Italian history is also made of Italian women who fought and gave their support to try to make the difference. Today I’d like to talk about one of these Italian women patriots. Her name is Colomba Antonietti.
Who was Colomba Antonietti?
Colomba Antonietti was born in Bastia Umbra, in the Umbria region, in 1826. When she was little, she moved with her family to Foligno. There, when she was 15 years old, she met Luigi Porzi, a cadet of the papal troops who lived in the same building.
Soon they created a strong bond. They used to talk to each other from the window of their rooms and to meet in secret.
However, their respective families were against their relationship. Indeed, Colomba and Luigi belonged to different classes: Luigi was a count and, as such, his family was noble and rich, while Colomba was the daughter of a baker, and her family was considered bourgeois.
One day, the families caught Colomba and Luigi talking to each other from their window and they decided to take some action to prevent the thing to get worse. In particular, Luigi’s family planned to send him to Senigallia with the hope that he would soon forget about Colomba.
However, Luigi had no intention of forgetting about Colomba, quite the opposite actually. So, ignoring his family’s desires, he organized a secret wedding in the Church of Misericordia in Foligno. The only people at the wedding were Luigi, Colomba, Colomba’s brother and a priest.
After the ceremony, they couple left for Bologna where they stayed for two months and then moved to Rome, where Luigi was promoted to lieutenant.
The Roman Republic
In 1848-49, Luigi decided to join the Roman Republic, a short-lived state where the government of the Papal states was temporarily replaced by a republican government lead by the triumvirate composed of Carlo Armellini, Giuseppe Mazzini and Aurelio Saffi. Since the Pope didn’t enjoy this coup d’état, he asked for help to the other European forces: France, Austria, Spain, and the kingdom of the two Sicilies and, as a consequence, many battles began.
Luigi was soon called to participate in the battle of Velletri with Garibaldi. Colomba, who loved her husband deeply, didn’t want to separate from him. So, she decided to cut her hair, wear a uniform and join her husband in the battle, pretending she was a man. After the battle of Velletri, she fought in the battle of Palestrina as well, before returning to Rome with her husband.
Once in Rome, she briefly joined a group of women led by Princess Cristina Trivulzio of Belgioioso and Margaret Fuller, who assisted wounded soldiers. However, she never stopped fighting alongside her husband. On June 13th, while she was fighting in Rome near Porta San Pancrazio, a cannon ball hit a building nearby and, bouncing back, hit her.
She was placed on a stretcher by other patriots with the purpose of transporting her to the nearest hospital but she died a few minutes later after saying with her last breath “Long live Italy”.
When Luigi realized the body on the stretcher was that of his wife, he threw himself on her and covered her with kisses. Some time after the battle, Luigi fled to South America and never remarried.
Colomba’s remains are now in the Mausoleum Ossario Garibaldino, dedicated to the fallen in the battle of Rome for the Unification of Italy.
This heroin was not forgotten. In Bastia there’s a school and a street dedicated to her. In Rome her bust appears among the statues of patriots on the Janiculum. In Foligno in the Council chamber there’s a painting called “Colomba Antonietti dies for the defense of Rome” by Mariano Piervittori dedicated to her sacrifice.
Do you know some other examples of Italian women patriots?
Original image by Mike_68