tuscan Anarchist

Read of a kind and loving anarchist

pietro gori statue rosignano pictureI always admire writers who research an important figure in history long into the dark nights for years and years and then plan a trip to connect the historic facts with the places they occurred in.

I never do that. It sounds hard.

I suppose my way is the credo of the wanderer, which probably bleeds into the credo of the lazy bum. Find something. Find out it’s big. Research it. Or not.

It’s backwards. You may have noticed that.

So I’m walking through a hilltop town called Rosignano Marittimo with a view of the sea and a darn nice castle and I come across a statue of a man with a freshly placed red rose in a little vase attached to the marble base. The sun hit it handsomely.

Click, click, click.

enoteca chiarugi pictureSo that was that. Until I stopped into the Enoteca Chiarugi later that day for a bottle of the local wine. The owner Gabriele immediately struck up a conversation.

“I saw you taking pictures of that statue over there,” he said, pointing out the door of his shop to where the statue sat across the street. I though maybe it was forbidden to click, click, click.

“Pietro Gori is a very loved man, very loved. He was a very rich man and worked with the poor. There were very many poor people, very many, in his time. He had a big farm, and the poor could work on the farm and eat a big lunch. He was a very loved man,” Gabriele explained.

So, you know, I’m thinking this guy Gori had a soft spot in his heart for the wretched and downtrodden. Big deal. In the US they’d jail him for such vile and reprehensible thoughts. Yet someone here in Tuscany has put a rose on his statue. I was beginning to think it was Gabriele, “Really, he was a very, very loved man.”

So I’m thinking, “who is this Pietro Gori?”

I hardly expected him to be an anarchist. But yes, there it was in black and white. On the Internet, no less, which is always a true and moral source of information.

In 1887, Gori published his first pamphlet Rebel Thoughts, which resulted in his being tried and acquitted by the Pisa Assize Court.


When Sante Caserio assassinated the French president Sadi Carnot (24 May 1894), the conservative press accused Gori of having been implicated in the killing. The campaign against Gori was part and parcel of a swingeing anti-anarchist crackdown sponsored by the Italian prime minister Crispi. Gori was obliged to flee to Lugano in Switzerland where he resumed his law practice. There too, however, he attracted unwelcome attention from the Italian police who even orchestrated an attempt on his life; two persons unknown fired two revolver shots at him, but missed their target. Following pressure from the Italian government on the Swiss authorities, Gori was arrested along with 15 comrades and expelled from Switzerland. It was on this occasion that he penned his famous verses “Farewell to Lugano”. ~ Kate Sharpley Library: Pietro Gori

You should read the rest of the story through the link above. It’s fascinating, these lives of people who’ve labored outside the periphery of our knowledge.

Eventually, Gabriele and I turned to another of our common interests. Food and wine. I asked him for something local in a red wine and he came up with a very good 12 euro Bolgheri. That was the easy part.

Then I asked him where one could get a fine meal. He started to call around for me. While he was calling, I started taking pictures of the deli case, the prosciutto, the bottles of wine.

And here’s where I wish the world still had real phones. I would have said, “Gabriele hung up the phone and…” but in the modern age of the little flat communicator thingy that is practically a fixture on the ears of Italians, there can be no such literary transition. So, Gabriele finished his calling and darted over to the deli case.

“Wait!” he implored. He walked softly over to a cutting board and with an almost religious air about him gently removed a cloth covering…the sacred porchetta.

porchetta chiarugi pictureI felt the solemn occasion required a picture. I carefully focused and composed with Gabriele looking on, his hot breath on my left ear like a cell phone overheating, “ah, with the prosciutto behind! Very clever! Very good!”

I like Gabriele. He likes people. You should go to his little enoteca and buy lots of stuff from him. He hand slices his prosciutto. That’s how you tell someone cares for the food they sell.

And he’s part of a southern blues/rock band. “Gregg Allman, that’s my music.”

And the restaurant Gabriele found for us? Wow. Perfect. 7 tavoli bistrot on Via A.gramsci, 66. You should go there, too.

So study up on your anarchists, talk to the guy at the enoteca, eat where he tells you—and your vacation in Italy will go perfectly. Unless you mistake a carnation for a rose. That’s what I did and for that I’m truly sorry. Sort of.

More Stories About Tuscany

Garfagnana Guide

The Towers of San Gimignano

The Gates of Volterra

Eremo le Celle | Cortona, Tuscany

Bittersweet times in Rural Tuscany

A Rose for a Tuscan Anarchist originally appeared on WanderingItaly.com , updated: Apr 20, 2022 © .

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